Best of the Week

A (final) fundraising reading round-up

This is a 'hello' and sort of 'goodbye' post!

In January, I joined DonorVoice full-time as their MD for Europe*. It means I'll have even less time than last year to share thoughts on this blog. However, it does mean I'll get the opportunity to post over on the Agitator, which I'm hoping to do sometime in March.

As part of this new role, I'm currently in the midst of working on a new report on supporter journeys. I'd be delighted to send you a copy of what my colleagues have pulled together. There's some interesting ideas and concepts that you'll hopefully find useful. Simply comment below or email [email protected] and I'll make sure to send you a copy when it is released in March.

I'm also delighted to say that SOFII is going to be the new home of the reading round-up. Again, starting in March I'll be sharing the best fundraising blogs with all their subscribers.

SOFII seems a good place to start, as yesterday I had the honour to open the 'I wish I'd thought of that' event. Over the course of three hours the audience was entertained by the fabulous speakers who shared some amazing fundraising ideas. If you want to get a flavour of the talks, then check out Richard Sved's excellent Twitter thread from the event.

Resilience and self-care are so important for fundraisers. I see too many good people burnout. Beth Kanter shares some of the latest research, trends and insight on this important topic.

Jeff Brooks reflects on his 30 years in fundraising and shares 8 transformative things he has learned.

Navel-gazing and bragging are two of my pet hates in fundraising. That’s why I enjoyed this piece by Ann Green.

The sceptical fundraiser takes a look at ethics in fundraising and why we should aspire to high ethical standards in our work.

Capturing your organisation’s stories is so important. Good Works share some tips on creating a story bank, so you don’t lose your best examples.

What strategies should you prioritise in 2019? Bloomerang provide their top 6.

I’m a fan of John Grain’s Secret Giver project and he shares some of the best Christmas appeals from his team of mystery shoppers over at UK fundraising.

Also at UK Fundraising, David Burgess takes a look at thanking supporters and how we need to target the ‘remembering self’.

Tobin Aldrich looks at how we can re-boot individual giving and the critical elements required for a successful programme.  

Pamela Grow’s ‘What’s in my inbox’ is always worth checking out. I particularly liked this email from the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Finally, do check out the winners of Agents of Good’s #donorlove celebration. Some inspiring examples of great thanking and (hopefully) some future SOFII exhibits!


* My mission at DonorVoice is to help fundraisers improve their supporter journeys and experience through better understanding of supporter's needs, clever use of data and behavioural science insight. Get in touch if you'd like a chat!

Fundraising Reading Round-Up - 100% GDPR free!

It's time for another round-up of articles that caught my eye in May - with apologies for any great content in March and April that I missed.

Anyone interested in legacy fundraising should read the new Legacy Voice review 'Everything we know about legacy fundraising 2018'. Authored by Adrian Sargeant and Claire Routley, it is packed full of insight and ideas.

The Justgiving blog has some great examples of small charities 'smashing it' at digital.

The latest Rogare report is on an important subject. How ought beneficiary stories be told? This is the first in a series of six and addresses a dilemma many organisations face on how they portray their beneficiaries in fundraising.

'She is not your donor. You are one of her charities.' Wisdom from Mark Phillips over at Queer Ideas.

Clairification explains how to cultivate awe, gratitude and altruism to boost fundraising.

The Sceptical Fundraiser takes a look at the career path for face-to-face fundraisers and asks how can we bring them into the fold?

I loved the Color of Change campaign and website that Paul de Gregorio shared recently.

John Lepp at Agents of Good shares a great direct mail appeal - from his daughter!

This piece on introverted fundraisers over at Hilborn is worth a read. Not all fundraisers are extroverts!

It is good to see 101 Fundraising publishing again. I enjoyed Derek Humphries' recent article on diversity.

Active listening is so important for fundraisers. Ikhlaq Hussain's two-part series on the subject at UK Fundraising is worth a read.

The Agitator looks at cause connection to understand donor identity.

Esther Preston of Ashgate Hospice shares her insights on how they've rapidly grown legacy fundraising in recent years.

The 2018 M+R benchmarking study is well worth a look and is packed with digital and social media stats and useful information.

Talking of benchmarking, Bloomerang take a look at the Q4 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Project results.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre is one of my favourite fundraising organisations and Pamela Grow shares a recent email from them.

Barbara Talisman takes an interesting look at non-profit branding.

Erica Waasdorp gives her top three ways to steward monthly donors.

The Veritus Group share a system to increase transformational gifts.

It is amazing how often I have conversations with fundraisers who say they want to try new ideas, but their boss won't let them. David Meerman-Scott offers some good advice on the topic. In my career, I've tried to take approaches three or four!

Fundraising Reading Round-Up

I'm delighted to announce that I'm launching the UK's first Individual Giving Mastery course. Working in partnership with Rob Woods from Bright Spot Fundraising, we'll be taking the winning formula from his major donor and corporate courses and applying it to individual giving.

This is the course I wish I'd done when I was first head of individual giving and it comes with a money-back guarantee.

The waiting list is now open and you can find out more on this information page.

If it's not suitable for you, then I'd be grateful if you could pass on the info on to any friends/colleagues/clients who you think might find it useful! Thank you.

It's been a busy time since the last round-up and there is some great reading for you to enjoy. This post is a week later than planned, so articles are roughly until the end of February.

One of the things the course will look at is targeting and segmenting. I'll definitely be quoting this article from Mark Ritson: Only crap marketers mistakes stereotypes for segments. HT to Charlie Hulme from Donor Voice.

This leads on to The Agitators recent series on a better way to segment: donor identities.

Chris Washington-Sare on the disparity between donor trust and consideration to give and how to strengthen it.

Rachel Happe writes in the Harvard Business Review about calculating the ROI of customer engagement.

What's changed in the fundraising environment since 1971? Mark Phillips has the answer and it is surprisingly little.

Beth Breeze shares three myths about fundraising that need exploding on UK Fundraising. I'm really looking forward to reading her new book that is mentioned at the end of the article.

Flight of the Fundraiser have a guest post from John Lepp on making room for the donor.

 The IoF's commitment to diversity initiative deserves all of our support. Read Amicky Carol Akiwumi and Ken Burnett's take on the subject. The Sceptical Fundraiser also shares her views on the diversity topic. Finally, Paul de Gregorio pointed me to this article on the courage of difficult women.

I found this list of 20 ways people lie at work fascinating. I recognised a couple of tendencies I have. Thanks to Wild Woman Fundraising for sharing.

I always love seeing direct mail packs and Jeff Brooks shares an interesting one from an organisation he hasn't donated to for over nine years!

Giles Pegrams questions who are the fundraisers in your charity?

The Donor Relations Guru lists their top five takeaways from their pulse of donor relations survey.

Pamela Grow asks what systems do you have in place for new donors?

John Baguley at IFC Group takes a look at the Oxfam crisis.

Bloomerang list their top 10 ways to say 'thank you!' to donors.

Fraser Green on the interesting tale of the two 'I's".

I love handwritten notes and the Osborne Group outline how to make them sincere and effective.

On a similar topic, the Veritus Group ask 'what does it mean to care for a donor?'

Finally on thanking, Kivi shares another great thank you video.

think Facebook Live has lots of potential for great stewardship. The Justgiving Blog share seven ways you can use it.

Finally, two of my favourite comedians have been busy fundraising with fun campaigns. My fellow Teessider Bob Mortimer has been selling off his cat names. And Richard Herring used International Women's Day to raise £150,000 for Refuge.


Fundraising Reading Round-Up

I had the pleasure of attending SOFII's 'I wish I'd thought of that' event last week. It is always a fantastic afternoon.

Great speakers. Amazing case studies. Fantastically organised (well done Open Creates). Plenty of emotion and a few laughs too.

Do check out the videos when they are on the SOFII website.

In the meantime, you can read about one of the ideas from last week. In my view it is one of the best executed direct marketing campaigns in the UK - Crisis at Christmas.

The start of the year always brings lots of great content that reflects on the previous year and looks forward to the opportunities ahead. Happy reading.

I'm starting off with a long read from the Stanford Social Innovation Review. It is a fascinating look at why many awareness campaigns fail to achieve any change in behaviour.

I've already seen lots in the sector press and blogs this year about the importance of diversity in our sector. This McKinsey report makes the business case for why diversity and inclusion is so crucial.

I really enjoyed Simon Scriver's TEDx talk on 'nuggets of love'. Simon talks about the power of random acts of kindness and shows how we can all make the world a little happier place.

It is always good to discover a new blog and I enjoyed the Sceptical Fundraiser's first post on crypto-currency and blockchain.

Donor Voice consider whether it hurts to ask for feedback.

The Fundraising is Awesome blog report on Mailchimp's latest research on the perfect email template.

Paul de Gregorio's 'Do something, anything' newsletter is well worth subscribing to. Without it I wouldn't have read this article on one of my favourite charities (and featured at #IWITOT ) - the ACLU and how they want to be the NRA of civil liberties in the USA.

Janet Levine on finding the time to connect with donors, even if you're lone fundraiser.

The Agitator blog with some great facts and figures on matched giving.

Barbara Talisman on fundraising v fundcatching.

It is better to be marmite than mediocre says Nick Thomas on Charity Choice.

Agents for Good share a lovely gratitude report from Oregon Zoo.

On the theme of 'thank you', Erica Waasdorp describes the results of a (disappointing) mystery shopping exercise.

Before Christmas Joe Saxton at nfpSynergy wrote two thought provoking articles: Is fundraising f***ed? and the brighter, the future for fundraising is rich with opportunity. Ben Rymer shared some thoughts on the articles that are worth a look.

Jeff Brooks on not chasing your donors away.

Pamela Grow showcases another charity:water gem.

Michael Rosen reveals the secret you know, but do not know you know.

Justgiving share five virtual reality campaigns from 2017.

Finally, the start of the year always brings about a flood of predictions and thoughts for the year ahead. Here are five of my favourites:

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 [email protected] - 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.