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Giving hope: The journey of the for-purpose organisation and its quest for success

7 June 2019 at 10:16 am
Wendy Williams
For Peter Dalton his latest book Giving Hope is the culmination of a 30-year-journey to answer the question of how to create great fundraising in a for-purpose organisation.

Wendy Williams | 7 June 2019 at 10:16 am


Giving hope: The journey of the for-purpose organisation and its quest for success
7 June 2019 at 10:16 am

For Peter Dalton his latest book Giving Hope is the culmination of a 30-year-journey to answer the question of how to create great fundraising in a for-purpose organisation.

Dalton, a former national chairman of the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA), thought he’d “cracked it” earlier in his career.

But a seminal fundraising report by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang, highlighting the crucial role of a level five leader – who builds greatness through a blend of personal humility and professional will – left him bugged by a question.

Was the only way to create exceptional fundraising by having a level five leader in the organisation? In his experience, it was clear even when you had level five leaders they could not always create great fundraising.

“Something else was going on,” Dalton said.

In a bid to answer the question he looked to the for-profit world, and found his co-author  Robinson Roe, the managing director of OneTrust Australia and New Zealand.

“What I didn’t realise, when I invited Robinson Roe to co-author this book, was the very organisational changes needed to create great fundraising also change how marketing and programme delivery teams relate to fundraising and to each other,” Dalton says.

“Even more profoundly, I discovered that the changes needed to achieve great fundraising could positively impact the entire for-purpose organisation and realign it to its purpose.”

Over the course of three years the pair worked with three “brave” case study organisations: Plan International Australia, Mater Foundation and Oxfam Australia.

The authors observed a repeated set of six fundraisers’ dilemmas that each organisation came up against:

  • staff turnover
  • cost ratios
  • tied funding
  • the product or hope/ misery dilemma
  • crowded market
  • pecking order challenge.

Solving those dilemmas is at the heart of the book, which finds that many organisations are simply set up to fail.

“Many of the very best fundraising professionals will fail because the organisation recruiting them has the wrong structure, the wrong culture, and does not have the organisational learning culture to enable great fundraising to thrive,” Dalton says.

He says while you may never pinpoint the exact “how” in solving the dilemmas, this book offers a broader perspective than what has come before it.

“I think you’re more likely to get better outcomes through this process than anything else I’ve seen. I suppose that’s the primary unique selling proposition of the book,” he says.

The final product provides a real-world implementation for leaders of organisations to create more engaged, collaborative and effective teams, which break down silos and deliver greater outcomes and impact for their organisations’ missions.

The book examines emotional fundraising, lifetime value and the donor pyramid and how they fit with organisational leadership and development.

It also explores the differences between the for-profit world and the for-purpose world, with a chapter dedicated to hybrid models such as social enterprise.

Dalton says the biggest surprise for him was how the CEOs of the three case study organisations bought into the process.

“When I started this journey I would never have envisaged that the CEOs of the three organisations would have bought into it the way they have. So the fact that it’s meaningful for them is really powerful for me personally,” he says.

During a panel discussion at the launch event, Oxfam Australia CEO Dr Helen Szoke AO, Plan International CEO Suzanne Legena and Mater Foundation ED of philanthropy Lesley Ray outlined their key takeaways from the journey.

In particular they highlighted learnings around continuous improvement, being outcomes focused, having cross agency teams, unleashing the potential of middle management, integrating levels of thinking, with an emphasis on ternary rather than binary thinking, and having a sense of optimism of what is achievable.

Dalton says in the end, the book is no longer about creating great fundraising but about giving hope to everyone working in, or associated with, a for-purpose organisation.

“With the endgame of giving hope for a better world,” he says.

Because in all of us, we have hope in our brains.

“They call it the trait hope,” he says.

“It’s really built into our DNA and that’s the power of for-purpose organisations.”

He says he saw so many well-intentioned, brilliant people move from the for-profit world to the for-purpose world with the intention of making a difference and giving hope.

“Only to be stuck in another bureaucracy and never being able to achieve it,” Dalton says.

This is his way of keeping that hope alive.

In a review of the book,  Leo Orland says Giving Hope “will both challenge and inspire the reader”.

“Roe and Dalton discuss an alternative path for successful fundraising which is mission-driven and outcomes-based and is reflected in significant studies undertaken in the commercial sector,” Orland says.

He adds, while it is not an easy read, “it is definitely worth the effort”.

Giving hope: The journey of the for-purpose organisation and its quest for success is available here.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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