Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are the training courses provided by the Institute of Fundraising worth going to?

Hardly a week goes by without me getting a physical mailing or an email alert about fundraising from my professional body the Institute of Fundraising. I have been a member of the Institute since the early 1990's and until recently there was very little training in Scotland other than the very worthwhile Scottish conference which is like a training and networking boot camp combined with a last night party/booze up.

The courses run in London do seem quite appealing and I have this nagging feeling that I should try and go to some of them, but to be honest my charity has precious little money for those sort of trips. I could get the money to go, but I would feel guilty, especially as I need my budget for other fundraising purposes like leaflets, mailings and posters which have a direct impact on the bottom line.

One of my ambivalences about the Institute of Fundraising courses is that they seem to enthusiastically present fundraising ideas which have worked very well for large charities. In my experience these don't often work as well for smaller or regional organisations. Take social media as an example. My charity has benefited greatly from its involvement in Twitter and Facebook. Facebook especially because we have overseas supporters who are able to interact with us through our Facebook page. But, we only get people joining our Facebook page who we already have contact with through our web site or as members or donors.

Many of the subjects I see being promoted as training courses are in this vein and not likely to make much of an impact on fundraising in smaller organisations. Small charities just don't have the brand appeal to attract casual support. Even if a larger organisation did very well from something this is no guarantee it will work for you, and it might mislead you into investing in something which is doomed to failure, making it more difficult for you to be innovative in the future.

Thats my opinion for what its worth. Please leave a comment with your own views.