No matter what organisation you work for as fundraiser, it is always all about the people

No matter what organisation you work for as fundraiser, it is always all about the people

24 February 2022

Frederic Diependaele is fundraiser (relationship and network builder) at Missing You vzw since november 2021. He is a seasoned fundraiser, with almost twenty years of experience. From street fundraiser to fulltime dedicated fundraiser in different sectors, his main focus is always connecting with people.

His job entails 100% fundraising with invididual donors, corporate sponsors, digital and social media fundraising, CRM development, … “Missing You fights for sufficient space and appropriate support for children or young adults confronted with loss and grief. We tap into and support the resilience that children, adolescents and young adults possess. We help young mourners to emerge from their grief and loss experience as strong individuals.”

From pioneer street fundraiser to full time fundraiser

Frederic DiependaeleFrederic graduated in 2003, he has a degree in Comparative Cultural Sciences and an additional education in Development Aid at UGent. “I was looking for job offers in the NGO world when the first direct dialogue company in Belgium (DDF) just started. I noticed that an organisation like Amnesty International was looking for street recruiters via DDF. Subsequently I became part of one of the first street recruiters teams through an agency (all credits to Greenpeace of course who was the first with this technique in Belgium). I remember the pioneering work of both Amnesty, who resolutely went for it (unseen at the time to make that investment), and of the close-knit team at DDF. We went for it! And that drew the attention of Unicef, Oxfam and many others. For me, this was a good launch in the NGO world and after all these years, I still meet the same people in the world of charities. The fundraising community in our country is pretty tight.”

“The fundraising community in our country is pretty tight.”

“The basics of street fundraising is still usefull in my every day job now as a fundraiser. Whether it is street fundraising or a conversation with a major donor in a more comfortable setting: the essence remains the same: conviction of the need and impact to support your charity. Working as street fundraiser was the perfect school for everything that came afterwards. Since then fundraising became more and more professional in Belgium.”

In the aftermath of his carreer in street recruitment, Frederic worked for Amnesty International and Greenpeace. “These are two international 'mastodons' in the field of fundraising. The place to be if you want to keep up with the latest trends and developments in fundraising. The international character of my work also provided me with a mix between the 'European' and 'Anglo-Saxon' way of working. I learned a lot from both sides and I still strive to apply a best of both worlds approach.”

“Around 2012, I noticed a kind of shift in our sector of fundraising potential/techniques outside the NGO world in Belgium. It was apparently time to conquer the cultural sector. I then worked for 2 museums and a university: an open field with immense opportunities and challenges. The context in which I worked was always different (different language, target audience, governance, ...) and so was the history (database or no database f.e.).”

“Networks, informal contacts, board cooperation, … were very important in a museum or academic environment. This is also where the more American oriented patronage/philanthropy ideas come in. I am by no means an expert in one particular field or fundraising technique, but I have a good view of the broad picture, with the pitfalls and opportunities in each case.”

“It's all about the people you want to engage, convince, explain the importance and impact of support: and that journey is the same everywhere.

Data research and profiling

“But despite those differences, there is and remains a common thread: whether you work in a museum for contemporary art, or in an organisation that does health work in Africa, or a place of remembrance around the Second World War, or a voluntary organisation. It's all about the people you want to engage, convince, explain the importance and impact of support. And that journey is the same everywhere. It is always about finding the right people, so data research and profiling is indispensable in any context.”

Full support of volunteers and board for fundraising

“Our greatest strenght at Missing You vzw now is that the importance of fundraising (since the start of our action plan mid 2021) is fully supported by the small 3-person team, the volunteers and the entire board. And each of them takes up his or her tasks and responsibilities with great enthusiasm in order to follow the right paths and approach prospects. Our network has been mapped and each has his or her own task list of files and actions to follow up. This is not about large-scale direct mailings, street recruitment, telemarketing or elaborate online platforms, but about approaching the right person, at the right time, by the right person, with the right question and the right dossier. A lot of puzzling and finetuning, but this solid list of actions towards individuals, companies, corporate sponsors, institutions and foundations will form the basis to build on towards the future.”

As Missing You is a smaller organisation, big Direct Dialogue or Direct Mailing campaigns are not an option within the budget. “This makes it more difficult to quickly create a large database of potential monthly donors. This is something we have to do step by step. For now we will primarily keep the focus on the existing donors with attention to a qualitative donor journey and thank you-process. Our current database of donors (but also partners, sympathisers, professionals) is still too small to generate sufficient structural gifts. An end-of-year mailing campaign did provide interesting information in terms of donor profiles and potentially interesting segments.”

The Crowdfunding action by ‘Boven de Wolken’ in 2021 was an inspiring campaign for Frederic. “The urgent appeal for donations to guarantee the continued existence of this organisation went viral, received a great deal of press attention and proved the power of crowdfunding and digital fundraising with brilliant results. But it also proves the importance of (and belief in) a very intense and long preparation process, because this action was obviously not achieved overnight. Patience, trust and thorough preparation bore enormous fruit and also brand awareness and enough data to keep them busy for a while and to build on.

Belief in fundraising efforts

If Frederic can give his fellow-fundraisers some advice on working in fundraising it would be to keep a close connection with management and board. “Involve them, use them as fundraisers, give them advice and tools on how to use their adress book optimally for the organisation. Also make sure you have a well-written plan of action to start with, think ahead. Stick to the plan, but make sure you have a back-up plan.”

“Keep faith in the efforts you make, like calling, e-mailing, networking, … It will pay off! It always does”, Frederic adds. And last but not least: Talk to other fundraisers, ask for advice!. Keep yourself informed. I’m glad to be a member of the FAB and join trainings on a wide range of topics. For me it is the fundraising reference in Flanders and Belgium with credible expertise. The interaction with other FAB members/ participants is valued greatly. After all, we all share the same concerns and challenges.”

logoMissing You vzw gives children, young people and young adults the opportunity to learn to cope with their loss, to learn to express and represent what is going on within them. As mourners express the emotions they are experiencing, they learn to know and accept them. They learn to pay attention to what is going on inside them. Recognising the same feelings in encounters with peers strengthens this process.

We make everyone who comes into contact with grieving children, adolescents and young adults aware of the needs of this group, in the short and long term. In this way, we provide continuous care from the environment.

Finally, together with other organisations, we bring the importance of caring for young mourners to the attention of society, so that dealing appropriately with loss becomes a basic attitude among children and young adults. In this way Missing You contributes to an understanding and supportive society.

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