Raffaele Picilli: Terzo Settore e consulenza, con uno sguardo all’Europa

Intervista di Venesa Karic per EUConsult.


Can you briefly say something about yourself?

I’m Italian, 49 years old. I have a degree in political science. I’ve been involved in fundraising since 2001, when I founded one of the first Italian fundraising agencies “Raise the Wind”. In 2010, I decided to take a study trip to the United States to understand what the new fundraising “markets” could be for Italy. I brought with me fundraising for politics, museums and cultural heritage, environmental protection, and religion. In these sectors, I then specialized.

I am and have been a contract professor at some Italian universities (today I teach at the University of Urbino Carlo Bò). In my twenty-two years of work as a fundraiser, I have had over 120 clients and trained more than 12,000 volunteers and Third Sector operators.

What does consulting mean to you?
It means offering my client professionalism, ethics, passion, and attention. Not all “donors” are good donors to nonprofits or government agencies. You need to know how to guide the customer toward the right choices. I believe EUConsult is important for the growth of consultants. This is why I am happy to be a part of it, and I advise those who are not members to think about it. It is impossible to be part of Europe and work while looking only at your own country.

Some organisations think that they don’t need consultants – why have you been hired?
I often tell my clients that “it costs much more not to do than to do!” A consultant is an investment in the growth of the association. Unfortunately, many organizations are unwilling to invest and this makes them losers from the start.

What has been your biggest success as a consultant?
For me, it is a success every time a project is concluded, every time the client is happy, every time I have succeeded, thanks to the work of many organizations, in helping someone or something. The most important fundraising project was one in the cultural sector costing 10 million euros.

Would you like to share something that did not succeed?
Unfortunately, things may not always go well. In Italy, we say that “not all donuts succeed with the hole”. I would like to cite two examples. One in which I realized that the money raised didn’t really suit the project and so I left the organization, and another where the chair of the organization was convinced that he “knew everything about everything”…and then there was no need to myself!

What types of organisations are your main clients?
Public organizations such as museums and municipalities, non-profit organizations, foundations, universities, political parties, and election candidates.

What did you learn from the Corona pandemic?
I’m a fundraiser, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened during and after the virus. From my point of view and looking at Italy, COVID-19 has confirmed that when a “good cause” is in the spotlight, many donors are ready to give funds. As soon as this doesn’t happen anymore, no one remembers the “good cause” anymore. Second reflection: many have received funds, really many funds, but few have reported the expenses, and unfortunately, few have protested. Third reflection: many hospitals in Italy have received donations to deal with the COVID emergency, but almost no one has understood that fundraising can be precious for the health system.

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