Best of the Week

Fundraising Reading Round-Up - November 2017

Well, after a nearly a year off blogging I thought it was time to get back to it!

2017 has been an amazing year and the lack of blogging has been due to two reasons.

Most excitedly, September saw the publication of my first fundraising book, Donors for Life - A Practitioner's Guide to Relationship Fundraising. Co-authored with Paul Stein and with a foreword from Ken Burnett, it aims to give fundraisers ideas, tip and practical advice on how to implement relationship fundraising and improve the supporter experience.

It has had rave reviews from the likes of Roger Craver at the Agitator and Pamela Grow. I'll be sharing some of my favourite content on the blog in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, you can order the book via White Lion Press or on Amazon in the UK or US.

Secondly, February saw me launch my new fundraising consultancy. The year has flown by as I've worked on a variety of projects with some amazing clients. If you'd like to know more, then check out the consultancy services page or get in touch for a chat.

Right, adverts over! On with the round-up.

November reading round-up

I've been thinking about segmentation, values and identity a lot recently. I've had the nagging feeling we've been doing it wrong as a sector. This recent series on the Agitator has really helped my consolidate my thoughts. It really is an essential read for anyone who wants to improve the donor experience. There are lots of posts on the subject, but these two are good summaries and starting points: Flying Blind Fundraising and Stop Telling Your Donors Who They Are.

Richard Turner has been another person who has had a big influence on my thinking in the last couple of years. Here he explains why 'Everyone is a channel' is not another channel.

SOFII's latest case study is the story of the NSPCC's Full Stop campaign as told by Giles Pegram CBE. A fascinating read for anyone interested in transformational appeals.

The Clairification blog shares a 3-Word Recipe Guaranteed to Raise Money.

Grammarly is one of my favourite apps. Pamela Grow explains why it is so useful.

Bloomerang take a close look at surveys with three examples from nonprofits and lessons from customer satisfaction surveys.

For Impact look at strategic plans v strategic clarity.

Donor Voice share tips for science based design.

Rogare's Ian MacQuillin argues that fundraising regulation needs to be better.

Paul Vanags takes a considered look at fundraising and comms integration. Spoiler: he's not in favour!

Tobin Aldrich ask how do we engage our board in major giving?

Would £10,000 motivate you to have a good idea? Lucy Gower with a lovely story about her dad and British Airways.

Joe Jenkins of the Children's Society is interviewed by the Hope Agency and explains about the changing business model of fundraising.

 Some lovely, heart warming stories from the winners of the 2017 Justgiving Awards. You can also read the first part of their best campaigns of 2017.

According to the Veritus Group emotional intelligence trumps strategy in major gifts.

The Fundraising is Awesome blog take a close look at Wikipedia's winning donation ask banner. Fascinating results.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

As the year draws to an end, I wanted to share one final reading round-up for you to enjoy.

Before starting though, I have three announcements to share:

  1. What was your favourite fundraising campaign/appeal of 2016? Please comment with your suggestions or drop me an e-mail at - I want to write an article for SOFII featuring the best appeals from around the world.

  2. The 2017 Scottish Fundraising Conference has a call for papers out. I've heard great feedback about this conference and the organising committee have big plans for 2017.

  3. My wife and I are currently crowdfunding for therapy for a lady who lives near us and is at threat from eviction from the local housing association. Our daughter has benefited from the same therapy and this is our way of saying 'thanks'. If you've enjoyed the blog this year and are still feeling in the festive spirit then any donation would be hugely appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Thanks, as always, for reading and I'd like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.

Tom Ahern shared a fantastic e-book just before the Christmas break. 20 Questions shares great advice and solid research on 20 questions fundraisers are often asked from board members and senior colleagues. You can download it for free from Tom's website.

Another great free resource is The Data Playbook. Beth Kanter describes its contents.

Rob Woods on the two essential ingredients to create a change in culture.

Donor Voice take a look at the behavioural science behind Wikipedia's recent online appeal.

Rogare helpfully summarise everything you need to know about the recent ICO ruling in the UK.

Pamela Grow shares an e-mail from Ontario Nature that links to a direct mail piece. It is amazing how few charities do this.

The Institute of Fundraising has a run series on 'What's next in 2017?' Read the ones on data, direct marketing and innovation.

The Donor Relations Guru rages against her fundraising mailbox.

Lucy Gower explains the good and bad (mostly bad) of copycat strategies.

Amanda Santer implores us to do better.

Michael Clark reflects on 2016 from a legacy perspective.

Sean Triner describes the digital fundraising tipping point.

An interesting research paper on how buying experiences rather than material items builds stronger relationships between people. Some interesting applications for fundraisers? (HT Martin Jervis)

Over at Justgiving, guest blogger Greg Harris looks at how to solve the non-profit employee disengagement crisis.

Any excuse to share a log post that references the Cure! Agents of Good implore you to get 'close to me'.

I'm always fascinated by the results of mystery shopping exercises. Bloomerang share their findings from donating $5 to 25 organisations on Giving Tuesday. Sadly, as usual, the results aren't great.

On a related note, Bloomerang also analyse 40 Giving Tuesday appeals.

Also on Giving Tuesday, Michael Rosen shares his hits and misses.

A good story on the importance of stewardship over at the Hilborn blog.

Flight of the Fundraiser on C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S cultivation.

The end of an era at 101 Fundraising, as founders Reinier and Jeoren hand over the reins to Resource Alliance. Thanks for six years of great posts!

Fundraising Reading Round Up

 December is looming and time to share another reading round-up. Thanks for reading.

Richard Turner attended the recent Justgiving awards and shares some of his favourite stories from the fundraising award winners.

On 101 Fundraising, Matthew Sherrington reports on the recent survey in Fundraising magazine's Men and Women survey. The comments are also well worth a read. Lizzie Hollis' reflections on the survey are also worth a read.

I've just bought Alex Ferguson's book on leadership (it was 99p on Kindle!), so was interested to read this article on the book and the idea of 'zooming out to lead' on the For Impact blog.

Stephen George shares one of the best charity videos I've seen for a while. Sick Kids v Undeniable.

Sean Triner takes a look at a fundraising appeal from Wikipedia.

Jeff Brooks describes how he diagnoses fundraising copy. I already use Hemingway app (highly recommended), but Latinometer is a new one for me!

Ian MacQuillin of Rogare looks at the use of beneficiary images in fundraising.

October's Nonprofit blog carnival is hosted by the Clairification blog and between the Halloween puns, there are some great resources for major donor fundraising!

Tobin Aldrich shares donor feedback - Indian style!

The Donor Guru rails against asking with a thank you (or thasking!)

Donor Voice on how the YMCA discovered what members really wanted and how to increase lifetime value.

Pamela Grow shares a beautifully integrated campaign.

Giles Pegram takes a detailed look at how fundraisers in the UK have reacted to the crisis of the last 18 months and how we can move forward.

It's about your donor's story according to Veritus blog.

Michael Rosen with some tips for actively listening to donors in meetings.

The New York Times report on how to ask for money. HT The Agitator blog.

Clairification has a blog on a similar theme: How to make donors happy to say 'yes' to your fundraising appeal.


Fundraising Reading Round Up

Time for another reading round-up. Hope you enjoy the fine selection of articles below. If any of you are going to the IFC then I hope to see you there! In the meantime, happy fundraising...

Rogare have been busy in the last month or so and their recent paper on ethical decision making in fundraising is worth a read. You can also check out commentary from the Agitator and thoughts on integrity from Ken Burnett.

Also, Ian McQuillin published this two part blog asking if being a donor the same thing as being a consumer and then looking at the new fundraising regulator in the UK.

Supporter journeys and experience is one of the projects I'm currently working on at Amnesty International. This compendium of articles from McKinsey has given me lots of food for thought about how we can apply lessons from the commercial world. N.B. there are two articles in the McKinsey Quarterly and the link to the compendium is half way down then page.

The Ask Direct Summer School in Ireland sounded fabulous. Mark Phillips shares some of his learnings. Tom Ahern gives his thoughts as well. Finally, Agents of Good on the importance of being earnest.

The Veritus group on why creating awareness is the first relationship step to getting meetings. Part of a series on the steps to getting a meeting.

'No-one strives for vanilla' says Lucy Gower.

Donor Voice have been busy blogging recently with lots of interesting content. 'How are you baiting your line?' encourages you to understand why a donor gives to your cause (and use that information accordingly!)

Clarification blog is hosting October's non-profit carnival. The topic is on getting and sustaining major gifts. September's was hosted by the Fundraising Authority with a selection of posts on finding new donors.

Tobin Aldrich has written a two-part blog on where new donors come from that would have been a worthy addition to the carnival. Read part one and part two.

Future Fundraising Now on three things every donor needs from you.

101 Fundraising have a great series of posts ahead of the IFC in the Netherlands this month. I like this post from Rachel Hunnybun on change.

I liked this anecdote from Eddy Hogg at Kent Philanthropy on effective altruism. As someone who has supported Free Kicks as well, I'm with Eddy on its effectiveness...

I always love personalised thank you cards, so wanted to share this example from Flight of the Fundraiser.

Wild Woman Fundraising interviews Marc Pitman and discusses leadership.

Richard Turner on how you should tap into emotion.

Bright Spot Fundraising describe three ways to help your teams unite.

Michael Rosen asks do you know how to respond to criticism?

Sean Triner looks at language to avoid when talking to mid and major donors.

Jason McNeal on how he responded to a pre-emptive gift. A good lesson for fundraisers.

The Story of Telling share the three act structure for brand stories.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

At the recent IoF National Fundraising Convention a couple of people asked me 'where's the round-up gone?' The quick answer is time has beaten me, but I've resolved to get back to blogging at least monthly to the end of the year.

This round-up will share the best of the convention and a couple of other things that have caught my eye this month. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Institute of Fundraising National Convention Round-Up

I had a great three days at this year's convention and loved the Barbican at the new venue. I've collected some of the stories and write-ups here:

I hosted two sessions on relationship fundraising where seven speakers spoke for six minutes each. SOFII are featuring some of the presentations. Richard Turner also blogged about his talk on why relationship fundraising is still relevant.

Zoe Amar spoke about the skills the fundraisers of the future will need.

Howard Lake of UK Fundraising organised 'Tip of the Pops' in the unconventional stream. You can watch videos from the session and read about some more links between songs and fundraising in David Burgess' summary.

UK Fundraising also feature nine short talks from 'rising stars' - see links to videos of eight of the stars here.

Lord Grade made some controversial comments at convention. Here is Mark Phillips' take on them. Talking sense as always.

Richard Sved shared a daily list of what he learned at convention. Read day one and  day two.

Jamie Parkin from Justgiving shares his presentation on how to harness technology for good.


I want to start with this post from the always excellent Agitator. Every fundraiser should read and absorb the lessons from this post on donor journeys. Taking lessons from McKinsey's work on consumer journeys it looks at why the donor experience is so important.

Also worth checking out on the Agitator is their eight post series on starting over. Food for thought for us all.

Flight of the Fundraiser is a new blog and producing some good content. I liked this recent guest post on customer service expectations.

We don't hear enough stories from donors on the giving experience. That's why I liked this article on 101 Fundraising from the self-styled Whiny Donor.

Lucy Gower gives some tips on crowdfunding.

The Story of Telling blog asks 'what is a strategy?'

Rob Woods discusses fundraising resilience. Rob quotes a TED talk by Angela Duckworth. It is well worth watching. I'll be reviewing her excellent book 'Grit' in my next post.

In a three part series, Jason McNeal explains his three most damaging fundraising myths.

The Donor Relations Guru takes a look at the fundraising office of the future.

What Veritus has learned about mid-level programs.

Hilborn describe the donor journey that leads to a legacy gift.

Tom Ahern is one of my favourite copywriters and his newsletters are always good. You can watch an interview with Tom where he talks about case statements courtesy of the Bloomerang blog.

The Rogare blog look at the concept of 'total relationship fundraising' and balance theory.

Demographics are garbage. So say Donor Voice. Discover why.

 As a Harry Potter fan, I enjoyed Wild Woman Fundraising's post on how to make a donor care about your writing.

Clairification shares a plethora of resources for you to enjoy for free.

Jeff Brooks on the unfair truth about disaster fundraising.


Fundraising Reading Round Up

Don't worry, I'm still alive! It's been a long time since my last round-up. I've decided to only include items from March onwards, so apologies for people who shared great content in February. Enjoy and fingers crossed I'll be back early May!

Regulation and the proposed fundraising preference service (FPS) are still big topics of discussion. Here are a collection

Jackie Fowler and Ken Burnett with a case study on Botton Village. They've been using FPS since 1986!

Marg from the Fundraising Collective explains why the proposed service makes her head hurt.

Giles Pegram looks at the relationship between fundraisers and trustees at UK Fundraising.

The Fundraiser magazine finds out how the RNLI are doing since moving to opt-in for fundraising communications.

Stephen George lists 10 priorities for fundraising to get on the front foot.

Two Donald Trump analogies. First up, Insightful Fundraising warn us that we ignore the common man at our peril. Elsewhere, Jeff Brooks explains what fundraisers can learn from Trump's campaign.

March's Non-profit Blog Carnival was hosted by Rad Campaign. Look here for great advice and insight on reaching millenials. The Donor Dreams blog host April's and ask 'what advice would you give to your younger self'?

'What do your donors want?' asks Richard Turner.

The Veritus Group has an excellent new series on qualifying major donor leads.

Rachel Beer on 101 Fundraising implores fundraisers to stop talking about stewardship and start doing it.

Also on 101, Derek Humphries looks at the people who made relationship fundraising work.

Mark Phillips takes a look at 'trojan horse' fundraising.

Clarification has a great two part blog on getting more donors. Follow the links to part one and part two.

Wild Woman Fundraising on making the right fundraising decisions.

Lots of great stuff from Pamela Grow. I liked this thank you from St Jude's Children Research Hospital and this video from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Michael Rosen has a number of guest posts that link to the recent AFP 2016 conference. I liked this post on 'moneyball' numbers for digital fundraising.

I was delighted to do this interview with Ben Rymer of  (fund) raising voices.

Interested in prospect research? I loved the recent #ResearchPride initiative that Ben also blogged about. Read more about it and lots of great links to prospect research information.

Hilborn have a two part series on mid-level donors. Part two is here.

Lucy Gower reports what happened when she tried to unsubscribe from a number of e-mail lists.

Read about early findings and observations from Penelope Burk's annual donor survey.

Donor Relations Guru takes a look at their mailbox. The result? Lots of the same thing...

'But why?' asks Ann Green.

Bloomerang implore fundraisers to stop saying lapsed donors are your 'best prospects'.

For Impact on the importance of personal goals.

 Seth Godin on how to hack reciprocity.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

It's been a busy start of the year, so this round up is long overdue! I've focused on posts from January and hope you find something of interest. Thanks for reading.

I want to start with the review of relationship fundraising review by Adrian Sargeant, Jen Shang and Ian MacQuillin of fundraising think tank Rogare. You can download the four volumes from the project sponsor Pursuant . You can also read a summary of the key findings on the Rogare blog.

I'll be blogging my thoughts on the review soon. In summary, I think there are some interesting insights for fundraisers to consider. However, the research uncovers that relationship fundraising means different things to different people and it fails to offer a definition that we can all use (not that this was an aim of the review). This means that the sector may continue to confuse what is meant by the term. Last year I predicted 2015 would be the year relationship fundraising comes of age - it seems like I was a year early! With this review and the newly-established Commission on Donor Experience relationship fundraising is going to be a hot topic in 2016. You can read an interview with Richard Spencer, the commission's director at the Fundraiser website.

 Tobin Aldrich has started a new series on keeping donors. The first part is on engagement.

The Insightful blog has a radical, restructuring idea for the charity sector.

Three ways to channel your inner Bowie from Bright Spot Fundraising.

Hannah from the Fundraising Collective takes a look at deciphering your data.

On 101 Fundraising Tom Ahern spies five trends for 2016.

The Too Busy to Fundraise blog shows why consistency beats brilliance every single time.

Future Fundraising Now on avoiding 'me-first' fundraising.

Hilborn host an interview with one of my favourite fundraisers. Mark Phillips of Bluefrog.

Sean Triner asks if millennials are really worth targeting for fundraising?

The latest series on the Veritus blog looks at four things your donor wants.

The Justgiving blog reviews five great charity social campaigns from 2015.

Agents of Good on lessons in gratitude.

Richard Turner says we should understand 'why' we need to change our fundraising.

The Clairification blog provides two reasons donor surveys are valuable.

Bloomerang explain how to use donor identity to aid in retention.

David Meerman Scott: Nobody cares about your products (except you).

Seth Godin with 10 questions for work that matters.

The Story of Telling on how to optimise for customer delight.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

As Christmas and the New Year approach it is fair to say it has been a tough for UK fundraisers. Will 2015 be remembered as an annus horribilis and the mark of a decline in fundraising or as a watershed moment for our profession and a renaissance in how we raise funds? Time will tell, but we'll begin this time with further opinion on the new fundraising regulator in the UK and the proposed fundraising preference service.

Like many fundraisers, I have been disappointed with the response of the Institute of Fundraising to the proposed regulation. It was good to (finally) hear from chief executive, Peter Lewis who thinks fundraising expertise must be at the heart of self-regulation.

The Fundraising Collective give an update three years on from two phone calls and some thoughts on the proposed fundraising regulation. One from a university (good), one from an animal charity (bad) - discover what has happened since!

Rogare report on the results of their survey about fundraisers attitudes to the proposed fundraising preference survey. Also on Rogare, Zoe Bunter makes a plea for the voice of the beneficiary to be heard.

Two great posts on 101 Fundraising on how fundraising needs to evolve. Rachel Beer takes a close look at relationship fundraising and Richard Turner explains why fundraising needs to change.

I reviewed the excellent book Innovation Workout last month. Author Lucy Gower has an upcoming webinar with Australian fundraising expert Sean Triner on Monday 14 December when they will discuss some of the content. Check it out!

Giving Tuesday has also been in the news this week. UK Fundraising took a look at 14 fundraising ideas from the day and John Baguley shares his thoughts.

Rob Woods on the art of pitching and three influencing tricks.

This months Nonprofit Carnival hosted by Pamela Grow is excellent. Lots of great posts on adopting an abundance mindset.

Veritus Group explain the importance of attitude over aptitude in major gifts fundraising.

Agents of Good share a fantastic appeal for the Humber River Hospital Foundation. Filled with love, it raised a lot of money and had high engagement with donors.

Tobin Aldrich has been researching on investing in fundraising. His findings are well worth a look.

Some interesting reflections on 10 years of 'free wills month'.

The Fundraising Coach has launched a study on nonprofit leadership. This is a subject close to my heart and I look forward to hearing the results.

Donor Relations Guru on why great fundraisers don't need brochures.

You. Because. Thanks. Clairification shares the three words (with great examples) that are guaranteed to help you raise more money.

Bloomerang on why 'treat every donor like a major donor' is terrible advice.

'It would be nice not to be asked' says Amanda Santer.

The excellent Story of Telling blog explain the new rules of e-mail marketing.

The Hilborn blog on reigniting the 'why'.

Finally, a bit of humour (and some interesting points) from David Burgess on UK Fundraising. 10 things fundraisers could learn from Star Wars. Anyone else looking forward to the new film?!

Fundraising Reading Round-Up

I've recently had the pleasure of spending a week in Japan working with Amnesty International fundraisers from across Asia-Pacific. It was fascinating learning about fundraising in that part of the world and hearing about the challenges they face.

It means it has been a bit longer than planned since my last round-up and I have limited it to stories and articles from October. Enjoy.

I want to start this week with Adrian Sargeant's latest piece of research on donor satisfaction and his related conclusion that the proposed Fundraising Preference Service is a bad idea. It is also worth reading the comments and the ensuing debate.

Ian MacQuillin shares his opinion on the groundbreaking opportunity awaiting the new fundraising regulator.

My opinion? I think the FPS is ill-conceived and unworkable in practice. There are existing laws and regulations in place and if these were properly enforced with appropriate sanctions then there wouldn't be a problem. I believe we need to do more as a profession to stop this mistake happening. It is bad for donors and bad for the causes we serve.

I always love mystery shopping exercises. Nonprofit Tech for Good share the results of making a $25 donation to 32 different organisations.

Tobin Aldrich on why we should do more to promote the joy of giving and the difference charities make to society.

I continue to learn lots from Richard Turner and his latest post on when raising less could mean more is worth a look.

Mark Phillips on fundraising professionalism.

Amanda Santer on building relationships and a lightbulb moment!

I loved this customer service example that Open Fundraising shared on their blog. What a wine company does when it hears a loyal customer is expecting!

Paul de Gregorio shares an inspiring Greenpeace video.

Lianne Howard- Dace shares some tips for supporter care events on the Justgiving blog.

Pell & Bales on the challenge facing fundraising.

Lots of great articles on 101 Fundraising. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Matthew Sherrington on the curse of the ROI fundraising ratio.

Jackie Fowler on how Camphill Village Trust fundraise. CVT are one of my favourite fundraising organisations.

Michael Rosen on when you should refuse a gift.

What happens when you show love and loyalty to a donor? Veritus Group explain.

Beth Kanter on improving virtual meetings.

I love this story from Rob Woods on the German town who turned a neo-Nazi rally into a fundraising opportunity for good!

The Donor Dreams blog on culture v strategy.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

It's been longer than I would like since my last round-up, so time for a bumper edition. There's lots of great articles for you to enjoy below. Thanks for reading.

Ken Burnett had six minutes to defend fundraising on Radio 4. What would you say? Read about Ken's experience and thoughts in his latest blog.

(Fund) Raising Voices takes a look at major giving trends in the UK.

On 101 Fundraising Rachel Hunnybun describes a special thanking event for donors who had increased their gift and the subsequent impact on income.

The Veritus Group on letting go of the fear.

Rob Woods at Bright Spot Fundraising shares nine tips on how to get meetings with major donors using your phone.

I loved this story from Jason McNeal on how two fans of the University of Tennessee football team got 100,000 people to co-ordinate colours for a game!

Lucy Gower describes the frustration of not being listened to by a company. Related: Jonathon Cook from Insight-ful describes how a friend had a similar experience with a cancer charity. This couldn't happen in your charity could it?

Ian MacQuillin at Rogare on the fundraising commons.

Five fundraisers share the toughest fundraising question they have been asked with the Fundraiser magazine.

Derek Humphries of DTV on the refugee crisis and how emotional images led to an outpouring of compassion.

'We need a new audience' - something I'm sure many fundraisers have heard from colleagues or trustees. Tobin Aldrich challenges this assumption.

August's Nonprofit Blog Carnival topic was on sharing progress and communicating accomplishments.

Wild Woman Fundraising on breaking the old fundraising rules. 

Sean Triner shares  a case study from the Soi Dog Foundation and how they recruit new donors on Facebook.

Network for Good describe six quick behavioral economics lessons for fundraisers.

I've always been a big fan of using questionnaires. Here Drayton Bird reveals some of his secrets to using them successfully.

Seth Godin takes a look at the rise of ad blockers and how to overcome the problem - better marketing/fundraising in the first place!

On a related theme, David Meerman-Scott asks are you selling when your buyers are ready?