Friday, 30 October 2009

We are the champions

Despite Richard Bacon's best efforts I think that face to face canvassers came out on top last night on Radio 5 Live. Actually Mansfield's third most well know personality admitted that he has indeed signed up with four charities through street canvassers.

The main criticism seemed to be around the "guilt" that canvassers engender - both in people who don't stop (and feel guilty) and those who do and then get sucked into what they describe as a sob story. I pointed out that people give for a variety of reasons but mostly because they are asked.

Couldn't resist the dig that if people feel guilty about saying "no thank you" with a smile, they really do need to review their existing charitable giving, or, go and see my wife. SWMBO is, some of you may know, a psychotherapist and rather good and helping people with guilt complexes.

Go to: and listen between 1.39 and 2.00 for the full story. Be really interested to hear what you think.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Radio 5 Live

Been asked to comment on the great debate: Street Canvassers - chuggers or champions?

It's a midnight session so grumpy old men and women may not be able to stay up for it but I am very interested in what people currently think about canvassing. On a personal basis is it an intrusive assault or an informed conversation. From a fundraising view is it a vital part of the fundraising mix - targeted at the hard to reach generation Y, or is it an increasingly expensive, hard to manage, frustrating technique that will go the way of other short lived phenomena? Incidentally the PFRA seems curiously silent on the debate and unresponsive to requests for information yet aren't they are the ones out there canvassing for support?

I'd really like to know so please let me have your comments and come back tomorrow to hear how it went.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

"There may be trouble ahead........."

A very suitable line for all the bankers who've survived the recession because they were bailed out by the Government. What's more they seem to be echoing the refrain and,as the Irving Berlin song goes on to say, "Lets face the music and dance", they seem to be doing exactly that. In the face of massive criticism some of the banks are awarding huge utterly inappropriate bonuses forgetting entirely that the reason they've returned to profit has little to do with performance and everything to do with the shareholder funds that have been put at risk.

Profit always was about generating a return on investment - for - wait for it, the investors! Performance related pay has always been a very iffy incentive. ANYBODY who has read Herzberg knows that money is not a motivator at all! (read it, lack of money is a demotivator). Sales staff work best of all when facing realistic targets and with incentives that encourage the long term view. Sometimes up to 10 or 15% of income may be tied to performance when it can be directly attributable. Any more is in fact counter productive.

The same goes for fundraising investment. It's a no to performance related pay but a big yes to appropriate incentives to reward genuine effort, creativity, effectiveness and carefully assessed risk taking.

You heard it here first. The world is, I'm convinced, about to rediscover Frederick Herzberg ( for a quick and dirty explanation).

Friday, 16 October 2009

Have I finally lost the plot?

That's it I thought. Haven't seen Third Sector for three weeks, it must be casualty of the recession and Stephen Cook's looking for work. But it seems not. On phoning the Institute of Fundraising I find they have thoughtfully, helpfully checked my "opt out" box. Why would I do that I say? Answer was there none and we agreed that a database error had occured. I'm promised back copies by next week - Royal Mail permitting.

However it underlines the conversion I had with the inimitable Messrs Rodd and Florey - the doyens of the database world and champions of proper CRM for the not for profit sector. They and I agree that we need to produce a course for fundraisers explaining the intricasies of getting it right and the cost of getting it wrong. So watch the LSBU site for news of a potentially hugely important course development. JR and PF tell me that after 20 years of helping people put right bad decisions about fundraising databases that they find themselves doing the same thing over again for the same organisations! That's deeply scarey and rather depressing that organisations are not good at corporate memory. So, I suppose, at least I'm not totally alone out there.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The 30 Second MBA

In trying to get my head around the potential of social networking for fundraisers (see Howard Lake's excellent 50 ways to fundraise by Twittering at UK fundraising) I came across this collection of seminars, anecdotes and bonne mots. One of them at: talks about "the business case for giving" starting with the assertion that there isn't one! How wrong can you be.

However the commentator, Mike Rowe does make a rather interesting point. He says you can adopt the Mercenary position if you want to pursue the business case, or the Missionary position if you want to give. He points out the it's the Missionary position that will keep you on top! So perhaps he hasn't completely misunderstood.

Friday, 9 October 2009

In defence of fundraisers

At an EAPG (European Association for Philanthropy and Giving) roundtable the other night I presented my current research into major gift fundraising. One of my observations is around the surprising lack of engagement with volunteers who could provide leadership and do some of the asking. The resulting conclusion that I drew is that charities would benefit from more effort with volunteers, to increase engagement and participation. The big gift model usually provides for extensive volunteer leadership.

However Martin Kaufman leapt to the defence of fundraisers who make the ask. His view is that volunteer leadership is an outdated model, that still works in the US but not in the UK!

Well, that's news to me. I have to agree that, increasingly, fundraisers are often well placed to espouse a complex case for support and that often senior staff are able to make a very effective ask. However I maintain, very strongly, that a combination of well trained staff and well motivated volunteers provide the best possible team to make the most effective asks.