Should Your Charity Have A LinkedIn Page?

LinkedIn is one of the greatest tools available to a fundraiser. If you do not have a personal LinkedIn page then go set one up. It’s helpful for your career, for learning, for connecting and for conveniently building your network. Even if you’re not thinking of moving now or don’t feel you need a ‘network’ right now, one day you might.

But I’m often asked if it’s worth setting up a LinkedIn page for your non-profit.

There’s two ways you can do it
1. As an Individual page with an image and details of your organisation.
2. Using LinkedIn’s company page feature.

In both circumstances I would still say, “Almost definitely no.” It is not worth your time to set up a LinkedIn page for your non-profit.

Why not?

Well firstly, it’s a bit of a logistical pain in the ass. To get people to like your Company Page is a challenge if you’re starting from scratch. It’s possible, in the same way you’d grow other social media followers, but it’s unlikely to be worth the effort. People use it differently from Facebook, and while an organisation Page on Facebook is almost necessary, your organisation page on LinkedIn is less enticing.

Secondly, it becomes one more thing for you to update and manage. And while tools like Buffer can make that much easier for you, to really make it effective requires time. And I would argue that your time is better spent engaging with your personal LinkedIn or in other areas of your job.

But the big reason is that it dehumanises you.

Humans give to humans. People don’t unsubscribe from humans…they unsubscribe from companies. One of the most important lessons in fundraising is realising that the more human you make your approach and your organisation, the more people will engage with you.

Having said all of that, if you have spare time (and I’ve never met anyone that does) then go ahead and do it. There are a couple of other advantages, like the fact your non-profit will still have that network even after you leave. Also, there is a small segment of people that would prefer to follow and connect with a company rather than you.

But before you do, be realistic: aren’t there better ways to spend your time?

Or do you totally disagree? I’d love to see examples of genuinely effective non-profit company pages (and I don’t just mean large numbers of followers).

The Fundraising Funnel – Part 2: Two Common Mistakes

In this series of blog posts I’m talking about the Fundraising Funnel. Click here to read Part 1: An Introduction.


Before we look deeper in to the Fundraising Funnel and start to improve upon how you’re using it, I wanted to share the two biggest mistakes I see organisations making when I start working with them. They are: (1) not having a goal, and (2) not starting the relationship.


So ask yourself the following questions:

1. Where are you trying to get people to?

What is the ultimate goal here? If you’re trying to get people to donate or fundraise then consider if your actions are moving people towards that. Is this interaction you’re spending time and money on going to motivate them to give or is it going deepen the relationship and warm them up for a future ask? Or neither?

A common conversation I have goes something like this:
“We want to increase our following on social media.”
“So more people know what we do.”
“So more people care about us.”

It can go on for a while. Sooner or later we’ll come to the conclusion that the goal is to raise more money, which sparks the question of whether this is the most effective way to raise money. It might also greatly affect our strategy: I’d prefer to have 100 followers on social media who donate rather than 100,000 who won’t.

Or perhaps your goal isn’t simply about raising money. Maybe you do need to genuinely raise awareness or get numbers behind your mission.

The point is to be clear about the ultimate goals because, as we’ll see in the next set of blog posts, if you don’t know that then you can’t start mapping out the road we want to take our supporters on. And your next interaction might be wasted.


2. Where are you trying to get people from?

We can’t expect people to support us until there is some sort of relationship there. Now a relationship can be formed in a few seconds or minutes, or it can take years. But it has to start somewhere.

Instead of asking, “Why aren’t people donating to us?” try asking, “Why would anyone donate to us?”

There are countless different causes out there and infinite ways we can spend our money, so why is anyone going to give it to you? What value have you given them? What trust have you established? What experiences have you shared?

Consider where your Fundraising Funnel might start and where you can initiate these relationships. Are people coming to you for information? Are you networking? Attracting visitors to your website through free Google Ads? Are you knocking on doors? Writing to companies? Have a stand at an event?

Are you capturing e-mail addresses and phone numbers? Are you getting opt-ins? Are you inspiring and engaging? Are you inviting? Offering? Asking?

There are so many places we can (and already do) interact with potential supporters…but we don’t want them to pass like ships in the night. How can we pull them in to our Fundraising Funnel and what’s the next step?


While we’ll need to consider every step and every interaction in our funnel, the first step and the [first] goal are perhaps the most important. 

What Are The Critical Issues Confronting Irish Fundraisers?

Click here to download the full report, “Republic of Ireland Critical Fundraising Report”

Greater collaboration among professional fundraisers is needed to address some of the major issues facing fundraising in Ireland, according to a new report by the think tank Rogare, which was published today at the Ask Direct Summer School in Dublin.

A serious shortage of fundraisers, a less than favourable tax environment, and the uncertainty caused by the forthcoming EU data protection regulation (GDPR) paint a challenging picture for the sector.

Many of the areas highlighted in the report, such as low levels of professional fundraising training, a lack of research and data on fundraising and giving in Ireland, and a tax environment that hinders rather promotes many types of giving, can only be addressed at a sector level and call for far greater levels of collaboration among fundraisers.

The recently formed Charities Institute Ireland (a merger of Fundraising Ireland and Irish Charities Tax Research) has made strides in addressing the broader fundraising environment. But with the extended remit of Charities Institute Ireland, there is now no longer a representative body for fundraisers in Ireland, as there are in other countries, and this has led to a lack of focus on the major issues facing the profession and fewer opportunities for fundraisers to meet, share and address common issues.

In a chapter of the Critical Fundraising (Ireland) Report, Colin Skehan, fundraising manager at Merchants Quay Ireland, examines the state of the fundraising profession in Ireland. He argues that a dedicated body for fundraisers would be able to lead in developing an academic qualification for fundraising, which, Skehan says, is necessary for fundraisers to achieve ‘mastery’ in the profession and develop their ‘professional autonomy’ in exercising that mastery.

Skehan writes:

“While non-profit membership and umbrella groups doubtless do dedicated and crucial work providing what opportunities do exist for fundraising training, would a professional body specifically for fundraisers, as exists elsewhere, be a useful step toward increasing professional autonomy?”

The Critical Fundraising (Ireland) Report is the first in a series examining trends and issues. This report – which was developed by a task group led by Rogare International Advisory Panel member Gabrielle Murphy – contains SWOT and PESTLE analyses of Irish fundraising, with seven essays exploring some of the main issues highlighted in these analysis that have been research and written by Irish fundraisers.

Murphy, managing director of Purplegrass Consulting, says:

“We hope that this report will spark not only debate but joint and collaborative action across the sector by fundraisers, perhaps even a round table discussion that reviews the issues raised in this report, and others that may not have been covered. Certainly the compilation of the report raised questions around whether we need a sector-wide strategy and prioritisation of the key issues for fundraising that we can work to address over the next three-to-five years. Perhaps greater levels of discussion and collaboration may be needed across the sector if we are to address the key challenges faced by Irish fundraisers.”

Another major conclusion of the report is that the fundraising sector should engage with the Data Protection Commission on an agreed code of practice that enshrines legitimate interest as a basis for direct marketing. The essay on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation – written by Ask Direct’s Damian O’Broin also recommends that charities invest both in appropriate training for staff and clear communications with donors about the implications of the new regulations.

In all, the report makes 29 recommendations, including:

  • Charities must combine their efforts to lobby for greater tax incentives for legacy gifts and major charitable gifts
  • Establish a programme to benchmark nonprofits’ fundraising performances to produce better metrics and insight
  • Research career opportunities and bottlenecks to understand how and why people leave the sector
  • Charity-SORP needs to become a legal requirement for charities
  • Invest in appropriate training for all relevant staff to ensure they understand GDPR and can manage and implement new regulations, policies and procedures.

Issues tackled in the CFR (Ireland) Report are:

  1. The fundraising profession in Ireland – Colin Skehan*, fundraising manager at Merchants Quay Ireland
  2. Low levels of philanthropy and other forms of planned giving – Gabrielle Murphy*, md at Purplegrass Consulting
  3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)Damian O’Broin*, director at Ask Direct
  4. Fundraising and financial regulation Bruce Clark**, head of individual giving at ActionAid Ireland
  5. Media relations and public perception of giving – Aoife Garvey**, supporter marketing manager at Concern Worldwide
  6. Lack of evidence and research about Irish fundraising and givingSéamus O’Conghaile**, donor relations office at Merchants Quay Ireland
  7. A crowded sector and the risk of market saturation Simon Scriver*, fundraising coach and trainer

* Member of Rogare International Advisory Panel
** Co-opted member

You can download the full report here.

Are Your Donors Too Old For Digital?

At the IoF Fundraising Convention I took part in a debate, for the motion “Your Donors Are Too Old For Digital”. I wanted to try and summarise my opening and closing statements as a blog post…so here you go…

Only 7% of donations come to non-profits on-line.

It was a statistic I first heard years ago at IoF’s National Convention. But didn’t seem right. There were so many sessions about digital and how on-line was the future. So many vendors telling me all of my donors were on-line. I’d bought in to it…I believed that you had to be investing heavily in digital.

Year after year that figure stayed reasonably stagnant. It still sits at just over 7%. So I stopped listening to what salesmen were saying. Instead I started looking at real donors actions taking place around me….people handing over bank details on the street, donors gushing over the phone, asking for paper sponsorship cards, bringing in bags of cash.

Real money.

Not impressions and engagement. Not eyeballs and clicks. Not chat bots and automated bullshit. (You can’t save a whale with impressions.)

I saw that 7% figure was the method, not the motivator. The motivators were real human interactions, dreams, hopes, fears, passions, a crippling fear of dying alone.

I saw me…Yes I love Twitter. I love Instagram. I love LinkedIn. But even though I was on-line, my life was off-line.

People aren’t on-line…they are off-line in front of a computer…distracted. Yes people are on-line…but they are donating off-line.

Regardless…I don’t matter…You don’t matter. You are not your target audience. 90% of your donors are older than me.

Digital might be the future…but we’re not living in the future. You have time…you don’t need to be an early adopter. We can run this debate next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Until the figure significantly changes you don’t have to invest so heavily in digital. The truth is every form of fundraising works but we have to pick and choose how we spend our time. That’s really what fundraising is. You’ll go back to office tomorrow and you’ll have important decisions in how to spend time. And if you’re spending more than 7% of your time online then you’re wasting it.

Why are you here?

Yes you’re here to raise money…But why are you here today in this room at a fundraising convention?

You already know most of the stuff being talked about – you’ve heard it before. The plenaries are on Facebook live. The data is available on-line. The presentations will be published. You can find each of these speakers on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

So why are you here?

It’s for the same reason that only 7% of donations are on-line.

It’s for the same reason we still crave the human touch. We still shake hands when we meet. We hug. We lose it when someone plays with our beard.

When we interact digitally what we’re really doing is trying to use a more efficient tool to find real human connections.

And we’re doing it badly. We’re sucking the life out of these connections…digital has made it really easy to not be a human. And humans give to humans.


Because you were raised by a human being. Our earliest memories are human touch. We love human touch, we thirst for it, we thrive with it.

It’s everything.

The generation who will be truly digital will be the generation delivered and held and raised by machines. 20 years after that poor child is born…that’s when your donors will be the right age for digital.

Until then…spend your time wisely.

Your donors are too old for digital. And you are too old for digital.


[I’ve countered this with another post Digital Fundraising…How Do I Love Thee?]

Digital Fundraising…How Do I Love Thee?

I give Digital Fundraising a hard time.

I’ve called on-line “snake-oil”.  Jen Love and I made the case at IoF’s Fundraising Convention that most, if not all, of your donors are too old for digital (blog post coming soon). I think every conference and most charities are wasting a disproportionate amount of time on digital. And I’m on a mission to destroy chat bots.

But do I mean it?

Well…like everything it’s not so black and white. Digital can be amazing when it doesn’t try to replace or replicate the human touch…but instead when it makes the delivery of that human touch more efficient. The truth is there’s a place for digital in my heart and a place for digital in your fundraising mix. Maybe there’s room for the two in your life?

So here’s my love letter to digital fundraising…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  1. It makes giving really easy.
    Once you don’t confuse the method and the motivator you realise that digital makes donating really, really convenient. Paypal, Facebook Donate, and on-line fundraising sites are some of the ways we can allow our donors to give in one or two clicks. Sure, it’s not the reason they’re giving…but it’s one more way to do it and the easier it is the more likely they’ll follow through.
  2. LinkedIn has actually revolutionised networking
    When people say their digital product has revolutionised fundraising they’re usually selling some stupid shit. But LinkedIn has revolutionised fundraising. It makes research easy, it makes contact easy, it makes stewardship easy. If you’re not on LinkedIn and using it every day to progress your fundraising and your career then you’re missing out.
  3. Facebook is great for events
    Event invites, participant recruitment and spreading the word is definitely one of the few perks of Facebook. And beyond that, feeding back gratitude and images and video and results of your events is pretty damn easy. When you see fundraisers integrating it with the real world it becomes a thing of beauty.
  4. Buffer the Time-waster Slayer
    Scheduled posts and repeating content allows you to have a pretty decent social media presence in less than an hour a week. Thank you Buffer!
  5. Digital Makes Learning Free
    Resources like Irish Charity Lab, Third Sector PR & Comms network and Fundraising Chat on Facebook are invaluable. A place to ask questions and immediately get answers from some of the best fundraisers in the world.
  6. On-line is great for testing before you move off-line
    Put up a different story from your organisation every day. The one that gets the best result is probably the one you post out to your real-world mailing list. Simple as.
  7. Digital Makes Us Brave
    I talk about picking up the phone and face-to-face asks all the time. But the truth is it’s scary. Yes you need to do it…but while you’re working up the courage there is still a place for those safer on-line messages. You don’t feel like you’re leaving your most vulnerable self exposed.That cheeky little private message can lead to some of the most scarily beautiful real-world human interactions you can ever imagine…they’ll break your heart.

The Fundraising Funnel – Part 1: An Introduction

I find many non-profits tend to ignore key parts of the Fundraising Funnel or disregard it completely. You might never have heard of a Fundraising Funnel or haven’t thought too much about it. But it’s one of the fundamentals of fundraising. It has to run through everything your organisation does if you’re going to have a successful fundraising strategy.

So I want to write a few posts about it, starting with this one.

The thing is…you’re currently sitting in a bunch of people’s funnels! They might be Sales Funnels, Prospect Funnels, Loyalty Ladders, Purchase Funnels, Customer Funnels, Marketing Funnels…whatever.

Whatever they’re calling them, it’s the interaction to get your more committed, more loyal, and spending more money. Call now for information. Apply for a loyalty card. Collect 5 tokens. Sign-up now to get free alerts. It’s every touch point and the call-to-action that goes with it.

You can’t even imagine how many sales and marketing manager’s funnels you’re sitting in right now.

More than that…you are almost certainly running your own Fundraising Funnel for your organisation right now without even thinking about it. It’s quite natural.

But the point of these posts is to get you thinking about it in a more considered and systematic way. And to help you improve every stage so you get more donors…quicker…and cheaper.

Let me show you a sample Fundraising Funnel…one of my favourites that I’ve used successfully a number of times.

Very simply it might look like this:

Your organisation decides to host an information event for the public. Perhaps your CEO will speak about the latest developments in the are or one of your front-line staff might offer advice on how to support someone who is affected by the issue. Out of your 1000 followers on Facebook maybe 50 say they’re interested in the event and maybe 10 people actually turn up. Great!

The event is successful. It’s nothing glamorous. Literally just some seats put out in your offices. And tea and coffee. Your speaker was good and engaging and there were a handful of questions froA sample Fundraising Funnelm the guests. At the end you pass round a form to capture attendees contact details if they’d like to be kept up-to-date on news and events and fundraising. Out of the 10 people there maybe 9 give their phone number.

The next day you call them all to say ‘Thank You’! Thanks so much for attending…great to meet you…I hope you found it helpful. You ask the attendees if they have any feedback. What was missing? What else do they want to know? How could it have been improved? Great suggestions! Thank you! Out of the 9 people you tried to call you had a decent conversation with maybe 5 of them.

The following week you call them all back. Thanks so much again for attending last week. You got in to work this morning and they popped in to your head and you wanted to call them and only them because there’s this project your organisation is working on that you think might be of some interest to them. This is what it is…this is the problem…this is the solution…and so now you’re asking if they’d like to donate to it? Or help fundraise for it? Great! Thank you! Out of the 5 people you spoke to this time maybe 2 of them agreed to make a donation over the phone! Yay!

There’s a bit of work over a bit of time…but the lifetime value of those donors, and even of the individuals who dropped off at each stage and didn’t progress, is potentially huge. It makes the time you spent at each stage more than worthwhile.

That’s it. Nothing shiny or particularly innovative or groundbreaking. Just good, solid fundraising.

Over the coming series of posts I want to talk about other Fundraising Funnels that can work for you, how to get started, how to constantly get better at it, and more.

But in the next post I’m going to tell you the 2 biggest mistakes that organisations make.


You don’t have enough time, right?

You don’t have enough time…right?

You have to be online! You have to send more mail! Treat every donor like a major donor! Your Board wants another golf classic! People are phoning for fundraising packs and you don’t have time to train in the volunteers! Plan Christmas! Plan your summer! Plan Flag Day! Pick up the phone! Sign up for Twitter! Facebook! Google Plus! Tinder! MyFace! The next big thing! Meanwhile your kid’s school has some stupid event you got roped in to and you’re neglecting your mum!

Well, over on Bloomerang I have a new blog post with my 7 Tips To Help Fundraisers Manage Their Time.

Have a look!

Do Your Co-Workers Hate Fundraising?

Fundraising challenges come at you from all directions.

Sometimes the most disheartening and difficult challenge is the resistance you might receive from your co-workers. At some stage you’ve probably witnessed the other staff in your charity complain about fundraising or felt their lack of support and interest. You might even have felt alone in your organization. Look around the staff meeting…are you the only fundraiser?

It doesn’t have to be us and them.

With a bit of ‘internal marketing’ you can get the rest of your organisation on your side… and even get them happily fundraising for you.

Over on Bloomerang you can read my 5 Ways Fundraisers Can Get Their Co-Workers Interested In Fundraising.


How Would You Spend A €$£1,000 Fundraising Budget?

Following on from the blog post, “How Would You Spend A €$£10,000 Fundraising Budget?” I decided to call on some other amazing fundraisers to ask how they’d spend an even smaller budget in an even smaller charity.

How would you spend 1,000?

“I would invest in a program where $1,000 would make a huge difference to the success of the program and/or the community it is intended to serve. For example, a $1,000 investment in a community garden would go a long way in providing an irrigation system, seeds/plants, marketing, and distribution of fresh produce to those in need. I would then work to ensure that the impact of that investment was communicated to others who would be inspired to give, maybe as simply as inviting them to visit the garden and see it firsthand.” Joe Matassino

“I’d invest £1,000 in storytelling, which is a key part of fundraising but is difficult to resource. I’d hire a freelance journalist to interview a range of the charity’s beneficiaries. The journalist would take photos and videos in the process. The beneficiaries could then tell their own stories of how they benefited. Publishing these stories would inspire donors to give.” George Overton

“Fancy an ROI of 34 to 1? The best thing you could do is invest that €1,000 in some decent fundraising training. Especially if your team is inexperienced. In fact, consultant Amy Eisenstein, Professor Adrian Sargeant and Dr. Rita Kottasz ran a study of major gift fundraising at 662 organisations. They found an increase of $37,000 (or €34,000… see what I did there?) in gifts for each additional training opportunity given to staff. And I suspect the effect may be even bigger for other, (especially more technical) forms of fundraising. Soooo, that certificate in fundraising your boss won’t pay for… kind of puts things into perspective, right?” Colin Skehan


And this amazing breakdown from the amazing nerd Caoileann Appleby, showing how she would tackle DM, email and social media:



The Evolution of Statistics

I wrote before how Bad Statistics Are Dangerous For Charities.

Here’s a great example of how a statistic evolves on-line…

Here’s the original statistic from the (questionable) research: “64% say that corporate social responsibility is core to their business rather than being a stand-alone programme”. Note that this is derived from asking CEOs “Which of these statements best describes your organisation today?” 



This is pulled in to a blog post and correctly used (although there’s no mention of the wishy-washy way the stat is derived):


But (presumably) the editor goes with a catchy headline, “64% of CEOs Are Increasing Investment in Corporate Social Responsibility in 2016 – Here’s Why”:


Although this same headline is used in the original blog – so there probably was no editor.

A Director of PWC UK then share’s the statistic, with a subtle but crucial change, “64% of CEOs increased investment into CSR in 2016”:


And forever now we’ll be reading that in 2016 the majority of CEOs increased investment in CSR.

The end.