UK Fundraising Professional Sian Newton on the Value of Earning a Fundraising Certification

Sian Newton became a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in early 2020 and has had a two-decade career fundraising in the UK.

The CFRE certification is the only globally-recognised, accredited certification for fundraising professionals. By holding the CFRE, each certificant shows they have demonstrated their understanding of globally-accepted best practice fundraising principles.

Sian has worked for some of the UK’s most well-known charities, including the British Red Cross. Here, she shares her insights on the value of consultants holding their CFRE and why seasoned professionals can benefit from earning a fundraising certification.

How did you enter the world of fundraising?
I left university knowing I wanted to work in the not-for-profit sector. I did a research internship for a charity and also some fundraising volunteering and decided that fundraising was right for me!

What is your favorite part about being a fundraising professional?
Working with people from all walks of life to make charitable giving happen. After more than 20 years, it still gives me a great buzz.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Be tenacious and persistent.

What is your personal philosophy about investing in yourself and staying active in your professional development?
I’ve always been proud to be a fundraiser, it’s something I take seriously. One of my favorite phrases is: Onwards and upwards!

How did you first hear about the CFRE certification and what made you decide to pursue it?
I heard about CFRE through my fellow Directors at Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants. There’s a real emphasis on professional standards and excellence and all the other Directors have been through the CFRE process. So, when I became a Director, I decided I wanted to follow in their footsteps. It was a personal challenge.

You’re currently a fundraising consultant. Why do you think it is valuable for consultants to hold an accredited fundraising certification?
Clients come to you for your expertise, knowledge, and experience. Having the certification is another way to demonstrate both the breadth of your knowledge and that it reflects up-to-date best practice.

There are two parts to the CFRE process: an application and exam. When you passed your CFRE exam, how did you feel?
Relieved and very proud.

You earned your CFRE after more than 20 years in the sector. Sometimes professionals believe that with that much experience they don’t need a certification. What advice would you have for fundraising professionals who have been in the sector for years and are on the fence about whether or not to pursue their CFRE?
Learning is a life-long thing. You can build on the knowledge and experience you already have. Go for it!

Remember as an AFC member you receive substantial reductions of fees for CFRE examinations and recertification.

Solidifying your fundraising knowledge with a credential

Do you value doing a job properly, thoroughly, and without shortcuts?

If you’re a fundraising professional, this means you’re likely to be the team member consistently adhering to the highest professional standards. You show up to work each day with a commitment to go above and beyond—grounding yourself in donor-centric fundraising principles that help your donor achieve her philanthropic goals.

Since 1981, the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential has stood for confidence, ethics, and professionalism in fundraising. It is a natural choice for fundraising professionals who consistently strive for excellence in all aspects of their work.

“The CFRE is the only globally-recognized, accredited certification for professional fundraisers,” says Eva Aldrich, Ph.D., CAE, (CFRE 2001-2016), President and CEO of CFRE International.  “For those working in the UK, holding your CFRE signifies you have proven your understanding of best practices that apply nationally and internationally.”

Currently, there are more than 6,600 CFREs in over 20 countries.

The CFRE journey

The online CFRE application is the first step. There are three sets of criteria you must meet and document on the application:

1) Education: Need to have participated in 80 hours of continuing education in the most recent five years (hours can be a combination of attending education and presenting sessions, as well as authoring fundraising articles). Points can also be awarded for university degrees earned in any year in any field of study.

2) Professional Practice: Need to have worked a minimum of 36 months in a paid professional fundraising role in the last five years.

3) Professional Performance: Need to have 55 points in this category. 1 point = USD$25,000 raised by your fundraising team. Fundraising professionals in the UK can convert the funds they’re raised in GBP to U.S. dollars at https://www1.oanda.com/currency/converter/. Points can also be earned for communications and management projects.

Demonstrating your fundraising knowledge

Once your CFRE application is approved, you will have one year to sit for the 200-question multiple-choice CFRE exam at any of the Pearson VUE testing centers around the globe.  There are 30 testing centers in the UK.

On average, CFRE candidates study 40 – 60 hours and tell us they learned practical information in the process that they then began applying to their jobs straight away. If studying might feel like a dreaded task you haven’t had to tackle since university, flip that thinking so you view it as an opportunity to upskill and verify your knowledge.

Upon passing the exam, you are a CFRE! Recertification is due every three years but does not require sitting for the exam again.

Cost

The initial application fee for first-time certificants is US$875. As a CFRE Participating Organization, members of AFC save 20% and enjoy a rate of US$700. Recertification is US$510 at the standard rate or US$408 for AFC members.  

Over half of CFREs report that their employer covers part or all of the cost of CFRE certification.

Get started

More than 93% of CFREs say they have gained increased recognition from peers by earning their certification, so why wait to get started?

There is no cost to begin your application. Once you start it, you’re welcome to log in and out of it as many times as you need to input your details. You only pay when you are ready to submit it.  

Begin your CFRE application at https://cfre.secure.force.com/siteregister.

Learn more about becoming a CFRE at http://www.cfre.org/certification/initial/.

‘Creating a Successful Fundraising Consultancy’ The AFC’s Gherkin Sessions September 2018

We held a very lively and informative Sessions this year and here we share some of the key outcomes with you.

As professional fundraising consultants under the umbrella of the AFC, we are committed to giving our clients the best possible professional advice and sharing best practice.

Promoting your company

  • everyone is different so find what works for your company by trialling different marketing methods and go with the ones that work best;
  • measuring marketing can be difficult so make sure you use the platforms available like Google Analytics etc;
  • remember that as well as getting your brand known, people need to know exactly what it is you do so remember to tell them;
  • ask for personal recommendations;
  • ask for referrals; and
  • promote your company by running workshops – this shows your expertise and gets your name and your people known.

 

Why organisations engage fundraising consultants

Clients spend money on fundraising consultants for a variety of reasons including:

  • staff shortages;
  • need for expertise;
  • they have lost their way and need help finding their way forward; and
  • they are looking for someone to explain why things haven’t worked and to tell them what they need to do.

 

Delivering to your clients

As consultants who want to run successful consultancies you must be brave and not just be ‘yes’ people as you need to deliver for your clients.  Make sure you define your consultancy’s particular area or areas of expertise clearly so that there is no ambiguity about what you are delivering.

It is important to form professional relationships and ensure that you always do a good job.  Volunteers can tend to move from one charity to another so ensure that you also form professional friendships here as you never know when it could stand you in good stead. Be seen in the market and do whatever it takes within your niche such as running workshops, speaking at conferences or getting involved yourself as a volunteer within the community.

 

Terms of Engagement

In respect of terms of engagement, ensure that you have a standard contract that is robust and doesn’t have to be continually altered. Keep it simple and avoid over-complicated ones but make sure it covers all the relevant points and remember that a contract is legally binding. Ensure both parties have a clear understanding of the contract and what is expected of them.  A contract can be a moving target but you do need everything in writing for both of your protection.  Do seek professional advice from a solicitor if in doubt.

Let employees and clients know that you are members of certain associations and for that you must adhere to the various codes of conduct.

GDPR could be your friend. GDPR has helped with the need to have a contract in place before working for a client. Do bear in mind Brexit as it could mean that you will not be able to transfer data from the UK to the EU.

Everyone is eager to get started on a campaign, but be cautious of working with a client before you have a signed contract signed and in place. If you need a reason to justify this to the client then use the professional indemnity insurance reason.

Do not take on commission only contracts. They are not ethical and could impact on your cash-flow. Most importantly it blurs the boundaries between you and your clients.  Whose campaign is it? What is the role of the client and what is your role as the consultant? Commission only contracts do not build critical relationships.

It was agreed that the most successful campaigns are those where the ownership of the campaign belongs to the client and where ‘loyalty is not defined by a day rate’.

 

Calculating your Fees

When pricing your fees, you may consider day rates or hourly rates. However, your pricing structure may be flexible depending on the client and the project. Consider retainers with lower day rates. Retainers and rolling contracts can often benefit clients as there are no sudden unexpected bills and you have an assured cash-flow for your business.

Remember that determining good value for a service can be difficult. Therefore, you need to make sure your services and their outcomes are measurable where possible.  It is important that you don’t sell your experience and expertise short and to price in line with any high-quality professional service.  That way, the client will respect you and listen to you.

As a basic guide-line take heed of the ‘thirds’ business model when setting your fees:

1/3rd:  your rate and/or your employees/associates

1/3rd: Taxes & business running costs

1/3rd:  Company profit

 

Please ‘share, share and share’. If you are not already a member of the AFC, please consider joining and becoming one of the professional leaders in fundraising consultancy in the UK.

The Power of the Personal Touch

A face to face ask is 34 times more effective than sending an email’.

Harvard Business Review 2017

If there is one thing that I have learned over the past 30 years of fundraising it is to always ask in person wherever possible.  Indeed, not just for fundraising purposes but for anything you truly want in life.

Like everyone else, I use emails just about every day.  It is efficient and quick but I would always advocate caution before we lose the ability of talking and listening to people in person.  As well as being able to pick up tone and body language, it is often what someone is not saying that is as important as what they are saying and taking heed of that all-important ‘in between the lines’ narrative.

Whilst technology has had a hugely positive impact on our lives, we must not lose sight of the importance of the ‘personal touch’.  Certainly, when making the actual ask for large donations it is critical that communication is face to face.  It is only when you are seated next to or opposite someone that you can convey with clarity and conviction your own passion for the cause in question.  Your potential donor will be inspired and confident and only then will they make that all important gift.

Link: https://hbr.org/2017/04/a-face-to-face-request-is-34-times-more-successful-than-an-email

Winning Business as a Consultant

Fundraising consultancy is a competitive market. There are several agencies competing for the same business; not to mention numerous sole traders, ranging from highly experienced consultants who have been working in the field for many years, to relative newcomers, either supplementing their day-job, or trying to establish themselves for the first time. Standing out and winning business is not easy. Below are my top tips for increasing your chances of success.

  1. Specialise – No-one can be an expert in everything, so what is it you are good at? Is it Trust applications, Major Donors, Digital Campaigns, corporate partnerships or something else entirely. You need to be clear about what service you can offer, so you can meet the needs of those coming to you. There is often the temptation to say you can do everything, but unless you can surround yourself with a team of staff or associates who can bring other skills and experience, being specific about what you offer is important.
  2. Decide on your market – Do you want to work with education institutes? In the Arts and Culture sector? International Development? Are you trying to attract small charities, or the big international NGO’s? Again, without a large team of experts to call upon, forging a niche for yourself in a specific area could be a benefit. It will also help with the next step.
  3. Prove your credentials – Why should a client choose you rather than a competitor? How do they know they are going to get a top-notch service? Reassuring them that you know what you are talking about is crucial to turning interest into business. Testimonials from past clients and examples of work you have done can be extremely helpful. Of course, I would also recommend membership of the AFC, which vets all its members for quality and therefore offers clients a unique level of confidence.
  4. Marketing, marketing, marketing – How will potential clients know you exist to ask for your help? For some, all their marketing is focused on networking and word of mouth. For others, speaking opportunities and sponsorships are equally important way of getting your name known (did you spot the IFC-branded Volunteer T-shirts at Fundraising convention this year?) Either way, you need to be clear about who you are trying to target and what you want to say. As someone whose preference is to spend their time working directly with clients, marketing can be easy for me to side-line, but it is essential.
  5. Understand what clients are asking for and respond in kind. –Sometimes clients are very clear about what they need (they are also often wrong – but that is for another blog!) and present a detailed Call for Proposals. Other times they are unsure; just knowing they need help. In either case, nothing substitutes for spending time getting to know them, meeting with them in person – where possible – and really getting to the bottom of what their issues are. Only then can you tailor a proposal appropriately, which addresses their areas of concern, and demonstrates how you can help them solve their problems.

And finally

  1. Be very good at what you do. – Do what you say you will. Deliver on your promises. There is nothing more important to a consultant than their reputation!

Winning Business as a Consultant

Written by Bill King MInstF (Dip) – CEO – International Fundraising Consultancy

 

 

 

Why Leadership is important to a successful fundraising campaign.

All leaders need to have a clarity of purpose, buy in to the vision and, most importantly, make their own well-thought through personal gift to the fundraising efforts early in the process.  Their leadership by example will set the bar high and define the outcome of the campaign.  As Albert Schweitzer said: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing”.

Certainly, if leadership of the organisation and the campaign is weak, negative and fragmented it will ensure that any fundraising ambition is doomed and risks damaging important relationships that have often taken years to build.

It is important that the internal leadership is tested before a campaign starts (often through a confidential feasibility study).  If there is not a universal commitment then to proceed with a campaign would be foolhardy.

Time and careful consideration needs to be taken to build the voluntary leadership board.   It provides the ‘heartbeat’ to a campaign and drives success. A board is made up of brave, bold individuals associated with the organisation who are successful in their chosen careers.   When asked to join the board, their first instinct is to say, “I’m far too busy to get involved”.  But they do get involved because they care passionately about the organisation and its vision and they are always people who ‘make things happen’ in their day to day lives.   They are people who have great integrity, are inspiring, flexible and, above all, have the ability to listen and embrace opinions of all around them.

With strong leadership campaigns rarely fail – the right leaders simply would not let that happen!

 

AGM 2017

The Annual General Meeting

for the

Association of Fundraising Consultants

will be held on the 15th December 2017, at

The Potting Shed, 39-40 Dorset Square, Marylebone, London NW1 6QN

@ 12p.m. / All welcome.

If you would like to stand for the committee please forward a biography to enquiries@afc.org.uk

The Agenda:

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of the last AGM
  3. Chair’s Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report
  5. Election of new committee members
  6. Any other business

 

Please download the minutes from the previous AGM (2016)

Please click here to see a current list of committee members.

Notice Of Director Nomination Form

 

AGM 2017