Mice in Council

One day some mice met together in council to discuss the best way of guarding themselves against attacks from the cat. After much debate one mouse said “We should fasten a bell around the neck of our enemy the cat that will warn us of its approach”. This was unanimously decided as the best idea. At that moment an older and wiser mouse stood up and said “I agree this is a very good idea, but who, may I ask, is going to fix the bell on the cat?”

Occasionally Trustees or perhaps even a senior management team will look at their organisation’s finances and decide that more income is required and will pressurise the fundraising team to increase their targets without giving enough thought to adding in more resource to increase those £ targets. There is no question that successful fundraising does increase income and that major gift programmes work but there has to be enough lead-in time to plan the programme and ensure there is enough staffing and resource to underpin the increased activity.

If we think of the attacks from the cat as the dips in future income then the possible lesson from this is to plan carefully now and invest in fundraising to avoid this attack. Trying to fix a bell on the cat will require a clever plan and more resourcing. By planning ahead it may be possible to keep the cat away entirely.

I am always amazed at how huge some of the biggest charities have become in the UK and this is always based on careful planning and investment in a wide range of fundraising programmes including the major donor programme. Those organisations, whatever size, that increase their knowledge of fundraising at leadership level and make wise decisions on investment are the ones that will flourish. So often I find that if smaller organisations have a sudden windfall, the question is often asked ‘which project can we spend it on?’ instead of perhaps asking the question ‘how can we invest this money to multiply and make more money for our charity?’

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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