A published novelist who once came home with a husky…meet IFC Switzerland Director, Emilie Compignie…
Tell us about your career in a snapshot
I have about 15 years of international experience in fundraising and project management, both as a fundraiser and a donor. After gaining a Masters in International Solidarity, I worked for many types of organisations (NGOs, Foundations, Government) and in many different countries (France, England, Burundi, Kenya, Canada, Switzerland) which gave me a 360° view of fundraising. I am almost hyperactive, so I also created an artistic events company in France when I was 28 years old and published a novel, Le Cordon d’Argent.
Since 2019, I have been a freelance consultant based in Geneva, where I’ve had the pleasure of supporting more than 20 non-profit organisations of all sizes and nationalities. As I wanted to contribute in bringing more professionalism in fundraising, I also co-created a series of fundraising workshops to build the capacities of small to medium-sized organisations. Overall, I have had the pleasure of training more than 100 organisations.
What led you down this path?
I remember when I was ending my high school studies and had to decide which university I would go to, I was depressed! Nothing seemed appealing to me until I found information about the non-profit sector, humanitarian affairs and international development in a small book. This was a revelation! I knew this was what I wanted to do and I organised all my studies and professional experience around the achievement of this goal. Fundraising was one of my first positions, then working for a French NGO. I improved processes, such as creating a database from scratch, to make their fundraising actions more efficient. Raising funds is not an easy task, but I liked the challenge around making it happen and being in the position of an intermediary for different actors to understand each other and collaborate. This is so motivating!
Collaborating is key in fundraising. This is also a very wide topic and one individual cannot know everything about fundraising. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and in that sense, it’s very enriching to be part of a network where we can co-create and support each other. IFC has been bold enough to do that internationally, and I appreciate that we are directors representing so many different countries.
What are the fundraising challenges in your region?
In Switzerland, the challenges are not that different from other European countries. NGOs and associations had to deal with the impact of the pandemic, testing their flexibility, their reactivity. Some did great, others not so much. But this was still a learning curve for everyone.
A challenge a bit more specific to Switzerland, that I have noticed as well, is that there is a huge number of foundations but a lot of them are not easy to access if you don’t have a network or a direct contact. Most donors don’t like to draw attention, but it makes it very difficult for non-profits to interact with them.
How has the global pandemic affected not-for-profit organisations in your region?
Overall the volume of donations increased, like in many other countries. But it only benefitted those who were able to react fast and adapt to the situation. It was much more difficult for the smaller organisations to adapt or redirect their operations. On the side of fundraising, digitalisation became central, and this is a huge step for most small to medium-sized organisations.
What does the future hold for charitable fundraising?
Many creative ideas appear every day around fundraising and that’s great, This is a fast changing sector and I truly wonder how it will look in 10 or 20 years from now. But I hope to see more cross-sector partnerships, more collaborations. Every single type of actor in our society can play a role in the charity sector. To be more specific, I am keeping an eye on the corporate sector, as I truly believe their contribution can considerably increase in the coming years. I recently read an OECD report about private philanthropy that represented 42.5 billion dollars between 2016 and 2019. It seems like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to ODA which represented 596 billion dollars for the same period. They also don’t focus on the poorest countries, and only 8% of these funds focus on gender equality. I hope corporations will come to a point where they understand the added value of supporting the most vulnerable.
Emilie Compignie is voted in as a world leader…what’s the first thing you do?
I organise a series of worldwide dialogues, based on the principle of deep democracy, to gather the views and ideas of every single inhabitant of this planet and engage them into active citizenship to build new societies together. Not easy in terms of logistics but I am sure I will have a dream team 🙂
Tell us a fun-fact about yourself
When I was living in Canada, I went sledding for Christmas and I came back home with a husky!