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At the beginning of this year I wrote a blog post 'The pressure is on in 2012 for social enterprise and fundraising'. I predicted the realities of receding big ticket fundraising (typically money from grants and Government) would hit many not-for-profit organisations in their pockets during 2012.

One of the more significant solutions is clearly to move away from a total reliance on big ticket fundraising and onto peer-to-peer fundraising. The implications are that organisations need to learn a whole new way of working and thinking.

But there are frequently barriers to change, and I'd have to say that my experience of many organisations tells me the barriers are mostly about attitude rather than any material barriers.

Consider this? An organisation receiving big ticket funding enjoys the luxury of being able to focus largely on the organisation's operations. So, for example, a health organisation will naturally be health-centric and probably run by people who have health experience. But peer-to-peer fundraising requires an entirely different skill and mind-set; it needs to reach outwards to a community of supporters and actively engage with those supporters.

In my work with organisations facing these issues, I can report there often seem to be natural barriers to appreciating the pressures for change. While the need for change may be obvious, incumbent people may not be inclined towards the change simply because it represents factors which are foreign to their experience and understanding.

I've found there's a big and simple way to characterise the issue. The traditional fundraising organisation is likely to be inward looking and run by people with exactly those attributes. The new organisation needs to be much more outward looking and should be run by more people with those attributes.

It's akin to what happened within armed forces in the 20th Century with the invention of the aeroplane. The Army resisted the setting up of an Airforce by insisting, if it were to be investigated, it be by the Army or the Navy.

What does this mean for fundraising organisations in practical terms? Two things are important. Think about the people running the organisation – both management and governance, and make sure there are more people with the required skills. Maybe the next CEO of the health organisation might not be a health professional. And secondly take a look at your strategic plan and start with a good look at your mission and purpose statements. You might find they're not as ambitious as they need to be in the new environment.

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About the author

Fraser Carson is a respected communications and social media consultant, and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in community building, the not-for-profit sector and business development.

Get out more and enjoy the freedom

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