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Interlude – Jordan versus Jesus

This week, the PFRA responded to the ACCC research by stating their own evidence from quality assurance reviews shows no difference between the standards of in-house vs agency or employed vs contracted fundraisers.

The donor experience is a hot topic in the world of face-to-face, and deserves to be given the airtime that the ACCC and PFRA are giving it. My default mode defers to the stats. If the PFRA see no difference in the standards whatever the fundraiser’s employment status then I bow to their knowledge.

I have been fortunate to work with, under, alongside and above many face-to-face managers, and can say hand-on-heart, that they are the difference - not the style of remuneration.

Every face-to-face fundraiser knows that their job is only safe as long as they sign people up. As one great fundraiser, and very close friend of mine once said “This job is performance related. If you don’t perform, we’re not related.” The nature of the role means that without sound management and training the fundraiser will either lose their job or go home without pay.

If your manager is purely sales focused your company/in-house team will produce a batch of cold-hearted salespeople who may sign someone up at any cost and deliver a frighteningly bad customer service. Equally, if you have a hippy leader who teaches nothing but good vibes and peace on Earth, there is a more than fair chance that their team will suffer from a very low sign up rate but give the potential donor a conversational warm hug.

The best managers, in my view, and therefore the best teams, are the ones that stay true to the title ‘fundraiser’. Fundraising at its best is an inspirational conversation that emotionally connects, logically fits and ends in a donor giving their bank details – as Ken Burnett would say “First open their hearts, then their minds. Then they will open their wallets”. Fundraising is a melting-pot of storytelling, ethical sales, and a belief that you are asking for the right reason. All of this comes from the right leadership, not the compensation.

So, let’s push for better HR, and we will see better standards.

PS: If they have the Wolf of Wall Street on their book or DVD shelf, or count Jordan Belfort as one of their heroes, you should probably steer clear.

PPS: If the manager has a beard that can shelter a family of badgers, and toenails visible through their sandals, you should grab a vegan wrap and head for the exit.

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