Don’t let non-fundraisers influence fundraising decisions

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‘The thing is, you don’t want this charity to become one of those charities sending begging letters through the post, that’s not who we are’

Whether it’s your CEOs spouse, Trustee’s friend, or the fairies that live at the end of your Chairman’s garden, if they are not a fundraiser, don’t let them influence fundraising. In the words of Jeff Brooks ‘The problem is the director’s spouse carries a toxic combination of ignorance and authority’.

The above quote actually convinced a charity CEO that maybe Direct Mail wasn’t right for their charity. A charity that desperately needed regular income. That desperately needed to develop individual donors because it relied heavily on corporate and Trust support that was slowly drying up. A charity that had a huge audience that had attended events and received newsletters that had never been asked for money before. It was the perfect time to approach and make an ask.

But, because of one statement from a contact of the charity, this was all put on hold. The CEO started to question if Direct Mail really works, started to question if anyone would even give to the charity if it ‘begged’ for donations, started to question if the experienced fundraising professional really knew what they were doing. Because surely, if someone as warm to the charity as this person had been didn’t think it would fit with the charity ethos, they HAD to be right. Right?


These people are not your donors. They are not your target audience. They have not been cultivated in the way that your donors have. Do not let them influence decisions over fundraising. They are not a fundraiser.

*Disclaimer – to avoid confusion, I am not saying don’t listen to donors, service delivery staff, beneficiaries, or even your CEOs spouse. By all means, take on board their comments, understand why they think and feel what they do. But remember that they are not speaking from a place of understanding what works for the majority of your supporters. Look at results rather than one-off opinions. If you send a Direct Mail appeal and you get a fantastic ROI, but one donor comes back and says they didn’t like it, would you stop sending Direct Mail to everyone? I doubt it.

‘I don’t have time to hand write thank you letters’

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This is an actual sentence I heard last week.

From a fundraiser.

So, I got to thinking, how many fundraisers are there that read about donor retention, and host events and have donations coming into their wonderful charities that claim they ‘don’t have time to hand write thank you letters’.

Maybe you are even one of them?

My response to this is simply, if you don’t have time to hand write thank you letters, then you don’t have time for;

–          Higher ROI

–          Higher income over time

–          Longer lasting donor relationships

–          Better donor retention

–          Higher lifetime value of donors

–          More ambassadors

–          More volunteers

–          A more secure charity

If ANY of these things are aims for your charity then you should MAKE time to hand write thank you letters.

If your handwriting is poor, at least put a personal note at the bottom and hand top and tail your letters. Invest in some unbranded thank you cards, get a nice pen and monitor income over time. You will see a much higher return from doing this small act than you will from spending the same amount of time on social media, or writing an article or coming up with the next ‘big’ thing in fundraising.

Trust me – make time.

How dating and fundraising are essentially the same thing

How dating and fundraising are essentially the same thing


The first meeting (or the notorious eye contact across the room)

This can happen via social media, being referred by a friend or simply that you have an interest (the charity or person is just your type!)

Cultivation and Engagement

You start to get to know more about each other. You have conversations, you listen, you try to impress. You arrange your next date.

The start of a relationship

You find out what makes them tick (whether it’s hand holding, saving puppies, running, pensive beard stroking or feeding hungry children). This then builds into ‘the next step’. You ask for something, they give it to you, you’re appreciative, polite and ultimately a good all-round human because this person is giving up part of themselves. Don’t be a robot – this is a turn off!

The long term relationship

You establish what works for you both, what you both like and this develops into a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship, which might reach that MAJOR stage of commitment.


If you don’t take the time to listen, respond and be human, your relationship won’t last long.

If you are always taking and never providing anything in return your relationship won’t last long.

If you are a robot, don’t reply or don’t show gratitude when the other does something for you, your relationship won’t last long.

Be human, be appreciative, listen, and understand what the other party wants outside of what you want. Then you will have a fantastic, long-lasting relationship!