Sunday, 6 November 2016

Spending a penny

This weekend I visited a new arts venue, The Poly in Falmouth.

I wanted to share something I spotted which should encourage us to ask, are we taking every opportunity to ask people to support our work?

The Poly certainly are, because whilst using their facilities (as a fully captive audience) I spotted this on the back of the door.


Family Fortunes Major Gifts Style

A few weeks ago I faced a dawning sense of panic. I due to speak at the Institute of Fundraising Conference Scottish Conference on the topic of Major Gifts and I had nothing left to say.

I'd talked about setting Major Gifts programmes up from scratch.

I'd talked about Major Gifts for the small organisation.

I'd talked about Building a Case for Support and Making the Ask.

I'd talked a lot (I do that, given half a chance).

So on this occasion I decided to spread the load. I sent out an appeal to the amazing Major Gifts fundraisers in my network and asked them to answer five important questions. No less than 25 of them responded.

Remember Les Dennis in Family Fortunes? Well get yourself in that mindset because here...we... go...!

I asked...
Our survey said... 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The importance of being busy...and being not busy

I recently returned to work after a lovely, relaxing holiday. I had no wifi while I was away for the first time in forever, and despite the irritation at not being able to check the weather forecast for the next day (sunny) or how to get to the town (down the hill, aim for the sea), it gave me my first opportunity to reflect and think in such a long time.

I gorged on books and one of the reads recommended to me was “Reasons to stay alive” by Matt Haig about depression and what it feels like. I’m grateful to have not suffered from this debilitating disease myself, but one of the stories he recounted from a period of depression that really stood out to me was about a time that he had forced himself to go to the cornershop: it made him feel so incredibly awful:

Friday, 17 June 2016

Ways to succeed at a Fundraising Interview

You're nervous. Hell, I'm nervous and I'm sitting on the other side of the table. The recruiting side.

Yes, my friend, this is an interview.

Image by Dani Lurie via Flickr (CC)

First things first, you need to know that I'm rooting for you. You've put in a lot of effort to get this far - you've polished your CV, crafted your personal statement, got advice from your partner, your mum, the bloke next door. It's a few hours of your time - if you're dedicated, maybe even a whole weekend.

I know it's taken time and I appreciate.

It's taken me time too. It's taken a while to craft that job description and recruitment pack, to diarise interviews and craft questions which match up to the job specification and competencies. Then there's the sifting and shortlisting. That takes a while.

All in all it's taken us both a good deal of effort to get to this point, so I'm rooting for you. I want you to do your best because this is my one shot at finding the right person. If you've got the skills I need I want to know about them.

I need you to tell me about them. Because I can only go by what you say and do on the day.

On exercises...

Monday, 13 June 2016

Dear Fundraising Candidate... 9 Ways to Improve your Fundraising CV

Dear Fundraising Candidate,

It can be daunting applying for a job. It's hard to stand outside of yourself and understand your own experience and achievements. It's harder still to package them up in a succinct, easy to read, stand-out two pager.

Filling in an application form is even worse. All the fiddly little fields and then a great blank space where you need to sell experience to people you don't know and who don't know you. You've got a job description and a person specification. You know you can do the job. But you don't know who is going to read this thing.

What do they want you to say? Are you interpreting it correctly?

And damn it, you've only got Thursday night to do the thing and your week is insane. Argh, you're tired and Outlander is on, and you really fancy a glass of wine and an early night. How did the deadline creep up like that?

Crap, your CV is six years out of date. When did you do that management course anyway?  You wish you'd made a note of the dates. And why didn't you update your CV when got that amazing gift. How much did you raise in the summer appeal? Gah, you can't remember.

Friend, I'm here to tell you that it's hard on this side too. I'm fitting in recruitment on top of my day job. I don't have time to recruit. Nothing stops to make space for shortlisting and I'm a person down - that's why I'm recruiting.

Interviews - yikes, that's a whole day out of the office! I've fundraising proposals to write you know. Targets don't raise themselves. And quite frankly, I like Outlander too.
It took me ages to put together the person spec and get everything agreed with HR and designing the whole interview process was an epic task.

I just want to find YOU.

The perfect person for my team. The person who will love this job and be motivated. Please, please, please make it easy for me.

Here are some things you need to know:

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Do you know what your next fundraising job will be?

Late Spring. The penury of the post-Christmas period is long since past. Sunshine has given you a warm glow of confidence. You're ready to shrug off the coils of your current role and step boldly into the future. Yep, it's job hunting season - or so it seems from the number of people I know busily updating their CVs.

Last year I participated in a panel discussion about fundraising careers along with two fabulous fundraisers - Chief Executive, Ros Neely and Institute of Fundraising's Best You Can Be ambassador, sole fundraiser, Julie Christie. It was evident that both were in jobs they loved.

So how did they get there?

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Falling out of love - when a charity gets it wrong

Fundraising is all about relationships. The problem with relationships is that when one party gets it wrong, the other party can end up feeling a bit hurt.

And the problem for charities is that a hurt donor is very likely to take their love – and their money – elsewhere.

I’ve recently had a bad relationship with a big charity. I’m not going to name them, we’ll call them Charity X. But I will tell you where it all when wrong in our romance, in the hope that we can all learn from their mistakes.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

"I wish I'd thought of that... before finishing my capital campaign"

A few weeks ago I went to the inaugural conference of the Institute of Fundraising's (relatively) new Cultural Sector Network. 180 people were there for all sizes and shapes of organisation, a diverse landscape ranging from zoos to music in the community groups, from  major national galleries through to small local museums.

Whitworth Art Gallery extension: made possible through capital fundraising

Understandably, given the preponderance of galleries and museums, capital campaigns were a feature, with great insights from Jo Beggs of Manchester Museums, who ran the Whitworth Art Gallery campaign, Alice Devitt, a consultant who ran the Lauderdale House campaign and Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Newcastle's Theatre Live.

Interestingly, talking to folks throughout the day, people seemed less concerned with starting up campaigns than about what to do afterwards.

You've had a massive push, been successful, the building is built/renovated/transformed - now what?

Is there life after a capital campaign?

Thursday, 31 March 2016

5 Possible Futures with the Fundraising Preference Service

This week I've been channelling Minority Report and pondering what the future with a Fundraising Preference Service (as conceived under the current proposals) might look like. 

As my last post might have indicated, I'm not the world's biggest fan of the Fundraising Preference Service as it's currently conceived. In summary, my views are as follows:

Should it be easier for supporters of charities to manage the communications they get? Yes

Should there be a Fundraising Regulator capable of ensuring Fundraising bodies adhere to the Codes of Practice? Yes

Should Fundraising bodies who ignore the Codes of Practice be held to account? Yes, absolutely. 

These things will bring Fundraising into alignment with all other professions and ensure that bad practice takes no root. 

Will the Fundraising Preference Service as it's currently conceived do this? No.

Is there a better way to achieve the above? Yes. 

Are alternatives being considered? It appears not. 

But what MIGHT the Fundraising Preference Service achieve? 

Well, let's see.... 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Why the Fundraising Preference Service makes my head hurt...

I'll never get this morning back. It's gone. The bright sunlight has faded into a smear of grey drizzle and my daughter is red cheeked and mad eyed from too much telly.  I blame the Fundraising Preference Service.

It took quite a while to wade through the proposals which are framed as "a conversation with stakeholders." It could be construed as a conversation I suppose, a bit like one of those conversations I might have with my Dad about education or politics which result in a sense of quiet desperation and a desire to flush my head down the toilet. 

It's. Just. So. Flawed.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Ewan Hastings says... Listen to the Fundraising Tips You Get

Get ready for a Guest Collectivist! Mr Ewan Hastings, author of Trusts and Foundations Fundraising Success Top Tips: Valuable Lessons from an Old-Dog Fundraiser is here to share some of those top tips!

Over to you Ewan

I have now been a charity fundraiser for over 21 years and have had gained a lot of tips from various fundraising peers, managers, colleagues, fundraising experts, books, seminars and training courses.  In fact, the list goes on and on of the people and places where I have picked up fundraising tips.

I have been careful to always write them down and learn the wisdom of others.  They way I look at them is that the person telling me has, generally, learned them the hard way: through mistake or hard graft.

Now, as I celebrate the start of my 22nd year in fundraising, I feel the time is right to start passing on my tips to less experienced grants fundraisers out there.  This is why I have recently published the first of a series of fundraising top tips eBooks.  The eBook is called "Trusts and Foundations Fundraising Success Top Tips: Valuable Lessons from an Old-Dog Fundraiser" and is available to download on Kindle now at a very reasonable £4.99.

If you're new to applying for grants from charitable trusts and foundations, the book will guide you through the basics, help you develop good fundraising habits, and build your skill set.  If you have more experience, you’ll find some useful new tips to inspire you to raise more money and get help mastering the intricacies of securing funds from trusts and foundations. 

For everyone tasked with raising money it’s a condensed, no nonsense resource for fundraising success, that will take you to the next level.  The Top Tips cover everything from writing funding applications and research, to site visits and staying organised for more effective fundraising.
So to whet your appetite for what appears in the book, here are my top 10 tips for writing to charitable trusts and foundations:

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Donor stewardship, the secret to success...again and again!

I was at an Institute of Fundraising Scotland Major Gifts Special Interest Group recently for a really interesting discussion around the subject of stewardship and I started thinking about the dos and don'ts. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Deciphering your data: what is the missing link?

So, I have been thinking a lot about prospect and data cleaning recently as I have been going through lists of people that have been recognised by a computer programme as a prospect, trying to figure out whether or not they are really someone who is going to feel emotionally attached to our institution. This has had me thinking a lot about where our REAL prospective donors come from.