The similarities between professional fundraisers and entrepreneurs are striking. Everywhere I look in South Africa, I see entrepreneurs. People busting their guts and their brain cells. They are working out how to make a living. Others are working out how to make more money. I visited my green grocer, Stella yesterday. Now, instead of only doing fruit and veg, Stella now sells free range eggs. I work with a BBEEE consultant. She has also diversified into project management. My very own husband has a two retail businesses. He is also a therapist.
Being a professional fundraiser is similar to being an entrepreneur. Both jobs require enormous and constant initiative. A professional fundraiser needs to wake up in the morning and actively decide, “Which relationships am I going to build today?” If this doesn’t happen, there is no progress. There are no donors surfing the net looking for causes. Causes are a dime a dozen, particularly in South Africa. Professional fundraisers need to find donors. Professional fundraisers need to pursue them and woe them. Just as entrepreneurs pursue every creative idea they have every working hour of every day.
There is another similarity between professional fundraisers and entrepreneurs. Neither of them can ever sit back and say, “I have enough.” Donors come and donors go. We cannot control the inner workings of their departments. We may be flavour of the month this year, but next year we are old news. The donor could chose to fund something entirely different. This doesn’t mean we must give up. Our work is valid. We need to keep going and find other donors. Similarly, entrepreneurs are exposed to markets that are constantly changing. And the unpredictability of those markets means that they also have to keep reinventing themselves.
Entrepreneurs also don’t wait for clients, customers or even ideas, to come to them. Professional fundraisers also need to focus on taking action and following up leads all the time. They cannot wait for donors to come to them. They cannot wait for donors to get back to them.
Enjoy the ride! It’s constant creativity. Then click here if you want some entertaining reading .