What a strange weekend – all based on ignorance

Published by Richard Radcliffe on

pic1It is 10pm on Saturday evening. For the last six hours I have been celebrating a 50th birthday in our village. I am not sure how I am typing this.

Yesterday I went to visit one of my brothers – he has very recently survived mouth cancer. We had a great evening of wine curry and whiskey celebrating his survival, so far.

Earlier on Friday I had to go to my daughters’ school sports day.

Tomorrow we have friends coming for a BBQ. I might be a wreck by Monday!

On Friday morning I was woken by my amazing wife Zoë saying words I never expected her to say “The results are in – we are leaving Europe.”

My heart sank. I felt quite angry – I yearn to remain in Europe.

Arriving at the sports day Brexit was on everyone’s lips. And many couples had split votes – one in and one out.

Some “Leave voters” made me even angrier. As the day grew on I heard “Well I voted to Leave because I thought Remain would get more votes.”

Passionate voices grew louder but we all agreed on one issue – we had all voted in total ignorance of the implications. The argument on both sides had been aggressive and not based on any known facts at all. All I heard on the BBC from the public was spontaneous reactions based on emotions and not facts.

Bubbling with passion I drove to stay with my brother. He has had major surgery based a lot on ignorance before the first cut. How much tumour was there? Is it all out? He is quite ignorant (and so are the medical team) of what is needed next.

There is a hint of optimism for the future but a little itch of worry and concern. Rather like the UK and EU – what is going to happen and when and what will the final outcome be?

I got back home and looked up the weather forecast – “clear skies”. With Zoë and our daughters we walked up the road and within minutes there were hailstones and yet another flood risk. Forecasters are obviously totally ignorant.

I turned to my fellow villagers under a marquee, with rain hail and wind squalling around and said “I have got to write a blog tonight on fundraising – what should I say?”

Those around me all agreed – “Our giving was triggered by tragedy.” “So,” I said, “which charities do you give to?” Almost half of them could not quite remember which charities they had started a direct debit for “You tend to do it and then ignore the monthly payments.” Ignorant donors.

“So” I said, “Do you feel you know the difference you made to the tragedy?” A deathly hush. “Well I think I give money for malaria or diarrhoea or something like that” said one. Everyone agreed – they were ignorant of “progress” and one said “but maybe we do not realise or think we are ignorant.”

Our biggest struggle as fundraisers is changing donors from being ignorant to knowledgeable.

The second biggest struggle we have is giving them the right (or best) knowledge. Most donors do not understand “admin costs” or “fundraising costs” or how fundraising works. My dream donor event is to hold a donor event in the fundraising office so that we can say “Look, this is how we do it and this is why we do it this way – and we are really good at it.”

The third biggest struggle is getting them to read our communications. They certainly do not read or recall enewsletters or emails (even if they open them). They yearn for print to read and (more importantly re-read but ONLY IF they are engaged – which most are not).

The fourth biggest struggle is to get them to remember the facts so that they grow in their joy of giving and then give more.

And so to bed – feeling rather happy but totally knackered.

~Richard Radcliffe FinstF Cert. OK so I specialise in legacies but my favourite activity is meeting donors – however ignorant (or not) they might be.


Richard Radcliffe

Richard Radcliffe is founder of Radcliffe Consulting, which helps charities to get more legacies. He is author of “Why legacies are brilliant for charities and how to get them,” recently published by Smee & Ford. He has almost 30 years’ experience in legacy fundraising and works across our globe.


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