End the tyranny of fundraising technique and targets


Here’s the thing. Technique is actually in the way of fundraising. Targets have the wrong focus. Together, finally its clear – they are undermining fundraising.

Where do we really look when we focus on these two pillars that seem to dominate our boards, or meetings, or internal planning? What do we look for when we hire staff? What language do we use when we circulate ‘best practice’? What is the sequence we see?  Technique driving target or target driving technique – driving cost, driving net, ROI, investment, budgets, performance. This chain is the daily diet of fundraising. Like a hierarchy designed to drive short-term because that’s all that seems to really matter.

Results are important, of course. Without more we can’t do more. Fundraising results deliver change and that’s what we all sign up to, and realistically everyday we need to make micro and macro shifts to get the best value out of what we do. But with the pressure for visible results from donors and newspapers and seemingly everyone, we are forced to focus on the very one thing to be judged by. Targets. The benchmark of success or failure. So we fuel up our technique and race to the finish line. But its often the wrong finish line.

Technique is just a how. Target is just a where to. By themselves they are a transaction, a commercial process, a requirement. We can’t do without technique and target but we can’t let it dominate and we can’t let it lead. We need to relegate technique and reinvent target

We can do this by the rediscovery of the art, principles and values of relationship fundraising to balance the tyranny of technique. We start with the why and we answer the purpose. We champion service, experience, giving and relationships. We recalibrate time from short to long-term. We redefine targets and our view of success so they are aligned and we let judgement and intuition have space to breathe, create, innovate fail and succeed.

But above all, we need to get the leadership right in our organisations at every level. We need get people to behave in the right way and to do the right thing.

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