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.

The Fundraisers Book Club


Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details.

The Fundraisers Book Club was the brainchild of Gaby Murphy (Purplegrass)  Colin Skehan (Merchants’ Quay) and Simon Scriver (ChangeFundraising). We are all members of Rogare, the Fundraising Think Tank based at the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy and we were looking for a way to share some of the critical thinking on fundraising that this group is producing.

We wanted to make sure that Irish fundraisers had a chance to share in that debate and so we came up with the idea of the Fundraisers Book Club.

The idea is to provide an informal networking and continuous learning club for fundraisers of all levels. The plan is to meet every 2 months and at each meeting we will review a publication, a piece of research or a book on a fundraising related topic.

It will be run like a book club, in that everyone will have the opportunity to input into the discussion, regardless of experience, level of seniority or discipline.

Discussions will focus on the practical application of fundraising theory or research and how we use evidence and best practice to inform how we fundraise.

Who can attend?

It is open to all fundraisers and communications professionals working in the sector or interested in getting into the sector. The only entry criteria is an open mind and a willingness to learn.

What is the aim of the Book Club?

Continuous learning,  self-improvement,  networking with colleagues, fun and lively discussion.

Will I be expected to prepare for the sessions?

Like any book club we will let people know in advance what the text is that we will be discussing so that people have a few months to read it.

Is there a charge?

The Club will be run on a cost neutral basis – most events will be free of charge and some may incur a small charge to cover venue hire costs, where needed.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details.

Which Charity Should I Donate To?


Do you find it hard to decide who to donate to? The best way to donate?

Are you part of a group that wants to support a charity? Is it your company? Your society? A group of friends?

Are you cynical about charities? Wondering why we continue to see charity scandals every once in a while?

Well we, as donors, have to take responsibility for our own donations and admit our role in the enabling of bad practice. When scandals come to light we’re surprised, but the warning signs are usually there. Instead, with a bit of careful thought we can minimise the risk and maximise the good we do. The poorly-run organisations can be starved, while the ‘good’ charities get the funding they deserve.

Let’s put some careful consideration in before we support any organisation, whether it’s a personal donation, a corporate partnership, your student union or a fundraising event.


Consider giving earlier next year.
About 30% of donations are made in the last month of the year.

This can be a problem for charities as it can make it difficult to plan and increase the risk of things going wrong. Consider supporting your chosen charity steadily throughout the year. Commit to an amount and inform the organisation so they know it’ll be coming in.

Decide what you want to achieve.
There are so many good causes out there that it can be hard to narrow it down. So focus on what’s really important to you right now and accept that you can’t help every good charity out there.

Don’t just be reactive.
Most donations are given off the back of being asked, whether that’s someone shaking a bucket, an ad you see on TV or an appeal you get in the post. This fundraising and marketing is a necessary cost…us fundraisers spend money on these to raise even more. Obviously, in theory it would be much more cost-effective if the same donations were made unsolicited.

Unfortunately, most of our giving decisions are made emotionally rather than logically, which is why you still see so many badly governed charities in Ireland being supported even after the scandals.

It might be an unrealistic goal to expect all donations to be better thought through and considered, but you can start by being less reactive and instead planning your giving.

Are they a registered charity?
Most countries have a central database of registered charities. In Ireland ours is maintained by the Charities Regulatory Authority and is
searchable here. If the charity you’re considering donating to isn’t on it then ask them why. If you don’t get an acceptable answer then report them to the CRA.

Do they meet the highest standards?
Determine what else is important to you. has a great series of questions and lots of helpful information on ‘what makes a charity good’.

You might, for example, object to the charity’s staff being paid or a charity with ‘higher admin costs’. On the other hand, you might realise that higher salaries and higher costs might just be indicative of better qualified staffed and better governance.

Either way, any information that’s important to you should be available to you. If you ask a charity for this information and they can’t give you a satisfactory response then move on.

In Ireland we’re fortunate enough to have The Governance Code, of which only a few hundred charities are fully compliant. Search for your charity and if they’re not compliant then ask them why not?

Are they actually having a positive impact?
Think about whether you understand and agree with the method they’re taking to fix the problem. Is there research and results to show that what they’re doing works?

For example, William Macaskill rightly pointed out that a homeopathy charity meets all of the conventional criteria we usually look for in a charity, but is proven to be absolutely ineffective.

I truly believe every charity should be able to show you evidence of their success: whether it’s formal research, something tangible or simply testimonials from service users you should have access to it before you donate.

Decide how many charities you want to give to and how much you want to give.
Caroline Fiennes says donating to fewer charities makes it easier to identify the good ones and it reduces transaction costs.

Try to focus on your core charities and don’t feel guilty about turning others away. Be honest with yourself about how much you can donate (perhaps 5-10% of your earnings) and then feel happy about sticking to it. There is no shame in wanting to spend money on yourself, your loved ones, and that stupid hobby you have which is truly, truly dumb.

Nobody can make you feel guilty about that except you. So if you truly feel like you’re giving what you can then don’t feel bad the next time you say no.

Then give, give, give…
Give…give with all your heart. Give loudly and give proudly. You are wonderful.

The whole process can be time consuming, sure. But this is your hard earned money you’re giving away and the problems we’re trying to solve are too important for us to give without putting thought in. Why not commit to doing some real research every 3 years, decide on ‘your charity’, and then give like hell?

Still, you might argue that you don’t have time to do any research. Don’t be tempted to make your decision based on oversimplified charity comparison websites. Instead, look at who undertake huge research and only recommend a handful of charities. Give to one of those.

Or…contact me and I’ll help you decide.

The Mannequin Challenge

The #MannequinChallenge is finally something your Board can get behind. They’ve probably been doing it for years.


7 Basic Rules of Public Speaking

Here are seven basic rules to help you speak well, confidently and without giving a hint of the nerves you may be feeling:

Don’t apologise

People generally only notice your mistakes when you draw attention to them. Don’t tell people you’ve forgotten something…they don’t know that. Just take a pause, have a drink of water, and move on.

Speak slower

You’re almost certainly speaking too fast. Slow down a bit. And a little bit more. Perfect.

Speak to the back of the room

If you’re projecting your voice to the back of the room then you know everyone can hear you. If people need to strain even the tiniest bit to hear you, then you’ll lose them immediately.


The pause is one of the most effective tools in public speaking. It emphasises the point you just made. It allows your audience to digest information. It grabs people’s attention. It allows you to compose yourself and remember what’s next.

Don’t be afraid to pause…even for 10 or 15 seconds – it feels a lot longer to you than to your audience.

Look at your audience

Don’t look at the slides behind you – have a copy in front of you so that you never turn your back. Don’t look at the floor. Don’t look at the walls. Try and take the time to make eye contact with every person in the room. Even if you only make eye contact once, an audience member will come away feeling as though you spoke directly to them.

Remember your audience wants you to do well

They’re there because they want to learn and want to be entertained. Even if they were forced to attend, they still want to get the most out of it. They want you to succeed. They are on your side…even if it doesn’t feel like it.


We often only speak to an audience during the most important and stressful events of our life. So, take the time to practice in situations where there is less pressure: practice on groups of co-workers or your cats, join Toastmasters, or get one-to-one coaching from a professional.

I can’t emphasise how important practice is.

Putting myself in a public speaking scenario weekly has made a huge difference to my own ability and my own confidence. Within a few short years I’ve gone from a petrified speaker to a paid, professional public speaker. I love it. I don’t lose sleep at night. And I can handle it when things go wrong.

Practice is the key to being able to cope when there is unexpected chaos. If you know what you’re doing, then a ‘problem’ won’t throw you. And knowing you can cope does wonders for your confidence.

For example, I was recently at an event waiting to be introduced. I took a sip of water and…oh, no…spilled water all down the front of my trousers.

Now five years ago the notion of getting up in front of a room full of strangers with a wet patch on my trousers would have sent me running for the fire exit. Not anymore…now it was a mild inconvenience that turned in to a great speech opener with an easy laugh from the audience!

So, what would you do if disaster struck? Practising your speech and some ‘back up plans’ will get you out of trouble time and again – build your confidence and ensure you never waste a public speaking opportunity.

Fundraising For Humans

[This post originally appeared on]

I remember volunteering for Childline.

Kids would phone, text or e-mail with all sorts of questions and stories – from horrific cases of abuse to completely nonsensical banter.

Many calls were pranks…groups of kids phoning up to tease us, mock us and attempt to get a rise out of us. No matter what they said we would take it seriously and continue the conversation. “What’s your name?” “Mr. Poo Poo Head” “How are you Mr. Poo Poo Head?”

Before I was trained in I thought these pranks were a tragic waste of time and resources. Little messers wasting time and hogging the line while some ‘real’ call struggled to connect.

fundraising-101And then I learned how important these calls were. A group of pranksters might contain one kid with a serious issue. She sees the service is real…any issue is taken seriously…that someone is there for her when she’s next by herself. Whether or not the pranksters consciously knew they were doing it, they were testing us.

As fundraisers we get tested every day. An inquiry. A response. An on-line comment. Every interaction – subconsciously or not – shapes the perception of your organisation and has a very real impact on decisions down the line. You’re being tested. And your fundraising results depend on the results of that test.

It’s the reason I send a thank you letter for every donation, no matter how small. Yes, even for that 20 cent someone posted in the other day. This is the start of a relationship and I want that donor to know I love them on day 1 as much as I will when they’re still with me 40 years later.

You might disagree – your own organisation might have a policy: ‘No thank yous for gifts under €20’. At a recent seminar someone asked if they were right to eliminate all thank you letters as the hundreds and hundreds they were sending out were just wasting time.

Yes they’re wasting time if they’re crap. But a good thank you letter, a free tour of your organisation, a phone call simply to update – these can all be income generators (without asking for money) if they’re done well. Why would your organisation spend hundreds of Euro trying to bring in a first time donor while not even bothering to spend two minutes warmly thanking a donor that’s already arrived?

Whenever I start working with a new client I’ll mystery shop them. You might have witnessed one of my ‘live’ mystery shop calls. Sometimes it’s just an e-mail asking a quick question.

About 50% of charities don’t reply.

fundraising-102That’s a little scary. And it becomes really scary if you happen to agree with what I’m saying: every call is a fundraising call and every e-mail is a fundraising e-mail. Every interaction is fundraising…even when you’re not asking for money.

One of the greatest skills a fundraiser can possess is empathy. Of course empathy for your beneficiaries. But empathy for your donors and the general public. What do they want from this interaction?

If they ask a question, presumably they want an answer?

Well, I have an incredible cheat that not many people know which, when implemented, can cause your fundraising to skyrocket: Just be human.

People crave humanity.

And while you might have seen headlines about the future of bots, the death of traditional media, and The Singularity, all of these are superseded by the fact that we are humans. Brought in to the world by a human, raised by humans, taught by humans, loved by humans. Until all of that changes human contact will trump everything. Technology will make it easier…but don’t lose the humanity.

That’s more difficult than it sounds…whenever we sit in front of computer and start typing a funny thing happens: we become robots, we lose emotion, we start writing words we would never say.

And our fundraising suffers because it.

Stay human in every interaction you have with every member of the public. Really check yourself. Don’t slip in to the robotic you…let your human self shine through. I’ve never unsubscribed from a human, only from an organisation. I donate to humans.

Write human. Act human. Be human.

What’s The Deal With ‘Competition’? (Guest Post by Cindy Wagman)

When I start to talk to volunteer fundraisers (boards, trustees, committee members), one of the biggest things I hear is that “there’s so much competition for donor dollars and ours is a small charity. We can’t compete.”

One of the biggest barriers volunteer fundraisers face is this idea of scarcity or competition. After all, how many of you, when asking a friend to support your cause, has gotten the response – “we already give to another organization”.

Yeah – it’s easy to feel like everyone out there has already committed to their charities of choice and there’s no money left for you.

Here’s the thing. Not everyone out there will be your donor. Your job, is to find the right match.

How? Take money off the table for a minute.

Your job, your real job as a fundraiser, is to identify the people who are inclined to care about your organization. Then, cement the connection by building a relationship. Once you’re there, you become their charity of choice. Voila, no more competition.

Every donor I’ve had, giving at any amount, always gives to more than one charity. And gives to the charities that they are most passionate about and most connected to. Don’t focus on the money, focus on the connection.

You’re going to be asking fewer people for donations, but you’re going to be asking the right people.

And by right, I mean the ones who are committed to your work, whatever the amount of their contribution.

If you really want to ask 5 or 10 people or companies for a donation and get, mmm, maybe one or two, go for it. But, give my way a try.

Find your tribe. Focus in on building those relationships that are the most meaningful to you and to your prospective donors. And then inspire that tribe so that they are compelled to help, because they just love what you do.

It will take less time, fewer resources and will be more fun for you and your donors.


Cindy Wagman is a fundraising coach and consultant who is on a mission to teach charities to love fundraising. Join her for a free webinar “raise money for your charity without asking (and without spending another dime)” on November 15 at 7pm EST. Visit