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?!

Book review (and special offer): The innovation workout by Lucy Gower

I was delighted to receive a copy of Lucy Gower’s new book the innovation workout. I’ve known Lucy for a number of years and in my previous role she ran a training session on innovation for my team.

Therefore I was looking forward to reading the book and seeing Lucy’s expertise in written form. Fortunately the book lived up to the high standards I expected. Here is my full review, along with a special offer from Lucy at the end of the article.

Book review: the innovation workout

Innovation is an over-used and often misunderstood concept within charities and fundraising teams. Every organisation I’ve worked for has wanted to be ‘more innovative’ without really taking the time to understand the problem(s) they wanted to solve. Another common mistake I’ve seen made is thinking innovation is solely ‘eureka’ moments - transformative ideas and events. In my opinion, fundraising hasn’t seen any serious, breakthrough innovation for over 20 years - as an aside, I’d argue even F2F fundraising was the bringing together of two separate existing ideas to create a huge change in how donors are recruited.

These mistakes lead to lost time and wasted effort. Fortunately this book provides a framework for looking at different types of innovation and understanding how you can create a culture where innovation flourishes and is conducted in a systematic manner.

The book is split into three parts

  • Ten steps to enhance your innovation skills
  • Ten innovation skills in action
  • Ten common innovation challenges

It can be read from start to finish or you can just flick to the section on a particular question or problem you have around innovation.

There are three things I particularly like about the book.

  1. The book is written in an easy to read style without using too much jargon. It is a pacey run through the principles, problems and opportunities related to innovation.
  1. It is packed full of practical examples from a range of industries and professions. It is not a book aimed solely at fundraisers or charities. By drawing on examples from all walks of life you get a wide perspective that gets you thinking and making connections. These are highlighted throughout the book along with links to see the examples online.
  2. The accompanying workbook is an excellent resource. It provides a number of exercises you can work through and run internally when you have an innovation problem you want to tackle. I’ve already used two of the exercises (on personas and facilitating an ideas session) on training that I have run. Both have been well received by colleagues.

Due to the style of the book it doesn’t go into lots of depth on any particular area. So if you want to know more about a certain topic, such as De Bono’s thinking hats tool, then you will need to read some of the further books listed at the end of the workbook.

Overall, if you are interested in innovation or need to run sessions on creativity, generating new ideas or problem solving then this book is for you. For me the best books are ones I go back to time and time again and use in my everyday work. The innovation workout will be one of those books.

Special offer:

Lucy is offering anyone who buys the book on Tuesday 10 November between noon - 13.00 UK the chance to join her on a free webinar (normally priced £25). Simply send Lucy your receipt and she'll send you the details!

You can buy the book on or


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?

Fundraising Reading Round-Up

Summer holidays have delayed the publication of my latest round-up, so today's is a bumper edition. Happy reading! 

Lots of good blogs at 101 Fundraising

Two of my favourite fundraising writers share their thoughts on UK fundraising. Charlie Hulme asks who is going to save fundraising? And Giles Pegram wants to know what do we do now to reassure our donors?

Tim Kitchen from Copper (a digital comms agency) shared some thought on Giles' post and says 'stop doing dumb things to donors!'

We are Massive share their latest report on the UK's top 25 mass participation fundraising events is a must read for people in that field. Free registration required to download the report.

Pell & Bales have re-published their excellent series on donor loyalty and how good quality thank you calls can improve retention. Part one is here.

Lucy Caldicott reminds us in the Fundraiser magazine that donors are people too!

Linda Spencer argues that only a fundraiser should hire a fundraiser.

The Veritus Group's latest series is all about measuring major gifts performance.

(Fund)raising voices add some interesting analysis to my blog post on ROI and argue we have a collective action problem in fundraising.

Beth Kanter reflects on a decade of designing and facilitating interactive webinars.

Paul de Gregorio has a rant. Ignore all gurus. Read fewer fundraising blogs.

Wild Woman Fundraising gives a typically honest assessment of three appeal letters.

Pure, heart-wrenching emotion. Pamela Grow shares a moving video.

Janet Levine urges you to do it now!

Bloomerang describe how to master service recovery. 

Ann Green guides you on how to share accomplishments without bragging.

Clairification explains why you should stop scolding donors to make unrestricted gifts.

Jeff Brooks reviews Badass: Making Users Awesome and says fundraisers can learn a lot from the book. 

The Nonprofit Marketing blog takes a look at welcome packs and gives some useful tips. 

Re:Charity on the value of peer-to-peer fundraising.

Drayton Bird shares seven silly website mistakes that are killing your business.

Bernadette Jiwa on how all marketing should be.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

Another week, another round of soul searching by fundraisers. There's been a lot of hot air, but also some insightful and stimulating commentary. Let's hope we can use this insight to improve our great profession.

If you haven't already done so then please get involved with the current Institute of Fundraising consultation and complete their survey asking for evidence.

Let's begin this week with some of the analysis and response to the current crisis:

Richard Turner explains why the solution is simple.

Margaret from the Fundraising Collective discusses whether the current crisis is a threat or opportunity?

Stephen George urges us to go back to basics.

So what to do now? asks Tobin Aldrich.

Tim Hopkins on the future of fundraising.

Elsewhere, here are some articles that might actually help you do some fundraising!

This article by Jeff Brooks made me smile: Things no donor said, ever.

The Fundraising Collective on how to prepare for a big campaign.

Lucy Gower explains the curse of the 20:2 principle.

Joe Jenkins of Friends of the Earth reminds us not to lose sight of our mission.

Wild Woman Fundraising describes how your donors view money.

According to Ann Green we need to connect and not interrupt.

Rob Woods gives us three ways to make use of social proof.

At 101 Fundraising, Richard Radcliffe asks where legacy fundraising is going?

Beth Kanter asks how we can become agile learners.

At UK Fundraising, Rachel Hunnybun tracks what happens when she tells charities she is moving house. Spoiler: not impressive!

The Veritus Group share seven tips to surprise your major donors.

The Donor Relations Guru on recognising anniversaries.

Fundraising Controversy: What Does the Data from 10 Top Charities Tell Us?

Every fundraiser in the UK will be aware of the sustained attack fundraising practices have had from the media, MPs and other commentators.

Whilst some of the criticisms may be legitimate (if overblown) others have been little more than hatchet jobs and extremely damaging to our profession. 

There have been numerous articles in the sector press, blogs etc with people queueing up to give their opinion. What I have been surprised at is the lack of analysis that has been undertaken to understand why the Olive Cooke case has been the catalyst for so much scrutiny and abuse of fundraising. 

Many people have suspected that we had a problem (my epiphany was when my mum started complaining about charities calling her - she never complains!), but we haven't done anything until a sustained media spotlight has been shone on us. 

What I have been surprised at is the lack of data analysis to back up some of the criticisms, solutions and arguments.

Rather than offer more opinion, I wanted to look at the figures to see if they could offer some insight into the problems we are facing as a profession.

First of all we know that individual fundraising income in the UK has seen no real growth for nearly a decade:

UK Individual Giving 2005 to 2014

Source: UK Giving Report 2014, CAF

What are the implications for this lack of growth? Well, if the market isn't growing, then the only way you can grow is by taking market share from your competitors.

My theory was if that is the case, then the best performing charities would need to be more aggressive in their asking, invest more money into fundraising and this would result in a declining ROI (but increased net income).

That's why I decided to look at the fundraising income of the top 10 charities* since 2010.

Voluntary Income 2010-14

This shows that gross and net income has grown considerably, but that ROI has dropped by around seven per cent. 

When you analyse the growth in income and expenditure, then the five year ROI of the increased investment is considerably lower than the overall four to one.

Increase in income 2010-2014 £172,585,000
Increase on expenditure 2010-14 £59,741,000
ROI 2.89

The extra £60m or so spent has returned less than three to one over a four/five year period. Most charities would be relatively pleased with this. 

However, this doesn't give the whole picture as it includes corporate, trusts and legacy income.

Therefore I wanted to look in greater detail at individual giving income. Fortunately six* of the ten charities breakdown income and expenditure of fundraising and have done so since 2010.

Individual Giving Income 2010-14

This shows that costs are rising more than three and a half times faster than income!

This means that individual giving ROI at these six charities has dropped by 20 per cent over the last five years (from 4.28 to 3.48).

At the same time all 10 charities have spent an additional £60 million (around £10m per charity) over the period. That is a huge number of extra phone calls, street fundraisers, direct mail etc. Especially at a time when inflation has been low.

If we take a look at the increase year on year, you will see there was a huge investment (nearly an extra £18m) into individual giving last year:

  Increase in individual costs

Was this the straw that broke the camel's back? Remember, this is just six charities. If the top 100 fundraising organisations* all increased their spending in a similar way over the last five years then that is a huge amount of extra requests to a pool of people who aren't giving any more overall.

A return of 1.63 over five years (though admittedly skewed by 2014 expenditure) is unsustainable in the long run.

So what's the answer? There has been a lot of hot air, but also some good ideas too. 

Here are three of my favourites:

Ken Burnett was ahead of the controversy with his five part 'Future of Fundraising' series.

I've just caught up with Mark Phillips excellent presentation at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention last week.

Finally, Charlie Hulme of Donor Voice was in fine form in this article at UK Fundraising.

We can't keep fighting for the same donors and the same pot of money. The last three months has proved that. Hopefully now we have some figures to help make that argument and develop constructive answers that will strengthen our profession.


I used this list at the Guardian of the top 1,000 charities from UK. I worked from the top down, excluding charities who don't do mass individual giving ( the Arts Council) or who receive a significant amount of funds from government sources (Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind - Sightsavers to you and me)

The 10 were: CRUK, British Red Cross, Save the Children, RNLI, Macmillan, Oxfam, NSPCC, RSPCA, Christian Aid and the RSPB.

All accounts are for 2014 apart from RNLI and Macmillan.

It wasn't possible to work this out for British Red Cross, Macmillan and the RNLI. they breakdown income but not expenditure. Christian Aid are excluded as well as they only started breaking down income and expenditure in 2011.

If someone has the time to look at more annual accounts then it would be fascinating to see the bigger picture.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

Next week is the annual Institute of Fundraising National Convention. It is usually my favourite three days of the year as I learn new things, meet friends old and new and find inspiration in the words and actions of others. Please do say 'hello' if you see me!

Rogare have picked some of the sessions to look out for and I shared some conference tips with Fundraiser magazine.

I recently contributed a tip (along with 28 other fundraisers) on stewardship to the Nonprofit Easy blog. There are some great tips, so do check it out.

Giles Pegram writes about the unhappy philanthropist at UK Fundraising.

This is something I'm discovering in my current job. At 101 Fundraising, Jonathon Grapsas describes are how people are the same, but different all over the world.

Also at 101 Fundraising, Karen Osborne shares some tips on major donor magic.

'It will never catch on' - so says Lucy Gower. Lessons from Kodak's demise.

The Nonprofit Marketing blog explain why your donors wish to be anonymous.

Michael Rosen challenges whether you are wasting your time hunting unicorns?

Veritus Group on when qualified donors become unqualified.

Why your donor messaging should be simple by Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat.

Two articles on legacies from Stephen George. He shares 10 of the best words to use in legacy fundraising and how to train your staff in legacies (in the Fundraiser magazine).

Bright Spot Fundraising explain two simple changes that boost confidence.

Penelope Burk asks if the performance of donor relations staff can be measured?

Related to this, Clairification wonders why are good nonprofit fundraisers hard to keep?

=mc consultant Charlotte Scott asks 'how good a manager are you?

Don't judge a donor by the cover warns the Donor Relations Guru.

Bloomerang release an infograph on their $5 donor experiment.

Beth Kanter recently visited London for the Future of Social conference. Discover what she learned.

Fundraising Reading Round-Up

The fall-out from the Olive Cooke case rumbles on in the UK and it has featured heavily in the sector press over the last two weeks. I'm not going to dwell too much on it today, but instead focus on articles that can help improve your fundraising and make giving the joy it should be!

However, I did want to share this one post on fundraising ethics by Ian MacQuillin at Rogare. It advocates taking a longer term view and formulating a new theory for fundraising ethics. Also worth a read is #dontaddtothehype by Di Flatt.

Recruiting good quality fundraisers is one of the hardest parts of a director's job. Renier at 101 Fundraising shares some of his best tips on how to recruit successfully.

Lucy Gower asks if you are an accidental fundraiser?

The Hilborn blog begin a three part series on mid-level donors.

The Bloomerang blog review their mystery shopping and remind us why small donations should matter a lot to nonprofits.

Clairification shares six secrets to rock multi-channel integrated fundraising campaigns.

The Stephen Thomas blog is just back from the Digital Leap conference and have 15 digital fundraising learnings to share with us.

Bright Spot Consulting with the secret to doubling your corporate partnerships income.

Pamela Grow shares a great fundraising e-mail from the Soi Dog Foundation.

 Michael Rosen explains why he is thinking of not renewing his CFRE.

Matthew Sherrington asks if you are representing or stereotyping the people you serve?

The UK isn't the only country where fundraisers are being given a hard time. The Fundraising Coach reports on the Red Cross and criticism they've had over spending on Haiti.

Howard Lake at UK Fundraising shares a new report from the Institute of Fundraising and fast.MAP on how donors react to different media channels.

Also on the same site, Gail Cookson of agency WPN has a three part series on DRTV metrics.

Tobin Aldrich writes about a great face to face experience he had with the Canal & Rivers' Trust. 

Richard Turner on making an impact. I love what Solar Aid have done to show donors the difference they are making.

Ann Green recommends not giving up on direct mail.

Lisa Sargent guests at Getting Attention on making your messages matter.

Finally, the Institute of Fundraising National Convention is less than a month away. I was delighted to share my tips on how to make the most of the convention over at the Fundraiser magazine.

Fundraising Reading Round Up

It's been a hectic month, so apologies for the delay between round-ups. I'm hoping normal service will resume and it will be back to fortnightly from now on.

Last week I had the pleasure of spending four days with fundraising colleagues from around the world at Amnesty International's internal Skillshare. I learned a lot about fundraising from around the world. One of the most interesting talks was from the UK and their use of virtual reality on the streets of London. You can read all about it in this press release. I was impressed at the quality of the experience and how affordable/easy it is to set up.

Sadly, the last month has seen fundraising being under intense scrutiny from the UK media in the wake of the death of Olive Cooke. There has been a lot of talk and knee-jerk reaction, but I thought this article by Angela Cluff of the Management Centre gave some sensible and practical advice for fundraisers.

I also want to give an advanced plug for an article that will be published on the Rogare blog next week. Ian MacQuillin has put together a compelling response on the whole case and it's potential impact on fundraising regulation and ethics.

The case was also made me more convinced than ever that we need to consider how we fundraise. If you've not read Ken Burnett's five part series on the future of fundraising, then I'd urge you to do it soon.

Elsewhere on the web...

101 Fundraising has been in great form, with some top content over the last month. Here's just a small selection:

The Donor Dreams blog hosts May's Non-profit Blog Carnival. The topic? 'You are the future of philanthropy'.

Sean Triner shares some fascinating research on emergency appeal donors and the best way to inspire them to give again.

Tobin Aldrich on the joy of failure.

Richard Turner describes what it is to be a holistic fundraiser.

Michael Rosen explains his view on the five latest trends affecting your fundraising.

Lucy Innovation gives us 10 top tips to succeed at innovation.

The Veritus blog's latest series is on influence in fundraising and is well worth a read.

The Clairification blog reveal six secrets to getting your acknowledgments out in in 48 hours.

Bright Spot Fundraising share four tactics that shape an outstanding culture in your organisation.

Fearless Fundraising on major donor cultivation.

As a self-confessed data geek, I enjoyed this look at predictive modelling for fundraising at the CoolData blog.

Simplify. Specify. Multiply. A simple approach to fundraising from Jim Shapiro.