You Don’t Need Everyone To Care

I’m just back from running a 2-day fundraising/strategy getaway in a weird little village somewhere in Norway. You can see some photos here. (I’m not under the false illusion that you care, but you really should consider coming next year as it was so beautiful and fun and productive).

What I wanted to share with you today was one of the constant messages we talked about in Norway, and one of the constant messages I seem to end up talking about with almost everyone I work with…

You don’t need everyone to care.

Trying to make everyone care, trying to make everyone understand and be aware, trying to get everyone to donate, trying to keep everyone happy…it’s inefficient. The time and money we spend trying to win the hearts of an entire population is much more effectively spent on the handful of people that are already leaning towards you.

  • Talk to the companies and individuals that are already connected to you. Not necessarily the big names that are all over the papers, but the ones who have already crossed your path.
  • Love the donors that already give to you. Get your thank-yous and retention right before you start spending time and money to bring new donors on board. Look after the donors that already care for you rather than trying to make everyone else care.
  • Target your message. As Rory Green says, “It’s easier to make someone who cares give you money than make someone who has money start to care.”

How many times have you heard a charity say, “If everyone in the country just gave $1!”?

Forget it…it’s not going to happen. But a small cluster of people giving larger chunks of money…that happens every day. That’s how you hit your targets and how you achieve your goals.

That’s good fundraising.

4 Ways To Stop Supporters Unsubscribing

You know that feeling? When you write to your mailing list and someone unsubscribes? Your stomach turns, your eyes water up, and for a brief moment you consider e-mailing them to ask, “Why don’t you love me anymore?”

But remember, good fundraising isn’t about making everyone care about you…it’s about caring for the few that do.

Unsubscribing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If the alternative is for someone to sit on your mailing list indefinitely, never engaging, never taking action, then wouldn’t you rather be rid of them? In fact, Jon Lloyd at Fundraising Is Awesome said recently, “you should think seriously about actively unsubscribing anyone who’s been inactive for 3 months or more.”

While you mull that over, here’s 4 ways you can reduce the chances of your active readers from unsubscribing:

  1. Be Human
    The more human your e-mail sounds and appears, the less likely we are to unsubscribe. Nobody unsubscribes from humans…we unsubscribe from organisations. You can do this by writing from an individual e-mail address as opposed to an ‘info’ or ‘fundraising’ address. Consider sending plain text e-mails sometimes, or at least reducing the bells, whistles, images and excessive formatting (please stop centring your text). Read the content out loud before you send it…if it doesn’t sound like the way you speak then change it.
  2. Segment Your Data
    Where possible, segment your data so you’re sending relevant content to relevant people. Or at least, suppressing people who have no interest in a particular mail. For example, I’m on the mailing list of a organisation because I went to their event in Dublin. I’m interested in future events taking place in Dublin. But they keep sending me e-mails about their events being run by their chapters in places like London and Yorkland and Sandwich-Upon-Time. The chances of me being there are slim to none. But if they do insist on trying to cross-sell me then they should tack it in as part of a mail I will be interested in: “Here’s the next Dublin event…and you might also be interested in these.” But instead they’re sending me mails wholly dedicated to non-local events. It just takes one of these irrelevant e-mails to nudge me to unsubscribe…and then I’m gone forever.
  3. E-mail When You Have Something To Say
    Rather than deciding to e-mail once a week or once a month and then scrambling to find content, consider keeping a more flexible schedule where you e-mail when you have good content. When you send out fluff to meet a deadline, you’re sending sub-standard e-mails that encourage unsubscribes. And if you don’t have enough good content then let’s work to gather and create more.
  4. Offer Value
    Always ask yourself, what value am I providing to the reader? Donor-centred and #DonorLove rules. If you’ve won an award or achieved something, consider why the reader should care. Try shifting the tone from “we have won an award” to “because of you we have won an award”, or even better, “your support has been recognised and we were privileged to pick up this award on behalf of you!”

Lift your fundraising with a two day strategy and messaging session in the Norwegian mountains!

Join us for an intensive two days of work to lift your fundraising

We have put together a two day intensive program – in the moutnains, away from your everyday job – where some of the best strategist in the fundraising world will help you improve your fundraising and your messaging to give your organisation a real boost.

Simon Scriver and Kevin Delaney – both well known fundraising speakers who have built fundraising operations in organisations large and small – will lead us through two intensive and effective days to make sure you go home with a plan. Beate Sørum (who’s the one inviting you all) will join us as well and help out.

Our team has a more than three decades of combined fundraising experience, from dozens of organisations. They plan to push you, your organisation and your fundraising.

Through a combination of teaching, interrogation, workshops, discussions and hard work we will help you break through the noise of your day to day work to see the very core of your organisation.

En kombinasjon av foredrag, forhør, workshop, diskusjoner og hardt arbeid vil hjelpe deg til å bryte litt ut av hverdagsstøyen og finne nye innfallsvinkler i arbeidet.

      • Need to source new donors?
      • Need to communicate better to the public?
      • Need to raise lots of money but have no budget?
      • Need to identify a new direction or focus?
      • Need to grow and expand your service?

If yes, we’ll see you in the mountains!


Exclusive and effective

To make sure you get the most out of your time and money, this event is limited to 15 participants. This way, we make sure the experts have all the time they need to work directly with everyone. At the same time, you’ll connect with a small group of likeminded people to stay in touch with for help and support going forward

Where we are going – away from the city

Bilde av gården Vingelsgaard

Vingelsgaard Guest House

We’ll take you to the magical little village of Vingelen, a small mountain community in Hedmark county in Norway. About 500 people live here. We will sleep and work at Vingelsgaard Guest House – a several hundred year old log house farm, now rebuilt to house a conference venue and guest rooms.

We’ll make sure we stress down while we’re filling up our brains, so we’re adding some outings, tastes of the (very) local artisanal food productions, and trips around the village. Maybe we’ll even splurge for a horse and sled with torches – weather allowing. Regardless, you will be enjoying the crystal clear mountain air, sparkling snow and natural beauty all along.


Pricing and practical information


5. march: We leave Oslo on a train at 14.34. You may also choose a train leaving 16.34, but you would be travelling without guides (we’ll pick you up at the station), and you won’t make it to dinner.
6. march: A full day of working, followed by dinner and social activities
7. march: A full day of working, before we take the train back to Oslo at 16.43, arriving in Oslo at 19.26.


The getaway costs NOK 9.900 (approx. €1030, £900 at the time of writing, Jan. 24th). Since we believe the best work happens when more minds are collaborating, we’ll shave NOK 2.000 off of the price for participant nr. 2 and more from the same organisation. So feel free to bring a colleague!

The price includes your room for the nights, transport, and all activities in Vingelen. Traintickets from Oslo to Tolga and back are not included, and must be purchased separately. We’re happy to help you book them though – just let us know, and we will get your tickets and invoice them along with the rest of your booking. You will have to manage any transport to and from Oslo.

Registering is binding, but do feel free to fill your seat with someone else’s bum if you find you can’t make it 🙂


We will be both sleeping and working at the amazing VIngelsgaard Guest House. There are 10 rooms, and if it fills up, we’ll have to share. The rooms that would be shared have single beds


Vingelen is in the region of Røros, known among other things for the award winning Røros Food Coop. We will incoroporate much of the local food while we are there, and we will visit the cheese dairy Eggen Gardsysteri. Their cheeses won both gold and silver in the recent World Cheese awards in 2017.



Our strategists – your team


Simon Scriver helps good charities do better fundraising. An award-winning fundraising consultant, coach, and trainer, he helps charities of all sizes do amazing things with little time and little budget. Simon helps his client bring in new donors, build relationships, and keep their supporters giving. He is obsessed with Donor Love…and Twitter.

Working with small and large charities all over the world, he speaks regularly at international conferences and delivers on-line and off-line fundraising training. He is the only person in Ireland with a CFRE, a Diploma in Fundraising and a Certificate in Fundraising. Simon is a board member of a small non-profit ‘Making Connections’, sits on the Advisory Panel of Rogare, the international fundraising think tank, and is a member of the Institute of Fundraising and the AFP.


A professional fundraiser and nonprofit leader for over a decade. Kevin is a believer in the ability of a few passionate people to make a difference in the world, but even the biggest hearts needs a helping hand. Years of fundraising, nonprofit management and training experience working with nonprofits on three continents allows him to understand the problems you are facing. He is passionate about helping you solve the biggest challenges facing our society today.

Kevin is the Founder of Academy Street Workshop who provide tailored, expert advice, problem solving and training to nonprofits. He is also a full time professional fundraiser with a nonprofit in Ireland as well as an experienced fundraising tutor who has delivered training and workshops around the world.


Beate  – or Bea for the non-Scandinavians out there – owns and runs b.bold, and she’s the one who’s invited you all along to this remote village. Beate is passionate about fundraising, and tries her best to make sure fundraisers are always at the top of their game. Through b.bold, Beate has worked with many different organisations to strengthen their fundraising work. She previously worked for the Norwegian Cancer Society for 6 years, where she started and ran the digital fundraising work. She is a member of the board of the Norwegian Fundraising Association.

Beate loves Vingelen, and really hopes she gets to show you the little fairytale village. She knows you’ll fall in love with both the place and hopefully your fundraising 🙂



Get in touch with Beate by phone +47 986 23 650, or send an email to

7 Easy Ways to Become A Better Fundraiser in 2018

No two fundraisers are the same, of course. When I’m working with a Fundraising Coaching client we obviously deal with a lot of unique issues and work to come up with tailored answers.

But there are common themes.

I wanted to share some of the recurring recommendations I’ve given to pretty much all of my individual clients. So here you go…7 easy ways for you to become a better fundraiser this year:

  1. Meet Other Fundraisers
    Fundraisers are really generous with their time and knowledge. Find a couple that do a similar role as you in a different organisation and take them out for a coffee. You can help each other.
  2. Join A Board
    Yes, even you. It doesn’t matter if you feel too young or too inexperienced, there is so much you can offer a non-profit by becoming a volunteer Board member. As a fundraiser, they’re lucky to have you. For you, it’s great on your CV, you learn loads, and it’s great for networking. More than that, you’ll see fundraising from a different perspective and you’ll be better equipped to tackle your CEO and Board in your own organisation.
  3. Join Fundraising Chat on Facebook
    One of my favourite on-line resources – throw out a question and you’ll get a bunch of intelligent replies. Why make mistakes that others have already made?
  4. Mystery Shop Other Charities
    Join some mailing lists and make some donations. See what others are sending out and get inspired.
  5. Get A Volunteer or Intern and Use Them
    If your organisation can afford to hire staff for you then great. But if not, consider asking your supporters if anyone would like to volunteer. Get them to relieve you of some of the admin that takes up your time. Tell them and teach them about your fundraising strategy: you benefit from having to explain to someone else because it makes you get organised and structured. And they can almost certainly add some great ideas.
  6. Have More Conversations With Your Supporters
    As Tony Elischer said, fundraising is about dialogue and not monologue. Pick up the phone to more supporters, organise more face-to-face meetings and send out more e-mail. Ask questions. Do it for me today: send an e-mail to your mailing list asking people why they support what you do.
  7. Get Learning
    There’s a bunch of fundraising conferences I’d recommend (come say hello!) but if you don’t have the budget or can’t get to them then there are cheaper alternatives. Have a look at my on-line courses which are cheap or free, with more coming this year.

My Name is Nikki, and I Am Funky (GUEST POST)

For a new year, here’s a new post from guest blogger: my fundraising friend Nikki Bell. She’s a great speaker, great writer, and a superstar fundraiser. One of the best community fundraisers out there, she’s taught me loads about how to use social media to lavish volunteers and companies with love. Definitely worth a follow…especially if you like Bruce Springsteen and can understand Geordie.

Prince was amazing, wasn’t he? I miss him. A purple bolt of confidence, nailing the splits and belting out lyrics like,  ‘my name is Prince, and I am funky. My name is Prince, the one and only’ in a way that left no doubt that this man had confidence in himself. We can learn a lot from him as fundraisers, work appropriate stuff of course.

January is associated with new beginnings. A chance to pledge things you’re going to change about yourself to make sure you have the best 2018 you can imagine. But what about the importance of being yourself and having that self-confidence that you already are an amazing fundraiser?

In the early days of my fundraising career I found myself emulating my peers who I looked up to as talented fundraisers. Not just adopting what they were doing, but how they did it too; mannerisms, ways of presenting and how they presented themselves. In a profession that loves to share through blogs, vlogs, tutorials, conferences (you get the idea), it can be easy to get distracted from your own talents. But I wasn’t getting their results.

You see, making a connection with a supporter is vital for them to trust you and give to your charity long-term. If they’re trying to engage with someone who isn’t being themselves, and they will pick up on it, they’ll be cautious to allow that all important ‘spark’ that leads to a beautiful relationship. If you’re preoccupied in a corporate pitch about presenting in a similar way to a public speaker you admire, you’re not focussing on sharing why your charity exists and why their support will help change and save people’s lives.

Things had to change for me. I had to believe in my own talent as a fundraiser to make connections with the people that mattered most; our supporters. Like Prince I had to reinvent myself, but without that confusing unpronounceable symbol name he had going on for a while.

Over the past few years I’ve made an effort to have more confidence in being myself and have had the best years of my fundraising career; won partnerships, long-lasting relationships and progression opportunities. I continue to seek advice from those that I respect as fundraisers and I’ll always learn as much as I can about how to be a brilliant fundraiser (you will never learn everything), but my advice to you would be to pull it off the best way you can; your way.

In the early days I didn’t win a corporate pitch I had such high hopes for. I’d done everything you were supposed to, what I’d seen other amazing corporate fundraisers do, but I lost out. I reconnected with the company early 2017 and had the same professional and important conversations as before, but I was much more confident in approaching it in my own way. We hit it off quicker, I found out a lot of important details that would help with my pitch and got a huge ‘yes’ from the voting committee when the moment came. After the pitch one committee member told me, “It’s been so nice working with someone who has made it fun for us”, and I knew then where I had gone wrong before all those years before. I was preoccupied with having a professional, business-like approach to corporates I’d left out my personality. And people give to people.

Make confidence in being yourself one of your top new year’s resolutions and create habits to remind yourself that you’ve got this. Whether it’s reflecting on a recent win and reconnecting with those involved, sharing with colleagues how you achieved it or learning something new to boost your skills, it goes a long way to helping you believe in yourself and will give you the confidence to do it again. And when you have confidence in yourself, so do the people around you.

I keep a ‘success’ folder on Outlook. Every time I get positive feedback or share a success at work, I file it away and look through it regularly for a boost. Why not start one of your own right now?

Prince called Tim Burton in the 80s to say he’d be the perfect Batman for his 1989 film. I often think of this in moments of self-doubt and remind myself that much like The Purple One I can do anything, if I have the confidence in myself that I can.

Happy New Year.

If you’d like to see more fundraising lessons from some of music’s greatest talents (and an abundance of delightful GIFs) follow me on Twitter, @CharityNikki.

NEW Corporate Fundraising On-line Course…with a discount just for YOU!


My Corporate #Fundraising on-line course has just launched! It’s a cheap, practical, step-by-step course helping you raise money from companies!

My lovely followers get a discount by using code ‘DELIGHTER’.

Sign up now here: … and get updates free for life!

When done well corporate fundraising has the potential to be one of the most lucrative and cost-effective sources of income for your organization.

In this course you’ll be learning about the cycle of corporate fundraising, from identifying potential partners and building relationships to asking for support. We’ll also look at how to maintain and maximise relationships with company partners through good stewardship and donor care.

You’ll gain a better understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and understand a company’s objectives and goals, and how you can convert them to money for your organization.

Start the course now at

Who Cares About Data Protection? (guest post from Caroline Cummins)

Data Protection: THE PARADOX.” (*Read in film trailer voiceover voice*) “Everyone’s “interested”, but nobody wants to know. Data Protection: THE ENIGMA; after GDPR can we mail people? No, definitely not. Waitummm, maybe? It depends!”

I’m sorry. I can’t make Data Protection entertaining. As a guest (and first-time) blogger, I felt obligated to try. Be gentle with me.

I’ll just quietly abandon Data Protection: The Movie and hope no one noticed…

Instead I’d like to bring you on a journey to share with you my thoughts on why it’s imperative that we (charities and specifically fundraisers) prioritise data protection compliance.

  1. Because it’s the law
    Just because it’s first doesn’t mean it’s the most important. I can think of (and have noted below) many more reasons why it is crucial for us to get this right. However, I hope you’ll allow that “The Law” is worth at least a mention.
    No need to wait until GDPR becomes enforceable next May (the 25th to be exact) to get all your ducks in a row. The basic principles of data protection are already the law of the land, and have been since 1988. You won’t remember that, of course. Some of you weren’t even born. For the rest of us, it was somewhat overshadowed by the release of Cocktail, the first Die Hard movie and Big in the same year.

    “You know what else is big? GDPR Fines” is what people with bad grammar trying to sell you some magic silver bullet compliance tool will tell you. This is misleading (maximum fines are unlikely) and its purpose is purely to exploit your fear and uncertainty so that you part with your cash. But the happy news is that the ODPC doesn’t need to fine you millions to render you inoperative. They can currently impose measures that could bring your fundraising operations to a standstill, like blocking data from use for certain purposes or requiring you to erase it altogether.

  2. Because it’s the right thing to do
    We are a hardworking and formidable bunch. We fight for child welfare, for animal welfare, for the disabled, for the homeless, for people struggling with addiction, for those with no country, for the wrongfully imprisoned, for those on their own, for the elderly, for the physically and mentally unwell, for those that find themselves suddenly in difficult circumstances, for those struck by disaster at home and overseas. We fight to protect the rights of all.The right to privacy (the basis of data protection) is a fundamental human right.I cannot reconcile how we can do all of that good stuff and then deliberately choose to ignore the rights of people who support or might support those causes.
  3. Because it’s an opportunity (or a PR nightmare – your choice)
    We have been moving glacially past some far-reaching scandals in our sector. According to the latest ICEM research, people trust banks more than they trust charities. BANKS! (
    Mick and Kate have a lot to answer for). There is a lot of ground for us to make up. Intransigence and inertia in relation to our data protection obligations, particularly with regard to direct marketing practices will not move us forward on that road.The ODPC must investigate every complaint it receives. In 2016 they received over 1,400 of them (the highest number in ten years). It takes just one for them to investigate your organisation. Alternatively, just one person’s account of their experience in a high-profile forum can cause the media to turn its gaze towards the sector. Where the media’s focus turns, the ODPC’s attention may follow. In the UK, it was the media coverage of Olive Cook and Samuel Rae that caused the Information Commissioner’s Office (The UK’s ODPC equivalent) to investigate data practices within the charity sector there.

    Charities addressing data protection requirements now are creating competitive advantage. If we move as a sector though, data protection compliance presents an opportunity to win back trust; to move the sector forward in terms of governance and regulation and to get ahead of the curve in terms of best practice. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

  4. Because it’s sort of like donor-care
    Yes. It is. Inform your donors, have a conversation, ask their opinion, put some control back in their hands, give them a choice over the things you must, and maybe a few other things that you can pull off operationally. Listen. And, most importantly, comply with their wishes.
  5. Because it makes business sense
    Why do you want to spend money to keep contacting people who do not want to hear from you? Why communicate your message over and over to a more and more disengaged supporter base? Or worse, have your message land in the wrong place each time because your database is inaccurate and out of date? Why wouldn’t you want to document policies and procedures that provide guidance and reference to staff and certainty during periods of cover for absence or transition? Why are you prepared to keep losing money through operational inefficiencies that would be addressed by taking steps to become data protection compliant?
  6. Because we have always innovated to meet change and challenge
    There is passion and creativity and ingenuity and commitment in bucket loads within the sector. Colleagues, you are nothing short of inspirational. Things evolve, and the sector constantly adapts to turn advances and challenges to its advantage.

All this is not to say that I don’t share the frustrations of many in the sector. I do. The law seems restrictive; GDPR appears wide-ranging and complex, without practical and informed guidance; it requires a sea-change in culture; you feel like you need to employ a GDPR-Whisperer (like there’s budget for that!). Where do you even begin?

Take a deep breath.

There are no special measures for us. Yes, we have the best of intentions, but that is not enough. We need regulatory compliance as well.

Let’s try to accept that GDPR is happening and that data protection is a boardroom issue. Let’s move beyond howling at the moon and let’s take back some control.

We don’t have to stop fundraising. Our hands are not tied. There is some detailed groundwork to do at first, and then we need to funnel some of our creative energy into how to fundraise whilst meeting our legal obligations.

Let’s start a discussion and work together to share knowledge, insight and ideas on how we might do this.

As Simon has kindly allowed me another post, next time I am going to share some practical advice to kick-start the journey towards compliance, in IMAX style clarity. 3D glasses to the ready. (Not really, of course. Although there might be a diagram. In colour. With arrows. And other surprises. Just keeping things interesting. And mysterious.)

Thanks for reading this far, if you have.

Join me next time, won’t you?


Caroline Cummins is a fundraising professional, certified data protection practitioner, and former lawyer. You should follow her on Twitter @Dandering

What I Learned At #IFC2017

The IFC is phenomenal.

It’s one of the most – if not the most – significant event for fundraisers around the world.

About 1000 of the top fundraisers from all over the world descend on a shithole of a hotel on the outskirts  of Amsterdam each year to see epic plenaries, high-quality workshops and masterclasses, as well as learning from the best of the best in the bar and restaurant each morning, afternoon and evening.

I was fortunate enough to attend for my 4th (?) year and run a workshop for the 2nd year.

A few phrases jumped out at me and have been haunting me since. So I thought I’d put them all in one place here:

Richard Turner said that these days “Everyone is a channel.”

My co-presenter Jen Love said, “You know what’s more expensive than good donor care? Donor acquisition.”

Derek Humphries said, “It’s a great time to be a fundraiser.”

Hurricane Frankie revealed that UNICEF in Italy have a ‘Donor Love’ department (which I have to visit).

And most importantly I learned that the plenary room is a Pokemon Gym.


Until next year…