Fundraising and Zombies – Part 2

Zombie cartooncopyIn last week’s introduction to our Zombies series, IFC CEO, John Baguley raised the question: is there a zombie lurking in your fundraising team? Part Two goes on to look at how to identify a fundraising zombie and how we must stop ourselves turning into zombies…

Never tell a zombie he is dead

All eyes were on Paul to produce a new fundraising strategy and true to form nothing happened, deadlines sauntered by laughing and the Chair fumed, but he found no allies on the Board for drastic action, and with recruitment for the new Director (who might just have done something) dragging on, redundancies looked imminent. It was then the new Trust Officer made a serious miscalculation and accused Paul of being dead on his feet citing the pile of unsigned applications.

Never tell a zombie he is dead. Paul, as near as is possible for the undead, sprang to life and went for the Trust Officer’s jugular. Accusing him of a serious breach of discipline he sacked him on the spot. The Trust Officer took the case to court. The case took time. Redundancy notices were handed out and the organisation shrank. The Chairman moved on as a friend of a trustee took his place. Eventually, a new Director was appointed by the Board. Reputed to be a safe pair of hands, he oversaw the running down of the charity and let the dust settle and the Trust Officer leave with a rather large pay-off. Paul went happily back to the illusion that he was functioning in the real world, and the remaining staff kept their somewhat diminished salaries. Paul is still there. Indeed, Paul will be there long after I have passed on. I don’t think he can die – he is a zombie.

Zombies are hard to identify

Paul may still be a friend but I could not work with him, and find it surprising the high level of tolerance people have for zombies. I guess they lack the killer instinct.

Zombies are hard to identify – look sideways in the washroom mirror at your colleagues, and you may see that it is not a smart suit and fashionable tie they are sporting it is just a bundle of flapping white rags, and that noble forehead in reality has a nasty gash where the fatal blow was struck. Hard as they are to identify, zombies are harder to kill. Give me a mad axeman or an aggressive wolf in the office any day – at least they know when the game is up.

Many of us lead ambitious lives, but we hunger after the wrong things and so barely manage to achieve mediocrity. We look forward to the dream job, or at least the next job and then the one after that, so that our salaries rise and we can afford to pay for the things we bought on credit last year. As we know, really this is nothing to be proud of and at best we are coasting through our work hoping to land a better position, however much we protest our passion for the mission. If our passion for the mission was weighed against our passion for a better job I sometimes wonder which would be the greater?

Instead, a truly satisfying life is one where we transform the organisation we work for and transform the lives of its beneficiaries. As fundraisers we are often uniquely placed to do that by bringing in a huge increase in funds. Yes, it is possible but we often just lack the drive and ambition to make it happen. So many of us, for example, go to a fundraising congress and pick up some good ideas about improving the fundraising techniques we employ, but how many of us have really looked for the way to double our income in say, three years? And how many are prepared to argue and win the resources that are needed to drive such a programme forward, not to mention tackling the things that we will need to stop doing; which can be harder than starting the new cool activities.

The lassitude that might just turn us into zombies

Instead we improve things a bit here and a bit there, stalked by the danger of that lassitude that might just turn us into zombies. Could we instead be heroes? A hero is certainly someone who transforms the organisation they are working for and so goes on to greater challenges as a rising star. Of course, that route is open to us all if we can just stop being passengers waiting for the career bus to drop us at the next job.

Of course, it is hard and it is not just about long hours or being the boss’s BFF, but it is about ambition for achievement and a drive for significance through that achievement. And there are wolves to be overcome and zombies to kill, so maybe you are just not up to it; but if you are then there is no time like today and if you would like some help – let me know.

Fundraising and Zombies was first published on UK Fundraising.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

This entry was posted in Fundraising, John Baguley, Zombies. Bookmark the permalink.

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