10 Essentials of an Effective Volunteer Board

Prepare for the Fundraising Trustee

Not long after the start of the current great recession a bright young man from deep inside the British Government came to see me, to talk about how volunteer boards in the UK might be strengthened and improved. He told me that scheduled government cuts mean politicians will want to transfer yet more government responsibilities to the voluntary sector. He talked about contracts and capacity and increased flexibility of funding for local authorities, and things like that. Basically what was on the table was less money for all and more central abdication of social provision. But he was worried that, rather obviously, the voluntary sector doesn’t have the capacity to take on more. (more…)

How to Make Your Story Stand Out

Everyone in the sector is trying to tell their story. The power of storytelling was showcased earlier this month when 20 well known fundraisers shared tales that had inspired them at SOFII’s ‘I Wish I’d Thought of That’ (or, in my case, ‘I Wish I’d Gone to That’!)

But if everyone does it how’s yours going to stand out? (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…

If only we could be like Chimpanzees

6132905924_b09da86926_mWho doesn’t love a good office gossip on Monday morning? Since this blog is a safe haven for us as fundraisers, it is time to share our real feelings about our non-fundraising colleagues. You know whom I mean.

No, not the communication team! They are all right. Besides that: we still need them for our donor magazine and to get our ‘donate-now-button’ on the website. What about the colleagues sitting on the other side of the corridor? No, neither the guys from the program! All though they have no clue about fundraising, they can provide us with concrete and tangible projects for our fundraising campaign. (more…)

Fundraiser, are you too busy to change the world?

email timeI wonder if, like me, you sometimes feel this modern world is going just too fast? Perhaps, as I am, you’re increasingly coming to doubt that the many technological advances of our times are actually making our lives easier and better, like they promised they would? By any chance, does your daily email mountain also seem to you ever harder to climb and less interesting to boot, as mine does? Or does it trouble you, as it does me, that while you can now be reached by telephone pretty much wherever you happen to be, (more…)

Isn’t it just a little too easy to opt out of charitable giving?

Surely we all want to be charitable, to make a difference with the small amount of money we can spare each month? It’s not even that it’s a selfless gift… signing-up to donate to charity on a regular basis makes us feel good and, provided it’s a cause we’re aligned to, provides a whole new area for research, reflection and discussion (who knows, we may even encourage our friends and family to commit to the cause too). (more…)

The ‘F’ word

Taking risks and failure go with the territory. (Image © francesconegri) Coming back to the office after IFC, I made an overarching discovery that touches on everything else I learned: I am terrified of failure. Read more…

What’s All This Noise about Not Giving “Thank You” Gifts?

Recently, a small raft of articles have appeared about a new study, published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, apparently showing that offering a gift as a “thank you”  (what we in the industry would call a “premium” offer) can reduce the amount of money people will donate to your charity.

I found this to be old news.  But the press (and some marketing gurus) didn’t.   The top GOOGLE search on this was entitled “Charities: Don’t Thank Donors With a Gift! – Forbes”.Well, that’s the private sector for you:  making studies to “discover” what fundraisers already know. (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…)

Where are we going in 2012? A possible and promising new direction for fundraisers.

A direct marketing eminence recently described fundraising as, ‘the important art of cajoling money from people for good causes.’

Though rather obvious it’s nevertheless a fairly apt description, if perhaps more useful in summarising how others see us than in illustrating how we aspire to be. Although the phrase may hint at disapproval it’s neither negative, nor critical. Fundraising is undeniably important, for it fuels good works. ‘Art’ in this context simply means the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works. ‘Cajoling’ implies effort, persuasiveness and determined persistence. But art can suggest artfulness and cajoling can also mean to elicit or obtain by pleading, flattery or insincere language. And it’s limited. The art of cajoling implies the mendicant mode. It includes no sense of sincerity, respect, rapport or accountability. (more…)

Fork Handles

Last week Steve Bridger and I spoke at the Institute of Fundraising Convention in London about fundraising, engagement and technology. We included a bit of Two Ronnies nostalgia from the seventies for those in the audience that were born before the Internet was invented.


Fork handles and the Two Ronnies isn’t as random as it may seem in a fundraising and technology session. Let me explain.


A perfect pitch?

© fallingfifth.com

If you work with creative agencies, there’s a good chance you will someday be involved in a pitch process.

I’ve been involved client-side in two separate pitches, each of which have taught me where I’ve made mistakes, and where a few good choices can make everything run smoothly for all involved.

Here are a few of the tips I’ve learned that I hope will be useful if you ever find yourself conducting an agency pitch. (more…)