Stop Being Cliquey – Ideas from the Fundraising Whisperer

Embracing the ‘New’ in your Committee

If you have volunteered on your committee for a long time, there is a chance you have become, without even knowing it, cliquey.

By this, I don’t mean a complete cow who ignores everyone except your own inner circle (I hope!) but someone who, ever so subtly, resists change – resists efforts from anyone who wants to deviate from the way things are done.

I get it. You have learned what works and what doesn’t! Often you have learned this through trial and error, and (more likely than not) with little handover or support from those that went before you. There is an awful lot of work over the years that goes into a fundraising plan.

Somebody new comes in, full of fresh energy and ideas, wanting to mix things up…

Oh, the naivety!

If only they knew how many times ideas like that had been tried. So-and-so did that years ago and it was a complete flop. I mean, we shouldn’t even have to debate this now – we know it doesn’t work!

Yes, we absolutely want and need fresh volunteers. But we want them to help us in doing what we know works. We want them to slip seamlessly into the way we have things organised. Most of all, we don’t want them wasting their time in all that ‘trial and error’ stuff we went through for so long. What a waste of their energy as well as ours!


So. Wrong.

Nothing will kill off the energy of a new volunteer faster than feeling like they are not making a difference. Not valued. Not heard.

It is a universal truth in fundraising (I’m a veteran now, I can say this!) that the most effective committees are committed to creativity and renewal. This means that you must have a positive and safe environment where your members can throw ideas around.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Unless people feel safe to voice a ‘bad’ idea, you’ll never unearth the really great ones.

This means that us old hands need to be less possessive of our ‘turf’ and embrace new ideas. We need to be open to the possibility of a flop, a dud, a time-waster.

You never know – maybe, just maybe, this new person comes with new ideas, new skills, new connections etc… They may just do a better job of it, and this ‘bad idea’ might just become a staple in your fundraising calendar.

And the worst thing that will happen? Our predictions come true and it’s a dud. In this case, we need to keep our mouths firmly shut. Even a sideways glance that hints at ‘I told you so’ is a big no-no.

After all, something great has just happened. Somebody else has just learned an awful lot, and your committee will have the benefit of that knowledge for a long time to come.

But best of all, they were ‘heard’ in the first place.


Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that parent volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier (and more fun). Click here to learn more about school and club fundraising ideas in Australia.

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