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!

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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.

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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…


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!