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Happy Birthday IoF!

I saw recently that the IoF is 30 years old this year - a moment perhaps to take stock? Certainly, fundraising has come a long way since the ICFM, as it then was known, was established. And so, to be fair, has the Institute.

Some of us will remember the rather shambolic days of the 1990’s, when the ICFM lurched from crisis to crisis, suffered from poor administration and failed to define a strong reason to join. Yet the IoF came through it and in the noughties established itself as a credible representative of our noble trade. It is certainly a different organisation from the one I joined in 1992.

And what of fundraising itself? Well in 1983 I was just a student volunteer, rattling a tin for Amnesty International, but even in those days, paid fundraisers had no internet or social media to recruit and nurture donors. It was all paper based and used a lot of trees in the process. So you could say a revolution has occurred in how we raise funds.

But is this really the case? The form may be different (more digital, less paper), but the essence of good fundraising remains the same. In the 1980’s it was still vital to communicate a need cost-effectively to the right audience and to turn a profit – just as effective fundraisers do today. To me, the biggest change has been the professionalising - some would say maturing – of fundraising itself. The average fundraiser today is far more clued up than when I began fundraising in the late 80’s. Much of this is down to the Institute, with its training and certification. We have come a long way from the days when fundraising was seen as an American art and when to do things properly meant copying ideas from other countries.

Today, we have become an established, home-grown and culturally more relevant profession (with one or two exceptions I admit) and I detect greater self-confidence and wider knowledge among fundraisers. Whatever its sometimes chequered past, this is largely down to the Institute. I understand celebrations are planned for later this year, so happy birthday IoF. Here’s to the next 30 years!

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