Over this past week or so, I’ve spent a great deal of time studying or being involved in structured learning and it got me thinking. As in any profession, continuing education is important, but I believe in fundraising it is even more critical because there is such an emphasis on results.
As part of my prize for winning Young Fundraiser of the Year in March I was awarded a scholarship to Madison Down Under – an intensive five day residential education program. It was intense. It was inspiring. It was incredible! It really highlighted the fact to me again how much we need professional development opportunities as fundraisers.
A few things to keep in mind when thinking about your professional development.
Training doesn’t have to cost a lot
Shop around for various training courses and compare prices. Look at what is included in the price. Are you getting material to take home? A text book you can refer to later, perhaps? Ensure that the expected outcomes of the course are clearly defined and make sure that is what is most relevant to you. Remember you only have to learn one great thing and then implement it well to have a good return on investment.
Information is everywhere
Knowledge is more accessible now than ever before. Living in the digital age as we do, information is spread and shared very easily. And for those of us that carry smart phones, we basically have the world in our pocket. Online learning means you don’t have to always ‘be’ somewhere to be educated. Courses by correspondence, online campuses and webinars all aid in our access to information.
Sharing and caring
Many fundraisers will tell you if that one of the best things about undertaking professional development courses or seminars is the other fundraisers you meet. Networking is really relevant for our sector, especially as many fundraising ‘departments’ are a one (wo)man show. As such it’s important to share ideas and be inspired by others.
Seeing the big picture
Often when we are focused on our own fundraising goals; the event next month, meeting the quarterly budget and so forth, we can forget to take time to look at the big picture of our organisation’s fundraising plan. Taking time to step back, which usually happens as a result of a professional development experience, allows you to gain perspective and look at the overarching strategy.
Learning needs to be part of your organisation’s culture
It’s important that further education is encouraged within an organisation for it to be most successful. Non profits must work to foster such a culture. Businesses that do this – learning organisations – adapt to change, are responsive to the marketplace and grow and develop, therefore remaining competitive. It’s just as important for charities to remain competitive too.
Some great resources for professional development in Australia include:
- Fundraising Institute of Australia
- Our Community – The Australian Institute of Community Practice and Governance
- QUT – Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non Profit Studies
Remember, the more you know about fundraising, the more successful your organisation will be at achieving its mission.And the more educated fundraisers are as a sector, the better outcomes for the community as a whole. And that’s why we’re all in this game isn’t it – to make a difference? 🙂
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.
P.S Don’t forget to look for scholarships that you (or others in your organisation) may be eligible for. A great place to start is with ASI Smart Scholarship Fund.