Monday, 27 April 2015

The Gift Table Myth: Prospect Management

For Major Gifts officers in higher education, work revolves around gift tables and meeting stats and the never ending quest for prospects. Major gifts is full of received wisdom that is handed down, inscribed in tablets of stone from Fundraisers-Of-Legend to those aspiring to realise the same billion dollar campaign targets.

Higher education institutions are all about capital campaigns, whether those campaigns are public or private. They tend to be about buildings, equipment, scholarships, posts... things. Discrete, specific, wonderful, world-changing things.

Your average HE major gifts fundraiser is usually focused on trying to raise money for those things. That means finding enough people who are interested in those things, and turning them into donors.

The planning of that usually takes the form of a gift table. Gift tables tend to be constructing around the concept of a gift pyramid (aiming for a few big fat gifts, a middling number of high value gifts and a large number of small gifts). They look a little like this...

You need four prospects for every gift because in major gifts there is a 1:4 conversion rate from
prospect to donor. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I've never come across much evidence to back this up.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Wielding Words to Win or Wound

Early this morning I posted this on twitter.  It was an image a friend had shared on Facebook that morning and I'd thought it was an important illustration of how we language is a tool that we use to shape the world around us. I can't remember the original source or I would have credited it (if anyone knows the original source, please do comment and I'll ensure it's credited!).

I share this because I'm a fundraiser and language is one of the most blood-curdling weapons in our cuthroat armoury, no it's the shining pinnacle of our creative endeavours, oh darn it, language is important

The reaction to this tweet was astonishing. In the space of 15 hours it had been retweeted 747 times and favourited 304. It had received abuse, commendation, provoked argument and critique. I had never in my life seen anything like it on my timeline. To give a few examples: