A couple of years ago I was at the Fundraising and Philanthropy Forum and I heard John Jeffries of CBM give a presentation on the state of the fundraising profession. During this talk, he said something like:
No one leaves school and says, ‘yes, I’m going to have a career as a fundraiser!’
It would seem that being a fundraiser is not a sexy profession. At times the way people talk about fundraisers, I’m wondering whether the phrase should be ‘never discuss sex, religion, politics or fundraising.’
Recently personal experiences have shown me that far needing to whisper ‘I’m a fundraiser’, people should be shouting it from the roof-tops with pride.
I’ve always known that fundraising changes lives. There have been times when I’ve seen it’s impact. Yet it’s only recently that I’ve really understood what ‘life-changing fundraising’ really is.
It took for a person dear to me to be in dire need of vehicle modifications in order to maintain his independence for me to really see how powerful fundraising can be.
Less than 2 months ago, I was sitting have a conversation with Andrew about his increasing difficulty lifting his wheelchair into his car. His struggle to get in and out of the car was getting too much. ‘I’ll just have to quit TAFE’ he said. ‘And organise some other way to get my groceries.’
With a price tag of anything from $8,500 up to $20,000, depending on the option he chose, it did seem hopeless.
I went away and thought about it. I wasn’t ready to give up. I came back and said, ‘you’re right, we mightn’t be able to raise the money, but I know I’ll always regret it if we didn’t try.’
Little did I know that within 2 months, we would have already raised close to $3,000. We may only be a third of the way there – and what an emotional rollercoaster it has been – yet hope has returned.
When your profession changes people’s lives like this, then there’s plenty of reasons to be proud.
Welcome to the data monkey. Whether this will be a blog of gold dust or iron pyrites you be the judge!
What prompted me to start this blog? I have a job that I thought was common as muck. I work with data. Yes, that’s right, a database person, an analyst, a researcher, a reporting expert. Yawn? Perhaps. I hope that you will bear with me for at least one blog post before deciding that you’d rather watch paint dry. I hope to write about data in the not for profit world with a healthy dose of sarcasm. My favourite fundraising blog is by Jeff Brooks. His current blog post talks about a business book called Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Jeff, and evidently the hairball author, doesn’t take himself too seriously. I hope that I can attain a similar level of frivolity while conveying something worth more than a nanodot (whatever a nanodot is…)
But why bother writing a blog about data? Well, there seems to be a plethora of fundraising blogs out there. Many with very good content, however I thought I could offer a different perspective. If you’re a person who tears you hair out at processes like… ‘I just deleted the name because they sent the mail back and I thought that way they wouldn’t get any more mail’, then this is the blog for you. Before you think I’m starting a blog to have a rant about data donkeys, I should point out that when I’m calm (and not confronted by 5 codes meaning the same thing!), I realise that people in not for profits are often called upon to be a jack of all trades. Who manages your fundraising database? I suspect it’s probably a fundraiser, usually the Direct Marketing Manager. Who manages your clinical / client data? It’s probably someone who was once a service manager who was voted as having the most knowledge about a computer. Of course I think this isn’t the ideal situation. (After all, this is my livelihood). But it’s a situation I’m sure will continue – at least in small nonprofits who just cannot afford to employ a ‘data monkey’.
So whether you’re a fundraiser, a clinician or another data monkey like me, I hope that you will find some useful information in this blog.