Fundraising from the 1%

I can comfortably, if sadly, predict that in 2017 the disparity in wealth between the rich and the poor will get worse not better. Unfortunately, nothing that I hear the politicians or businesses say is more than platitudes, and no concrete action is in sight.

So, that indicates that us fundraisers will have the task of reversing this obscene flow of money and direct it back to the poor and needy. The question will be how do we do this effectively, efficiently and hopefully, with some panache, imaginatively.

The prize is huge as the top billionaires are now worth $40 or $50 billion not just one or two billion. It is time we saw a few Ted Turner, CNN Founder, size donations in the scale $1b gifts. And we won’t get them unless we ask! So, that is our mission for 2017.

Firstly who do we ask? Well, for that we will need to contact the researchers, still reeling from the ICO investigations into wealth screening, and ask them to find the wealthy who are first philanthropists and secondly show some sign of caring about our concerns. With a list of say, 30-100 people you are off and can look for those six degrees of separation or hopefully just one or two. This is where your trustees, advisory board and patrons come in. If that thought horrifies you then you really need to start again and build new groups of influential supporters, who will provide you with bridges to the affluent who may know the seriously rich. These approaches will, of course, be based on carefully drawn up and agreed individual approach strategies.

At the same time, set up cultivation events in a prestigious venue, with an influential host. 10 & 11 Downing Street, the House of Lords, your nationally known patrons house, the Livery Company rooms etc., will often do nicely. Make sure you get the invitations out a couple of months in advance and ensure the events moves hearts as well as minds, like your ‘case for support’ which is the key sales document.

Your billion dollar ask will then come face to face, very soon after the event, or once the philanthropist has seen your work first hand. You will know when the right time to ask has arrived, but if you do not have the feel for this don’t put it off indefinitely which is the regular kiss of death to major donor campaigns.

The National Army Museum ran a huge effective capital appeal recently, and you can see the new building nearly completed in Chelsea, London. They utilised their influential army contacts perfectly, ran first-rate major-donor events and leveraged their trustees’ networks to reach into parts of the establishment that could trigger significant gifts.

Even if you are a small inconspicuous organisation, you can reach out beyond your immediate circle and begin to target wealthier and wealthier people until you too are raising millions if not billions. The funds are out there.

Lastly, think about the family offices that these days handle wealthy peoples’ money. These can be the gatekeepers to large sums and though often anonymous and invisible any contact with them is worth pursuing.

Happy hunting in 2017!

John Baguley, Chair IFC Group