What is the Best Fundraising Advice You’ve Been Given?
At our Tony Elischer Foundation summer event we asked mentees to present for three minutes and lots of people chose to talk about the best fundraising advice they’d ever been given. It was all round enlightening and at times surprising – here’s what we learned.
“Start something stupid”
Alex Cooper, Heart & Stroke Canada
“Learning to dance with fear by starting something stupid” is some of the best advice that I’ve ever been given and something I try to apply on a daily basis. One of my original “stupid” projects was starting my own fundraising blog – and fighting the fear of self-doubt every time that I had to press publish on a blog post to share my thoughts with the world. Find your own projects like this, ones that will recursively allow you to dance with your fears and vulnerabilities in other areas of your work – from proposing that “stupid” idea in a meeting, or if you are like me, simply facing the crippling fear of the transatlantic flight to the UK!
“The way you think shapes the way you’ll be”
Andy King, East African Playgrounds
Did you know that we say 50,000 words to ourselves every day? That’s the length of The Great Gatsby going round and round and round – and what you focus on in that time is critical to who you are and how you perform. Neuro Linguistic Programming shows us the way we think about things often shapes what they will become. If you think of yourself as clumsy, you’ll be clumsy. If you think you’re going to bother someone, you’ll probably bother them. If you think you’re going to excite someone, well you just might. Move from being your own biggest critic to your own biggest champion.
“Figure out what your why is”
Becky Beard, Stroke Association
When I first started out with Stroke Association, I felt heartless and embarrassed because I had an emotional disconnect with stroke. I thought that if I couldn’t engage with the cause I’d never be able to convince anyone else to engage with it. That’s when I spoke to a senior colleague who gave me this one piece of advice – step back and breathe because that wow moment will come in its own time. So I stopped looking for it and sure enough, after 12 weeks that wow moment came. Everything fell into place and I’m now visibly more passionate in my work.
“Treat people how they want to be treated”
Nick Crossley, Clic Sargent
The best piece of advice I was given about fundraising was quite surprisingly from my Mum and it’s called the Platinum Rule. There was one job in particular where I was really struggling to get through to my supporters when she told me, “in the bible there’s this thing called The Golden Rule that states you should treat people how you would like to be treated. That’s bollocks. There’s this other, much better rule called the The Platinum Rule which states you should treat people how they want to be treated.” In work terms this saw me abandon the ever-bubbly, fundraiser-y approach and instead I took the time to think about my supporters as individuals – who was I communicating with and what are they interested in? I now connect with people by thinking on a deeper level about who they are as individuals, what their interests are and how I can reflect that in my work as a fundraiser.
“Don’t be the person who always bakes the cake”
Louise Wells, Mines Advisory Group
Some of the best work advice I ever got was from my Dad who said, “don’t be the person who always bakes the cake. Don’t always make the coffee and don’t always be the first person to put your hand up.” This made me think about my willingness to volunteer for everything and it also made me think about the people at work who I respected most – do they bake cake? No! As a result, I can now focus on the job in hand without feeling like I’m only doing a good job if I volunteer for everything and be best friends with everyone.
A big thank you to everyone for their inspiring presentations – it’s been amazing to see our mentee cohort supporting and learning from each other. As time goes on, it’s becoming clear that the value of TEF lies not only in the relationship between mentee and mentor but also in the alliance between mentees. We’re excited to see the power of peer learning grow!
Writer: Olivia Capadose, Associate, Tony Elischer Foundation