Climate change needed for donor centric fundraising!

Published by Reinier Spruit on

From left to right: Ellen Kooij (War Child), Wimco Ester (Open Doors), Frits Hirschstein (KiKa), Ruud Tombrock (WSPA), Jolanda Omvlee (Compassion Nederland) (photo credits: Jaap Zeekant)

Recently I had dinner with the 5 best fundraising organizations in The Netherlands. This was a follow-up from my previous blog post: Who are the best Fundraisers in The Netherlands? The very same day Ramses Man had picked up my message to start “doing our homework”. We were going to look beyond the market figures and get into the qualitative side of these organizations. Why is it, that these organizations are so good in fundraising?

At our dinner we had decades of fundraising expertise around the table. Ramses and I will share that experience in more detail later (both here and in the Dutch Fundraising Magazine), but I wanted to focus here on one particular part of the discussion that I’m sure resonates with many of you.

Frits Hirschstein, founder and Executive Director for KiKa (charity for children with cancer) said something that has been on my mind for some time now. We were talking about what obstacles his charity faced in growing even faster. It sounds strange to talk about growing even faster if you know that KiKa has grown at an average annual rate of 25% 4 years in a row…

So what is holding KiKa back to grow even faster? Frits explained:

As a barrier to further income growth I’d like to point out the image of the charitable sector. Donors are more and more suspicious of charities, because some of them spoil it for the rest. In a way the whole sector is being held accountable when one organization screws up. And that is frustrating. If charities would be more transparent, many problems would be solved. This negative image has an impact on the organizations that are doing terrific work, and that’s very unfortunate.

I totally agree with Frits. The charity sector is seen as one entity, at least in The Netherlands; if there is a crisis in one charity, the cancelations go up in many others. So, if the fundraising sector as a whole improves its services, this could contribute to all of us. Instead of having a negative impact, we can actually contribute to each other’s success.

The key word in the former paragraph is WE. To create a more philanthropic climate in a specific market more charities need to change. You can’t do this by yourself. The one perfect charity, that engages with their donors in such a way that we’re talking about truly genuine charity-donor relationships (assuming this is the best recipe for maximizing sustainable fundraising), is both hard to find, and will never change the entire market.

Center of the Universe

What needs to happen? I think every charity needs to put the donor in the center of their universe. The donor makes it all happen. We share the same vision and values, but without the donor we would be nowhere. Without the donor, the Haitian earthquake would have killed hundred thousands more in the aftermath. Without the donor, Indonesian rain forests would have been destroyed already. Without the donor, no charity. We need to start appreciate the donor, and we need to do it yesterday.

An example. There is an obvious temptation to recruit large numbers of donors, and you should, but be aware of the supporter journey that starts right there. That’s where quality should kick in. That first experience you give to your donors is crucial in shaping the perception of your own organization, but of other charities as well, and thus the philanthropic climate.

I can imagine someone commenting underneath this blog post saying that there are all sorts of fundraising programs that do just that, donor centric fundraising. Sure, there are probably a lot, but most of the fundraising programs out there are servicing and engaging with only a small part of their donors.

How come my most successful direct mailing in an emergency situation only had 30% response from our active donors? In other words: 70% of my donors didn’t want to donate, even in times of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time and during the holiday (giving) season. 70%!? If you are in a situation of life and death yourself, and you ask your friends for help, I hope you get more response than 30%…

As fundraisers we are used to getting a NO. In fact, most of our response is a NO. Let’s change the climate, let’s appreciate our donors and go for 70% response. And let’s do that together.

What do YOU think we can do to improve our philanthropic climate?
(Let’s discuss! Leave your ideas in the comments!)

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit

Reinier is in love with fundraising since 2001. Ever since he's trying to improve his own fundraising skills and those of others. He's one of the original founders of 101fundraising. At the moment working with amazing clients through his one-man fundraising consultancy. Loves running and baseball.


Sarah · February 6, 2012 at 14:22

Thanks for the post! I look forward to hearing more about the insights from the best fundraisers in the Netherlands…

But since you asked, here’s my thought: all fundraisers need to also be donors of our own organisations (and also other organisations). We need to literally put ourselves in the donors’ shoes in order to understand how they experience the organisation. Do we ourselves feel welcomed? Appreciated? How are we communicated with? I realise that many larger programs have “mystery shoppers”, and I think that’s an excellent idea. But even in a small shop, I think we can learn a lot as fundraisers by donating ourselves.

    Reinier · February 6, 2012 at 22:58

    Totally agree Sarah, experience how it feels to be a donor and how you are treated as such is key in understanding your own donors. Thanks for your comment!

Elsbeth · February 6, 2012 at 15:02

Hi Rein,
Thanks for the blogpost!
Having worked for both Plan and MSF, in my opinion it matters most what journalists think (sometimes not even know) of your organisation, and what they’ll write about it. In my experience from talking to many donors in person, donors don’t see the sector as one entity, but are smart and know precisely where their money is going. NGO’s teaming up in transparency and loyalty may not prevent another general story in the press about ‘charities’ spending the money in a wrong way I’m afraid. Having a good relationship with not only donors but also the press and being transparent to journalists can help. And maybe even make them donate to your cause!

    Reinier · February 6, 2012 at 23:12

    Hi Els, thanks for your comment.

    I can imagine that in your higher value segments donors are more aware of what’s going on and they are informed and contacted differently. However, most donors don’t receive your personal phone calls and attention. I wonder if they are just as informed and therefor more easily thrown off balance when they hear bad news about a charity…

    The media is definitely part of this equation and focusing on that relation helps. We all know that bad journalism can only destroy what we’ve carefully tried to build up.

    Sometimes there are rumors that the sector representatives (e.g. the VFI) should do a public campaign to support the image of the sector. Do you think that would help?


      Sarah · February 7, 2012 at 07:29

      I’ve actually experienced both sides of the equation at two different organisations. One, a very donor-centered organisation, had donors responding after a publicity scandal over another org saying “You are the charity I trust. The rest are all thieves.” And by another, a very un-donor centered group, donors didn’t know the difference between our org and another in the spotlight.

      So I absolutely believe that our relationship with our donors is critical. On the other hand, a smart outreach strategy can help to capitalise on the media attention (postive or negative). Just look at the Planned Parenthood vs. Komen example! Let’s use the opportunity of press attention — postive or negative — to reassure our donors that we are unique, effective and trustworthy.

Ellen Janssens · February 6, 2012 at 15:10

Agree 100%. A better understanding is needed of the needs, perception and wishes of our donors. Through e.g social media, donor panels, or other means where interaction takes place.
Because we certainly shouldn’t forget our volunteers and community fundraisers, who donate time and/or effort instead of money.
We shouldn’t focus solely on donors, but on all (interactions with) our supporters. They aren’t distinct groups.

    Reinier · February 6, 2012 at 23:15

    Great ideas, will you let us know when you’ve set up something similar for the Heart Foundation?

Victor · February 6, 2012 at 15:16


I completely agree! Less administration more inspiration :-)

Brock Warner · February 6, 2012 at 16:52


I think at the core of this problem of charities having a negative image, is that many potential supporters simply don’t understand how an effective charity operates. Great charities are addressing complex root causes of an issue with the intent to eradicate it from the earth, and that process simply can’t be condensed into a sound bite. So when we introduce ourselves to donors, we often over-simplify, saying “$10 a month provides a family with healthy meals for a week”, which demands of the donor to take a leap of faith that we can accomplish what they can’t do on their own. So if we don’t de-mystify the process of how we are able to accomplish this goal, we’re always going to leave ourselves open to skepticism and criticism.

Education needs to be done, and I agree with you, that it begins with the first experience donors have with your charity. It may be overwhelming to some, but I believe it sends a strong message of “we are about results, and doing whatever it takes to get there”


    Reinier · February 6, 2012 at 23:22

    Excellent comment Brock!

    Your comment reminds me of one of my previous posts about Adrian Sargeant’s loyalty research: https://www.101fundraising.org/2011/03/top-9-donor-loyalty-tweets/

    Take a look at tweet number 3:

    “Donors have little way to assess your charity’s work; they use the service you provide to them as a surrogate.
    A large part of your donors often have no clue what you’re really doing, how you’re doing it and what challenges you need to overcome to reach your goals. So, there is no way the majority of donors can truly assess the great things your nonprofit is doing. Apart from trying to explain your work much better to these great people, it makes sense to at least provide them the best service, which they fully understand. Donors will use the service that you provide to them as a surrogate to assess your campaign work. It might sound strange that they will form an opinion on the valuable humanitarian life-saving work you do based on how you answer the phone, or how swift you send out your thank you letters, or whether you give supporters genuine personal attention when you communicate with them, but apparently it works like this, so you better have an impeccable donor service.”

      Guillermo de los Santos · February 7, 2012 at 08:09

      Hi Reinier and folks,

      Just to add on that if Im a donor I would like to be respond in a way I become affiliated to your charity. For instance I recently became a donors of 4 different organizations, 2 never replied back to me, one is sending me an e-appeal every week and other send me very sweety messages
      I think research/surveys are crucial because we never know who is the donor on the other side. In my case, I hate if people thank me 4 times in a letter, I know it is not real, because life it is not like that
      So we should get to know our donors and inform them in the way their preferred as not all donors become donors because of some reasons
      Donor centric=research are always together (even if more expensive in the beginning, it will pay-off in a life time value of a donor)

        Reinier · February 7, 2012 at 21:53

        Assumption is the mother of all screwups, right? Therefore you need to do your research. As a fundraiser it’s dangerous to switch off your own opinion, but you have to…

        Check out what Jeff Brooks said about that in a recent post (The worst advice in fundraising):

        The most useless and pointless advice you can get (or give) about fundraising is this:

        I wouldn’t respond to that.

        Nobody (including you) should pay any attention to what you wouldn’t respond to. The real focus must be Will donors respond?

        And how you feel about it sheds no light at all on that.

        So next time you feel tempted to give that advice, stop and reconsider. Instead, focus in on what you know about donors.

        And next time someone gives you that advice, politely ignore it.

        Source: http://www.futurefundraisingnow.com/future-fundraising/2012/01/the-worst-advice-in-fundraising.html

Claire Axelrad · February 6, 2012 at 19:29

Totally agree. We must understand a gift is just a beginning. It’s a symbol of how the donor could potentially care about us and our mission IF we properly nurture the relationship. Being donor-centric is a lot like dating. We need to be interested and interesting. We need to put ourselves out there, and not just wait for them to call. We need to appreciate them. Otherwise, they’ll move on to someone else.

Alison McCants · February 6, 2012 at 21:55

Great post, Reinier! I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that more people would have died in Haiti and more rainforests destroyed without donors. We tend to think of “us” and “them” – charities and donors – but we’re inseparable.

    Reinier · February 6, 2012 at 23:27

    True, without donors, no charity!

    Let’s try to include that little sentence in all of our annual plans… ;-)

Michael J. Rosen, CFRE · February 6, 2012 at 23:59

Reinier, thank you for promoting the idea of donor-centric fundraising. I’ve written the book “Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470581581/?tag=mlinn-20). So, I’m obviously a huge advocate of the donor-centered orientation. One time, when I was doing a seminar that touched on donor-centered tactics, a participant asked, “I guess what you’re saying is just common sense, right?” I replied, “Yes it is. And, when it becomes common practice, I’ll stop talking about it.” I think most development professionals know they should be donor-centered (though some will actually argue otherwise). However, they fail to behave in a consistently donor-centered fashion for a variety of reasons. Your post is a good reminder for folks about what is the right way to do things, for their organization and for the sector.

Several years ago in Scotland, a breast cancer research charity was embroiled in a scandal. They saw their contributions drop dramatically. However, other charities in Scotland that had nothing whatsoever to do with the problem charity saw donations drop-off by as much as 30 percent. It took nine months and a major media campaign before things began to turn around. You’re quite correct. The actions of one organization not only impact that one organization but also the entire sector.

david heyer · February 7, 2012 at 05:46

Great idea and concept of bringing together the fastest growers and hear their experiences and beliefs. Another great post Rein!

Ramses Man · February 7, 2012 at 10:00

I really enjoyed organising and attending the dinner with the five fastest growers in the Dutch Fundraising world, and I couldn’t agree more with Frits analysis about the negative image of the sector keeping charities from growing even faster. BUT: Frits also proved with Kika that this is not an excuse for not growing at all. Through the stories that we heard during this dinner I were reassured that growing is possible, and even double digit growth is possible as long as you have a clear strategy and enormous drive within the organisation. So, do not let anyone use the poor image of the fundraising sector as an excuse for not being able to grow your income at all. Just read the upcoming article in Vakblad Fondsenwerving and here on 101Fundraising and you know you will make a fool of yourself with that lousy excuse. You are warned!

Bart Hamming · February 7, 2012 at 10:10

Charity has a lot to with feelings of un-equality, guilt, being and keeping victimized. Charity offers a lot a help out of the perspective of the helpers. And there is this thing of the need of the helpers to be recognized as THE helpers (you can see be the flags and logo’s on 4-wheels who’s in the field). Charity has become big business and because of that the charity business has become very competitive, quite reluctant to build on ideas of other “helpers”, or willing to share knowledge, resources and people. One of the things that the charity is sharing though, is the unwritten rule, the independent voice appointment, not to talk about this side of the reality. It’s an ugly side – and all to human.

This complex mixture of factors makes that the charity has created an atmosphere of latent distrust that burst out to a furious cynicism, when this ugly side of the charity-reality shows it selves e.g. by grabbing executives, or failure and ineffectiveness of help, or just bad luck.

Dare to be open about this all to human side of charity, call it transparency if you like. And then: DO something about the things you don’t like (stop analyzing, or re-organize, or talk about this in numerous meetings and trainings). Let the CEO’s the living examples of the way you dó like to act, inside your organizations and outside your organizations. (The culture in an organization tells you a lot if not all about the way of thinking and doing of the CEO. Most of the CEO’s are not aware of this phenomenon.)

PS. Don’t be so smug about being the best fundraisers.
Be proud of being the most effective help and support organization, when you succeed in being the best.

    Reinier · February 7, 2012 at 22:11

    Hi Bart,

    To me your comment seems to capture what the sentiment is of an expanding audience, what I tried to describe in the blog. Basically the very cynicism you refer to. So that is well put!

    About the complacent or smug attitude you refer to: I’d say it’s pure pride, because we are fundraisers and we take pride in what we do, nothing more. On this blog we try to share and learn, therefore a focus on the best in the fundraising industry, I’d say that’s very smart, because only if we improve ourselves we can help our charity the best.

    Thanks for the comment!

Ann Ward · February 7, 2012 at 10:15

We need to regard donors as a part of our organisation. Not an add-on. So they sit alongside staff and volunteers, all working towards a common goal and they are in our thoughts when we make major decisions. Consistently striving for excellent service is key as is treating them as grown ups.

Ken Burnett · February 7, 2012 at 10:24

Reinier I think you are spot on with this observation and it doesn’t only apply to Holland, far from it. It’s universal. Given the opportunities our sector provides for donors to make a difference, to change the world, we seem to have done a rather poor job of convincing our publics that through us they can experience joy, pleasure, satisfaction, fulfillment and a feeling that they’ve really had value for money and done something worthwhile.

I think this is mainly a problem of communication and feedback. As a sector, we need to get much better at it.

So you are right. It’s time something was done.

    Reinier · February 7, 2012 at 22:29

    Thanks Ken!

    Do you have a practical suggestion for our readers? We’ve already seen some options in the above comments about: donor research, inclusion, education, experience, communication, understanding, etc.

    What would be the most practical tip you would give in the area of “communication and feedback”?

      Ken Burnett · February 8, 2012 at 12:49

      Practical tips for communication and feedback, as requested. Thanks for the invitation Rienier, though I fear that once I get started on this subject I tend to go on at some length. So how can I put this relatively briefly?

      Well, I rather liked the way Michael Rosen from Philadelphia put it. He said, ‘We have to transform common sense into common practice.’

      This is so true. We all know what we should do and how we should behave towards our donors. But so many fundraisers take shortcuts and go for the quick and easy money. Often they’re compelled to do this or colluded with in the process by their board or senior management team. In this we are architects of our own misfortune. So people who say, ‘For our cause our only duty is to get as much money in as we can as quickly as we can,’ just so they can hit their short-term targets; they are doing a great disservice to the voluntary sector as a whole. Particularly in the way that the public views charities and the people who, in the process of raising money for those charities, ask them to give so clumsily, crudely and relentlessly.

      We fundraisers should always remember what our parents told us as children, ‘You won’t get if you don’t ask properly’. That common sense needs to become common practice and we – and our publics – need a much stronger, clearer idea of what responsible asking properly is.

      The core of this is, we need to perfect the art of feeding back. Quality feedback should become our hallmark. So we can answer the donor’s most pressing question, ‘Did my gift make a difference?’ and their secret personal wondering, ‘What’s in it for me?’

      We should answer the first of these questions with powerful emotional communication that will move our donor irresistibly, so that he or she will have no doubt of the value for money that her gift has secured. If you can’t provide this answer you’re in the wrong job. Fundraisers should only ask for money when it will make a real difference. Our mission should be to convey this constantly, creatively and carefully to our donors.

      Information is putting out. Communication is getting through. Our answer to the second question should be to get through to our donors – with power and passion that will move them to action – the pleasure, meaning, purpose, fulfilment, achievement and sheer joy that can and should be experienced by every donor who’s given a gift that made a difference. Do that and it won’t be hard to persuade people not just to give regularly but to go out and tell the world; to become real ambassadors for our cause and our organisation’s approach to tackling it.

      Thus, in time, our publics might begin to form a different perception of fundraisers and the causes they ask for.

      I could go on, but that’s a good place to stop. Thanks for a good debate.

        Reinier · February 8, 2012 at 20:46

        Great stuff Ken! If you want, you are more than welcome to post the occasional blog post on 101fundraising about this. :-)

        Reading your comment for the second time I think that the biggest challenge, on top of those you are listing above, is to create a sense of personal communication. When I read donor communication I rarely have the feeling it’s really meant for me, it’s always talking to a larger group… As fundraisers we need to get closer to our donors. And we can only do that by getting to know them better first.

        Thanks Ken!

Ilja De Coster · February 7, 2012 at 14:18

Thanks indeed for putting donor centric fundraising and the image of our sector back into the debate as key issue for growth.

I do have the feeling that those are topics we are a sector should embrase more. We often say we are donor centric – but in really aren’t it at all. And in competition between between charities for donor money we do too often damage the image of our sector ourselves.

3 quick thoughts to help create that neede climate change, that is indeed lot about communications external and internal.

If we want to take donor centricity seriously – we’ll have to include it into our fundraising performance indicators. Fundraising directors, chief executives and board members – too often tend to look only financially at fundraising: did we raise enough? what about the ROI?
Important indicators – but not good enough to monitor donor centrism. What about donor satisfaction? What about their level of understand what our organisation is about? What about donor confidence? what about their willness to become activists for us? … Let’s finally introduce non-financial metrics as well into our fundraising strategic plans.

In the competition for donor money we should stop to dishonour other charities. The classical issue here is about overhead costs and fundraising costs. Let’s be honnest and start to explain those instead of claiming the lowest costs…
I just yesterday did again the test with a streetfundraiser of a well know nonprofit organisation – I will not name it here, but they run their streetfundraising in house – not with a supplier. I’m not raising the discussion which of both methodes is better. But I’m shoked to hear over and over again how that inhouse streetfundraising is used as a sales argument: if you become donor to an organisation using a supplier your money is waisted to that commercial company, if you give to us it goes straight to the cause. Even if that inhouse organised streetfundraising does not cost less that with a supplier…
As fundraisers we must stop to sell our organisation by speaking negatively about the way other do they fundraising… Indeed if one organisation is attact in public opinion, all organisations feel it – for sure if the attact is done by charities themselves…

Overhead costs and fundraising costs, if done wisely are usefull costs for charities. If explained well the public does understand it. Prof Adrian Sargeant recently even call upon the sector to denounce charities who claim they don’t have those costs… they lie and damage the whole sector.

The same is true about the real impact we make to society, the same is true about the social and democratic values of having independent civil society organisations financed by fundraising… Let’s stop simplistic communications to donors – it might be easier so in the short run, but it destroys our image -and so our future income- in the long run.

Let’s continue this debate – we do need indeed a climate change, and we will have top make that happen ourselves.

Reinier · February 7, 2012 at 22:34

Thanks Ilja, love your thoughts on non-financial KPIs to be included in our plans. The focus on donor satisfaction will payback in the end anyway, so it’s just looking at the bigger picture…

Agree with all of them by the way!


Derek Glass · February 8, 2012 at 01:01

Thank Reiner for sharing this.

These comments remind me of what Dan Palotta, in his book Uncharitable, calls the “Nonprofit Ideology”. Namely, that it is bad for charities to take risk, to fail, to learn, and ultimately grow stronger in the process. Doing that “screws it up for the whole sector”.

I think that point of view ultimately hurts charities. It stifles innovation, experimentation, learning and growth. It stunts charities, and ultimately limits their abilty to alleviate suffering; often perpetuating it, and even institutionalising it.

I am also troubled by the idea of placing the donor at the centre of a charity’s “universe”. Doing so excludes a wide range of other stakeholders, the most important being a charity’s beneficiaries.

In fact, a charity’s beneficiaries are almost never mentioned in any discussion around donor-centered fundraising. The entire “impact” side of what charities are suppossed to do is entirely absent from the discourse.

I will put my hand up as one who is probably “spoiling it” for people like Frits. By taking risks, by testing, and questioning the accepted wisdom about what works best, and yes by failing spectacularly sometimes, and learning from the experience.

That is because for me (and others), moving a cause forward, to a real and lasting solution, as quickly as we possibly can, is more important to a charity’s beneficiaries than making sure we all row our boats at exactly the same pace.

    Reinier · February 8, 2012 at 21:01

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks for adding to the discussion!

    Interesting point you are making. I think “taking risks, by testing, and questioning the accepted wisdom about what works best, and yes by failing spectacularly sometimes, and learning from the experience” is not necessarily mutually exclusive from having a donor centric focus. Among many other words, I think donor centric fundraising is mainly based around respect for the donor. What I mean is that you can still have respect for the donor while testing outrageous stuff (and pls do!). It it works, it works. It if doesn’t, it’s your donor centric focus that needs to explain it to the donors why it went wrong. It should not necessarily screw it up for the rest.

    About your “beneficiary” point. Although it’s true that beneficiaries almost never make the discussion, I am convinced that the best donor centric communication is about the impact that we are making. Now I can either partially repeat Ken’s comment from above (about making a difference and show that to our donors), but I rather have everyone read the entire comment! :-)

    Thanks Derek!

Jaap Zeekant - Vakblad Fondsenwerving · February 9, 2012 at 02:01

I think Frits is wrong, when he states that a negative public image prevents us from realizing ambitious targets. Research (donor panel http://www.wwav.nl) shows an interesting relation between consumer trust rates and donor trust rates. Both follow almost the same line, Although donor trust has almost always been between approx 10 to 20 percent less then consumer trust, both statistic lines show the same movement. If consumer trust gets less, so does donor trust. I fail to see failing charities being the cause of that trend.

Although we have had a number of negative press moments over the past few decades – I at least caused one myself – , they don’t show in the statistics. Over 30 years the total income of fundraising has been steadily growing. In economic down turns, we still had collective growth. It was just a little bit less. But is was growth. So if we’re raising more from year to year, the situation can’t be that bad at all. Off course, some raised less, others more and some grew even spectaculair. Studying the latter will show a variety of skills, attitudes, strategic plans, motivation, commitment, true understanding of donors, special causes, special projects etc. etc. No public attitude will keep them from doing that: they will succeed in finding new people to support them, again and again. However, the simple fact that you can’t go on growing 25% is that the 25% gets bigger, year by year. In the meantime Frits is doing great and I expect KiKa to go on like this, for quiete some time in the future.

At the same time Frits is right, as many blogges are. If we will stay (or become) successful we have to put the donor in the center of the philanthropic universe. More then that, we have to involve them, motivate them and connect to them by communicating with them through the channels of their preference and about the subjects they prefer. It’s a magnificent challenge, because it is about the very nature of the philanthropic work: people – donors and our kind of ‘raisin folks’ – teaming up to make our society a better place. It’s not the need to grow that matters, It’s that principle.

We do have a large common interest in a strong public image strategy. For too long a time now, the charitable sector has enjoyed that great feeling of being very special indeed; actually being kind of holy, or at least better then the rest. Its time to get real: we’re just people who choose to do the work they like or find important. But that doesn’t actually make us special, let alone ‘better then the rest’. After all, during the process, we’re just making a living, aren’t we? Transparency is not just about money, its also about the people we are. And guess what: we’re just people, like anyone else. So lets start letting the donor know that we will screw up at least part of our future projects and thus part of their money. Not because we don’t care, but because it is just a hell of a job to really make society a little bit better. The least we can do is begin honest about that.

Sorry I had to wite this rapidly, not being able to check my typo’s: I’m in London and I left my laptop charger @home. The issue of Vakblad Fondsenwerving with the extended article of Reinier and Ramses will be at the doormat at March 18th.

Sarwat · February 9, 2012 at 15:17

This is really interesting, and what is more fascinating is the link that Frits makes between income growth and the reputation of the charity sector as a whole. For me there are 2 issues:

1) Fundraising is already a donor-centric activity, however the way we go about doing it is where the difference lies. You are right in proposing that all charities/fundraisers should invest in the relationship-based approach where donors are treated with respect. I couldn’t agree more!

2) I don’t feel we should be too hard on ourselves when there are incidences within the charity sector that can/has potentially tarnished the image of the sector. Surely, our donors will react and we should allow them and give them the space to do so. This will also mean an impact on income growth as has been the case for KiKa. Nevertheless, it is important that during such times, donors are made aware about the resilience of the sector and the innovative solutions and measures that we adopt to ensure that beneficiaries do not bear the brunt of it all. This will earn us respect. Do we need to be obsessed with the percentage of income growth as a measure of success to deliver direct services to beneficiaries? I don’t think so.

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