Make loyal donors not war

Thinking about human psychology is something I find myself doing often. It really interests me – which is handy, as there are insights into the human psyche that are innate within the discipline of fundraising. When I was browsing online a little while ago, following links through Wikipedia, I was fascinated to come across an entry on psychopathic personality disorder – mainly because I realised that I hadn’t actually understood what a psychopath really is until then. It said:

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has been variously described as characterized by shallow emotions … lacking empathy, coldheartedness, lacking guilt, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity … promiscuous sexual behaviour, many short-term marital relationships, and antisocial behaviours such as parasitic lifestyle …

I found myself recalling this again, in the context of relationship fundraising, prompted in part by this recent post on 101fundraising by Ken Burnett. I realised there are a lot of brands out there that behave like psychopaths. (more…)

We don’t expect babies to run before they can walk…

I was asked recently about why charities aren’t utilising digital channels more to attract new donors for this article and found myself pondering, as is often the case, about how charities can best get over the barriers standing in the way of their digital fundraising.

I’ve realised that the fact that question was in the context of digital is only important from the point of view of where we are now, because what I’m about to say relates just as much to anything that has ever gone before as well as anything else that is new – digital or otherwise.

In my experience, the main barriers for fundraisers that see the need to diversify their donor acquisition into digital seem to be: (more…)

Does online fundraising have to mean restricted funding?

For the last few years, the buzz about ‘crowdfunding’ has been steadily growing and a increasing number of crowdfunding sites for charities have been appearing, and continue to appear at an astonishing rate – to the point where I increasingly finding myself questioning how necessary and valuable some of them are (do we really need specific sites for charities in particular regions or sectors when there are sites that allow all regions and all sectors, and are searchable?).

But, a while ago, I started to wonder whether these sites were changing something they hadn’t actually set out to change – that they were responsible for a trend towards restricted giving online.  I found myself pondering how big a trend it would become, and what impact it might end up having on the sector.

The launch of CRUK’s MyProjects sticks in my memory as a pivotal moment that made me stop and wonder whether I had been witnessing a trend emerging.  I observed, with interest, the restricted nature of the projects that donors could choose to find through the site and was surprised that the charity had taken that tack.  Surprised because, during the 15 years I’ve been a professional fundraiser, I can only think of a handful of times that I’ve worked on an appeal that wasn’t unrestricted – because most individual giving is, for reasons I won’t insult anyone by explaining. (more…)

Contenders for the two ‘i’s in fundraising?

You hear a lot about the importance of innovation in fundraising and there’s no doubt that innovation is important – all the ways of doing anything that are now widely accepted, traditional and best practice, were innovations at one point, after all.

Things always move on and almost everything can continually be improved upon, but I still don’t think innovation is as vital as it’s hyped up to be, and there are usually very significant wins to be had by improving on what you’re already doing.  If I were a Director of Fundraising, I’d want my team to have optimised the ROI of existing activities before I invested in creating anything new.  As Percy Barnevik famously said, when chairman of ABB Asea Brown Boveri (the world’s largest electrical-engineering group):

“We don’t need any more bright ideas. There are lots of them around… In business, success is 5% strategy, 95% execution.”


The seven deadly sins of fundraising appeals – and how to avoid them

Over the years, and the appeals, I’ve learned much about the factors that determine success in fundraising – and even more about what to avoid doing – and I’ll always be learning, because that’s one of the privileges of working with so many different charities, across such a wide variety of campaigns and media.

These points and tips are mainly written in the context of individual giving, although many are also just as relevant to events, community and legacy fundraising, membership marketing, volunteer recruitment or anywhere direct marketing techniques are used.  They represent the most common issues in fundraising appeals that I have come across and include suggestions to help you avoid the same pitfalls. (more…)