Those three little words that mean so much…

Published by Derek Humphries on

img (2)There’s a question that many fundraising folk ask each other at this time of year. ‘Will I see you in Holland?’

Maybe it’s a testimony to the clout of the International Fundraising Congress that it’s become synonymous with a country (or maybe Holland is just shorter to say?) Either way, I look forward to seeing you in Holland this year.

I’ve been privileged to be part of the great team organising the event this year. In developing this year’s theme and content, we came down to just three words that sum up what fundraising is all about:

Inspire. Connect. Transform.

And these words remind us that fundraising is essentially simple. Of course, organisations make it difficult. Indeed, some individuals seem to delight in making it almost impossibly complicated. But I believe firmly that if you apply those three words to everything you do, you’ll be a better fundraiser.

If you are briefing your agency, how exactly do you intend to inspire them, connect with them, transform what you do?

If you are reporting to a board meeting, well, likewise. Inspire. Connect. Transform.

Writing an upgrade email, likewise.

Meeting a potential corporate partner? Reporting back to a major institutional donor? …OK, you get the idea.

I’m not sure I can think of any form of fundraising where ‘inspire, connect, transform’ cannot be a useful mantra.

It’s the transform bit that I think is often misunderstood. In the past, I suspect we focussed too much on the good work our causes do as a result of the money we raise – because that is, of course, transformational. Nowadays, the donor is king (or, more often queen); at conferences we even quote the neurological evidence that giving is good – it makes us feel good, and helping others can even boost our mental health.

Twenty years ago at conferences one heard that fundraising was all about The Need, all about Good Work That Needs Doing.

Today it’s all about The Need of The Donor.

Of course, the past wasn’t wrong, and the present isn’t entirely right, because great fundraising taps into the mutual transformation that takes place when you create the inspiring communications that meet the needs of the cause and the donor. It’s that simple.

I like simple. Simple is good. Keep in mind those three little words whenever you are communicating and you’ll realise they can mean so much.

They are words that you will see embodied throughout this year’s IFC, as the theme of the opening plenary, and through the innovative big room ‘Unplenary Sessions’ where speakers will delve further into the big issues raised in the opening plenary. And, of course, there’ll be plenty of scope for delegates to ask questions of the key speakers – because that word ‘Connect’ matters.

Whether you make it to the conference or not, and whatever your role in fundraising, why not road-test ‘inspire, connect, transform’ as your new fundraising mantra?

Tot ziens!


International Fundraising Congress (IFC)This post is part of the 2014 IFC Series. 101fundraising is proud to be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress! Check out HERE when Derek is presenting at the IFC.

Derek Humphries

@derekhumphries is a Creative Director at DTV Group working on worldwide DRTV campaigns and films, and a consultant Creative Strategist working with the Resource Alliance.


Alan Clayton · October 2, 2014 at 12:29

This is brilliant. And simple. Great stuff.

Those three little words that mean so much… | Print my recipes · September 29, 2014 at 18:00

[…] Those three little words that mean so much… […]

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