If there’s one rule in fundraising that I’m more convinced about than ever, it’s that great fundraising and coaching go hand in hand. Whether you’re a fundraising director, manager, fundraising assistant or volunteer, coaching can transform the way you think, relate and fundraise.
Fundraising is tough
Let’s face it, fundraising can be a tough business. To succeed you need grit, determination and tenacity. And just like the greatest athletes, we fundraisers need someone to push us beyond our limits and help us find a deeper strength we never even knew we had. A great fundraising coach will help you do this.
Fundraising is stressful
Charity workers are under fire. Last year Third Sector reported that 9 in 10 charity workers have experienced stress, overwhelm or burnout in the past year. Much has been written on this since. There are many reasons why so many fundraisers are struggling: under resourced teams, unrealistic fundraising targets, redundancies and cultures that allow bullying and discrimination – to name but a few.
And this is where fundraising coaching can come into its own. Receiving coaching, whether from a professional coach, or a friend, manager or colleague, can help you improve your awareness, find creative solutions, practice ‘self-care’ and become more grounded. Although this won’t necessarily change the external pressures, it will help transform the way you respond to them.
Fundraising coaching and the managerial toolkit
There are fundraising managers who coach and fundraising managers who don’t. Leaders that fall into the latter category aren’t necessarily bad managers. But there is a difference. The difference is mindset. Fundraising managers think about their role in a way that makes coaching a natural part of the way they manage, fundraise and relate, both to donors and to their team. They aren’t professional coaches, but they know that a coaching mindset can transform the way they – and their staff – work with the charity’s donors and funders to make the world a better place.
Coaching – how to get started
Here are some tips from my personal journey to help you start to uncover the power of coaching:
1. Find someone who is a good coach in your professional or personal networks and ask her or him to tell you about it. What do they do? Ask why they coach. Listen and learn. I’ve been having professional coaching from Fundraising Consultants Ltd.’s own Joanna Brill recently. But over the years I’ve also listened and learnt from others who may not be trained coaches but use coaching in their day to day lives.
2. Practice curiosity. One of the core lessons for managers is that coaching isn’t always about telling people the answer. Rather, it is more about having a conversation and asking good, open-ended questions that allow the people you are coaching to reflect on what they are doing, and how they can do things differently in the future to improve performance.
3. Learn the basics. Read a book, go on a course, follow coaching blogs. For me, the starting point was a two day free ‘introduction to coaching’ programme with the Coaching Academy.
4. Practice what you’ve learnt. Try out your coaching skills at work, with colleagues, donors, line managers and staff. Hone your skills in your personal life too, with your friends and family. Practising basic coaching techniques will enable coaching to become a natural way of relating to yourself and others.
Fundraising coaching – why it matters
Investing in some professional coaching can be a powerful tool for changing your mindset and behaviour and is well worth the investment. There are many great coaches out there and many fundraisers – including us – we offer fundraising coaching as part of our overall package of fundraising services and support. If professional coaching isn’t an option for you, you can still reap the rewards of coaching and being coached. Start your coaching journey today by reading, learning from others and practicing coaching techniques. It will make all the difference in the world. The sky’s the limit.