Fork Handles

Published by Lucy Gower on

Last week Steve Bridger and I spoke at the Institute of Fundraising Convention in London about fundraising, engagement and technology. We included a bit of Two Ronnies nostalgia from the seventies for those in the audience that were born before the Internet was invented.


Fork handles and the Two Ronnies isn’t as random as it may seem in a fundraising and technology session. Let me explain.

Back to the days 

First we went back to the days when life was simple, when we spoke to each other on the phone, wrote letters and met each other face to face; the time before the Internet came along and made communication more complex.

For fundraisers the development of the Internet and new technologies does add complexity to traditional communication and also provides new and exciting ways to connect with donors and supporters and engage new audiences.

It’s very exciting to chase the bright new shiny stuff, but before we carried away with that, it is vital to remember the fundamentals of fundraising and ensure that we are using any new technology as an enabler to achieve our objectives rather than technology becoming the end in itself.

So, for example, before we build a new website or crowd funding platform, or a mobile app or a new database we need to take a step back and remember what we are trying to achieve and why it’s important, to ensure that the new bright shiny technology solution that we want to use is truly the best tool to achieve the outcomes we want…

Fundraising basics

We listed the fundraising basics as:

  • A compelling case for support
  • Putting the supporter first; before your organisations internal processes
  • Building transparency and trust
  • Connecting supporters to the cause
  • Telling stories that capture hearts and minds
  • Developing life time relationships, starting with simple conversations
  • Showing supporters how their support makes a difference
  • Listening to the needs of your audience

This is where fork handles and the Two Ronnies illustrate a crucial point; listening and understanding the needs of your audience.

Technology enabled giving

A recent report by Spring Giving, investigating technology enabled giving (TEG *how delightful a new acronym*) highlighted the need for better understanding between charities and entrepreneurs and developers. I agree. When I had ‘Product Development’ or ‘Innovation’ in my job title I was bombarded by calls from small stat ups and developers offering me the next exciting technology that could raise big money for my charity. Most of my conversations were of a fork handle nature. We just didn’t understand each other. They spoke a developer language and I spoke a fundraising language.

The outcome was that I didn’t know which solutions to consider to help my organisation engage with supporters and raise more money and developers didn’t understand how they could develop their products for my organisations needs.

Is there a better way?

Could charities be more open to sharing their experiences and results in the relatively new area of TEG to enable the sector overall to learn and catch up with the fast moving technology marketplace?

Or am I just talking fork handles?

Lucy Gower

Lucy has been a fundraiser for over 10 years and is passionate about innovation and how it can transform organisational and individual performance. Lucy is an independent trainer and consultant specializing in innovation in fundraising. Lucy also blogs for fundraising website sofii.org and is a conference speaker both in the UK and overseas.


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