Doing Good as an Ex-Fundraiser

Yesterday afternoon I attended the quarterly meeting of the charity of which I’m a Trustee.

As a Trustee, I’m involved in granting the money out as well as trying to claw it in. And that makes all the difference.

So, yesterday we agreed to buy three new defibrillators for the East Anglian branch of the British Red Cross, as well as paying for a van and a year’s petrol for the local Food Bank scheme who redistribute unsold food from supermarkets to shelters for homeless people in the region.

We were also able to pay for a load of new board games and craft materials for an old people’s centre, out in the rural heartland of the Fens and we made a few smaller grants to individuals who needed special items to help care for family members with a serious disease or disability.

Lastly, we provided the funds for the continuation of our local ‘Talking Books’ service, enabling them to carry on recording the main daily newspapers on CD for blind and partially sighted people.

It felt good. But was it the good of altruistically doing good, or just the good of exercising power?

I stayed on a bit longer after the other Trustees had left so that the two part-time fundraisers could pick my brains.

But they don’t really need my help as the Hospice at Home Appeal has already raised over £86,000 in less than three months, which is unprecedented in this area of the country: what they really needed was reassurance and support.

The trouble with being a fundraiser – especially when you’re at the top of your profession or in a very small organisation – is that the people you report to often have no experience of fundraising and so nothing with which to compare your performance. They don’t know how well you’re doing, and that’s hugely de-motivating.

Priase from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about is pleasant, but essentially useless.

So again, it felt good to be able to make a few suggestions for action and to praise where praise was due. But was I just enjoying being looked-up to as some sort of expert? Fraudulently, I played along. I suppose it doesn’t matter if its true, as long as they believe it and are encouraged by it.

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