A Short Historical Brief
Fundraising, in simple terms, means the gathering of money for various causes and initiatives.
The role of a "fundraiser" has evolved a lot since the beginning of civilization. A quick online search of the oldest charities in the world (initial fundraisers were, more often than not, raising money for charity) shows that fundraising has been prevalent since the mid-18th century. The actual origins may stretch further back - for instance, the King's School Canterbury, which was founded in 597 and re-founded c.1541, is considered one of the oldest charities in the world.
If we go still further and think of how leaders since the early days of the Roman Empire would raise funds to sharpen their military preparations or for building places of worship, this could be one of the oldest forms of fundraising that continues to exist in the modern world.
There are thousands of examples from different cultures and civilizations around the world where fundraising was led by leaders and members of the society of the highest calibre.
Development or Fundraising?
An often-used word in place of fundraising is 'development'. Although I personally consider development to be just one step in the donor's journey, there are some crucial differences between fundraising and development.
When we talk about 'development', we are referring to activities carried out to foster and quicken the fundraising process in a new market or sector that the organisation is keen to dip its feet in.
Fundraising is the process of 'selling' the cause to the audience and converting them into donors. To be honest, I disagree with the word 'selling' and prefer to use pitching instead.
If you ask me to describe fundraising in a short sentence, I would say 'fundraising is the transfer of feeling and passion'. Fundraisers can achieve great deals if they are passionate about the cause they are fundraising for. This is something I touch upon in my freebie, 6 Tips to Raise More Money.
Fundraising or Resource Mobilisation?
Do fundraising and resource mobilisation mean the same thing? Definitely not!
Resources do not imply just money, as you may know, there several types of resources that organisations need resource-mobilisation professionals to secure they can include money, volunteers, in-kind services, and more.
While both tasks are similar when it comes to increasing revenue of the organisation, they have different strategies and tactics. Although fundraisers can sometimes secure in-kind services to help organisations avoid cash payments, their prime goal is to increase the financial revenue of their organisation. Securing in-kind services is never a core element of their strategy.
Fundraising or Partnership?
Partnership is a form of fundraising in non-profit terms. From a technical point of view, there are two main partnership styles:
1- Two or more organisations co-funding programmes/ projects
2- A corporate supporting an NGO with the understanding that it will receive some sort of benefit from the NGO
I will end this topic by highlighting that historically, fundraising used to be led by the leaders and influencers of society; and to this day, fundraisers continue to play this role even if they are not conscious of it! Fundraising in modern times includes several aspects, including but not limited to development, resource mobilisation and partnership. Put together, all these form the backbone of fundraising.