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.


May Nonprofit Blog Carnival: Leadership in Fundraising

I have the pleasure of hosting May's carnival and I chose the topic of 'leadership in fundraising'. I believe poor leadership is one of the biggest threats to our profession, so I was interested to see what stories and posts I would receive.

I've been fortunate to work for some great leaders in my career. One of the most vivid lessons I was taught early in my career is neatly summed up in this Gaping Void image and associated post:

Gaping Void Leadership

Probably my favourite submission this month comes from Beth Ann Locke. She shares why her first non-profit boss was so good. Among the nine gifts Beth shares are trust, belief in staff and mentoring. How many of the nine gifts have people you have worked for demonstrated? Do you practice the same with your own team? 

Joe Garecht from Fundraising Authority explains how to be a great development director. According to Joe, 'Leading means being able to make decisions, take initiative, and bear responsibility for both successes and failures.'

Joan Garry shares the five attributes of a great executive director. She takes a closer look at five attributes that make Ellen DeGeneres such a strong leader.

Are you recruiting for a new development leader? Joan also shares some interview questions (and answers for the candidates) that you should be asking.

Jeremy Koch of Empower Nonprofits rightly states that everyone needs to recognise their ability to lead. He states we can all demonstrate everyday leadership if we choose to do so.

Christine Fuller answers some interesting questions about leadership for development professionals including an interesting take on how we can overcome our professions 'leadership crisis'.

Pamela Grow shares her gratitude for her first boss and what he taught her about courage, strength, grace and dignity.

As well as stories on leadership, I thought it would be useful to share some reports and resources that you can use in your own leadership efforts.

Sophie Penney is the Program Director and a Lecturer for Penn State’s online Certificate in Philanthropic Leadership. Sophie shared a great summary of Jim Collin's excellent book Good to Great and the concept of 'level five leadership'.

The Great Fundraising Report by Adrian Sargeant and Revolutionise is always worth another look and has some good leadership pointers.

Penelope Burk's Donor Centred Leadership is one of my favourite non-profit books. Read how much poor leadership costs through increased staff turnover and related loss of fundraising income. This blog post on making time to learn how to manage and lead gives a flavour of the book.

Finally, I have used a number of the exercises in the Emerging Nonprofits Leaders Playbook in workshops. It is a fantastic resource that contains lots of useful tips, tools and exercises. A big 'thank you' to Beth Kanter, Third Plateau Impact Strategies and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for producing such a wonderful (free) resource.

June's Nonprofit Blog Carnival

June's carnival is hosted by Nancy Schwartz author of the fantastic Getting Attention blog. Nancy is asking for people to share their experience of creating an all staff team of messengers. What are your experiences of doing this? What are your concerns? How do you ask, train and support your messengers?

Be sure to check out next month's topic on and see how you can get involved.

Nonprofit Blog Carnival: Leadership in Fundraising

I’m delighted to be hosting May’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

With the presidential primaries well underway and the UK about to vote in the biggest referendum in a generation, leadership is a hot topic at the moment. I have been reading and thinking about the subject a lot recently and thought it would make for a great carnival topic. 

I strongly believe there is a leadership deficit in fundraising. The evidence of this? High staff turnover at nonprofits, a focus on short-term planning and results and a dearth of strategic thinking. Of course, there are brights spots and exceptions to this, but they are not as common as I would like!

So, for this month’s carnival I’d love to hear your stories and ideas about leadership:

  • Which leader do you most admire?

  • Who are the best, and worst, leaders you have worked for? What made them so good/bad?

  • What does leadership mean to you?

  • How can you be a leader in more junior roles?

  • How can fundraising solve its leadership crisis?

  • What are your ‘go-to’ leadership resources? For example, do you have a favourite book or Ted talk on the subject?

How To Submit Your Blog Post:

Submitting your posts to the Nonprofit Blog Carnival couldn't be easier. Just send both the URL of your post and a 2-3 sentence summary of your post to: by Friday, May 27th to be considered! I'll be reviewing all submissions and choosing ones for inclusion in a "blog round up" post at the end of May.

April’s Carnival

Hosted by Erik Andersen of Donor Dreams blog, the topic was ‘Advice To My Younger Fundraiser Self’. Read some of the funny, insightful and moving stories on Erik’s blog.

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.

Reflections on the Rogare review of relationship fundraising

I wanted to share this article I recently wrote for the Rogare Critical Fundraising blog. These are my reflections on the recent review undertaken by Rogare. The original post has some interesting comments and, if you have any thoughts, I suggest you add them to the Rogare blog. I'd also recommend reading Ken Burnett's recent blog on the subject. Thanks for reading.

Rogare’s recent review of Relationship Fundraising gives much food for thought for the sector. Importantly, it suggests topics for further exploration to help improve the standards of fundraising and raising more money for the causes we care about.
However, I think there a couple of important areas that the review overlooked. For that reason, I believe it should be seen as an interesting starting point to discuss relationship fundraising. Below are some of my thoughts and suggestions for further thinking, clarification and discussion. I hope you find them useful.

1 Relationship fundraising is not a choice: all fundraising is relationship fundraising

Perhaps the most important line in the entire report does not feature in the final summary. This is disappointing. However, it goes to the heart of why relationship fundraising has been misunderstood over the years by so many practitioners. It also highlights an error (explained in point three) that I believe Ian MacQuillin and Adrian Sargeant have made in their recommendations.

In the introduction to volume two, the authors state:

    …(T)he process of fundraising is by definition the process of establishing new links or reinforcing existing ones. In this sense, all fundraising is relationship building. If one chooses to be a fundraiser, one chooses to build relationships.  Building relationships is not optional in fundraising; it is inherent in the definition of what fundraising is.

From this clear statement it seems hard to leap to the conclusion that relationship fundraising is a choice.

So what happened?

What was originally meant by Ken Burnett has been wrongly (though understandably) compared to relationship marketing.
In volume one it is acknowledged:

    In the non-profit context, Ken Burnett did not have the relationship marketing concept in mind when he wrote his inspirational text.

Burnett has been quite clear on the subject over the years, as far back as 1996 when he was discussing the publication of Friends for Life – the follow up to Relationship Fundraising he said:

    Relationship fundraising is, after all, just a currently fashionable piece of jargon … I wish I’d paid more attention to its     subtitle – “A donor-based approach to the business of raising money.” Those ten words, I believe, are ultimately much     more important than the two words that precede them.

Other books from Burnett, such as Zen of Fundraising and George Smith’s Asking Properly take a similar viewpoint. They talk about relationships in this high level sense and focus on how you build commitment, trust and satisfaction with donors, which we now know is so important.

In none of his writings did Burnett use an analogy with marriage or compare relationship fundraising to relationship marketing. Yet many still confuse the two concepts.

Before moving on, it is important to note that it would be wrong to say that relationship marketing does not have any application to fundraising. As the review states, there are clear times when it is a useful way to consider fundraising and there are snippets of advice from the theory that all fundraisers would do well to heed.

So how do we overcome this problem of confusion of what we mean by relationship fundraising?

I’d suggest that we think of relationship fundraising as operating on three levels, as represented by the diagram below:

  Levels of relationship fundraising

 Level one uses the word ‘relationship’ in its widest, dictionary definition. This, I believe, is what Burnett intended in his original Relationship Fundraising.

Level two relates to relationship theory in social psychology and the ideas outlined in volume two of the review.

Level three refers to relationship marketing theory. Volume one of the review.

Sitting outside the circle is poor fundraising practice that discourages commitment, trust and satisfaction from donors.

Considering relationship fundraising in this way allows a clear understanding of what we mean by relationships and what level any recommendations in the review refer to.

So, my firm belief is that fundraisers don’t need to make ‘a choice between relationship fundraising and ‘good old fashioned’ customer care’ but need to choose between applying level one, two or three relationship fundraising.

This model also explains the different North American and British ‘schools’ of relationship fundraising described in the review. The British school is firmly rooted in levels one and two and the North American school is more focused on level three.

2 Casting the net further – broadening the definition of relationship fundraising

If you accept the model above, then this opens up new areas for discussion and review of relationship fundraising. We do not need to confine ourselves to the realms of social psychology and relationship marketing.

I firmly believe relationship fundraising is an evolving concept that takes the best of business, marketing and behavioural theories and applies them to the fundraising world. Too much focus is on the word ‘relationship’ and not on the subtitle of the book ‘A donor-based approach to the business of raising money’.

A close look at theories behind customer experience, experiential marketing and contemporary marketing books could all prove fruitful areas for review to improve levels of trust, commitment and satisfaction in the fundraising world.

One of the few fundraisers who has documented such an approach is Richard Turner of Solar Aid. Turner’s proposed model of fundraising urges fundraisers to use the social capital in our own, and donors’, networks. The model applies 21st century marketing theory to how we build strong relationships with our donors and, ultimately, raise more money.

A robust testing of Turner’s proposals in a similar vein to volumes two and three could be a fruitful area for future study.

3 Language is important: transactional fundraising shouldn’t be encouraged in mass marketing terms

MacQuillin and Sargeant appear to inter-change relationship fundraising and relationship marketing techniques in their conclusions. This results in the following summary:

    Rogare suggests that a more ‘transactional’ form of fundraising might be more effective and relevant in fundraising from     individuals, with relationship fundraising tenets being applied to donors who have a much higher level of involvement     with the charity, such as corporate and high net worth individuals.

    Not that the majority of individual donors need be downgraded in any way. It is just that ‘good old fashioned’ excellent     customer care might be a more effective approach for mass marketing fundraising.

As I argued above, this seems to confuse level three relationship fundraising (based on relationship marketing) with level one relationship fundraising as defined by Burnett.

I believe classifying fundraising as ‘transactional’ is a dangerous view to propose. It strips fundraising of its emotional soul. It is transactional, mass marketing fundraising techniques that led to 2015 being such a tough year for fundraising in the UK. We need to move away from transactional fundraising in mature markets as it is responsible for the current threat of regulation in the UK and it is why charities lose more donors than they recruit in the US.

We need to encourage emerging markets to learn the lessons from the UK and USA and not go down the low cost, transactional route which appears, on current trends, to be unsustainable (though more research needs to be conducted to prove this point).

Proposing that transactional fundraising could be an effective way to fundraising sends the wrong message to the sector. If a distinction is to be made between major donor fundraising and mass marketing fundraising, then perhaps wider adaptation of Stephen Pidgeon’s term ‘minor donor’ would be useful. Pidgeon defines this as ‘raising smaller gifts from lots of people, often through a regular monthly donation paid through their bank.’

‘Minor donor’ fundraising has none of the negative implications of a transactional approach and makes the distinction I believe the authors are trying to make.

Finally, what is the purpose of “‘good old fashioned’ excellent customer care”? To build trust, commitment and satisfaction? If it is, then I’d argue it is hard to have trust, commitment and satisfaction with something or someone if no relationship exists.

Even for donors who give only once (for example, to an emergency appeal) we should, as fundraisers, still try to give a satisfying experience that builds trust in donating. The donor may not want to commit to future support now, but it would seem intuitive that a good experience would increase the likelihood of further donations. This could be in the event of a future emergency the donor cared about or the next time the donor feels an emotional connection to a cause and is asked to give.

4 Is ‘relationship fundraising’ even the correct phrase?

Of course, it might be that the term ‘relationship fundraising’ has become too tainted and confusing. It is possible that my proposals above wouldn’t resolve the conflicts that exist around the subject.

So perhaps we should abandon the term ‘relationship fundraising’ all together?

In the introduction of Friends for Life Burnett writes:

    Relationship fundraising is at best an attitude of mind. Whether you call it donor care, or supporter loyalty, or donor     development, or just common sense it all comes down to the same thing – a donor-based approach to the business of     raising money.

Would using a different term for British ‘school’ relationship fundraising be useful for fundraisers?

My personal view is we can repair the damage and provide clarity on the subject. However, discussing the definitions and agreeing what we mean when we say ‘relationship fundraising’ is crucial for the future development of the concept.

Last year I proposed a model of what relationship fundraising looks like at an operational level.

  DFL Craig's chart.

I believe relationship fundraising is centred on the emotional reason for why a person would want to give to your cause. From that point you can build your fundraising structure around telling this story, building relationships, making relevant asks, offering outstanding donor care and using data intelligently to strengthen relationships.

Sitting above this operational model is the leadership, strategy and culture you need to embed relationship fundraising in your organisation.

I offer this model in support of point four. If we can’t agree what we mean by relationship fundraising and how we can apply it in our organisations then we will continue to tie ourselves in knots. We spend too much time arguing over the word ‘relationship’ and need to get on with the urgent requirement to do better fundraising. Hopefully the two models in this article would provide clarity so we can all be certain what we are talking about when we discuss relationship fundraising.


The review has the subheading ‘Where Do We Go from Here?’ I believe there are four things that warrant further investigation. We need:

  • To propose, and agree, a clear definition of what we mean by relationship fundraising that can be used by the entire sector.
  • To broaden the literature review to look at what fundraising can learn from all contemporary marketing theories.
  • To evaluate, both quantitatively and qualitatively, whether relationship fundraising (as per our agreed definition) works and raises more money in the long term than transactional techniques.
  • To decide how we share our findings and encourage chief executives and boards to nurture a culture that rewards long term success over short term gain.

By doing this we will be able to definitively prove if relationship fundraising works and in what context.

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.