Get in front of your work

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Us fundraisers can sometimes be guilty of talking about all the wonderful things our charities do, without actually seeing these things in action. I recently attended a weekend event run by my charity where I was able to witness our work in action. It was inspiring, I managed to bring a donor into the fold too (some #donorlove right there) and I felt more connected to our beneficiaries than I ever have before.

After this event, I was able to write more eloquently on our impact, I got real quotes from beneficiaries about how much they enjoyed the event and I genuinely think my fundraising has and will continue to improve as a result.

Get in front of your work. Whether that’s volunteering at an event your organisation is running, going to meet beneficiaries, meeting the programmes staff or just spending a day in a different department at your organisation. Do it. By feeling closer to your work you will instantly improve your storytelling, your messages will be stronger and ultimately your fundraising will benefit.

 

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What FRIENDS can teach you about fundraising

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As a millennial, its unsurprising that I am in fact, a huge FRIENDS fan. I’m talking serial offender of saying the lines while watching and still laughing at the jokes that I’ve definitely heard hundreds of times before. I love it and I feel like I will always enjoy re-watching FRIENDS.

In my career as a fundraiser, I like to try and draw analogies between real-life experiences and how I can learn from those in my work as a fundraiser. For example, I’ve written a blog on what buying my first home taught me about fundraising. (Check it out and don’t forget to trust the vision!) I also wrote an article on how fundraising and dating are essentially the same thing.

Therefore, while re-watching the episode ‘the one when where Ross and Rachel were on a break’ and still getting emotional at Ross and Rachel’s break up (no YOU’RE crying), I thought to myself, each of the friends has something to teach us fundraisers. So here we go…

Monica

Ever the perfectionist, Monica has an eye for detail and anything out of place.

What you can learn – re-read your work, ask yourself is this ‘Monica clean?’ Can you beat last-year-you? Just because an appeal was good enough last year doesn’t mean it is good enough now. Try to better yourself and your work.

Joey

With the well-known catch phrase ‘How you doinnnnn’, Joey has a way with his love interests that most of us can only dream of!

What you can learn – See if you can up your donor-love game. Can you treat even more donors like the wonderful people they are? Can you shower them all in donor love? A little bit of appreciation and the occasional delighter moment can vastly improve your fundraising game.

 

Chandler

Seeing the funny side of things and making people happy with jokes is Chandler’s key characteristic.

What you can learn – Making your donors happy will inevitably be great for your cause. Delight them with what they have made possible but also don’t take yourself too seriously. For example, check out ‘Phil the bag’ and his fundraising appeal!

Phoebe

The wonderfully weird Phoebe! So unique and different to the other Friends but still loved by them all.

What you can learn – Your unique selling point is EXACTLY why your donors love you. You don’t have to do the same number of appeals as another charity, you don’t have to have the same approach as another charity. Your charity is unique and that should be what you use to ensure long standing relationships that are meaningful. Use your uniqueness to your advantage and don’t apologise for being different.

Rachel

Super stylish fashion icon Rachel had the wardrobe I and all my friends wanted. She drove  trends and even today people still talk about ‘the Rachel’ haircut. Rachel knew her style, knew how to work it and always stayed on trend.

What you can learn – Keeping up to date with trends in fundraising is a great way to develop your own skills. Attend networking events, find out what is working for others and try them out yourself! If you work for a small charity, you don’t have to be the drivers of innovation in the sector, but you can always keep informed about what is happening in the sector as a whole and move your own charity into new and exciting possibilities.

Ross

Ross loves history, paleontology, and really anything that he considers interesting to teach his friends. He enjoys imparting wisdom and sharing his knowledge.

What you can learn – Historical ways of fundraising are great sounding boards for your current work. For example, learning about community fundraising from the earliest Oxfam fundraisers shows us how wonderful personal relationships have always been for fundraising but also how far we have come in furthering this skill. You can also impart your own wisdom by signing up to a mentoring scheme and teaching a new generation of fundraisers all of the learnings you’ve had in your own career. There really are very few professions quite like that of fundraisers when it comes to sharing knowledge and helping one another.

And on the note of sharing experience and knowledge, if you have a guest blog you would like to submit, please do!

The implied undertone of fundraising

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To set the scene, I had a great donor meeting one day and was feeling quite pleased with myself after securing a donation for my charity. A friend messaged me to ask how my day had been and I excitedly replied that it had been great and that I had raised some money. This friend then replied with ‘Whoa what did you have to do to get that donation?’…

My reply… ‘My JOB’.

I am still flabbergasted that there is this implied undertone that as a fundraiser, I couldn’t possibly raise money without resorting to seedy behaviour in order to get results. I couldn’t possibly be trained in making asks or have years of experience behind me. Nope. I must simply relinquish my integrity and only then could I stand any chance of raising money for a charity that does wonderful work.

MASSIVE EYE ROLL.

I refuse to accept that I am being over-sensitive or that I should laugh off such comments. Being a fundraiser is a wonderful job, we enable people to be connected with causes that they care about in a real and significant way. Fundraisers, in my experience, are full of integrity and empathy and are truly wonderful people that want to see the fruits of their efforts impacting the cause that they work so hard for.

Can we please end this implied undertone that fundraising is a dirty word, a necessary evil performed by people with no morals, that will do anything to get a donation. It is simply untrue and the more we call people out on this misconception, the better for everyone in our sector.

Have you ever faced this kind of comment or misconception? How did you handle it?

Flight of the Fundraiser turns two!

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Two years ago, I decided to further my personal development and start blogging about fundraising. Since then, I’ve met so many wonderful fundraisers who’ve encouraged and supported me. Thank you!

I’ve written over 100 articles and had several guest bloggers contribute. It’s so wonderful to see how much this personal project has grown and I am thrilled that you all keep reading my stuff.

Here are your top 5 most-read articles from the last 2 years!

How Thank You letters can make a difference

How close is too close? Keeping it professional with donors

Cultivation pays

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

Why you should be friends with other fundraisers

Have you had a favourite article? Or would you like to write a guest post? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

No room for me here – A guest blog by John Lepp!

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Week after week, as I look through my mother-in-law’s mail box of direct mail, wading through the commercialized, overly-branded, perfectly-typeset in Gotham, full of boasting and praise for itself, “charitable” appeals, I shake my head and think, there’s no room for me here. There’s no room for me, the donor.

I read tweet after tweet about the next big SCORE of a major gift for your new wing at your hospital, with a giant, perfectly-lit photograph of another old white guy, beaming ear to ear holding a big cheque with your major gifts officer, handshakes all around, and I get a crease in my brow and think, there’s no room for me here. There’s no room for me, the donor.

I see website after website, talking about this new campaign, this new problem, this latest thing we totally fixed, or the latest anniversary and celebration, with beautiful stock photos, reversed out type and oh! hey! look! a tiny “donate” button… ruining another otherwise gorgeous wordpress template, and you know, I stretch my hand off my mouse and I think, there’s no room for me here. There’s no room for me, the donor.

I wonder what your donor did to make parts of your team loathe them so much. I wonder why I never hear about a fundraiser getting to approve all the “churn” that comes out of the marketing department. I wonder why people find it so hard to be emotive in their language, and loving in their actions with their donors. I wonder what makes YOU so much more important than THEM?

I look at you and think there’s no room for me here.

And I don’t stop giving.

I just stop giving to you.

And you still don’t accept the blame.

 

Agent John is a long time marketer, designer and ranter. Agent Jen calls him “authentic”. Others may not be so kind. The truth is, John wears his heart on his sleeve and when provoked will wave his hands and raise his voice an octave as he voices his frustration and opinions. And a blog post may even come of it.

Find him on Twitter @johnlepp

And check out Agents of Good here

Why you should be friends with other fundraisers!

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So you’ve nailed a wonderful fundraising position in a fantastic org! Amazing! In an ideal world, you’ll be surrounded by other inspirational and driven fundraisers from whom you can garner all kinds of nuggets of fundraising wisdom! But what if you work in a tiny team? Or even in a solo team? Who is there to bounce an idea around with? Who can you turn to to complain about how your colleagues just don’t get fundraising?

Being friends with other fundraisers is one of the most valuable things you can do as a fundraiser. They relate to your struggles and wins in ways your colleagues sometimes just can’t. Fundraisers tread similar paths within their organisations and overcome many of the same obstacles you will face along the way. Having a group of fundraising friends provides a unique support network of like-minded individuals who are more than likely going to be thrilled to spend an evening chatting with you about what’s going on in your fundraising department.

Over the years I’ve met up with fundraisers to discuss how to tackle Trustee relationships, to proof read my latest Direct Mail appeal, to have a moan about that one colleague that seems to have a chip on their shoulder especially just for me. But I’ve also met with them to celebrate their wins, launch their newly founded charities, give them advice on things I have experience in and be the listening ear that they need too.

Fundraisers are some of the most generous people I’ve ever come across, giving up their time to freely offer advice and support to others. So if you’re feeling lost, alone or like you just want to chat to someone who might give you a second opinion on your latest project, ask a fundraiser to meet you for drinks!

I’ve met some of my favourite people through fundraiser socials, connecting on twitter or just chatting at fundraising training days. And they have led to some incredible friendships, opportunities for development and introductions to even more incredible charity folk! (I have several exciting projects happening this year all down to being friends with these fabulous people! Keep your eyes peeled!)

If you don’t know where to start, have a look on facebook for ‘fundraising chat’ the closed group specifically for advice and support for fundraisers, by fundraisers. Then do a search on twitter for #fundraiser on the people section and just start following!

This blog post is a tribute to my fundraiser friends and all of the support, advice and love they have given and continue to give! I couldn’t do what I do without you and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging or speaking at conferences without you! Thank you x

Who are your favourite fundraising friends?