6 Things you get with friendraising

“Friendraising is raising money from your friends and family.” This is just one of the replies I got, when I recently asked app. 200 Dutch fundraising colleagues to send me their definition of ‘friendraising’. Well, if this is what friendraising is about, I guess the birthdays of fund- and friendraisers soon will be awfully quiet.

Fortunately, a lot of colleagues used better definitions. Myself, I like to use this one: friendraising is building sustainable relationships with persons, foundations and corporations, in order to get to know them better, and to (co)create a wide variety of ways to support your organization. Of course, a result of friendraising can be that you receive money. But if it’s up to me, it can be so much more. Let me sum up just 6 things for you. (more…)

How my pissed off donor came back…

Earlier this month I spoke with Reinier and he asked me if I would write another blog. I immediately agreed and I didn’t have to think long about the topic of my blog. Because that same day my organization MSF received a donation from a donor, about whom I can tell you an educating story.  Some time ago it appeared we had lost this donor forever…

We all make our share of mistakes, like every other human being. It is not a bad thing per se, as long as you learn from them. And sometimes your mistakes aren’t as bad as they seem at first; moreover, sometimes they can create a nice topic for a blog!

Some years back my organization received a relatively high donation from a company. As a good relationship manager does, I tried to call the responsible person to thank him, try to figure out more about his motives and engagement wishes and hopefully set up a meeting. I was told by a receptionist that the responsible person was extremely hard to reach by phone, and that email would be the best option to reach him


Waarom Nederlandse fondsenwervers soms uit hun nek kletsen…

Soms wordt ik een beetje moe van alle fondsenwervers die elkaar allemaal napraten. We weten allemaal best hoe het moet. Maar tussen de theorie die we tot ons nemen (101fundraising/ IFC-Masterclasses/ IF-opleiding etc.) en de praktijk gaapt een gigantisch gat. Vooral als het gaat over de inzet van ons bestuur in onze fondsenwervingsplannen. We hebben allemaal wel ergens een stappenplannetje liggen. Bijvoorbeeld Neil Sloggies Essentials of Major Gift Fundraising uit de onvolprezen ‘Tiny’-serie’. We wéten, hóren en beséffen dat we ons bestuur moeten inzetten. Dat doen ze namelijk in de Angelsaksische fondsenwervingwereld al lang -en met succes. Dus moeten wij dat ook doen.

Maar doen we dat ook? Daarom de volgende vraag om eens te overdenken: hoeveel geld heeft jouw bestuur voor jouw organisatie binnen gehengeld afgelopen jaar en hoe heb je ze zo ver gekregen? (more…)

Unexpected (?) fundraising tool: your ears as your moneymakers

“Recently a charity asked me if I had put them in my will. I was astounded and felt insulted by this question. After the conversation I immediately went to my notary and changed my will. I deleted all three of the charities that were in there. My kids are once again the only beneficiaries.”

I posted this quote on Twitter about a year ago, after a ‘kitchen table’ conversation with one of the major donors of a charity I work for as a consultant. The conversation was part of a feasibility study for a major gifts and legacies program. A fellow fundraiser has asked me to blog about the subject.

Well, here are my thoughts. (more…)

Advice to a Professor

September 12, 2011

Dear Mr. Lipsyte,

Loved “The Ask”!

I’ve reviewed it, and wonder if you’d write a few words in response? We in the development world are really curious about your career choice for the protagonist, and how you researched the hard details of the profession.

I know the book has been reviewed extensively, but I can’t find one done by a fundraiser like me. Again, we’d really appreciate your perspective.


Rebecca (more…)

Back to where it started: getting your leaders involved

While in the good old days the MT and board members brought in the big money, knew all of their major donors and took care of their needs, nowadays major donors are mostly the responsibility of a fundraiser. And often this job is just one of the things he or she is taking care of. Fundraisers are struggling between the ‘bulk’, and the personal attention one special donor needs and definitely deserves.

But this is slowly changing: more and more NGO’s start to expand their fundraising team with dedicated fundraisers, solely focusing on the needs of major donors and legacy plegders, increasing the group of (potential) major donors. Some of the biggest NGO’s in Holland even have a whole team responsible for gifts from major donors, sometimes with the help of a prospect researcher. Major donor working-groups are being born, master classes are being followed, books are being read, agencies specialized in major gift fundraising are founded. Fundraisers transform into ‘Relationship manager’, or ‘Special gift advisor’, strategic plans on increasing major gift income are written. But, when all this hard work is done, at the end it comes back to the one thing it all started with: getting your leaders involved in your major donor fundraising. Why? Because, no matter how dedicated and trustworthy the fundraiser may be, at the end (or should I say, at the beginning of your major gift cycle) your best prospects want to talk to your board members, your directors, your ambassadors. (more…)

The donor pyramid is dead… Long live the donor pyramid!

(Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie)

A number of fundraising headlines have proclaimed the donor pyramid to be dead. And working in America, I hadn’t heard too much about it since my early days in fundraising (way back in the ’90s!) except an occasional chuckle and a “that old thing!” retort at its mention. It used to be that in America, where major gifts represent a large share of fundraising income, the pyramid could illustrate which 20% of donors contribute 80% of giving income.

But even before my time as a fundraising professional, the pyramid had already come to be seen as a very simplistic measure of success. So naturally, I too thought it was dead until I moved to the Netherlands, where it’s alive and kicking (and screaming). In fact the donor pyramid is not just alive here in the Netherlands – it is beloved.

Why exactly? Is it that the pyramid is actually so useful or is it that there are no good alternatives?


De donateurpiramide is dood… Lang leve de donateurpiramide!

(Click here for the English version)

De donateurpiramide is in een groot aantal artikelen over fondsenwerving al vaak dood verklaard. Als fondsenwerver in de VS, heb ik er al vanaf de jaren negentig weinig meer over gehoord. Vroeger was het zo dat in Amerika -waar major gifts een groot deel van het totale fondsenwervingsinkomen uitmaken- de piramide een instrument was om te laten zien welke 20% van je donateurs 80% van je totale inkomsten vertegenwoordigt.

Maar al voor mijn werkzame tijd als fondsenwerver, werd de piramide beschouwt als een simplificatie van de werkelijkheid.  Voor mij was de donateurpiramide dan ook morsdood. Totdat ik naar Nederland verhuisde waar de piramide ‘alive and kicking’ bleek. En niet alleen dát, maar hij is ook nog eens erg geliefd!

Waarom eigenlijk? Komt het omdat de piramide echt nuttig is of zijn er misschien geen goede alternatieven?


Phone first!

As a relationship professional, I’m a big fan of Alexander Graham Bell’s electronic speech machine(*), the latter-day telephone.

My mantra when communicating with major donors: phone first. Phone first. Ph f. (Soothing, isn’t it?)

Email and letters don’t allow for the bilateral conversations our donors and prospects deserve for their generosity. The best “touches” by phone aren’t end-games of trivial information or data collection, either. The goal of every call you make should be to begin, advance or deepen a new or long-term relationship between your prospect/donor, you the fundraiser, and your organization.

The secondary goal of every phone call is to move beyond the business at hand – the hook – to get your donor/prospect to articulate what they need from you to further engage with your organization. The language and approach can be the same for loyal donors and discovery prospects: “I welcome the opportunity to update you on where we stand today, and our goals for the year.”


Give that gift back!

Hey, did you hear the one about the donor who wanted his money back? In January Robert Burton, a longtime supporter of the University of Connecticut’s athletics program asked the school to return his $3 million gift. From all appearances, Burton’s disagreement with the school is profound, personal and insurmountable.

He plans to cease all support to the University. Burton wants the family’s name removed from the “Burton Family Football Complex”, he won’t renew his luxury suite at the football field ($50,000/year), he won’t purchase an advertisement in the football program ($8,000/year), and he will cease funding a summer coaching clinic to the tune of $20K per year. Finally, he requested the funds from his two endowed scholarships transferred from athletics to the business school.

Certainly this is a problem that brewed for some time. Can any amount of customer service on the part of UCONN fix the relationship between it and the Burton family? It seems unlikely. It’s not unheard of that donor relationships sour to the point that a donor requests the return of his gift, but this level of acrimony is uncommon. Occasionally someone other than the donor requests a return of funds.


Fondsenwerving bij bedrijven gaat steeds minder over fondsen

In de 8 jaar dat ik fondsenwerver ben, is het vak er alleen maar leuker op geworden. Maar niet makkelijker. Ik vertel niks nieuws als ik zeg dat (hoewel onze inkomsten groeien) het aantal cheques dat wij in ontvangst mogen nemen met de boodschap “doe er wat goeds mee”,  terugloopt. De donateur wil steeds meer betrokken zijn bij de besteding van zijn geld.  (En terecht.)

Zeker bedrijven verwachten in toenemende mate een maatwerkoplossing die aansluit bij hun merk en bedrijfsdoelen. Uit een onderzoek dat wij vorig jaar bij SOS Kinderdorpen deden onder 16 multinationals, bleek duidelijk dat bedrijven steeds (pro)actiever worden in het inzetten van hun kerncompetenties voor een betere wereld. Hierbij is groeiende aandacht voor het creëren van een business win en het betrekken van de medewerkers.

Deze trends bieden ons fondsenwervers naast grote kansen ook veel uitdagingen. (more…)

Corporate fundraising is less and less about funds

In the eight years that I’m a fundraiser, the profession has become a lot more fun. But not easier. I don’t tell anything new when I say that (although our revenues grow) the number of checks we receive with the message “go ahead, do something good” decline. The supporter increasingly wants to be more involved in the spending of his donation. (And rightly so.)

Certainly companies increasingly expect a tailored solution that matches their brand and business objectives. A study we did last year at SOS Children’s Villages Netherlands among 16 multinationals, made it clear that companies are being more (pro) active in using their core competencies for a better world. Attached is a growing interest in creating a business win and involvement of the employees.

Besides great opportunities, these trends offer our fundraisers also many challenges. (more…)

Major gifts: Fundraising from the frontlines

Years ago when I stepped on the tee box to play my first round of golf, I assumed success. My swing, short game and putting were decent after months of practice at the driving range. But that day my game never took off to even be able to fall apart. I knew the rules and had reliable shots – all the necessarytransactions to the game. I did not, however, know the etiquette of golf: the social behaviours that enhance the experience and sport, and expose a novice like I was then. I talked. A lot. I constantly walked in front of others’ lines on the green, and my club must still be at the bottom of that pond. Of course I was never invited out by that group again. In recreational golf, technique is necessary as a point of entry but is not enough.Values-based behaviour is as important to succeeding at the game as having a consistent fairway shot. (more…)