Do something you’ve never done, get results you’ve never had!


I love this quote and think about this in my day to day life all of the time. But, more recently, I’ve been applying this to my work as a fundraiser! So many boards (including my own) are risk averse, scared to change and ultimately, charities are failing because of it! (Failing OR are stagnant, unmoving, unchanging and not developing!)

So many charity boards are investing the same amount of money into the same projects and activities every year and yet are expecting different results. They are expecting more cash to be raised, but won’t invest in new fundraising. They are expecting a wider reach, but won’t support a change in approach. They are expecting success but will not provide the support, tools or action that will create success.

Therefore, so many of us are held to account because results aren’t changing, but without the support we need to create change, the results will always stay the same!

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!

Trustees need to be brave, need to invest in the futures of their organisations and lead change from the top down!

*Don’t get me wrong, we each have a role to play here and as individuals, we can have some impact in results but for real and significant change and growth to happen, it must come from the top!

Have you ever experienced a charity that isn’t developing? Have you got experience in overcoming this and seeing change happen? Do let me know, I’d love to hear your stories!


Fundraising favour or fundraising fail?

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Think of your group of core, reliable, engaged, loyal donors. You know, the ones that give nearly every time your write to them and ask? Think about how wonderful they are to your organisation and how fantastic their support is! Now think about how you would feel if suddenly, for no clear reason, they started lapsing. Not just one or two of them, I’m talking about 85-90% of them. You would be worried! You would be sad! You would probably wonder what on earth had happened that made this group of loyal, long term donors stop giving and how you possibly could have offended them! Sadly, sometimes the answer is because someone in your organisation tried to do them a ‘fundraising favour’.

This deadly ‘favour’ happens when someone in your team decides that because they have been giving so much and been so loyal that we should give them a break from asks. Usually, this person naively thinks this will be a kind of treat for the donor! THIS IS A FUNDRAISING FAIL!

We all know that people don’t give unless they are asked. Well, surprisingly they don’t continue to give when you stop asking either. They might keep up their standing order for a while, they may even visit your website and take a look at how you are doing. But, eventually, they will stop doing these things and with no further asks, they stop giving! They become a past donor, someone who used to give.

Do YOU want to lose that group of core, reliable, engaged, loyal donors you were thinking of earlier? If you do, by all means, do them a ‘fundraising favour’ and mark them as ‘do not solicit’ or ‘do not ask’ and wave goodbye to them one by one as they drop off your current donor list!

If you want to keep them, keep asking them for money, keep updating them on how they have made a difference and keep them engaged!

Have you ever experienced a ‘fundraising favour’ that turned out to be a fundraising fail? Tell me about it in the comments!

Five Things My Mum Taught Me About Fundraising – A guest blog by Alex Morgan!


In June my Mum passed away.

As you can imagine I’ve been thinking about her a lot recently. The funny memories, the lectures about doing the dishes and the little life lessons she subtly passed onto us as kids. I was at work after the funeral and realised that she also taught me some of the foundation skills that I use every day when working with donors.

It’s not about you. Why are you even still sending out organisation-centric mailings? Donors don’t want to hear about how great you are. They want to hear about what you’re doing with their money. They want to feel valued. They want to know the money they contribute makes a difference. Share a story with them and show them what they’ve helped accomplished and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not worth the effort. You’ll find quick enough saving money in ‘efficiency’ will cost you in retention.

Listen. Don’t be afraid to get to know your supporters. Find out their passions, hopes and the stories of why the cause is so important to them. Relationships are key – if your donor feels like you understand them then they’ll trust you and the organisation you represent to accomplish their goals. Don’t forget, it’s a two-way street, so don’t forget to let them get to know you as their contact.

Some people won’t like you. You will lose that grant you applied for. You will lose a donor relationship you nurtured. You will have a bad day and that’s fine. Self-improvement comes from lessons learned when things go wrong. Remember to take a deep breath and use all the data you can to improve for next time.

Don’t stay at your desk. You’re not going to really learn about your organisation staring at a screen. Get out and try and see what it is your charity does first hand. Spend a day at a project and meet the beneficiaries. If you can’t get there then meet the people around your office, hear their stories and why they do the things they do. You’ll find your passion to accomplish the organisation’s mission grows the more you do.

Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are. Fundraising craves for the personal touch. Use your first name, speak clearly and connect with your donors. Even the simplest things like hand signing a letter can make all the difference. Try putting a picture of yourself in your email signature so they can see your face or send a handwritten thank you card. You’ll see the benefits of spending a little time on your donors quicker than you think.

My Mother was a community champion, a local campaigner and passionate about how we engage with everyday people. In her own words she wanted to “dedicate my life to leaving it a little better than I found it”. This is what we do as fundraisers. We help those who wish to change the world and provide a means to do so. With their passions, we show them the tools to fix the world’s problems, and keeping those relationships is key to changing the world. My Mum was my hero, but she hasn’t left me. She’ll live on in the work I do and the people I meet with the lessons she taught me – and am now teaching you.

About Alex


Alex is a donor retention enthusiast and Founder of Stay Brave UK. He specialises in and being fabulous full time! Catch him on twitter @alexjaymorgan.