In 2020 the International Fundraising Consultancy (IFC) will have been moving the dial on making the world a better place to live for twenty years. We have done that through giving expert advice on fundraising to non-profit organisations worldwide, enabling them to leverage their income generation and greatly increase their assistance to their beneficiaries and advance their causes exponentially.
In that time, the Group IFC team has also learnt new tricks, what works, and what doesn’t. And that’s what we’d like to share with you. Gearing up for our 20th anniversary we have written 20 key facts every fundraiser should know. Some of the following are basic and some are outside any box we have ever found. None should be forgotten as we seek to grow our income and influence.
The first five are below:
- Don’t Get Between The Donor And The People You Are Helping
Donors do not give to you or your organisation. They give to help your beneficiaries. The closer you can bring the reality of their lives to your donors, the more you will move hearts and minds. Hearts are moved by emotionally feeling empathy with people, while minds – by understanding that what your charity does makes a difference. So, tell stories, communicate brilliantly and be prepared to prove what you do is truly effective. Don’t forget to monitor and evaluate. Yes, monitor and evaluate, but not as a sterile exercise. Make a point of using the results to improve what you practice in the field.
- Embrace Change Whether Technological or Regulatory
We live in a very exciting time of rapid and often fundamental change. Unfortunately, we often bury our heads in the past and hope it isn’t happening, or if it is that it won’t affect us. Donors, too, live in the same world, and as their reality changes – so should ours. For example, with all the technological advances and all the new ways of paying now available, it’s crucial to see the new opportunities and capture those generous early adopters. Conversely, scaling back fundraising techniques that are not working very well prevents your fundraising from drifting off a cliff. The key to staying in business is to innovate at least as fast as the rate of change in your external environment.
- Double Your Income By Investing in Fundraising
The unwelcome truth is that in order to invest in raising a lot more income, you will, most likely, need to cut back on current programmes. But it will pay off. Soon, you will be in a virtuous spiral which grows your income steadily and feeds back many times the seed money. No, this is not the time to rely on magical thinking, and you will need to prove that point. Then test, test and test again as you roll out your campaigns over the years. If you need advice this is the time to take it, not when things go wrong.
- Dream Team – Dream Performance – Dream Results
There is something very uplifting about a team dedicated to the organisation’s goals. Everyone firing on all cylinders, working in harmony with each other and excited by the results they are achieving. Putting together this team does, however, require a certain ruthlessness. You may find the team you have inherited has one or more underachieving zombies who will need to either be brought up to scratch or sacked. Do not shirk the work involved here and never try to work around them. Hire people who are both right for the task and with whom your team will have a rapport. Take time to induct new members and keep all your team well up with the results your organisation is achieving in the field, not just the problems.
- Follow The Money
It may sound obvious but so many of us get hooked on how we have always raised our funds. Today money is changing hands rapidly and an awful lot of it is ending up in the trousers of people who are already very rich. A lot of those funds have left the pockets of traditional donors. These new prospective donors give generously to make a real difference and expect to see a real impact for their bucks. Many are so cautious of charities that they use their Private Offices to handle donations as well as their finances. Can you make friends there? Do you have significant projects in which they can invest large sums and see the results?
Back At The Ranch
At IFC we, too, have been through quite a few changes building our team, first in the UK and then overseas. It all started with a discussion over lunch at the Bengal Lancer in Kentish Town, London. John Baguley, Jasvir Kaur and Chris Small, were the initial directors, got together to discuss their vision of a fundraising consultancy that would do for the non-profit sector worldwide what McKinsey & Co were doing for for-profit sector.
We could see even back in 2000 that the non-profit sector was underestimated in its scale and ability to effect positive change. Only a few visionary academics such as Helmut K Anheier were mapping the sector globally and engaging with the results.
Of that first team, sadly, only John remains and is IFC’s Chair of the Board, with Jasvir and Chris having moved on to work with other charities. But we now have offices in 12 countries forming an expert global team and collaborate with NGOs at all levels working in every area of need.
This is the first of four ‘what we have learnt about fundraising’ core skills blogs. The rest follow shortly. Later we will look at what we see coming for the fundraising profession and it may shock you…
John Baguley, Chair, International Fundraising Consultancy