The 5 fastest growers and their recipe for success

That we all love ‘rankings’ was clear again when last December I posted a ranking of the fastest growers in Dutch fundraising revenue in recent years. The blog post is by far the most read post on 101fundraising so far and got a lot of reactions.

The post didn’t zoom in on organizations who increased their income substantially compared to the previous year, but the organizations that have a high average growth rate over several years (2006 – 2010). The idea is that by looking at the long-term, we’re looking at organizations who are doing something special in fundraising.

Ramses Man and myself questioned what these organizations did so well. So we decided to organize a ‘diner pensant’ and invited the five fastest growing organizations.


De 5 snelste groeiers en het recept van hun succes

Dat we allemaal gek zijn op ‘lijstjes’ bleek wel weer toen Reinier afgelopen december hier op 101fundraising een ranglijst publiceerde van de snelste Nederlandse stijgers in fondsenwervende inkomsten van de afgelopen jaren. Het betreffende blog werd ‘by far’ het best gelezen artikel van 101fundraising tot nu toe en kreeg enorm veel reacties.

Het blog zoomde niet in op de organisaties die het voorgaande jaar veel zijn gestegen, maar juist op de organisaties die gemiddeld over meerdere jaren (2006 – 2010) een hoog groeipercentage laten zien. Door naar de langere termijn te kijken, komen de organisaties bovendrijven die echts iets bijzonders aan het doen zijn binnen de fondsenwerving, zo is de gedachte.

Bij Reinier en Ramses Man (Nassau) kwam gelijk de vraag op wát die vijf organisaties dan zo goed doen. Ze besloten een zogenaamd ‘diner pensant’ te organiseren en nodigden de vijf snelste groeiers hiervoor uit.

Jolanda Omvlee (directeur Compassion), Frits Hirschstein (directeur KiKa), Ruud Tombrock (directeur WSPA Benelux), Ellen Kooij (hoofd marketing, communicatie en fondsenwerving War Child) en Wimco Ester (hoofd communicatie en marketing Open Doors) vertelden tijdens het diner openhartig over wat hun organisaties zo succesvol maakt. In dit artikel geven Reinier en Ramses een impressie van deze gedenkwaardige avond in Restaurant Eetvilla van den Brink in Soest.


Climate change needed for donor centric fundraising!

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? (more…)

Who are the best fundraisers in The Netherlands?

Last week the Central Bureau Fundraising (CBF) in The Netherlands released their 2010 overview of fundraising (read it in Dutch or the English Google translation). Most news about these figures is about general market trends, or growth compared to last year, but never ever really gives you an insight you can work with as a fundraiser. But it’s always interesting to have a closer look, because we can learn more from these figures.

I’m always particularly interested in the organizations that are showing growth figures over a longer period of time, because it shows consistent good performance.

I focused my little analysis on the top 50 fundraising organizations in 2010. In 2006 they raised €760M and in 2010 the same group of organizations raised €936M. This group consists of charities that all raise more than €5M. (more…)

IFC: folding letters and licking envelopes!

Tomorrow one of the most inspirational fundraising gatherings of the world starts right here in The Netherlands: The International Fundraising Congress (better known as: the IFC).

About 1,000 fundraisers from more than 60 countries spend a couple of days in the same building. Talking, learning, sharing, looking, absorbing, listening and consuming fundraising. It’s both very impressive and somewhat intimidating if we sum all the money that is being raised by all delegates. But it’s also encouraging, because every charity represented once started small, and every fundraiser walking around once started as a junior.

When I convinced my boss 8 years ago that I needed to go there, I started out as an IFC Session Leader. If you ever attended the IFC you know what they do and look like: always asking for evaluation forms and kindly answering all your logistical questions, in bright green shirts (nowadays in bright red). (more…)

Crystal ball fundraising: Lifetime Value

Some time ago on the KISSmetrics blog a case study was shown on how to calculate the Lifetime Value of your customer (let’s say donors in our case). You might have seen below infographic already, but it’s such a great and clear example I want to make sure as much fundraisers as possible have seen it.

It’s not the calculation that is so interesting, because with some common sense (and a skilled data analyst) you can put something similar together yourself. What is most interesting is that this infograpic underlines the importance of using Lifetime Value (LTV) in your acquisition strategy.

In fundraising we’re always struggling with acquisition. I yet have to meet the fundraiser who says that it’s going easy and smooth year after year… It’s always difficult for everyone! Having said that, most of us are still recruiting new donors and even growing income. How come? Because we invest in the future.


The 90-degree shift 800 years ago

It’s been some years ago since I’ve read Ken Burnett’s 89 great ideas in The Zen of Fundraising. Many, if not all of them, keep coming back to me from time to time. Lately it’s this one: make the 90-degree shift. Ken explains: “The 90-degree shift is nothing more complex than seeing things from your donor’s point of view rather than from your own or your organization’s point of view.”

He illustrates this with three good old marketing sayings:
– When a customer buys a quarter-inch drill, what he really wants is a quarter-inch hole.
– It doesn’t matter what you want to sell. The only thing that matters is what they want to buy.
– People don’t read advertisements. They read what interests them. Sometimes that includes an advertisement.

According to Ken, “almost nothing will make your fundraising more successful than learning to implement this simple attitude of mind.” (more…)

Testing in fundraising is not for the faint-hearted

It’s not fun being a fundraiser nowadays: depressing trends like declining responses, high-cost-acquisition in combination with through-the-roof-attrition, rock-bottom-retention and charity-bashing-media… pfff, mission impossible?!

Or, is there still a bright light in the fundraising sky? Sure there is, plenty!

We just have to continue to improve ourselves. Watch out that you are not being sucked into the motionless status quo. We will fight attrition, increase response numbers and retention rates, build pure and genuine supporter relationships by honest storytelling and true engagement and raise all the money we need to make this world a better place!

It’s probably not so simple either… and therefore, as fundraisers, we test.


FREE: 10 years of fundraising experience!

This month exactly 10 years ago, I started my first job as a fundraiser! And from the beginning I was hooked. I love fundraising, because it enables change. Vision and passion combined with great fundraising enables important change. And as a fundraiser you play an important part in that change.

So, looking back over those 10 years, what did I learn? I’ve listed the most important strategic ingredients for a successful fundraising program. Ten years of fundraising experience summarized in one blog post. You only need 3:49 minutes of reading to catch up with 10 years. Now that seems like the bargain of the decade!

(A big thank you to all my fundraising colleagues from Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières and Greenpeace who made me the fundraiser I currently am. And a special thanks to Roger and John for the teachings in the early days!)


The importance of annual plans in fundraising

Everyone just started fresh with a new annual plan… hopefully! Annual plans are great. As a fundraiser you can’t live without them, because it’s your blueprint for fundraising success. Below a few reasons why I think you have to spend at least 10% of your whole year working on next year’s plans.

What do I mean with an annual plan in fundraising? In short, I would say a narrative document which explains all of your fundraising activities, and answers all why, when, how, who and how much questions. Obviously the annual plan should be linked to the overall organizational strategy. And attached to the narrative there should be a kind of Excel document explaining the numbers in detail per activity per month…

That sounds like an awful lot of work and, to be honest, it is! But it’s only the most important document in your fundraising department, so let’s do it anyway…


One-night stands ruin your fundraising

“Originally, a one-night stand was a single theatre performance, usually by a guest performer(s) on tour, as opposed to an ongoing engagement. Today, however, the term is more commonly applied to a single sexual encounter, an example of casual sex, in which neither participant has any intention or expectation of a long-term sexual or romantic relationship.” (source: Wikipedia)

Hope I caught your attention. Sex usually does, so I guess you’re still reading. Being new to blogging I recently found out that metaphors usually do the trick. In this blog post a one-night stand opposes the long term focus in fundraising, which is trying to engage in meaningful and lasting supporter relationships.


Top 9 donor loyalty tweets!

First of all I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the inaugural bloggers who’ve opened this crowdblog with some great blog posts!  We’ve seen 6 blog posts so far and I enjoyed every bit of them! Thank you Rebecca, Victor, Mitch, Margot, Julie and Lars!

Obviously there are a trillion fundraising topics to choose from, but today I’ve chosen one I consider the most important: donor loyalty.

When I started to use Twitter last year I made a few rules for myself. One of them being that I didn’t want to tweet about personal stuff, so I decided to tweet only about fundraising. To boost my followers I thought I’d summarize the best Tiny book in the series: Essentials of Donor Loyalty from professor Adrian Sargeant.


Welcome fundraisers!

Hello, and welcome to our very first blog post! We are excited about fundraising and nonprofit marketing, so we decided to create a new fundraising blog. You are witnessing a historic moment with the launch of 101fundraising. At least, we hope… (more…)