Anthea Iva

The Director of Redstone Marketing asks three
nonprofit executives for their perspectives.

ANNE JOHNSTON Chief Marketing & Fundraising Officer, Children’s Cancer Institute

Attracting talent – our time is now.

When I was first considering a role in the for-purpose sector, I remember being told by a commercial advisor that it would be too bureaucratic, too slow, and too limited to offer career potential. How wrong they were. 

In fact, in my experience, successful fundraisers must be more resourceful, more resilient, and more agile than in the for-profit sector.

In many ways we face the same challenges as the commercial sphere. After all, our supporters live in the same world, are impacted by seismic shifts like digitalisation, economic uncertainty, and most recently COVID-19. We need to predict the future for our donors, just as commercial companies do for their consumers. Our teams need to be innovative, fail fast, celebrate success, and endlessly adapt in this ever-changing world. This is why finding talented fundraisers is
so critical.

For Children’s Cancer Institute, we are also in a period of unprecedented growth, so attracting the right talent and managing change is key to achieving our strategic vision. Even then, talented individuals need well-defined performance measures to collaboratively succeed. This is my primary focus as a leader; developing KPIs that balance the challenge of generating dollars today, whilst investing in the growth of donors tomorrow. My experience has taught me that the best way to do this is by empowering my team to collectively define what success looks like.

The catch is that truly collaborative success is only possible in an inclusive and trusting environment. Perhaps this is one of the silver linings in the post-COVID world; we have all shared a window into each other’s lives and learned to support each other through unforeseeable storms. For this reason, there has never been a better time to embrace a new way of working; one that does not only allow flexibility in working patterns, but truly empowers our teams to co-design how they will work, what they will achieve, and how these outcomes will be measured. 

The great news is that the for-purpose sector is in the best position to deliver this mutually rewarding environment, with the real potential to attract exceptional talent as so many employees seek a greater return than simply renumeration and career development. By providing a collegiate culture with authentic purpose, we can foster genuine fulfilment in working life. 

TASMAN CASSIM Senior Manager, Partnerships, Black Dog Institute

Three things your NFP should do

Raise money, thank donors. Pretty simple right? And for a long time, that was enough. But it’s a brave new world now with the rise of social enterprises challenging traditional NFPs (in a good way). Here’s three things your NFP can do to thrive.

Authenticity and impact Your NFP needs to be able to articulate their ‘why’ with meaning and emotional connection in video format in under 10 seconds. Same for impact. Who you help, why you’re helping them and how that’s changed that person’s life. The rawer, less polished, and more honest, the better. To really thrive, develop multiple digital formats showcasing your impact on a page and the problem your NFP is solving.

Investment in brand Every company, no matter their size, has a budget for their brand. It’s not a nice thing to have, it’s a must-have. But few NFPs do. I wonder how many of us can clearly say what our NFP does, and why? Start there, get clear on your ‘why’ and the problem you solve.
That’s brand. It’s not your logo or a mission statement, it’s your why. 

Good people Australia is rocketing out of this recession and NFPs are competing against industries who frankly pay more. While that’s unlikely to change, why not implement a few simple things like mandating a 5pm finish — yes, 5pm! C’mon, be honest, not many people are productive after 5pm, so mandate a down-tools and watch the uptick in your team’s culture and morale. 

Sometimes it’s hard to see how you can build your career with your NFP. Flat structures, people in the same roles for years — what’s the point? Sit down with your team members and ask them what they’re passionate about, what they love about their job, and where they want to go. Listen, and go and build it.

BRONWYN SUGDEN Fundraising & Supporter Services Lead, Centre for Eye Research Australia

There is still joy and hope

I once read the second year after you’ve lost someone is harder than the first, which is marked by disbelief. To a certain extent, this has been true for me as a fundraiser as well, as it has been for our donors. 

Physical and mental fatigue, and a loss of something you can’t quite put a name to, are part of our lives. Hard doesn’t just apply to diamonds.

In 2020 we saw bushfires, a pandemic, and a world in turmoil. The upside? It gave fundraisers the chance to make donor engagement a priority. By calling donors to ask, “how are you?” we learned first-hand exactly what they were thinking. They understood that emergencies happen, and were prepared to dig deep — showing empathy for those affected by donating to organisations that shared their vision and values.

In 2021, the feeling in our communities has been equally uncertain. However, the changes I’ve seen over the last 17 months are still worth a small celebration. Donors now make more considered decisions. While donor numbers are down, average gifts are up. Online giving has increased as more senior donors show us they’re as tech-savvy as anyone under 30. And donor commitment to our organisation’s mission is still as strong as ever before. And it’s because of them — our interested, generous and loyal donors — that I still get excited about going to work and doing what I love to do — fundraise.

For everything I’ve read and heard since the pandemic began, I still believe great campaigns and donor engagement will continue to be part of our daily lives. Whatever may come in the next half of 2021 and in 2022, there is still joy and hope in our industry. With our donors and with our colleagues, fundraising and philanthropy will never be constrained by lockdowns.