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…)

Donate! It’s proven to make you happy!

Some weeks ago I was at a party, with lots of new people to meet. It was a very nice party: we watched football on a big screen, had a barbecue, and kids were playing in the garden. I started talking to a lady I’ve never met before, and of course she asked me what kind of work I do. Normally I adjust my reply to the person in front of me, because the plain answer ‘fundraiser’ can get you in strange places. So I replied: ‘I’m a fundraiser. I generate money for extra projects, and focus on major gifts and legacies”. I was quite happy with my answer and wanted to take another bite from my meal, when my new friend concluded: “Aha, you beg for money by selling lies to people”. My heart missed a beat and my meal suddenly tasted not that good anymore. This conclusion was exactly the opposite of by idea of fundraising. Well, not quite the opposite because begging for money was somehow true. But I was not selling lies, I was selling happiness to donors. Because: donating makes people happy. And I could proof this, too. Scientifically! (more…)

Geven maakt (wetenschappelijk bewezen) gelukkig!

Enige weken geleden was ik op een feestje waar ik de helft van de mensen nog niet kende.  Het was een leuk feestje, met voetbal via een beamer en een barbecue. Ik raakte in gesprek met iemand die me vroeg wat ik voor werk deed. Deze vraag beantwoord ik meestal op verschillende manieren, aangepast aan de doelgroep waartoe ik denk dat de vrager behoort. “Ik ben fondsenwerver”, zei ik, en voegde enigszins overbodig toe: “Ik zorg voor extra financiële middelen voor kankeronderzoek, waarbij ik mij richt op grote gevers en nalatenschappen”. Mijn gesprekspartner dacht kort na en zei: “Aha, je bedelt dus om geld door leugens te verkopen”. Ik verslikte mij en dacht na. Deze snelle conclusie stond lijnrecht tegenover mijn idee over fondsenwerving, en ook lijnrecht tegenover mijn idee over mijzelf. Dat bedelen om geld, daar zat natuurlijk wel wat in, maar ik verkoop geen leugens. Ik verkoop geluk! Want mensen die geven, worden namelijk gelukkig doordat ze geven. En dat is nog eens wetenschappelijk bewezen ook, en hier lieg ik niets aan. (more…)

I Wish I’d Thought Of That

On Thursday afternoon, SOFII (brainchild of fundraising great, Ken Burnett) presented their first ever ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ event. 22 speakers from agencies and charities, large charities and small from across all cause types, spoke about ideas from other fundraisers that they wish they’d had first.

It was a great event (there was a running joke of those who wish they’d thought of I Wish I’d Thought of That), not least because it was fundraisers sharing what they learned from each other, which is at the heart of SOFII.

The 22 big ideas ranged from the very, very old (Aline Reed of Bluefrog spoke about Great Ormond Street Hospital’s wartime appeal from 1940) to the very new (such as MSF’s innovative pills campaign in Spain, brought to life by Reuben Steains); from direct marketing to events to campaigning to social media; from big international names like UNICEF, Amnesty International and Greenpeace to UK charities like I CAN and Botton Village.

But across this diverse range of campaigns, two words seem to creep up time and time again. And it’s these two words I wanted to share with 101Fundraising: authenticity and conviction. (more…)

We don’t expect babies to run before they can walk…

I was asked recently about why charities aren’t utilising digital channels more to attract new donors for this article and found myself pondering, as is often the case, about how charities can best get over the barriers standing in the way of their digital fundraising.

I’ve realised that the fact that question was in the context of digital is only important from the point of view of where we are now, because what I’m about to say relates just as much to anything that has ever gone before as well as anything else that is new – digital or otherwise.

In my experience, the main barriers for fundraisers that see the need to diversify their donor acquisition into digital seem to be: (more…)

A fundraising checklist: what Italian fundraisers look like?

For sure, you would be able to answer this if you had participated at the 5th Italian “Festival del Fundraising” during the second week of May 2012. Three days, around 600 fundraisers, more than 20 sponsors and a lot of sun. The annual meeting is held at Castrocaro, a little town located next to Bologna, strategically between Roma and Milano.

Many, many, many sessions and activities and no time to rest if you came like many of us to learn by sharing. So even though you are in an historical 4-star hotel and have free access to thermal facilities, there is little chance for you to come back home without a huge need to rest. I am sure that every attendee will also have taken back a huge checklist full of technics to explore or to test: online, offline, integration of channels, new services and many ideas from abroad considering the number of foreign speakers that joined the event.

So let me try to review what are the trends that emerged without being too descriptive…let’s hope the other 599 people will write comments and identify their best moments. So here we go: (more…)

Heb uw naaste lief!

Een aantal dagen geleden was ik op de jaarvergadering van Partos. Voor wie het niet weet, “Partos is de branchevereniging van Nederlandse organisaties werkzaam in internationale samenwerking.” Een club van betrokken mensen met leden die alles behalve hun eigen belang op de eerste plaats stellen; waarom zou je anders bij een organisatie als bijvoorbeeld Plan, Pax Christi of bijvoorbeeld Dorcas werken denk ik dan maar. Voor het geld hoef je het niet te doen. (more…)

€ Gift – % FW ≠ € Beneficiant

Stel, het is midden jaren 80, je zit op een verjaardag en je laat terloops vallen dat je werkt voor een goed doel of in de internationale ontwikkelingshulp. De rest van het feestje zou waarschijnlijk tegen je op kijken, je bewonderen; jij zet je in voor een betere wereld!

Fast forward naar 2012: zelfde verjaardag, zelfde kringetje, zelfde baan … hele andere reactie. ”Ik geef nooit (meer) aan goede doelen, die zijn toch allemaal corrupt.”, “Kunnen die lui zichzelf niet redden daar in Afrika?”, “Het is toch een bodemloze put”, “Die directeuren verdienen toch allemaal te veel”, “We hebben het zelf veel te hard nodig in Nederland” … En tot slot, “Hoeveel geld komt er nou echt terecht bij die mensen daar? “

En naar mijn mening ligt er een groot gevaar in die laatste vraag.

In Nederland hebben we natuurlijk het CBF, met een lange traditie van controle van fondsenwerving en goede doelen. Een belangrijk criterium daarbij is “dat de kosten voor fondsenwerving van het goede doel, uitgedrukt als een percentage van de inkomsten uit eigen fondsenwerving in enig jaar, niet meer mogen bedragen dan 25% van de inkomsten uit eigen fondsenwerving.” Een prima criterium, waar inmiddels heel Nederland aan gewend is en waar de goede doelen altijd rekening mee houden. Maar waarbij ook een gevaar om de hoek is komen kijken. (more…)

I’m awesome. You’re awesome. We’re AWESOME…aren’t we?

A few years ago, while discussing a learning opportunity, a colleague of mine said: “The last thing I need is to sit and listen to a bunch of fundraisers talk about how great they are.”

At the time I was pretty offended. Now I think maybe she was right. We (fundraising professionals) really do look to each other for validation. We build ourselves up, cheer each other on and even have award ceremonies for each other. We need to inspire and support each other because we are still a long way away from this profession garnering the public support and respect it deserves.

You have read about my mother in law in previous posts. Eileen, didn’t really want me talking about my job of fundraising in social situations with her friends. I remember one birthday party in particular when one of the guests disclosed that he ran a small foundation and suggested that I submit a proposal. This innocent, friendly, organic conversation resulted in a family scandal that lasted for weeks. Eileen just couldn’t understand how I could be so crass as to “solicit her friends”. I never did follow up on the lead. The personal strife simply wasn’t worth the donation.

On another occasion at a major donor cultivation event I somehow ended up on the receiving end of a lecture about how fundraisers don’t need to get paid. In fact they “SHOULDN’T” get paid. I set my immediate defensive instincts aside and tried to patiently justify my paycheck by explaining that I have specific training. (more…)

Un-define fundraising

I love fundraising, but recently I’ve tried to create some distance between ‘fundraising’ as a descriptor of what it is I do. It’s not because of how I feel about the term, but because of how the general public feels about it. Here in Canada, the most recent stats show that 23% of Canadians donate to charity. So when I refer to the general public, I’m talking about the other 77%.

The general public doesn’t like fundraisers, it tolerates them. However, there are exceptions. When Bill Gates asks Warren Buffett to give half his fortune to the Gates Foundation, is he a hero? You bet. When you send an acquisition mail pack, or an e-appeal, are you a hero? Nope. You are a nuisance.

So, it seems the general public only has a problem with professional fundraisers. From where I stand, it sounds like “fundraisers are great, as long as they aren’t asking me for money.” (more…)

Get Away From Your Desk And Remind Yourself WHY

In my role at a fundraising agency, I don’t have much chance to speak to anyone aside from my co-workers and the fundraising departments of our charity clients. I get to read nice case studies and hear my accounts department talk about the clients’ work, but I rarely get to see this work for myself. And it’s just not the same.

That’s why last week, I was excited to get out of the office for a few hours and head south of the Thames to do a couple of interviews. I got to speak to two women who work for one of the UK’s leading medical charities, helping people to pick up the pieces and move on after being suddenly struck with a serious medical condition. By acting as a support system to their patients, aiding them with almost every aspect of their lives – sometimes for years as they recover, they are heroes to those they help.

I can’t get into the specifics of their work due to confidentiality, but I can tell you that while speaking to these women and seeing their eyes well up with tears as they told the stories of the people they work with, I felt injected with a shot of inspiration. (more…)

Climate change needed for donor centric fundraising!

From left to right: Ellen Kooij (War Child), Wimco Ester (Open Doors), Frits Hirschstein (KiKa), Ruud Tombrock (WSPA), Jolanda Omvlee (Compassion Nederland) (photo credits: Jaap Zeekant)

Recently I had dinner with the 5 best fundraising organizations in The Netherlands. This was a follow-up from my previous blog post: Who are the best Fundraisers in The Netherlands? The very same day Ramses Man had picked up my message to start “doing our homework”. We were going to look beyond the market figures and get into the qualitative side of these organizations. Why is it, that these organizations are so good in fundraising?

At our dinner we had decades of fundraising expertise around the table. Ramses and I will share that experience in more detail later (both here and in the Dutch Fundraising Magazine), but I wanted to focus here on one particular part of the discussion that I’m sure resonates with many of you.

Frits Hirschstein, founder and Executive Director for KiKa (charity for children with cancer) said something that has been on my mind for some time now. We were talking about what obstacles his charity faced in growing even faster. It sounds strange to talk about growing even faster if you know that KiKa has grown at an average annual rate of 25% 4 years in a row…

So what is holding KiKa back to grow even faster? (more…)

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…)

Stop recruiting donors!

We live in very interesting times, times in which a charity can achieve outstanding results with less effort and money. The world is connecting at an enormous space, and connections are made based on shared values and passion and a common purpose, social media being the driving force behind these partnerships. Fundraising is no longer dominated by the main fundraising techniques Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Direct Dialogue, but online social network fundraising, crowdfunding, open innovation, facebook, eBay, SMS, Mobile giving, products and also services among others are at the disposal of every fundraiser to integrate and execute.

The fundraising income that will also grow significantly in the next years is that of companies. Companies are expected to become more social and contribute to society. This is not only required from the customer point of view but also to acquire the talent of today and tomorrow to make the business grow.

More and more companies are interested in cooperating with charities to create emotional relevant partnerships for everyone. It’s no coincidence that Some American Charities call themselves Emotion Providers. (more…)

To raise funds, or not to raise funds. That’s the question.

I have been one of the lucky ones being able to attend the IFC for quite a number of years. Now I am also involved as a volunteer in the IFC Advisory Panel, which is a great honor. Except for the 7:30 AM meetings every morning. Nobody told me about this when I accepted and I can tell you as an evening person (enjoying the bar time networking and catching up with old friends and colleagues) this was quite a struggle.

This year was the first year that I was presenting one of the Great Debates. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept: you have a panel with great members and you present your views and discuss with the audience about a specific issue. Our topic was: Should we be raising funds for disasters occurring in developed economies? (more…)

What would Grandma say?

Not so long ago I asked staff of the communication and fundraising department at a certain large charity if they were actually supporting their own cause. No more than 22% actually did. So I asked myself, what would my grandmother say of this?

I got to tell you a little bit about my grandmother. She was (she died a couple of years ago) every charity’s dream donor. A very religious woman, who always felt that other people who were in need should be taken care off, helped when they needed help. So she supported many charities, her local church being one of the most important ones. Over the years that added up to many thousands of euros …

I always kept that in mind making my decisions when I worked at the Protestant Church; would I be able to explain to my grandmother that the money she gave all her life was well spent. It kept me keen on not spending money haphazardly, be it for huge mailings or for a cup of coffee. (more…)


Wat doe je als fondsenwerver om inspiratie op te doen? Ga je bijvoorbeeld naar het IFC of misschien wel naar de AFP? Of lees je een inspirerend boek, bijvoorbeeld over Twitter of andere social media? Misschien ben je wel verslingerd aan TED, via de geweldige app die video’s van allerlei sprekers verzamelt en beschikbaar maakt. Ikzelf ging in ieder geval naar het Xnoizz Flevo Festival  (XNFF).

Wat is het XNFF? Wikipedia zegt dit: Het Xnoizz Flevo Festival is een Nederlands meerdaags openluchtfestival dat sinds 1978 jaarlijks in augustus wordt georganiseerd. Het festival profileert zich door haar christelijke identiteit en biedt de bezoekers een programma van livemuziek, sprekers, theater, cabaret, sport en film (voornamelijk de eerste drie). Het festival trekt elk jaar ongeveer tienduizend bezoekers, waarvan de meesten in de leeftijdscategorie 16-30 jaar.

Klinkt redelijk zweverig, toch? Een stuk of 10.000 jongeren die in de Heer zijn en bij elkaar gaan zitten, zal een buitenstaander denken. Maar ik heb er heel veel inspiratie opgedaan, Zowel voor mij persoonlijk, als voor mijn vakgebied.

Met mijn persoonlijke inspiratie zal ik je niet lastigvallen, maar wel met die op het gebied waar we allemaal werkzaam of actief zijn: de fondsenwerving.


The real art of Karate Fundraising!

Karate Fundraising? A new discipline is born? Come on! You didn’t hear about it yet?

Ok, don’t worry, this is not (really) a new channel or a way to boosting the income of your fundraising programme. It’s more like a way of seeing things and to ease your fundraiser everyday’s life.

Let me first explain how I came across the concept of “Karate Fundraising”. I was speaking on the phone with my friend Paolo Ferrara, one of the Italian digital gurus. Just trying to set a day to meet, in order to prepare a session for the Italian Fundraising Congress earlier this year. The session was about arguing which techniques, digital or traditional, were more successful in fundraising. (more…)

Hoe is het allemaal zover gekomen?

Als kind ga je door een aantal zeer herkenbare levensfases. Nadat het ruim een jaar draaide om eten en slapen schijn je te kunnen praten en van dat spreekrecht wil je dan ook gebruik maken! Zo is er de leeftijd 2, daar hoort bij: ik ben 2 en ik zeg nee. De eerste bewuste tekenen van recalcitrantie. Blijkbaar hebben we dan al in de gaten dat we ons alles niet meer hoeven laten welgevallen en dus zeggen we om de haverklap nee. Bij sommigen gaat deze fase gewoon weer voorbij, bij anderen ebt hij nog wat langer na.

Ietsje later in ons leven, laten we zeggen vanaf een jaar of 7 komen we in de “waarom dan-fase”. We willen alles beredeneert zien. Niets is zomaar meer wat er gezegd wordt. Volwassenen verkopen ons geen knollen meer voor citroenen, we willen het naadje van de kous weten. We zijn duidelijk op zoek naar kennis en ontwikkelen ons. Ook die fase gaat voor de meesten van ons weer voorbij als de vroege puberteit aanbreekt en de hormonen de overhand nemen. Bij mij is deze fase nooit over gegaan. Ik zit er nog in. (more…)

Better the devil you know?

Dinsdag 21 juni werd het convenant “Ruimte voor Geven” ondertekend. Een convenant tussen de overheid, in de personen van minister-president Mark Rutte en staatssecretaris van Justitie Fred Teeven enerzijds en vertegenwoordigers van de filantropische sector anderzijds. Op de website van de rijksoverheid staat: “Het convenant bevat afspraken die de samenwerking tussen de sector en de overheid effectiever kunnen maken” en alle betrokkenen verzekeren dat dit goed is voor onze sector. En ik geloof die betrokkenen wel.

Maar toch … (more…)