Friday, 27 March 2009

Never cold call again

It's always interesting to see what people in other businesses are doing and what we might learn from them.

I came across this supposedly freebe online whilst searching, of all things for street and house to house canvassing agencies, which incidentally didn't appear very prominently. Is a very American site from a sales guru with live video multimedia doing a high powered pitch for his book "Never cold call again" He goes on to suggest that he'll send you the first 10 chapters free of charge if you fill in your email address. However once you've done that you are "forced" into also providing other email addresses to receive a - wait for it - cold email advertising the book. Of course that email is hidden behind a testimonial from you to your friends saying what a great read it is!

Appart from this being a blatent cold sell there are some rather interesting ideas within those first 10 chapters (you can bypass the testimonial pages by typing ...thanks2 into the page ......thanks1). This is around work rates and that most people make a buying decision after one or two visits/conversation. So, he advises cut out the endless follow-up calls and get on with the job of selling. I think there's something interesting there for fundraisers.

These days we spend a lot of time cultivating prospects. Perhaps if they don't "buy" the case for support after two or three conversations we should move on?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Elisher does it again!

Whilst Tony often goes off on such a tangent that you think, "what class A substance is he on?" This time I think the old boy's got it rather nicely.

Think Consulting and the Institute have launched, what I think, is a rather helpful "Fundraisng Health Check Tool" at:

It is of course very simple but, the very act of simplifying your own numbers down, focuses the mind wonderfully. I've tried it for a charity I work with. The comments then generated are thoughtful and thought provoking. Anyone struggling with their net income figures and/or their trustees wanting cuts in investment need to give themselves a health check.

Thumbs up to Tony and no grumps today (well not yet anyway). DO check it out, whether your income is £100K or £10M your mix and returns are worth looking at in a fresh light.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Payment by commission

Great. The Institute of Fundraising is coming out with a new code on remuneration, including the old chestnut about payment by commission. Third Sector has tried to get a debate going by finding someone to speak for commission - though the argument is about payment by results which really isn't the same thing at all.

I'm all for clarifying the total inappropriate nature of commission based fundraising - in my book there are no grounds ever for a commission based pay structure. Not because it's unethical or may lead to problems (which it will), but principally because it won't work.

Anyone who has read Hertzberg understands that money is not a motivator! Lack of it can be a hell of a demotivator but it's just a hygene factor. Perhaps the bankers will realise this truth sometime soon.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Massive fall in charity income

So, according to CASS and the Smith Institute (Third Sector online report), Up to £200m is expected to be wiped off legacies IF charity bequests fall in line with predicted fall in house prices!

Or as Homer Simpson would say, dooooooo! That really has to win this week's prize for a statement of the bleeding obvious. Perhaps CASS should start awarding MBOs rather than MScs.

The Chinese pictogram (or is it a pictograph) for the word CRISIS consists of two icons. One representing DANGER the other representing.................OPPORTUNITY.

That surely is the real challenge in these "perfect storm" days, to minimise the danger and exploit the opportunities.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Patronising, paternal attitudes

There is an interesting interview with Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of the Acuemen Fund in the McKinsey Quarterly Report entitled - The State of Philanthropy.

Unfortunately she sets off on a very high horse about how private sector initiatives are very new, exciting and different to anything that the charity sector can offer. The interview is a very revealing example of the continuing paternal (or perhaps maternal) attitudes that aid agencies have been criticised about for decades. It is sad to see that atttitude promoted by what otherwise appears to be an excellent agency. The suggestion that a "private sector" approach to charging interest for services is the way forward, and that charities are not good at trading is just patently wrong. Micro finance has been embraced and extended by charities, to many areas never previously envisaged and in ways that could not be contemplated within the constraints of a straightforward repayment system.Privately funded initiatives, whilst very welcome in offering alternatives and additional funding need to work in partnership with agencies who know and understand the problems they are trying to solve and can do it without patronising and disempowering the beneficiaries.

What's more it seems to link directly to the trap that other financing agencies, offering loan finance to charities, rather than grants, can fall into. That is, the one where they, the funder know best. The voluntary agency can be forced to jump through inappropriate hoops and create costly processes just to comply with the perceived needs of the funder. Some organisations having developed a model, follow it slavishly, unable to respond to change, flexibility and other experiences, not least the expertise built up over many years of successful interventions.

Monday, 16 March 2009

It happens every spring (with apologies to Don Partridge)

Hi ho, the sun is shining, the birds (but no bluebirds in the UK Don) are singing, the daffs are are out and on a morning like this it's hard to be grumpy. Then I read Stephen Bubb's blog on the Grauniad site and think "not again".

As a master of the bleeding obvious he suggests that the recession will pose huge challenges for the third sector and then goes and spoils it all by suggesting "combined fundraising" modelled on the Disasters Emergency Committee" and I think, what particular class A drug is he on?

The DEC works because there is a very simple, well stated case for support that overides most other objections. Annual and Biennenial events like Comic Relief and Children in Need focus increasingly on outcomes that those supporting will get and feel good about donating to. How can that possibly translate into regular, reapeatable, sustainable, activities that a syndicate of charities might be able to utilize? And yet......

There are some really good examples of payroll canvassing syndicates, catalogue trading partnerships and carefully planned events where, a simliar or linked case for support means that supporters do get it and aren't confused by the potentail for conflicting asks. The numerous attempts at linked internet trading channels/arcades/sites have patently failed to garner much support because they do try and appeal to everyone so finish up attracting nobody. Yet Everyclick would probably argue that they are helping a huge range of charities through a successful cause related marketing idea.

On balance I can't see it happening myself but perhaps someone at Futurebuilders (no names please) or Capacitybuilders might finally twig that by investing in fundraising capacity they will significantly enhance the potential to deliver services.

Friday, 13 March 2009

£££ Million plus donors

Went to the excellent launch of the Coutt's (who else?) report compiled by Beth Breeze at Kent Uni (where the report is a free downloadable pdf) about donors who gave £1million or more last year. 193 of the FRBs gave - mostly to higher education or trusts/endowments. What odds on more or less in 2009?

It's, of course, quite true that if your portfolio has fallen from £100m to £60m you feel relatively poor but whilst those, last year, giving part of their seven figure bonus' away might well feel the pinch doesn't the fundraiser's challenge come to the fore? Transformational giving is great for the donor and the recipient charity. There's evidence to suggest even the seriously rich feel the extra nought on the gift is something rather special and even prefer to hand over a cheque rather than simply use CHAPs. Back to Redmond Mullins adage that you cannot thank people too much or too often.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Here it is - inspired by the ramblings of John Sauve-Rodd:

We've forgotten more than you'll ever know

For baby boomers who remember "the good old days" and actually know how to survive a recession.