Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Reasons not to ask Elton John for a fiver

Fundraising?
No way. I'm going to a party in the county jail. 
Okay, slightly facetious title, but bear with me.

Every year the Sunday Times publishes a Rich List. Every year celebrities Do Stuff for charity. We know about these things because they are in the newspapers and on TV.  If someone very wealthy or very well known does something - anything - for charity, we often know about it.

That's handy.

It's also unfortunate. Because if WE can read that information so can about 60 million other people. "Hey look! Elvis just funded Greenpeace because he wants to save the whale. I do sort of environmental stuff (well I work with donkeys) - maybe he'll fund me too!"

Friday, 22 March 2013

On looking before you leap...

Our lovely Collectivist Rachel posted recently on the trials and triumphs of crossing sectors and starting a new job.

It's a great post and great advice for anyone, new start or not. One piece of advice jumped out:

Agree to nothing

"Listen, ask questions and tell them you'll let them know.  Promising the earth on day one will make a very large rod for your back." 

Wise lady. Especially when applied to Major Gift fundraising.

It's a mistake to ask colleagues "What do you want money for?"  It's doubly a mistake to ask that question if the people you are asking aren't experienced in raising philanthropic money and don't know what makes a fundable project. If you ask that question you're making two mistakes (I know, because I've made them, many, many times):

Monday, 18 March 2013

Fundraising: the Art of being Invisible

Time to disappear
Want to run really effective fundraising campaigns and be The World's Best Ever Major Gifts Fundraiser?

Make like Sue Storm and turn invisible.

No really.

In his fabulous book, The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications (read it!) Jeff Brooks makes the point that smart fundraising isn't bragging.  Smart fundraising puts the donor at the heart of the communication.

So that's no more...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Jumping sector: One month in

I have made a leap – from the world of Higher Education Fundraising, a world that was like a cosy old jumper, a comfortable old friend – to Arts Fundraising, which currently feels like a new pair of shoes that need breaking in and are rubbing the skin off the back of my heels.

It’s hard leaving a job and a sector that you know well. Going from being a relative expert to a newbie takes adjustment.  

I am one month into the new role, and this is what I have learnt so far about jumping sector.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Fast Fundraising... on your marks, get set...

Scenario:  you just got the teensiest bit of seed funding to dip your toe in the water of getting a volunteer project off the ground.  It's basically enough to pay a person (you) to work on it for three months.

You are desperately passionate about the project and you have the backing of an existing not for profit. Unfortunately, that not-for-profit, like so many, is fairly skint.  The cupboard is bare.  You need to stand on your own two feet... and fast.

What the devil do you do?

Scream? Panic? Run for the hills?  

Of course not.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Fundraising... From Fig Leaf to Friendship

Capitalist excess complete with fig leaf
Have you ever asked a colleague to describe fundraising?  Or major gift fundraising in particular?

It's an interesting exercise. 

When you get the answer, "a fig leaf on the rotting carcass of capitalist excess," you might start to think that perhaps your profession has an image problem within your organisation.  

That's a direct quote, in case you're wondering. 

Whether working in a voluntary sector organisation or a university, we fundraisers can get a hard time.  Especially we Major Gift-y types.  People don't really understand what we do.  There's a suspicion of pushy sales, or dumbing down.  A whiff of schmoozing, or worse still money grabbing. In some places, fundraising is a dirty word.