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Fundraising lessons from Gareth Southgate

by Susie Hills | Jul 4, 2018 | Fundraising

Let’s face it, who isn’t just a little bit in love with Gareth Southgate right now? Who wouldn’t be impressed by his focus, modesty, attention to detail, attitude and waistcoats.

As we all reflect on an extraordinary match, I think there are some interesting lessons for fundraisers.

Write your own history

How often do we hear someone say, “That won’t work for us”, or, “He/she will never give to this’? As fundraisers we should challenge these assumptions and consider, “How could it work for us?’, or, “They haven’t given yet, but what will change that?” That’s our job. If Gareth, of all people, can prove that England can win on penalties, then we can similarly write our own fundraising history.

Be happy for the team

We often hear the cliché that fundraising is a team sport, and yet I have often seen fundraisers’ CVs that suggest that they singlehandedly delivered big gifts. One of the greatest risks to fundraising success can be your own ego. If the gift comes in, be happy for the team – celebrate as a team. Tell the story of the team’s success, not your own. It’s hard to recruit and keep good fundraisers, but a team that celebrates together and that is a joy to work in will reap rewards. To see Gareth Southgate celebrating with his team and relishing them making history is to see a great leader in action. Who wouldn’t want to be on Gareth’s team right now?!

Harness your passion

Fundraising is all about passion harnessed for good. We must tell compelling stories and passionately advocate for change. But that passion needs to be harnessed with focused activity. Our donors don’t give just because we are passionate; they give because we communicate with them professionally, build strong relationships with them and ask them in professional ways. No one can claim Gareth Southgate doesn’t care, but his passion is beautifully harnessed with calm consideration and a focus on strategy and delivery.

Don’t let the media win

Fundraising and fundraisers have had some bad press recently, and the media seems keen to find negative stories about charities and universities. This is demoralising for fundraisers who are trying to do their bit to change the world. Whilst we must learn from the stories which have exposed poor practice, we must also not let bad news hinder our work, slow down our fundraising or make us so cautious that we stop trying new things. If Gareth listened to all the media, then he and his team would have long since fulfilled the stereotype created for them. Gareth has shown respect for the media, been honest and enabled the media to see the human side of his team. This careful media work has then enabled his team to focus on what they do best – play football – not on what the media is saying about them. Fundraisers need to focus on the donors, not on the media. Our donors want to change the world in some way, and it’s our job to help them to do that. We should work professionally and diligently, do our best to do good and help others to do so too. If sometimes we aren’t liked or are criticised in the media, that shouldn’t stop us doing what we do best – raise money to change the world.

So let’s love Gareth and the team whatever happens next – they have changed a little bit of the world for England. Let’s love what we do and our teams, because we can change a little bit of the world too.