Proud to be a fundraiser

Nonprofit Blog Carnival: A Celebration Of SOFII - Will You Inspire Or Invest?


The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) is one of my favourite fundraising resources. When I’m stuck with a fundraising problem it is my first point of call for inspiration.

However, it is only as good as the exhibits and articles it showcases. The current archive is amazing, but it only features a fraction of all the innovative and inspiring fundraising work that exists.

That is why I’m dedicating April’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival to gathering new articles and exhibits for SOFII and I need your help…

Get involved and help me gather 100 new articles and exhibits for SOFII.

Don’t be shy. Showcase the most successful fundraising efforts you have been involved in. What made them special? How could they inspire others? What lessons did you learn? 

Not got a blog? It is still easy to take part.

You can download the exhibit form and send your submission direct to me. My e-mail is [email protected]. Alternatively, I’d be delighted to interview you via Skype or telephone.

Not got an exhibit? Why not say ‘thank-you’ to SOFII and make a donation to help pay for the upkeep of the site. Just like Wikipedia and Firefox, SOFII is dependent on the generosity of its users to keep it free and always available for everyone.

SOFII’s founder and managing trustee, Ken Burnett had this to say about the ‘Celebration of SOFII’:

‘Fundraising’s history is, in essence, a history of big, bold ideas shared widely and borrowed wisely. That’s what SOFII is all about – spreading ideas to change the world.

'Now you can be a part of it.

'Making history starts here, now, with your April contribution. Inspire or invest, which will it be?

'Or, why not do both?’


  1. Bloggers – please include a link to SOFII and a request for people reading your exhibit to donate to SOFII.

  2. All submissions will be subject to SOFII’s editorial standards.

  3. You can read March's carnival at the Rad blog. The topic is 'Breaking through the noise'.

  4. Please encourage others to take part. We suggest the #sofii100 on Twitter.

Proud to be a fundraiser: The most generous gift I've ever received

And it wasn't worth a penny.

Yet, it was one of the most touching moments I've had a a fundraiser.

I received a call from a lady who's mum had recently died. She wanted to donate some goods to the hospice and I went round to collect them.

Her address was in one of Darlington's poorer parts of town.  I pulled up outside her council house, which was in a poor state of repair and complete with an overgrown garden, broken fence and dilapidated paintwork.

I walked up the garden, knocked on the door and was greeted by the daughter. She'd obviously been crying for a long time. She had red teary eyes and the bags under her eyes were dark and puffy.

She invited me into the sparsely furnitured front room with threadbare carpets and a thick fog of stale cigarette smoke hanging in the air from her chain smoking.

After making a cup of tea and some small talk she said how grateful she was to the hospice for the care that had been given to her mum. She explained that she couldn't afford to give us any money, but instead wanted to donate the only thing of any value that she owned.

She got up, went upstairs and came back down with a battered shoe box and handed it over to me with a sad smile.

Old Doll 
The dolls I received didn't look much better than this poor fellow...

I opened the box and it contained two pathetic looking dolls. The plastic had been stained from the years of cigarette smoke and their dresses looked worse for wear. 

The lady proudly exclaimed:

"Mum would want you to have them to say thank you and raise some money for the hospice. I'm sure they'll raise a lot at auction.

"They were mum's pride and joy and have been on the mantelpiece for years."

I didn't know what to say.

They were obviously worthless, but they were the only thing she could think of giving us that might be worth something. 

She had nothing to give, but she gave anyway, and it was a very humbling moment.

I thanked her profusely and said I couldn't possibly accept such a personal gift, but she insisted and wouldn't let me take no for an answer. 

In the end I had to say how kind she'd been, offered my condolences and then left, not quite sure what to do with the dolls.

I returned to the office, wrote her a thank you letter and said we'd be in touch and let her know what we did with them.

I double checked with a couple of people that I wasn't missing something and the dolls were worthless and sadly they were, so I (rightly or wrongly) told a little white lie.

We often auctioned off some of the valuable donations to our shops so I decided to tell the lady that we'd included them in the next sale. 

After the sale, I called the lady and explained that I couldn't tell her how much the dolls had sold for, but the auction as a whole had raised a few thousand pounds for the hospice.

The lady was over the moon and felt so good that her gift had raised some money for the hospice. She said how much it would have meant to her mum and that it was lovely to think that she could pay us back in some way.

It was a lovely moment and I'm sure the whole donation was part of the grieving process for the daughter and was in some way cathartic.

It's a memory that still sticks in the mind after nearly 10 years and whenever I'm complaining about bills or moaning about lack of money, then I think of that lady who gave me the only valuable thing she owned....


This is the second in a series of posts where I share some of the stories and experiences that have made me proud to be a fundraiser over the last 10 years. I'd also love to hear your stories of the moments that have brought home how important fundraising is to you...




Proud to be a fundraiser: It's ok to cry sometimes

As well as talking about my biggest mistakes, I also wanted to share some of the stories and experiences that have made me proud to be a fundraiser over the last 10 years. I'd also love to hear your stories of the moments that have brought home how important fundraising is to you...

If you’ve ever been to a hospice then you’ll know that men tend to be few and far between. Blokes under 40 are even rarer and when I started work at St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington I was the only one!

This meant that I was often called on to help lift and shift equipment. This was everything from delivering donated goods to shops, to helping one of our volunteer drivers deliver equipment to people’s homes.

One of the main services at the hospice was a hospice at home service, where volunteer sitters helped to care for people in the last stages of life, in conjunction with the patient's GP and nursing team.

Often the person needed special beds and mattresses delivering at quite short notice and I occasionally helped Keith, our volunteer driver.

As a fresh-faced 22 year old this experience really taught me a lot about humility, compassion and emotions.

Going into someone’s home when they were only hours/days from death and playing a small part to help them die with dignity, surrounded by their love ones and in as much comfort as possible, was an emotional, but rewarding experience.

The gratitude shown to us by the patient’s families and carers made it all worthwhile and they often couldn’t describe how much it meant to keep their mum/dad etc at home to die.

One visit in particular sticks in my mind.

We went round on the early evening and set up a bed for someone in their front room. Sadly the gent died during the night and we had to go round the next day and collect the bed.

As soon as we walked through the door his daughter broke down in tears saying how much it meant to be able to keep their dad at home until the end.

Now, I’ve always struggled to keep my tears at bay at the best of times and within a couple of minutes I was also crying my eyes out in the this stranger’s front room hugging the daughter and comforting her.

It’s a moment I’ve never forgotten.  It brought home just how big a difference the hospice made in the local community and why we needed to raise more funds. 

Experiences like this make you realise just how important fundraising is and how it can change lives.

Any time I’m having a bad day, I always try and remember moments like this and remember why I’m doing what I am.  If you haven’t been out to visit some of your beneficiaries or talked to some of your front line workers for a while then I’d urge to do so today...