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The soul of a Fundraiser

At in2action we often ask ourselves, why are we doing this job? Have you ever asked yourself, what makes a good fundraiser?

At in2action we often ask ourselves, why are we doing this job? Have you ever asked yourself, what makes a good fundraiser? In this article you will see the secret conversation between Lazaro Maisler and Norma Galafassi, well not that secret anymore!

Norma G: Ever since I discovered this job, I always knew that you cannot be a good Fundraiser without putting your whole soul into it. Fundraising has to do first and fundamentally with connecting to the cause you are working for. That is the engine that gets you into an incredible world full of people in many organisations that work for the ideal of a better world.

Lazaro M: In my opinion, the thing that makes a good fundraiser is the final objective of this job, raising enough money for the organisations that we work for, so they can fulfill their missions. I’ll add more to this, I had the luck to work or support with my knowledge, organisations for a wide range of causes such as health issues, helping people in need, working for children to have a worthy childhood, building awareness about climate change, rescuing abandoned pets, fighting against poverty, gender violence or inequality in general. In all of them I found something in common, incredible people who take part,  propel and carry them forward.

Norma G: The same thing happens to me. I believe that fundraising is a bridge that unites all these great causes and marvelous people with many others, most of the time anonymous, that are willing to take part, support others and sometimes do not know how to. And there comes the fundraiser work to inspire, motivate and support in order for them to join in.

Have you always thought of becoming a fundraiser?

Lazaro M: I accidentally started working in the social sector. I remember working as a mobile phone seller around the 2000s when a friend told me about a nearby institution who needed someone with knowledge of technology. Since I’ve always been the “techy guy” in my group of friends (and knew quite a bit about the organisation) she advised me to apply for the job that implied doing administrative tasks and organising information that was not compiled. I can add to this: there were donation coupons, the data base was unorganised, the processes of the presentations of the donations were sloppy, the campaigns were not analysed, neither the returns of the investment, or the rejections, nothing was made to regain the people who stopped their donations, etc. With time I discovered that there were other organisations doing the same thing, In Argentina there were colleagues gathering and running trainings that were more specific that showed what was being done in other parts of the world and when I realised, I was already doing Fundraising without even knowing it.

Norma G: I too accidentally got into it. I already had done a 3-year marketing career in a multinational company, and I wanted to change to another area of Marketing in massive products. I was 26 and I always wanted to help people some way or another, but I was not comfortable with the traditional ways to help people in those times (helping in hospitals, or a religious entity, etc.) One day, in my work search appeared a friend who told me that an international organization was looking for someone to lead from cero a new project. It was UNICEF with the goal of starting their Fundraising area and associated strategy for the first time. I did not know what fundraising meant at the time. I told my friend that the job was not anywhere near what I was searching for. But I went to the interview with almost no expectations. Suddenly something happened. I discovered that maybe, this was my way of helping others while enjoying myself: using many of the marketing and communication tools to help an organisation that was working for one of the causes that really moved me: Kids. And after that, I started a one-way journey. Because fundraisers are the ones who can help people to collaborate in causes people might know but do not get close yet. Once I had been in UNICEF for a while, I got interested in what other colleagues were doing in other NGOs. We started to get together in a friendly environment and we finally created AEDROS, which today is the Association of Fundraisers of Argentina. And since then, I have been helping AEDROS with trainings and experience exchange with other colleagues to expand fundraising.

Many times, fundraisers are told NO, don’t you get tired of being one?

Norma G: Well, a British friend of mine always said that fundraising was an art, and like any art there is theory, practice and a great deal of passion. Our job requires a lot of time, perseverance, patience and most of all, tolerance to being told NO. But we do get great joy when we accomplish our goals and see the different things NGOs can pull off. It is true that there are many moments when we feel unmotivated, but we must remember that within the NGOs there are people doing remarkable tasks, harder than ours, along the many wholesome stories from beneficiaries or the incredible dreams in other organisations such us museums or research institutes, that are a true inspiration and motivation to keep on doing my job.

Lazaro M: I agree. There are people in NGOs who know the problem and get involved in the solution. People who in many cases went through extreme life situations, who experienced first handed the pains of our society and still found a way to channel those pains into light, music and to be able to help those people who are going through the same thing, to let them know they are not alone, that these situations can change, and they can turn the tables around. Many of these people grow to become social leaders that push out causes but they often do it alone, and they need support from others like their relatives, their communities and society in general. Knowing all that I feel motivated to support them and to help them achieve their goals and fulfill their NGOs missions.

In conclusion, anything else to say?

Lazaro M: Basically, as a fundraiser I look for the funds needed and means for people and their organisations to fulfill their goals in a way that makes them sustainable and as permanent as possible. Although we are a supportive society, we still have lots of things to learn and do. We all have a cause that moves us and if not, we must find one. We must join causes, with sustained commitment in a way that our contribution matters and helps others. We need to support the social causes and its founders and influencers, not to feed our egos or get n their ways but instead, in the way these people need it. We got to be part of the solution because these people make our society a better place, an inclusive place, a place where people can be heard and not be excluded.

Norma G: I totally agree with you Lazaro. And even if it is not for a social cause, it is the same feeling for an artistic or scientific project. Those dreams are often not possible to be pushed forward by only one person. Its even more challenging if you want them to endure in time, as you need a diverse and sustainable source of economic support. I think we have the best job in the world, and we recommend it to anyone! It has to do with psychology, finances, creativity, communication and above all with emotion and humanness. It is the fundraiser’s soul.

Yeah! END