Establishing a formal qualification for fundraisers is one of the most important steps a fundraising association can take, according to Peter Helmer, Director of the IF-Academy in the Netherlands.
With around 25,000 nonprofit organisations raising €4.7 billion annually, fundraising is a competitive and mature marketplace in the Netherlands.
Dedicated fundraising training was first introduced in 1992 for fundraisers working in the hospital/care sector.
Twenty years on, two formal EFA certified qualifications have now been introduced, raising the bar for professional standards in the nation and bringing Dutch fundraisers to the same playing field as many of their international colleagues.
The IF-Academy’s Professional Fundraising Diplomas (Tracks A and B) were certified by EFA in November 2011. Any fundraiser that completes the qualification will be registered on the Instituut Fondsenwerving’s list of certified fundraisers (REF) in the Netherlands.
DEVELOPING THE QUALIFICATIONS
Professional fundraising training was first introduced by the Institute of Sponsorship and Fundraising (ISF) in 1992, when a training programme was developed for fundraisers in the hospital / care sector. Nine years ago, the Dutch Fundraisers’ Association (NGF) worked to broaden out the course so that it applied to fundraisers of all disciplines. The ISF and NGF subsequently merged to become the Institute of Fundraising (Instituut Fondsenwerving) in January 2011, setting up the IF-Academy as an independent training facility.
Over the past two years, the course was re-developed to constitute two professional fundraising diplomas; Track A for beginners and Track B a more intensive course for experienced fundraisers. These new courses were developed with EFA Certification in mind, moulded to fit the syllabus and competencies required by EFA.
“It was relatively simple for us to adapt our existing programme to EFA’s syllabus,” says Peter Helmer, Director of the IF-Academy and former Chair of the ISF.
"The hard work was in developing the right structure for the programme, mapping it to EFA’s syllabus and ensuring that nothing was left out. We took this opportunity to review and improve our Diplomas to reflect modern day fundraising in the Netherlands and we are confident that we have developed an exceptional qualification. Teachers must ensure that each fundraiser achieves the specified outcomes to ensure they qualify.
He continues: “The wonderful thing about it was that it created a strong alliance between the partners who were all committed to enabling Dutch fundraisers to achieve profession recognition nationally and within the wider European fundraising community.”
THE PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISING DIPLOMAS
The professional fundraising diplomas, tracks A and B, are available exclusively through the IF-Academy in the Netherlands. Track A is a very practical course, with fundraisers being set assignments that, through the duration of the course, will typically see them raising considerable amounts for the organisations they work for. Track B is also practical, but covers many of the management and strategic skills that will be required for a more senior fundraising position.
Although the IF-Academy offers a number of other training programmes, the Professional Fundraising Diplomas are the main focal points.
EFA Certification was awarded in November 2011. Since then, 25 Dutch fundraisers have completed a diploma and it is expected that a total of 60 fundraisers will gain the qualification by the year end.
Helmer says: “Make sure you choose the right partners to develop and deliver the programme. Identifying the core aspects of fundraising that are to be covered within the curriculum is a very different skill to formulating the training programme itself and its delivery. A successful qualification programme will involve both fundraising experts and educational or academic partners.
“A qualification programme is an essential offering for every national fundraising community.”