Fundraising – it’s all about the money

Fundraising. It’s all about the money. But, the best way to raise the most is not the way we are going about it.

imagesIt’s not that we shouldn’t use techniques that have come under the spot light of the press recently because they put people’s backs up. It’s because they don’t deliver (and they put people’s backs up). Response rates have fallen, costs have risen. The likes of the Daily Mail haven’t even focused on that – yet! The reason we should no longer use these techniques is because they simply are in decline. Which only means even more pressure is on to make up the shortfall. The response? Use the same techniques and ramp up the volume (like shouting louder to someone who doesn’t understand you). Which only makes matters worse leading to the headlines we clearly want to avoid.

68ba77ae46db71d6c2e34da63446a020To raise the most money and get the best overall return on investment we need to change – not do more of the same. And we need to change not because our current approach to fundraising gets people’s backs up – we need to change because there is a better way which will raise more money.

It’s simple. By all means ‘target’ me to get money out of me. But engage and involve me so not only do I give but I tell my network of contacts and even ask them to give too. That leverages my social capital. It means the ask comes from someone a person trusts. Check out this blog post about Charity : Water from across the water (with thanks to the ever vigilant Fundraising Detective for the spot). It’s not their lovely ‘brand’, or even their 100% model proposition that delivers results – it’s their strategy of getting supporters to get donors for them.

This is how marketing has changed already – think Trip Advisor, and 5 star Amazon customer reviews. We are now all a channel.

And it gets better. A donor may give say $100 or £50 but their contacts may open doors to a corporate partnership, a major trust grant, or a major gift.


Now you have the basis to say :

  • we need to invest in fantastic supporter care so people talk about us in a good way.
  • we need to sweat our story so anyone who we count as a supporter can, and does, pass it on (i.e. comms is part of fundraising).
  • we need to look at overall return on investment, not break it down into isolated silos.That 2:1 return on your events programme, which has a high level of engagement, helps deliver that 10:1 on your major giving to help land that overall 5:1 for your fundraising programme. It’s how its all connects.

As a I read comments on various posts I see accusations of knee jerk reactions to the press. I’ve been saying this for four years since I started this blog. We are long overdue to change our approach. That is if fundraising is about raising money.

3 thoughts on “Fundraising – it’s all about the money

  1. It’s not all about money, It’s all about understanding potential donors.. Not understanding everyone, but listening to and understanding those who are interested in what you are fundraising for. This interest may be expressed in a very wide variety of ways of course. When you have got this far, then it’s all about your relationship with the donor, potential or actual, and mentioning. a donation at the appropriate moment, in a way you reckon the potential donor will understand. You never forget for a second that, as a fundraiser, what your client needs is Money.

    Good luck, David


    • Agree David – by listening and engaging donors with great stories (and listening is part of the conversation you have) so they inspire their networks you will raise more money than trying to get money out of them. My headline was a play on words for those who counter that such an approach doesn’t raise the money. I think it raises more.


  2. Pingback: Confessions of a fundraiser | ifundraiser

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