If you’re looking for advice on fundraising, it’s unlikely the Church Times would be your first port of call. It is a publication known for informed and independent reporting of Church and world news, but not necessarily for fundraising home truths.
Step forward the Very Revd Dr Michael Higgins, who is a former Dean of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire. His “Ten Commandments” for fundraising represent an excellent aide mémoire, the more surprising because in my experience few clergy understand the hard facts of fundraising or the appropriate relationship between their cathedrals or churches and their donors or would-be donors (in many cases, would-not-be donors).
Apart from the need always to say “thank you” – surely a given? – Dr Higgins emphasises the need to involve, attend to detail, deliver and say sorry.
To be honest, I can’t think of much that Dr Higgins has left out – so if he has spare time on his hands now that he no longer oversees Ely Cathedral, there might well be a place for him at Minerva!
Matching the basic truths set out by Dr Higgins is the constant need for charities to keep abreast of modern technology, especially in the IT field. Dr Higgins emphasises a personal approach, which I heartily endorse: but even in the smaller charities Minerva supports it is impossible to maintain contact with supporters without the use of e-mails and massed mailings. I am completely at one with Dr Higgins in his call for letters to be “topped and tailed” in manuscript; but thanking every small donor in this way is sadly beyond the resources of small – and often volunteer-run – charities.
The coronavirus crisis has shown us all the need for, and opportunities offered by, ZOOM meetings, webinars and virtual events. All these – and more – have enabled small charities to keep in touch with their beneficiaries, volunteers and donors; and some are asking whether they would ever go back to more costly and time-consuming gatherings. Of course, the charity sector needs to embrace new technology as soon as it is available – but not to the exclusion of Dr Higgins’ “Ten Commandments” which will outlast many more modern innovations.