The desire to create a better world unites 30,000 fundraisers across the UK. Together they secure the £60 billion each year that UK charities need to provide much needed services. So when Donna Day Lafferty, herself a fundraiser for 17 years, realised that a shortage of skilled fundraisers was stopping many local charities from being there for the people who need them she decided to change the world; or at least a tiny corner of it.
According to Day Lafferty “You don’t know when you’ll need their support, from the cancer care centre to the local hospice; these local charities are there for us in the darkest life-and-death moments.” So how do you solve the fundraising skills shortage for these causes? One route is to train more people, and train them more thoroughly. That is exactly what she is doing by establishing the world’s first undergraduate degree in fundraising, Charity Development BA (Hons).
Right behind her is the University of Chichester, home to the new degree, with a record for innovative course development dating back to 1873. The degree has also attracted the attention of the industry’s leading software and provider, Blackbaud, who are sponsoring student internships with local charities and providing free software so students can learn from the coal-face and the classroom.
“I am hugely impressed by the University of Chichester’s efforts in establishing this undergraduate degree in fundraising,” said Jerome Moisan, Blackbaud Europe’s managing director. “Training and education are extremely important in any industry so we are proud to be involved with the world’s first fundraising degree. I believe it will add credibility to the profession and help set a new generation of fundraisers on a rewarding career path.”
Consultation with the fundraising sector during development of the degree received an enthusiastic response, but there was consensus that hands-on experience was also important. “Three years of intensive, specialist training simply hasn’t been available to fundraisers before. Combine this with an internship and I’m confident we can deliver the professionalism, creativity and resilience needed” says Day Lafferty.
Her enthusiasm is echoed by Paul Marvell, a director at the Institute of Fundraising, who said: “we are pleased to accredit the course against our Certificate in Fundraising. This (degree) represents an enormous step forward for the fundraising profession and for young people seeing fundraising as a credible and desirable career.”
Feedback from the pilot course, which helped raise £250,000 in its first year, was also positive. Student, and project leader at the Citizens Advice Bureau, Sophie Rider said “This is one of the best courses I have studied during my career in the voluntary sector and I wish I had done it at the start.”
The design of the degree has benefitted from the guidance of Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising at Bristol Business School, and Gill Raikes MBE, CEO Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity. Day Lafferty says she’s indebted to them and noted that “It’s not just about teaching know-how; critical thinking, ethics and interpersonal skills are also essential elements of the course.”