It is that time again for the Fundraiser of the Month. I’ve found that each Fundraiser of the Month has so many good things to say and I keep packing it into one long huge post. So… I’m going to start calling this person the Featured Fundraiser and let them take the time over a couple posts to say what they have to say. This month’s Featured Fundraiser is Tom McLagan and he has some great words for us.
What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?
I’m the Director of Development for Partners International Canada, a mission that works only through indigenous (i.e. local) organizations in 56 countries worldwide, bringing the message and the good news of God’s love into challenging environments. I have a team of six, including myself. We’ve tried to focus our fundraising on two areas: major gifts from individuals and churches, and also donor service and retention, along with modest donor acquisition activities. There are many different activities that keep us busy in pursuit of these to areas of focus.
What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?
There is only one thing: the knowledge that I’m making a difference. It’s not a hope or a vague feeling, but real knowledge. I know that school buildings exist because of my efforts; that poor children are being cared for because I recruited sponsors, and that people are finding hope in because I’ve connected donors in Canada with important missions abroad. Through my team I hope to multiply my efforts so more can be done.
What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?
In my field, which connects with other, more challenging parts of the world, my advice would be to always put the donors physically in front of the need as much as possible, or vice versa. Universities and hospitals have the distinct advantage in fundraising of being able to much more easily take donors to their sites. This lets donors feel the need personally. We who work internationally need to erase that advantage by taking our donors to the field, and also by bringing aspects of the field here to our donors. This latter suggestion usually takes the form of visits by field personnel. This is an uphill battle because all charities are frugal, both by necessity and by inclination, but these are investments worth making. We need to have an investment mentality. I feel that some charities are “penny wise, pound foolish”. Thriftiness is important, but it can also blind us from important opportunities if we aren’t careful.