Monday, 20 September 2010

The UK's National Occupational Standards for Fundraising...where's the "Ask?"

Last week, I had the privilege to participate as a member of an expert fundraising panel discussing the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), the new framework for creating and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

QCF units are based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) which are developed and managed by the UK Workforce Hub.  According to Skills Third Sector, the QCF:
  • recognises smaller steps of learning (units)
  • enables learners to build up qualifications bit by bit (by combining units)
  • helps learners achieve skills and qualifications that meet industry needs
  • enables work-based training to be nationally recognised
 Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the National Occupational Standards for Fundraising skip the quite important step of asking people for money.

Sure, there's information on creating and developing a Fundraising Plan, and recording and monitoring donations, but the important step of asking a donor for money is omitted, compressed into the "implementing a fundraising plan" stage.

In the Major Giving component, for example, the important step of asking for a contribution is alluded to in No. 12. Select and implement appropriate solicitation strategies.

It's hard enough sometimes for professional fundraisers to ask for money, or to facilitate the process with trustees and existing donors.

The most troubling thing about the National Occupational Standards for Fundraising, however, is that young professionals with an interest in the sector will get a very wrong idea of what fundraising is about.

If we are going to encourage a "culture of asking" in the country, including it in our National Occupational Standards would be a great place to start.

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting about the new fundraising QCF units and we are really pleased you recognise the value of them. We see them as being a crucial way to ever increase fundraising skills across the sector both within the fundraising community and for people who have some fundraising function within their role.

    This is an interesting point regarding the standards. These, like all National Occupational Standards, were developed by an advisory board of fundraising professionals in 2008 and the grouped signed them off as an accurate record of best practice fundraising at the time. You are right that this work was convened by the UK Workforce Hub.

    Skills – Third Sector now owns and manages these standards. As such, it is our role to ensure they continue to represent the needs of the fundraising community and remain up to date with current practice of hands on fundraisers. They should also provide guidance to people who are delivering fundraising training; or building fundraising teams and functions within their organisation. Standards should also be a practical way for managers to benchmark against individual performance - from recruitment to appraisal. Anyone not familiar with National Occupational Standards and how to use them can read more at

    Your comments about “the ask” are very valid, and we will certainly forward this as a proposed change when the standards are reviewed (this is done as and when the standards are deemed “out of date”). If anyone has any further comments about the fundraising standards please email and we will collate the changes proposed.