As the name suggests, fundraisers raise money for their non-government organisations. Fundraising, however, does not always involve directly asking for donations. The fundraisers organise charity events, celebrity dinners and shows, where patrons buy merchandise/ products or donor-passes, and funds get raised.
What do they do?
At some time or the other, you may have received calls, snail-mails or emails asking you to donate ‘X’ amount of money for someone’s medical treatment, children’s education, senior citizen’s care and other activities. There are also fairs, exhibitions, plays, concerts, and other celebrity events, the proceeds from which are supposed to support a cause or group. Some dedicated people are behind these to raise funds so that their non-government organisations (NGOs) can sustain their projects.
One such is Anirban Chakrabarti, territory manager (fundraising) of international campaigning organisation, Greenpeace, in Kolkata. However, Greenpeace has different major streams of fundraising: face-to-face meeting with strangers on the road, tele-calling followed by one-to-one rendezvous, contacting references given by existing volunteers or supporters and reaching out to working people. “We don’t take any financial support from corporates or governments. Therefore, our whole sustenance comes from the fundraising department,” elaborates Chakrabarti, 30, sitting at Greenpeace’s Delhi office. “We stand on the streets to talk to random people (as part of what we call Direct Dialogue or DD), and also go to companies to create awareness about environmental problems and how to stop them. People, who listen to our talk and show interest, enrol as financial contributors or supporters of our organisation. Student or others supporting some cause enrol as volunteers or join our cyber campaigns.”
According to him, the expanding NGO sector means a need for more fundraisers who can raise funds locally. “One, the number of non-government orga- nisations is growing in India. Two, a lot of multinational NGOs are coming to India. And to run an NGO you need good fundraisers. It’s the bread (winner) of the organisation, he says, adding, “How- ever, we don’t do our campai-gns to raise funds. We raise funds to run our campaigns.”
But there’s a big challenge to NGO fundraising in general in India. “Earlier corporates used to get tax exemption for advertising in (NGO) souvenirs. But it’s now considered an investment,” says Sanjai Bhatt, professor of social work, University of Delhi. Secondly, the increasingly-important corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a direct competitor to NGOs, according to Bhatt. It may not be a threat to organisations like Greenpeace which do not take corporate gifts but what about those who do? Companies dole out big sums in one stroke as compared to individuals. “If you raise R100 from a person, you have to spend R40 to R50 for it,” says Bhatt. In contrast, by spending R5,000, you can bag R50,000 from an affluent philanthropist-businessman. But why will business houses loosen their purse strings for others when more and more of them are establishing their CSR arms or foundations?
“The CSR bill is coming. If it is passed, there will be limited scope for people to raise funds in NGOs.” He adds that incentives in the form of tax rebates can make companies interested. “Their money can be multiplied if the government gives more tax exemptions (to corporate donors)".
. Have passion and drive for the work
. Good communication and networking skills
. Be innovative and persistent
. Planning and budgeting ability
How do I get there?
There’s no specific qualification required to be a fundraiser though a qualification in social work and management (for senior-level positions) may come handy. A sales background for some positions may help. The most important differentiator here is passion and drive for this work.