How big is your donor?

Along with the World Cup (depending on the team, of course), we celebrate fund raising achievements. We look at results and trends from last year and partly with a sigh of relief and hope for this year: in 2013 in US charitable giving was at the same level it was before the financial crisis and in UK there was an £800m increase in donations. So, why we shouldn’t do better this year? In reality we should also ask ourselves if this is the result of more people giving or if we are simply fishing in the same pond with a lower offer. Mark Astarita, the fundraising director of British Red Cross and outgoing chair of UK Institute of Fundraising, simply put it “Over 30 years of professional fundraising have we grown the pie, are more people giving? I’m not so sure.” And Ken Burnett argued that the actual costs of acquisition with typical low retention rates are not sustainable and charities would be stupid if they don’t take action to avoid eating their seed corn. (more…)

It’s all about the money, it’s all about the briefings!

collectebusA few months ago I was approached by a door-to-door fundraiser. It was dark, it was cold, and it was raining. The fundraiser, not bothered by these circumstances at all, told me a beautiful story about the charity he worked for. I believed him and decided to become a donor. Was it the rain? Or was I the perfect target for this charity? Or did I just meet one hell of a good door-to-door fundraiser? (more…)

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

YOUNG-TALENT-logo-e_news3Recently the Dutch Fundraising Institute  announced the winner of the second annual Young Fundraising Talent contest. You can read the essay from last year’s winner here, and below a translation of the winning essay this year, by Paulien Boone.

This year’s theme was “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” and Paulien, with her entry, has won a trip to the AFP Conference in San Antonio, Texas. We wish her luck and lots of fun!


That familiar and addictive icon popped up on my phone: new message alert. It’s from a friend I used to see nearly every day for years; when we were both students in Groningen and did everything together. We’ve been trying to connect for weeks and with no luck. We live 250 kilometers apart and don’t get to see each other so often these days. And with so much distance I don’t quite know how to begin a conversation and I default to the easy questions: “How are the kids?” and “Have you finished your thesis?” (more…)

Time to wake up to e-F2F

Today, all over the world, thousands of ordinary people will decide to start doing something amazing. Every month, they’ll give their hard-earned money to causes that they may never have heard of before, to help people they will never meet or protect places that they will never visit. (more…)

Rubbish In : Rubbish Out

Bad Donor Retention Begins With Bad Donor Recruitment (and what you can do about it) 

Why are so many of your donors rushing for the exit?

One of my favourite Internet campaigns of the past few years is The Story of Stuff, which uses a simple but engaging animation as a way to tell the ‘Story’. It makes the obvious point that we inhabit in the same ecosphere as our environment and that when toxics are involved in the production  of our consumer goods there is a consequent toxic output that is damaging to our health, our economy and our environment. The same elementary wisdom reaches us in other nuggets of ‘common’ sense: eat too much greasy food and you’ll get spots, smoke and your lungs will turn black. To put it simply: Rubbish In = Rubbish Out.

This same maxim applies for fundraising campaigns. And in this blog I’d like to especially apply it to Face-to-Face campaigns (though it can apply equally well to any channel where we have control over the prospects we approach). The simple fact remains that if we recruit the wrong sort of donor in the beginning we will not get the sort of results we need in the longer term to achieve our organisations goals.

Rubbish (Donors) In = Rubbish (Donor Loyalty) Out. (more…)

A fundraising checklist: Should you consider “Summer Fundraising”?

I recently asked to some colleagues if they were running specific fundraising campaigns during the summer. Most of them answered they are not! Business as usual seems to be the moto. Worst, some programs are put on hold during the holidays. How can they be wrong? At the end of July, European cities get emptier than ever since kids are out of school and families are on vacation.

But my own experience of being a fundraiser has always been associated with very busy summer months: the period from June to mid August reminds me only to work hard, fully dedicated to analyse first semester’s result and to close planning for the upcoming semesters. On the operational side, I can remember only two tests run in July and August. But what if there was a real potential for fundraising during this time of the year?


Face: The Future

The Outlook for Face-to-Face Fundraising
It seems a lot of fundraisers’ time is spent thinking about the future: Will we manage to invest our full budget? Will we reach our targets? What to do if the income is not as planned? Will I have a decent budget next year? Five year plans…

Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball that spelled out at least some of what lay ahead and allowed us to focus just a little more on the present moment? Well, for better or worse, that particular technology hasn’t yet materialized but that doesn’t stop us fundraisers from engaging in a little bit of future gazing. Being prepared for different eventualities is important – it allows us to be able to respond quickly and appropriately and to minimize the damage from inevitable bumps along the way – of course it’s an art, not a science, and with this disclaimer in mind I’d like to offer a few forecasts on how I see the face-to-face method of donor recruitment evolving over the next couple of years.

 1. Shrinking public space in traditional markets

Many councils and cities ban street fundraising

Open any news source in (for example) the UK or Austria (or many of the most established face-to-face markets) and it won’t be long before you read about a city or council that is implementing (or considering) a complete ban or enforced reduction of face-to-face activities in the public domain. Search Twitter for the words ‘fundraiser’ or ‘chugger’ (a term I consider to be both offensive and ignorant by the way) and you’ll see that the face-to-face topic evokes plenty of debate from the public – and a majority of those moved to tweet tend to have a negative view of the practice and are quite vocal in calling for restrictions. I forecast that authorities in these markets will continue to impose limitations and the amount of public space open to street and door-to-door fundraisers will continue to shrink. (more…)

We’ll keep the lot – thank you

There has been recent news stories about charity collectors lately, some of these have reached the global ‘ear’ others have only been covered in the country of origin.

The latest to hit global news has been about ‘chuggers’, a quaint term for ‘charity muggers’. They’re the people out on the streets raising awareness, funds and subscriptions; who bail up people, use all manner of technique to ‘sell’ their story to the public.

This along with stories about contract charity collection companies who don’t pass on the full amount of the money raised. (more…)

Reader Beware: Contains Dangerous Ideas on How to Motivate (Face-to-Face) Fundraisers!

Greenpeace International Executive Director with some motivated street fundraisers

It will come as no surprise that the highest achieving face-to-face fundraisers you are likely to come across are also among the most highly motivated people working in any organisation. How else do you imagine they deal with a working life that places them on a daily collision course with public indifference, slamming doors and verbal and physical abuse and yet still come away at the end of their shift holding onto their sanity never mind a bunch of new sign-ups for their non-profit?

To be sure, successful face-to-face fundraising requires a degree of talent and a positive mindset is certainly a must, but without motivation no fundraiser would last more than a few days. In fact the high rate of staff turnover in face-to-face fundraising is well known and is a headache and a major expense for most organisations.

Managers are aware of the importance of this fuzzy thing called ‘Motivation’, some even spend a lot of of time, effort and money in the hope that their team will be motivated enough to get through the day with success and show up for work again the next day. But despite this awareness and the efforts put in place to harness motivation there is still a constant “churn and burn” of staff. Why? (more…)

Face-to-Face: In or Out?

Justin Bieber - born in the same year as face-to-face fundraising

Sometimes it’s easy to feel that the face-to-face recruitment of regular donors has been around forever, but in reality it’s still a teenager.

Born only in 1994 face–to-face fundraising has, in its seventeen years moved from being a new and daring method of finding committed donors to a being a reliable stalwart in the fundraising toolboxes of many non-profits. And, like many teenagers, face-to-face fundraising causes a mixture of reactions ranging from intense loathing from those who hate it to those who herald it as the savior of philanthropy that allowed a new and previously hard to reach demographic to experience the joy of giving.

Some have questioned whether it is not now time for face-to-face fundraising to consider retirement; to gracefully step aside before it is pushed. However, this blogger sees plenty of life in a fundraising form that has not yet hit the grand old age of twenty. Face-to-face will surely undergo transformations in the years ahead but the power of one human looking into the eyes of another and asking them to help is too powerful to consider retiring it just yet. Instead, let’s weigh up the alternatives available to those organisations already involved in face-to-face or for those late starters who are considering how best to go about starting out in a tough and competitive fundraising marketplace. (more…)