A Crisis in the making

Closeup-lines-and-iconsNot going to IFC? See details below this post to watch Tony and Rory’s presentation via webinar!

With the emergence from recession of many countries (albeit slow and staggering for some) and many markets announcing reasonable steady growth in voluntary income, it may seem that the not-for-profit sector is in a strong place and continuing to manage growth and development to meet the many varied needs of the Sector. The reality is that this growth and success is fuelling another major crisis for many charities. Yet it is one that the Sector fails collectively to recognise as the biggest challenge to our ability to continue to grow the power of fundraising to meet future needs, which inevitably grow faster than the resources we can generate to meet them. (more…)

Can anyone write a good direct mail pack?

proud-web-headerUnless you have been living in a hole for the last month you will have heard something about the latest campaign ‘proud to be a fundraiser’ from the Institute of Fundraising in the UK.

The essence of the proud to be a fundraiser campaign is not some naval gazing back slapping morale boosting exercise for the fundraising community. It’s about how organisations that are significantly growing their fundraising income are the ones where everyone in the organisation is both proud of what they do and the fundraising activities that enable them to do it. Because without fundraised income charities can’t achieve their mission. (more…)

Even for a charity there’s no such thing as a free lunch

At least, not without some reciprocity.

I love people who do pro bono work. They offer their skills free of charge for something they believe in. They will inherit the earth.

My younger son Charlie, who’s just completed his training as a human rights lawyer, used to work pro bono on Fridays for the charity Reprieve on ‘death row’ cases and at weekends for people who need legal aid. He did this gladly, for quite a while, as it helped him learn his trade. He did it for good causes because he figured they’d need and value his services more than would, say, a big corporate client or its highly paid legal firm. He not only learned from this, he believed it was well worth doing too. (more…)

What you must know (and a few things you probably don’t) as an international fundraiser

Philanthropy as we have known it is changing. And while donors continue to focus their time and money on the causes to which they have the most personal connection, our understanding of ‘community’ has evolved so fundamentally in the wake of globalisation that one may have just as much tangible experience of a starving child a hemisphere away as of the patrons of a breadline around the corner. And yet, despite the increasing sophistication of our donor communications and marketing strategies, the security of our success as Western fundraisers is irrevocable gone. (more…)

Be nice, it’s your job!

TeamFor years I raised funds from major donors and legacy donors. “Relationship manager” my card said. I raised money and made friends. I still remember the personal stories donors told me, their motives to donate, and the name of their pet. They remember me too, because I still get postcards, phone calls and warm greetings from some of them, although I have been working for another charity for almost 2 years now. It was my job to build a long lasting relationship between the donor and the charity and I delivered. They still donate to MSF. (more…)

3 things to think about when recruiting fundraisers

photodune-4415072-recruitment-mAs someone who has recently gone through the fundraising recruitment machine, I have been amazed at the number of national and large charities who handle recruitment of their fundraisers badly.

Any recruitment agency will tell you that finding the right candidate is all that matters, but bearing in mind that the recruitment process for that candidate will help to shape their view of the organisation, I have been scratching my head sometime trying to work out what is expected of me as a potential candidate. (more…)

The Board Needs You!

The board needs you!As fundraisers we all know the importance of the board… getting trustees engaged and on-side is vital as you strive to communicate the success of current campaigns and appeals (thus maintaining, or increasing, budget allowance), explain in a minute amount of time exactly why this return on investment is good for a certain type of fundraising and that results from recent investment in a legacy campaign are not expected immediately (this would be a rather sinister twist!) (more…)

Speed Dating Is Not the Path to a Great Board

around the tabelA great board should be a force multiplier filled with “connectors to mission-critical constituents” as Jon Glaudemans of Ascension Health says.  People who know and care about our mission and organization.  Leaders who have integrity, grit, empathy, humility and the will to succeed on behalf of the people, beliefs and planet we serve. Generous people inspired by what we do, wise workers and committed philanthropic investors.

Yeah, right.  Are you rolling your eyes or wiping them because you believe in the list but have no hope of getting there? (more…)

Why Tell a ‘Story’ When You Can Tell The Truth?

(Or ‘How to bring integrity to your storytelling, while keeping donors and fundraisers loyal all at the same time’)

About half our donors are leaving. According to Third Sector’s latest survey half the fundraisers are close behind them. It seems the only ones staying are the beneficiaries and God knows they’d leave if they could!

Anyone else seeing a correlation here?

But could it be that the answer to both these problems lies in the same thing; a lack of genuine connection to the cause? With all the hype around storytelling it seems we’ve missed the most fundamental point of all…

These aren’t just ‘stories’.

So how has this disconnect affected us and our donors? Let’s start with the much maligned donor, ‘Attriting Annie’ (irony intentional!), blissfully unaware of where she is on her ‘journey’. Why’s she leaving; was it something we said? Let’s face it; she doesn’t cancel regular payments for the things she wants. So the question has to be are we doing enough to make her want to be a part of what we do? (more…)

The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People

Exactly one year ago, I read a blog post that hit me like a punch in the gut. It was Austin Kleon’s How to Steal Like an Artist, and it got right down and spoke directly to everything I was struggling with at the time. I was about to finish grad school and was terrified that I didn’t have what it would take to make it out in the ‘real’ world. Simply reading Kleon’s words changed my whole outlook. I immediately wrote in my own blog about how it made me feel. That post then turned into my first TEDx talk two months later. The reaction from nearly everyone was one of complete understanding. It turned out I wasn’t the only one with those fears and insecurities – I was just finally saying it out loud. (more…)