How to Get Prospects to Call You Back

I used to jokingly tell people I was a professional “reacher-outer.” My day-to-day was just a fire hose of prospect outreach. But so often, I wouldn’t hear anything back. Nothing. So, I’d follow-up. Then I’d circle back, check in, touch base, ping, ping some more, and leave another message. And chase it with one last follow-up email. (more…)

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…)

ASKphobia: How to Overcome Ask Aversion

askingformoneyWhat is your biggest fear?

I’ve often heard that more people are afraid of public speaking than of death. In the non-profit world, I think more fundraisers are afraid of asking for money than the death of their organization.

I work in major gifts. I ask people of means to invest large amounts of money in the cause I represent. I love it. But, I find it shocking how often fundraisers say to me: “I could NEVER do what you do” or “How can you ask someone to give YOU all that money”. I’ve heard similar objections to direct mail asks, door-to-door programs and asking donors to consider legacy gifts.

Fundraisers everywhere are ASK-averse, ASK-phobic, and worse yet anti-ASK. (more…)

Fundraising Insights from India

Bollywood actress Mukerji with India's national flag is seen on set of her new movie in AmritsarToday is the 67th Independence Day of India. Such milestones are good time to reflect on the past and forecast the way forward. Hence I will focus on fundraising insights from India, one of the countries that are generating tremendous fundraising interest globally. These reflections are based on my ‘on-the-ground’ experiences working with non-profit leaders, fundraisers, corporate decision makers as well as donors and philanthropist in India and across Asia. (more…)

Hot potato!

Corporate funding is a hot potato within many NGO’s: lively debates filled with emotion. But how do you judge the (valid) sensitivities and define whether or not corporate support may harm your charity in any Read more…

So you want to grow your income? Use the C word…

GrowthAt =mc we’ve been working a lot recently on fundraising and income growth strategies with a range of agencies- from global ones like UNICEF to national ones like AIDS Fonds/Stop Aids Now! in Holland. We’re also helping a number of local museums in the UK cope with local government cutbacks.

The strategies we were discussing for these agencies were obviously very different and were designed to deliver very different outcomes. (more…)

Due Diligence and Major Donors

The Colonel and the College

On 23rd June 2009 the governing Council of the London School of Economics (LSE)  agreed to accept a gift from a group of companies in Libya channelled via the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, controlled by Saif Gaddafi, son of Colonel Gaddafi the country’s ruler. In July 2009 LSE awarded Saif a PhD in philosophy. This story emerged in the media only after the uprising against the Gaddafi regime began in February 2011.

LSE was attacked in the UK press for having accepted the gift and the controversy grew so severe that by March 2011 the Director of the LSE resigned. The LSE Council later funded an independent enquiry led by Lord Woolf.

As Lord Woolf’s report makes clear, when the gift was being considered Libya was being seen as a potential friend by the West. The UN Arms Embargo had been lifted in 2003 and Libya was dropped from the list of “countries that sponsor terrorism” in 2007. The Colonel had met Tony Blair in 2007. By 2009, Libya was seen as progressing steadily in the right direction.

But just two years later the Colonel had become a reputational risk. The School’s reputation had been damaged, and the Director’s neck was on the block. (more…)

7 ‘Big bummers’ for charitable trusts and foundations

(Or, 7 ways to improve your foundation fundraising skills)

“Why is it, that so many nonprofit organizations send in applications to foundations, without even taking the time to find out where these foundations stand for?” I was having a conversation with Jos Verhoeven, managing director of the Dutch Start Foundation. He continued: “I just don’t get it. About 25% of the applications we receive as a foundation, have nothing to do with the mission we stand for. I mean, if you need a mortgage, you don’t go to supermarket to get one, do you? So why send in applications to foundations that don’t match with your mission?”


Crisis? There is no crisis!

Earlier this year we interviewed 10 senior fundraisers in the Dutch Market to ask them if the economic turmoil changed their opinion about the fundraising potential in their market. And, if any, where they saw fundraising opportunities.

In the majority of interviews, the current economic situation was debunked as an excuse for non-performance. Even if the market is getting a bit rough, there is plenty of opportunity for growth, was their main message.

The question is: Where is the money? And how to get it? (more…)

Visiting funerals: part of your job description?

I am a relationship manager and I really like my job. One thing I like about it is the diversity: you meet a wide variety of people. Interesting people. People you would otherwise not meet. This can be the CEO of a large, global company, but it can also be a young owner of a creative start-up. And it can be an 80-year old founder of a large family business, but this can also be a 30-some year old multimillionaire.

Another part of this variety is the fact that you meet these people in different settings, and that you have various types of meetings: thank-you meetings for a spontaneous donation, creative brainstorm meetings, prospecting meetings where you have to give everything in you to secure their support, etc.

Last Monday I had a different type of meeting, joining a colleague of mine. (more…)

Delivering a baby, delivering a budget

One morning last December I went to outer space and plucked a star. We named her Beatrix.

She’s our first, and I’d not had much exposure to newborns before. Even less on how to care for one.

Bea and I’ve taken many long walks these past five months (moves management, verily) and I’ve had time to think back over my twenty-year fundraising career, and if there was anything there that could teach me to be a parent. More interestingly to my colleagues and team, how would giving birth and nurturing a newborn shape my leadership style back at work? (more…)