Making Corporate Fundraising Work as a Small Charity

By The FSI

The corporate sector is full of opportunities for small charities to take advantage of with many companies looking to increase their support for the sector through gifts in kind, expertise and volunteers, and even funds. However, competition is high amongst charities of all sizes for this support.

It is important to remember with this form of fundraising that you will be developing a business relationship with them and will have to highlight the benefits to the company of working with you.

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Make Every Trust and Foundation Application Count

By Conchita Garcia, The FSI

We all know how difficult it can be to compete for precious funding, so how can your charity give itself the best possible chance of making a good impression, and make every application count?

Well, one way is to anticipate some of the questions funders may have about your organisation, project or finances, and address these directly in advance.

At the FSI I have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of amazing small charities in our free Trusts and Foundations course and the following tips have been taken from some of the questions I am asked most frequently:

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3 Reasons You’re About to Love Outcomes Measurement

By Michelle DiSabato

As a corporate funder turned consultant, I’ve spent the last decade helping funders make the shift from philanthropy to social, or impact investing.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing means more than simply “doing good.” It means investing with purpose to achieve specific, measurable outcomes and impact. In the impact investing model, when we give to a cause, we should see specific and measureable return in the form of social change.

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Smartphones: blessing or drawback for charitable giving?

By Maria Lamagna

There may be some upside to our smartphone addictions.

Charitable giving has hit record highs in recent years, with Americans giving more than $358 billion in 2014, a 7% increase from 2013, according to National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that supports donors, foundations and financial institutions, and the numbers for 2015 are on track to be even higher.

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How to engage your fundraisers with gamification & rewards

By Truman Tang

Bringing some fun into your charitable campaigns via gamification and rewards is a great way to raise awareness for your cause, create an engaging experience for your fundraisers, and turn them into lifelong advocates for your cause.

What is gamification?
To me, gamification isn’t about buying a system and using it to get fundraisers to do things for you. Instead, it’s thinking holistically about your goals and designing a gamified system to support them.

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Have you thought about Gift Aid?

Have you thought about Gift Aid?

It’s estimated that around £750m in Gift Aid is left unclaimed each year in the UK, so it’s clear that more advice is needed to help charities claim the money they are entitled to.   Over half of charities in the UK do not claim Gift Aid, as it can be a complicated process.

According to a report by nfpSynergy, since Gift Aid was introduced in 1990, only 2% of charitable income is currently made up of Gift Aid Donations.

The report also states that one of the biggest concerns for people signing off on Gift Aid when they make a donation is that they don’t know if they pay enough tax and are scared HMRC could reclaim the gift aid amount directly from them.

But now, to make things easier, charities can register for Gift Aid and can now make claims online.

Out of the 70,000 charities registered for Gift Aid, over 50,000 charities have signed up to Charities Online, HMRC’s web-based facility to claim back tax on donations. The biggest claim made online so far by a single charity has been for £3.7m.
Here at Blackbaud, we also have a  Gift Aid Service to help charities when it comes to making Gift Aid declarations. The service includes:

  • Creating a clear audit trail for peace of mind, allowing easy access to valid Gift Aid Declarations
  • Protecting Gift Aid income received over the years, with minimum exposure with HMRC for repayments or penalties
  • Uncovering missed opportunities
  • Expert advice on how to implement, manage and leverage Gift Aid

The software we use was designed in collaboration with HMRC, and along with our expert team this gives you full confidence in making your Gift Aid claims.

You can read more about our Gift Aid Services by clicking here.


Lesson 1: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Why telethons?

red_phone_for_TelethonTelephone fundraising works: if organised smartly, telethons may become your institution’s main source of recurring income. They are one of the most effective tools for raising donor participation levels, and an invaluable way of building relationships and gathering prospect information for the future. Telethons also have a surprisingly inexpensive cost-to-benefit ratio.

Central to every successful telethon are the callers – the students or recent alumni who embody the raison d’être of your school. It is precisely because they are not professional fundraisers, nor tele-salespersons, that they deliver formidable results. Students make the need for financial support direct, real and alive.

Nearly every call should deliver a positive result, whether financial or otherwise. In a well-run telethon, 30-75% of those reached may make a gift, compared to 0.5-7.5% from a carefully written appeal letter. Good telethon calls allow for much more flexible, personalised conversations: they can inspire non-donors to make their first ever gifts and motivate existing contributors to give more.

Telethons also deliver positive non-financial results. They help engender community among alumni, parents and the student body and provide a platform for stewarding existing supporters and bringing distant alumni closer to the school.

Telethons should not induce guilt – instead they succeed by making it as easy and compelling as possible for each contact to donate. Unlike a mailing campaign, there is the opportunity for dialogue, where the caller can discuss the case for support, answer any queries, and learn if and why the contact may have concerns, before responding personally.

A final result of any telethon is the key new information that can be gathered. Calls help to: improve relationships with your school; identify new prospects; update details and communication preferences; elicit career support and mentoring; identify interest in your legacy programme, and more. Above all, they empower your school with insights into the passions and interests of future major donors and highlight factors that will need to be addressed to fully harness their support.

Resourcing the telethon – and whether to have external support

Many schools decide to hire external consultants to assist in running their telethons. Established consultants know how to train enthusiastic and motivated callers and provide vital extra manpower and specific soft/hardware to aid telethon data management: both may alleviate the risk of your development office becoming over-stretched.

Good consultants can, however, cost upwards of £10,000, depending on the extent of their involvement and their reputation. As a middle option, some schools elect to have just the telethon software component provided externally. Each institution is different: determine the right balance of external support and internal investment required to deliver success at your school.

Telethons require meticulous data management and can create a large amount of paperwork. The right software and hardware can help your telethon to run smoothly and efficiently, whilst also providing you with more real-time insights into progress and areas of growing risk and/or opportunity.

Regardless of the method used, each piece of data requires careful checking before migrating into your primary CRM/contact database.

Crucially, the questions of both software and consultants are a matter of determining whether your school has sufficient resources, manpower and experience to manage all of the aspects of a successful telethon internally.

Whatever options you select, remember that a successful telethon will necessarily generate a substantial demand on your team. You will ultimately be responsible for the cleanliness and utility of the data you hold, and for guiding your institution to the need for a high-quality case for support. Do not hire consultants thinking that they will remove your administration altogether: instead, an excellent consultant will provide you with very useful support and software for your training and calling, share from experience what approaches most commonly work best, and help you to understand and meet the timelines and deadlines involved.

Continue reading with Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1

Preparing for the telethon
At the outset, determine your goals for the telethon. Sensible planning will ensure that benefits are maximised and expectations are clear. You require the full backing of your school in order to succeed, so bring everyone on board very early on in the planning process.

Make it as straightforward as possible for contacts to give to your school, minimising the time and resources needed for chasing pledge fulfilment and keeping down the unfulfilled pledges at campaign end. Set up the capacity to process credit/debit card donations, either by obtaining a Merchant Service directly from an Acquiring Bank or by registering to a third-party online provider, such as Charities Aid Foundation. In both cases, for a minimal fee you will be able to take single gifts immediately over the phone. You may even be able to process credit/debit card donations directly through your database. Ensure that any payment solutions are certified compliant to PCI DSS standards.

Just as importantly, your office should acquire the facility to accept Paperless Direct Debits (PDD). These enable you to sign up customers for Direct Debit collections over the telephone, internet or face to face. This procedure can take several months but once authorised you will be able to accept regular gift instructions, removing the need to send standing order gift forms in the post to pledgers. To receive Originator status, Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service (AUDDIS) authorisation and PDD authorisation you require a sponsor: if you have BACS to administer your school’s transactions, then your bank may sponsor you to run PDDs through the same software. You will also need to agree wording of your call script, advance notice confirmation letters and giving forms, and to demonstrate that your database is capable of producing the required electronic files to process Direct Debits in this manner. An alternative to BACS, favoured by some schools, is to appoint CAF or another external provider to set up, process and manage PDDs on your behalf.

Once you have a timetable for your telethon, it is imperative to prepare thoroughly. Firstly, ensure that your CRM database is in excellent condition. You require accurate contact details and the ability to effectively segment data. Data cleansing can be time-consuming for many schools, but there are external data enrichment services available which can advance this process.

The next step is to select your contacts. Include a good proportion of your top prospects and previous donors to give your telethon the best chance of success. Aim to contact a relatively consistent mix of donors and non-donors between years, so that you are including some previously unengaged contacts to cultivate new relationships. The benefit of year-on-year consistency also aids reporting post-telethon, so that accurate comparisons can be made between campaigns to determine the most successful techniques.

It is similarly important to know whom to exclude from calling. It is not permissible under law for a school, or any other charity, to make marketing telephone calls to numbers registered with the UK Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS) – a UK-wide ‘do not call’ register – without explicit opt-in consent from an individual for the specific method and purpose for which you wish to contact them.

Ideally, pre-determine ask amounts for each contact. One of the strengths of a telephone call is the ability to negotiate and, to do this, the initial ask amount should be ambitious. Teachers may willingly give £25 per month and investment bankers £1,000 or more per year, but if your callers start with lower ask levels and the contact says yes right away, the callers cannot easily then switch to a higher ask. Unless a contact is in a profession with irregular income, the initial ask should nearly always be for a regular gift.

When determining ask amounts, in addition to obvious employment indicators, try to consider each contact’s wider picture. The ask should reflect both determinants: age, career and residence, but also previous giving history, attachment to specific appeals, previous responses, whether they have made many visits back to the school, and any other relevant factors.

Since your callers will be at the heart of your success, it is important to select the right people. Outstanding callers have been known to raise as much as £30,000+ over a two-week period. What typically works well is to have a balance of loud, outgoing, bubbly ‘chatterers’ and quieter, more reserved and sensitive ‘listeners’. After all, no two contacts are the same and different people prefer different types of conversation.

The final task is preparing the two types of post or email communications (each with variations) that contacts should typically receive as part of a telethon. The first is the notification sent shortly before the telethon to inform contacts that they can expect to receive a call from the school, both to share news and to invite their support. This pre-telethon notification can be a letter, email, postcard etc. The second set of communications are those to be sent to each contact immediately after their telephone call takes place, to follow up what was agreed. Segment these according to the response – e.g. tailoring based on whether the result was a paperless Direct Debit, donation by credit/debit card, pledged regular gift, etc. It is well worth accompanying any letter directly from the school with a tailored thank you card from the individual caller.

Unless they have already made their gift and just need to be thanked, it is usually preferable to enclose a donation form with every follow-up package. Together, the form and follow-up communication should encourage people who said ‘yes’ over the telephone to fulfil pledges; people who were unsure or said ‘no’ to reconsider; and people who did not pick up to add their support to the telethon.

The training

Training will be the most important days in the process. There is a great deal of ground to cover and it will require an attentive group of callers, and informed and well-versed trainers who can create excitement about the campaign.

Perhaps the first task in the training is to address the taboo – to shake out any misconception that this is unwanted cold-calling or telesales and to inspire belief and confidence in the callers. Explain why calling works. If the callers believe they can be successful and have an enjoyable time in the process, then they probably will.

Callers need to be fully aware from the start of the wider picture and they should fully understand exactly why there is a need to fundraise for the school. It is important that the callers understand the telethon’s broad aims. Emphasising the importance of pledges should help to minimise the occurrence of callers missing out on impactful gifts by conceding too readily. Similarly, minimise the likelihood of calls concluding with a maybe by getting them to focus on persuading each contact to pledge an exact/minimum gift amount that is more likely to be fulfilled.

Next, the training should move to the stages of a good call. There is no such thing as a perfect ‘script’ but some key phrases provided by the development office might stand the callers in good stead. Take callers carefully through each stage:

1. The greeting and the reasons for the call
2. Rapport and intelligent listening: Identify possible conversation topics and discuss useful open questions. The callers’ aim is to help contacts to remember that their school is a living, thriving place with real people in it.
3. Building the case for support and making the ask: By listening carefully the callers should be able to match the school’s case for support to the contact’s interests and make the ask in a very natural way that flows on from this rapport.
4. Negotiation and tackling common objections
5. Thank you and closure: Emphasise the need to repeat everything clearly so that neither person is in any doubt as to what has been agreed. This includes confirming the amount and the details of their donation, whether Gift Aid can be applied, whether they are happy for their name to be listed as a donor, and any payment details.

The training should bring out the importance of listening to and understanding why a contact might be saying no and then addressing their concerns thoughtfully and confidently. Each contact should ideally be asked three times – typically at decreasing levels, without ever being rude or forceful. They should not, unless prompted by the contact, ask more than three times within a call.

Finally, conclude training by getting in as much practice as possible. Here is your chance to see how each of the callers copes under pressure – with the supervisors and/or other callers watching them take on a typical call. The primary purpose of these practice conversations should be to inspire confidence and fluency in the pupils, so it is important to give encouragement to them as well as to highlight areas to improve. The more practice calls a caller makes, the better prepared they will be for the real thing.

Click here for Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2

The calling

If the preparation and training have been rigorous, then the calling period itself, whilst busy, should be very enjoyable. Your role will primarily be to supervise the callers, to ensure gifts are processed appropriately and securely, to administer data entry/transfer onto your CRM database, and to ensure that any problems are quickly resolved.

Assign a number of alumni or parents to each caller. Every contact should have his or her own software-based record (or printed record sheet), which lists all details on them which might be of assistance to the caller. Match callers to contacts according to shared passions, interests and experiences. This might include hobbies, sports, clubs and activities; the subjects they studied; their House within the school; their teachers; their background and demographics; and their (intended) study or career paths.

Get the callers on the phone as quickly as possible each evening: they will probably be nervous until the first call, so it is better to encourage them to do this almost straightaway.

There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between having a fulfilling conversation that is not rushed and ensuring that you do not keep the contact on the telephone for an unnecessarily long time. Typically a call of 15-30 minutes is sufficient, unless the call recipient indicates that they would prefer a briefer or a more in-depth conversation. Similarly, there is a fine balance between getting callers back on the phone quickly after each call is completed: a rule of thumb is that each caller should only be off the phone for 5-10 minutes between completed calls.

After completing a conversation, the caller should immediately note as many relevant details as possible about what was discussed and agreed. Information is power! Good note-taking helps write a more personalised postcard, letter or email to each contact after their conversation, but also makes the job of calling them easier and more enjoyable for future callers.

Your calling software or CRM database should allow you to pull reports on success levels. Initially try to hand out call recipients with low-to-medium ask amounts, in order to inspire confidence in the callers early on. Distribute the bigger ask amounts to specific callers as soon as you are confident that they can handle them; do not leave this process too many days into the telethon, because larger prospects will often be the most difficult to get hold of and may require numerous attempts before being successfully reached.

Identifying your best callers early on is key. It will enable you to match them with the wealthiest or most challenging call recipients, thus ensuring that other callers who are struggling to get good results do not take on your most important prospects.

Nonetheless, do not show a lack of confidence in your weaker callers. It may be that some of your students are better at making affinity or thank you calls, or encouraging support from contacts with low giving potential. Alternatively, they may be able to assist in other ways such as with data-checking, or writing thank you cards. Bear in mind, too, that less successful callers can improve with the right support. Simultaneously, if a caller is receiving few regular gifts, then the caller may be switching to a participation gift ask (e.g. £10-20) too quickly. Extra training can involve focusing on addressing the first no by identifying and responding to the specific objection(s) and then re-asking at half or quarter of the original amount. It can be as simple as sitting them next to another caller who is particularly skilful, and asking them to listen in on that student’s next call.

Always include a proportion of thank you calls in your telethon. Stewardship is a fundamental part of any successful regular giving programme: these calls do not include any ask, so they are also great for a caller who is lacking confidence about the negotiation. The return on investment from these calls will also come through higher renewal and upgrade rates in future years.

As the calling period progresses, ensure that the callers are continually motivated. Start each session with a brief update – use visuals and guest speakers to create excitement, humour and buzz in the calling room. Reward them with prizes for regular gifts, large single gifts and high participation, and spend money on food, drinks and other treats. Chase targets. Let callers know on a daily basis what percentages they are hitting, what causes they are helping, and what the overall running total is. Be supportive and understanding whenever a student has a bad call and make sure they know that they can stop to chat with a supervisor about their experience.

Inevitably, a number of contacts will not be reached because of lack of time, inaccurate phone numbers, or holiday clashes. When working out whom to call next, callers should prioritise renewals, upgrades and wealthy contacts, and de-prioritise those which have thus far resulted in multiple answer phones or reaching other parties instead.



Utilising your earlier preparation of templates, get the lengthy process of generating letters, processing gifts and entering call results and information onto your CRM database underway from day one. The first golden rule is, wherever possible, to follow up each call with a letter or email within 24 hours, whilst the conversation is fresh in the contact’s mind. This maximises the likelihood that a pledger will fulfil their gift and maximises the appreciation that a donor who has already made their donation will feel in response to their thank you.

The caller’s follow-up should be tailored to include any additional information requested; check each one before it is posted to ensure it is personalised and engaging.

The second golden rule is, wherever possible, to enter the updated data from your calling onto your CRM database within 24 hours. This matters, as there may be incoming correspondence from the alumnus in the days after the telethon and you need to know the latest information when responding.

Accuracy is foremost. Each postcard/letter must be carefully checked, with pledged and fulfilled donors prioritised. The call notes gathered must be entered onto the database without errors or offending information, so that it is possible to pull up required information easily. Tempting to record everything in one place for ease will not be helpful in the long run when it comes to effective reporting and segmenting. Remember that this data is amongst the richest and most valuable you will hold, and over time can lead to much more effective mid-level and major giving programmes. At the same time, be aware that contacts can request to see a copy of their own personal data held on your system at any point and UK Data Protection laws obligate us to respond, so it is essential to phrase all updates appropriately.

Produce reports both during and after the telethon to analyse the results. Have sound daily processes and do not forget to flag up important issues and respond to bespoke actions quickly. Your telethon software may be a key asset for this, especially if it has built-in financials and dashboards. You can use these analyses to demonstrate to the governing body the benefits of repeating the process. Remember to report results back to the callers too. Not only do they deserve to hear the fruits of their labour, it should also help them with their CVs and encourage them to participate again in future. Of course, also share the successes of your telethon with your alumni, parents and friends to inspire yet others to give.

Not everyone will fulfil their pledges quickly and some will not fulfil them at all. Credit card gifts and Paperless Direct Debits help keep these to a minimum by enabling supporters to donate immediately over the phone to the caller. But for those who pledged to make their donation at a later date and then do not respond, it is usually necessary to chase them. It is well worth reminding and encouraging these contacts, through letters, emails and/or telephone calls. Only in very rare instances will pledgers complain at this persistence – usually they respond rather apologetically!

Click here for Lesson 2

Lesson 4: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2
Click here for Lesson 3


To get the most out of telethons, your institution should invest appropriately and balance the short and longer term objectives. Remember that you are also indirectly educating your pupils and staff to become ambassadors and donors in the future. Of course, there can be no greater springboards to a successful telethon than by having both an inspiring case for support and an active, relevant and engaging alumni relations and parents programme and community already in place at your school.

Think of future years and don’t just go for the quick buck: engage appropriately and target your constituencies to maximise returns over several years’ worth of telethons. This means: investing in longer fulfilling conversations; utilising your larger prospects and donors; incorporating thank you calls as well as solicitations; and cultivating a wide pool of contacts to extend beyond just the current reach and focus of the school. Don’t merely plan for year one; instead try to set good prospects and expectations at the outset for continued investment in year two and onwards.

Above all, aim high: telethons do work and they work best when asks are bold and the cause and targets ambitious and inspiring. Motivate your callers and build up as much team spirit as you can. Similarly, motivate your development office and your governing body. Most of all, motivate your alumni, parents and friends. Promote your telethon in your newsletter or magazine and email bulletins, through social media, and on your website. Report results back to them frequently. Let them know how their gifts are being spent and the impact that they are collectively making. Regular giving is a culture that prospers over time. In order to bring sceptical alumni and parents on board, continually demonstrate that the calls are as much about engagement and sharing impact as they are about fundraising totals. Build the sense of community throughout.

Consider including metrics around relationship-building as part of each telethon, so that this point on engagement is made more clearly. Build metrics around the data enrichment/cleaning and prospect identification benefits too. How many future legacy opportunities arose from the telethon? How many new donors gave £1,000 or more for the first time? How many high-net-worth individuals (CEOs, directors, barristers, investment bankers, surgeons etc) were identified? How many gave more this year than last year? What impact did calling have on event attendees in the six months after? How many new sign-ups for the boat club email list did you obtain? How many new volunteers did you identify for your mentors programme? What other qualitative data on contacts now flagged as prospects did you capture? And so on.

Fundraising does need fine-tuning. There can be a big difference between a badly-run telethon and a well-run one, with your own time investment and any consultant support making a real difference. Enhance the telethon with supporting strategies, perhaps by sending out a personal information form beforehand to gather more up-to-date contact and other helpful details. Make sure to ask for telephone numbers on every event invitation RSVP and gift form too, as that grows your pool for next year. Ensure you collect the accompanying consents: formulate a structured plan for potential touch points where phone and email consent may be obtained, and make your print and online statements simple, prominent, explicit and positive enough that people will opt-in. A comprehensive CRM database is perhaps your greatest tool towards these pursuits – it is vital to preparing for, executing and then following up your telethon, and also for harnessing the longer-term benefits that this investment in personal contact derives for you.

If you follow sensible guidelines then you should expect an excellent rate of return. A typical telethon costs as little as £10,000-£20,000 to run, much of that being wages to callers and software and mailing costs (the telephone bill itself should be relatively low). Donations meanwhile typically reach between £50,000 and £200,000, and in some instances much higher. Above and beyond this there are the priceless non-immediate benefits discussed throughout. With your institution’s backing and good preparation, a well-run telethon will pay dividends many times over.

Missed the beginning? Click here for Lesson 1

Thoughts following the reaction to Olive Cooke. Part 1

By Azadi Sheridan.

I love fundraising and charities. Perhaps this is no surprise seeing as I’ve now worked either with, or for, charities for approaching twenty years.

In that time, I’ve not seen a sector controversy as great as the one surrounding the tragic death of Olive Cooke. A few months have passed, and I wanted to see what has changed.

For those who don’t know, Olive Cooke, Britain’s oldest poppy seller, tragically took her own life in May. An inquest into her death has not yet returned a verdict, and although the note she left didn’t mention charities, there has been a lot of speculation since her death about how charities approach their donors. She is featured in this very sad article from October 2014 in the Bristol Post about how in the space of a month, alongside many phone calls, she received up to 267 direct mail pieces from different charities, and was someone who “couldn’t say no.”  In the aftermath of this shocking news, the government proposed changes in the law to help protect vulnerable people from fundraising harassment.

A lot of column inches have been filled on this topic, but these are the key areas that have struck me.


This is sad stuff. It’s also complex, and we await a formal inquiry on further findings from Mrs Cooke’s tragedy. But the main reason behind the huge reaction is that these concerns have struck a nerve with members of the public who have received a similar customer experience from charities. And the effects don’t stop there, I’ve spoken to fundraisers who have seen huge dips in income subsequently, and therefore impact on services delivered to those in need. GoGen – a calling and face-to-face fundraising service provider – have filed for bankruptcy citing the current environment as a cause for this loss of 485 jobs.

Consent to Use of Data

One particular concern surrounding Mrs Cooke was the sharing of her personal data: “I believe some of the charities must have passed my details on, as I then started getting letters from other similar causes asking me to support them.”

I’ve personally built up a strong dislike for third party marketing. I saw one organisation, albeit not a charity, require customers who wanted information about a ticketed event to agree to receive party marketing. Famed fundraiser Giles Peagram’s piece on 101 Fundraising in late May in response to Olive Cooke’s death says “You [must] give donors a choice.” He doesn’t write about data sharing, but he does continue that point with the comment “If you ask them too often to give/upgrade, they will start to feel bad about the relationship, feel harassed, and possibly transfer their support to a charity that is less demanding.”

Unfortunately, once your data has been sold on (or swapped) it’s hard to control what happens next and stop being contacted. Have you ever been cold-called and asked where that company got your data from? I have, and the almost unanimous answer is “I don’t know.” I wonder if Mrs Cooke’s name appeared on a list for sale or rent by many charities. Surely, this causes exhaustion of the donor? I appreciate that the norm for third party marketing is to have donors opt-in, but why even go into data sharing like this? The third party advertising can be irrelevant, it can damage the charity brand and ultimately dilutes or competes with the charity’s message. Each pound earned swapping or selling data – in my eyes – is a pound spent reducing donor loyalty.

That being said, Codes of Fundraising Practice allow this kind of marketing, but what surprised me was Peter Lewis of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) stating that some charities willfully work around the Code of Practice, even using call centres based abroad to work around the rules. Surely if we’re in the sector of doing good, donors expect us to abide by the spirit of the rules? How does working around the rules make a donor want to give?

Part 2 of this article will look further into how charities can reach donors ethically, and serve as a reminder for just how vital the profession of fundraising still is.

Read Part 2 now!

Thoughts following the reaction to Olive Cooke. Part 2

By Azadi Sheridan

Haven’t read Part 1? Read it now!

But Charities Have to Reach Donors

Fundraising is a competitive marketplace. Many charities compete to gain attention from a relatively small number of people with the capacity and propensity to give. This forces us to make gains wherever we can to bring a donation to our charity.

Roger Craver at The Agitator has strong views on this, and believes that the answer is to focus on retention. You then need to ask for money less often. “The true interests of the donor — given only lip service by the sector for decade upon decade — have truly been ignored” says Craver in his strong-worded response to Mrs Cooke’s death. “In short, the sector is finally paying the price for marketing at donors rather than partnering with them and listening to them”

Giles Pegram in April this year echoed the same sentiment: “Trustees look at cash received on a monthly basis. They are not being convinced that they should be looking at long term income, via donor satisfaction.” He followed this, in the thick of the Olive Cooke news, by saying in a blog on the seven things he would do differently as an appeals director if given the chance: “Spend at least as much on retention as you spend on recruitment.” A solution he proposes (along with Ken Burnett of Relationship Fundraising fame) is a commission to improve the donor experience.

But We Need to Fundraise To Make the World Better

We need fundraising in order to help make the world a better place. I do think the IoF’s Proud to be a Fundraiser is an excellent concept – that fundraising is a core part of charity. I worry that the sector is stuck in defensive mode and that the Daily Mail is on the lookout for yet more charity scandals rather than singing from the rooftops that fundraising is a blooming hard job, and that our society needs fundraisers to achieve, to succeed, to help make a difference in the world. This involves a lot of partners working together – both charities and for-profit organisations – doing work that the average donor doesn’t understand the subtleties of. However, Richard Turner describes the sector’s response as defensive and explains that “When attacked we are neurologically wired to defend. That’s how it feels the fundraising sector in the UK Is reacting. How to mitigate the damage. Where to place the blame.”

Adrian Salmon is a prominent name in the sector and his comments in this blog post really highlights some of this defensiveness:

“I read this post: by Debra Allcock-Tyler yesterday, and the beginning of the third paragraph of it stood out and concerned me deeply:

“Of course there are bad apples that need to be well and truly mulched. Some of our private-sector, subcontracted fundraising organisations sometimes overstep the mark and don’t behave according to the values we expect. That’s because, unlike us, they’re in it for profit. But we stamp on them when we find out.”

‘It’s quite aggressive language from a sector leader towards suppliers the sector relies on, wouldn’t you say? ‘Mulched’, ‘we stamp on them’. Nasty. Not really the language of collaboration and partnership in a common cause.

“And I profoundly disagree with Debra’s analysis, “That’s because, unlike us, they’re in it for profit”. That’s an awful over-simplification. Simply being for-profit doesn’t mean you discard your values. No, the reason these practices have occurred is because they have been necessary to meet the demands of clients for ever higher results at ever lower cost. If a telephone or face to face agency wasn’t willing to do this, they faced the very real prospect of not being a viable concern.”

The Fundraising Standards Board’s reaction however has been to recommend wide-ranging changes to the Institute of Fundraising Code of Practice. This includes better protection for vulnerable people, clearer opt-in to names being shared on lists for third parties, and updates to opt-ins for telephone fundraising. There will be difficulties implementing this, but I really like that the changes are donor-focused. Thankfully, the IoF are starting to implement these changes in their code of practice starting with the opt-in check for TPS names.

Some of Olive Cooke’s family don’t agree that charity communication led to Olive’s death. Even if this is correct, this has brought to the surface a number of important concerns the public has about fundraising, and a change in how donors will be treated in the future. The latest news is that the FRSB and the ICO have an appetite to challenge charities abusing data protection, and I also see Oxfam reacting clearly and publicly to a different report about fundraising calling standards. It feels like the sector will come out of 2015 with a great deal of change. Change that makes giving donations better for donors – which has to be good for the fundraising sector, doesn’t it?

Haven’t read Part 1? Read it now!

What have you done with my money?

When was the last time you contacted your donors and specifically informed them of how their donation has helped your cause or been put to great use? No doubt you’ll have some heart-warming examples that showcase how successful fundraising has made a difference to an individual, family or a community’s life? Please share this with your donors at least once a year, more if you can, they’re just dying to hear – why wouldn’t they? You are the stewards of their donated hard-earned cash.

Prepare the story by setting the scene

How dire was the situation? What was it that led your organisation to be involved in the case? Get quotes from individuals involved and pictures to really help set the scene, particularly if there’s a great after-shot to go with it.

Your organisation’s involvement

Who? When? Where? Why? Was it all because of one person or a group of people? Allow individuals or these groups to shine when telling the story.

The outcome

The success story. The part that will touch the hearts of your donors and lead to them being proud to be involved in your organisation. The story may well be passed on by word of mouth when chatting with peers.

Remember, be concise.  Don’t ramble on and switch donors off reading it before they even start.


Tell them that continual donations make this work possible. You want to give them the opportunity to give again or give beyond their usual regular contribution and a reason for doing so!
If you able to answer the question ‘What have you done with my money?’ you’ll be able to retain and grow your base rather than see them slip away.

Why should small charities be in the spotlight?

After much anticipation, the time has come. The week we have been preparing for is finally here. Small Charity Week, which is run by the FSI, is upon us and we can finally launch our We Love Small Charities campaign!

For the last ten days we have asked our eTapestry customers to write to us telling us “Why Should Small Charities be in the Spotlight?”

And really, we shouldn’t even have to ask the question. With the Charity Commission revealing in September 2014 that 159,174 out of 164,987 charities have a turnover of less than £1.5 million, small charities make up the majority of the not-for-profit sector.

So what have we learnt from our small charity customers?

They might be small but they make a HUGE difference.

Either competing with big charities or as a niche organisation and the only resource of its kind, it can be difficult for small charities to get their voices heard. But with the help of their supporters, passion and commitment, they make the world a better place, and can often see direct results of the work they do.

Small charities have the most amazing staff and volunteers.

Anyone running an organisation knows of the importance of dedication to succeed and make a difference. Staff members working for not-for-profits do an amazing job, and small charities are often lucky enough to build true families with their staff but also with their volunteers and donors. It is because of staff’s dedication and the precious time that volunteers offer up that makes change possible, and for small charities to deliver on their mission.

Because they are smaller they need to be more efficient and effective.

Limited funds means small charities can’t afford to spend the way larger charities do and buy lots of advertising and publicity. The money they get needs to be funnelled straight into the cause they are working for. But having limited funds doesn’t mean they can’t achieve, it just means they have to work better and more efficiently. Imagine working with such confines and still being able to deliver on their promise? It’s all down to keeping focus on their vision and believing in what they do.

Small charities are key to every community; providing much needed support where otherwise there would be none.

Whether immediate surroundings or working for a community internationally, small charities are working around the world to meet local needs that would otherwise go un-met. With the flexibility afforded to smaller organisations, small charities can react quickly and efficiently to problems they encounter around them, often because they work from within the local communities they are looking to help.

So let’s celebrate small charities this week, and help spread the word about what they do, so that they can keep up the amazing work for years to come.

Follow us on Twitter to read more about Small Charity Week @BlackbaudEurope

How to be a Fundraising Rockstar

Are you like me and wondering where the year is going? We’re fast approaching the mid-year mark and perhaps you’ve not yet been able to maximise on your fundraising in 2015 or, maybe you’re ramping up for events for the coming months? Whatever position you might be in, I thought I’d share a summary of some helpful tips and advice in one easy to reference article. Of course if you’d like more detail, do look out for how you can register for some of our free webinars being held this year.

Successful fundraising begins with a campaign, but what is a campaign and why do you need them?

A campaign is a series of activities or events that has a timeline and a goal. A campaign might be a number of planned emails; it might include an event to focus specifically on your top or most wealthy donors. It’s a clear pitch and proposition to your donors and supporters, the delivery vehicle for your persuasive message. It should share your gratitude for their past support, show them what’s been achieved with previous gifts and inspire them to give again. Campaigns can also be an excellent opportunity to find new donors.

The Basics and How to Get Started

Initial questions you should be asking:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How are you going to accomplish your goals?
  • Which communication channels will be used?
  • What resources are needed?
  • Who will execute each step?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What timeline and benchmarks to set for the life of the campaign?

Then…Equip yourself with Four Basic Tools of the Trade

Website – Where donors can go to read about your organisation in more detail, access up-to-date information and see how donations have been used over the past year to make a difference towards your mission. Did you know that more than half of donors get their information about their favourite charity via their website?

Donation Page – Aesthetics are important: do not underestimate the power of your organisation’s brand. Gifts are larger if given through a branded donation page rather than a third party provider. Think about the donor journey and making it easy for them to donate, and be clear about why their gift will really make a difference.

Reports – If you don’t have the luxury of a fundraising database then analysis of your data might be time consuming and not at all reliable, but make it simple. Where are you now and where do you want to be by the end of the campaign period? Analyse your average gifts and see if you can achieve a higher average by the end of your campaign. Report on hits to your website and the number of social media shares. Use what you can to measure where you are at the start and how successful your campaign has been at the end with points in-between.

Email – Target and optimise your communications. Did you know that over 60% of emails are now read on smartphones and tablets? Think about setting your emails up so that text is larger and links are clear in the text. Don’t make emails too large in size, so keep photos and graphics low resolution to avoid slow download of your email. Do segment and personalise your emails so that the right message gets to the right people.

Until next time… Happy fundraising!!