I often find that there is an assumption that if you’ve worked in one sector, the skills are not transferable to another – and this isn’t necessarily the case. The principles of major gift, individual or trust fundraising are the same in an environmental charity as they are in an arts organisation. The organisational structure may be different, the projects will vary and the donors may be different (although not necessarily) but the methods employed to encourage donations tend to be the same.
You still need to be clear about what you want funding for, how much you need and what it will be used for. You will need to make a robust case for support that captures the imagination of donors, demonstrates why you are the best organisation to deliver your particular project and helps your project stand out from the rest of the applications.
Often, it helps if someone does come in from another sector, casting a fresh eye on your approach to fundraising (or marketing or governance) bringing with them new ideas that are equally applicable to your organisation and sector as they have been to another but perhaps have never been tried in your sector before.
I worked with a marketing consultant on a fundraising and marketing strategy for an arts client. The marketing consultant had never worked with a not-for-profit or in the arts before so the client initially started out with concerns that he would not be able to understand their marketing needs. However, the result was a marketing strategy that got them thinking differently, encouraged their creativity and saw them employing new ideas to engage with audiences.
At the end of the day, employing a fundraiser or bringing in a consultant is the decision of the organisation but don’t narrow your field of choices simply because they haven’t gained their experience in your particular field. Chances are if they’ve been successful in one sector, they’re likely to be successful in yours.