Last week, we had the privilege to lead a session exploring learning and development of Community Fundraisers in Scotland. 
 
At an Institute of Fundraising special interest group meeting, almost 50 fundraisers representing a diverse range of charities came together in a rainy Glasgow city centre. The session was built on the premise that busy Community Fundraisers often neglect to spend time thinking about their own personal development and future aspirations.
 
All bar 4 of the delegates were front line fundraisers with no managerial responsibilities. Our conversation over the day found that none of the organisations represented had a formal talent development programme and only half of delegates reported that their organisations had training/development budgets.
 
Of the organisations that did have budget available all, apart from one exception, had provision of less than £250 per fundraising. The exception was a national charity who offered a suite of courses, held in London, that fundraisers could sign up for.
 
Staff turnover in our sector is not a new challenge. Approximately two thirds of our delegates had changed roles and organisations within the last two years: a lack of development opportunities was the main reason for moving. 
 
Whilst not scientific our session demonstrated that it is still common for fundraisers in their first or second role to stay in post for around two years. 
 
A hugely encouraging part of the day was the clear desire of this group of fundraisers to own and drive their own learning and development. They had accepted that organisational support was going to be limited and, as a consequence, it was up to them. 
 
Recognising that the majority of our learning comes from others we explored the importance of setting learning goals, of seeking feedback, of networking and finding a mentor. We encouraged the group to seek support via online forums, to volunteer, to read, watch and listen – there are some excellent blogs online and videos on youtube.
 
Recruitment in a candidate-short market is difficult and almost every fundraising team will be working to deliver income growth over a set time period. Retaining the skilled fundraising staff that the organisation worked so hard to recruit is crucial to attaining that growth objective. However, very few organisations appear to have supporting talent strategies and as such could be failing their donors and beneficiaries by overlooking this increasingly important area.
 
If you need support developing your own talent strategy or with the provision of training and mentoring please do get in touch. Gary Kernahan and Loretta Bresciani Murray are Consultants with THINK, the leading international consultancy dedicated to not for profit fundraising. We’ve been working with charities in the UK and all over the world for more than 15 years. The THINK website – www.think.org - provides a wide range of insights and information for anyone interested in changing the world.