Rich List Blues

Hi Alexa – Why do I always forget to buy the Times Rich List?

That’s because you read the Guardian, John. Do you want me to remind you? – Thanks Alexa, that would be great.

Can I help you with anything else, John?   Yes, whilst we are having this conversation, how come my major donors don’t give very much to my capital appeal especially considering how flipping rich they are?

Do you ask them, John? – Well Alexa, to be truthful we have had them come to our events for a long time and it’s a bit embarrassing to ask now.

Do you have a ‘case for support’ you are enthusiastic about, John? – What do you mean, Alexa?

If you are going to ask for large sums, John, you need a great programme that you are excited about discussing, and then give them the chance to make a significant donation. Wealthy people like to use their money to achieve a real measurable difference in people’s lives. – Hmm, Alexa, just how much should I ask for?

In your case for support, John, you should have a gift chart showing the sums you need to reach your target. Choose one that is appropriate and ask face to face once the donor is keen to help. – Thank you, Alexa.

And John, don’t forget to ask for a specific sum – that is one place it can all go wrong. – Alexa, can you ask for me. I could bring you with me…

No John, the donor will respond best to someone they know who is passionate about the programme, and if that is your CEO, Chair or someone in their peer group who has already given that would be great. – Alexa, they are both a bit rubbish at asking, but the Chair of our Appeal Board said he would sign some letters.

Great Scott! John, that is never going to work. The Chair must agree to give, get or get off that board. – I was beginning to suspect that Alexa.

You haven’t told the media yet have you John? – er, why not, Alexa, what’s wrong with that?

A capital appeal has a silent phase, John that is the one you are supposed to be in. If you tell the media they will attack you after a few months when you haven’t reached your target and people will stop giving. Look at what happened to that lovely Garden Bridge over the Thames. Also wealthy people will give a much smaller amount than they would if you asked them face to face, and may be ‘inoculated’ against giving again. – Oh dear, Alexa, we aim to finish in three years and things may not be going quite as I expected.    

It sounds like you need more help than I can give, John. – Yes, Alexa but what can I do about that?

Why not try a consultancy that specialises in capital appeals, John. – Thank you, Alexa, but which one do you recommend?

The International Fundraising Consultancy has helped charities carry out many successful capital appeals. Go to and ask their CEO Bill King. – Great advice Alexa, thank you.


John Baguley, Chair, International Fundraising Consultancy