Your eyes can tell you so much, are you listening with them

Having donors visit you is one thing, but when you visit donors you can learn so much – but as Michael Rosen says you need to listen with you eyes, not just see – but take in, register what you see.

Read what Michael Rosen says – 

When visiting prospects and donors, it is essential to listen carefully. You will want to learn about their philanthropic aspirations and legacy hopes. Listening to your prospect or donor rather than simply pitching your organization is a big part of what donor-centered fundraising is about.

For thousands of years, wise people have understood the value of effective listening. For example, Epictetus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said:

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Last week, I wrote about the importance of getting out and visiting prospects and donors (“Want to Know the Secret to Raising More Money in 2013?“). Now, I want to suggest that while we should certainly listen with our ears during those visits, we should also “listen” with our eyes.

Read full article here

Business partnering is a two way affair

Nonprofits are always on the hunt for businesses to connect with and gain as supporters; but it’s not as easy as picking up the phone or doing some online searches – some planning is needed.

Some questions need to be asked first –

  • What type of business is best suited to your needs
  • What type of business is least suited to your needs
  • Are your expectations for a short, medium or long term connection/commitment
  • Is it financial support or other support – if other, what other support could a business offer you

You MUST also think about what you can do in return for any support you gain from the business community. 

Connecting with, partnering with business must be seen as a two way street, you can’t simply expect to put your hand out and not give something in return.

The ways you can give in return could be as simple as profiling business supporters on your website and in newsletters.

But these are just the basics, what about hosting supporting business at an event, giving them an opportunity to talk about why they have connected with you, and to also talk about their business – give them the floor for five minutes, it’s the least you could do.

I’ve just finished reading a great blog from someone in the wine trade – Give in order to receive” and have to agree with the sentiment. 

Charities have to give in order to receive – it doesn’t have to take a lot, nor does it have to be a lot – but giving back is necessary.

Next time when you’re looking to partner with a business, think about how you can give back. 

Receiving is a two way street – a two way affair.



Have a cuppa with your sponsors

You work hard to get sponsors / funders on board, you shout from rooftops how great it is to have them supporting your work – but it shouldn’t, or more to the point it mustn’t end there.

Sponsors and donors are not ATMs – they support organizations because they believe in the work that they do, organizations need to understand and acknowledge this.

When a sponsor comes onboard there’s normally a big shout out about how wonderful it is to have them on board, that their commitment will help in so many ways – you add their details to your website and maybe some other collateral. All done.

No. It’s not all done, sponsors need to – actually, no they must be kept informed of what your organization is doing, how their support is helping you make a difference in the work you do. When was the last time you invited sponsors into your organization to have a look at your project – if you haven’t invited people who would be covered, you must invite them; they have a need and right to know.

Remember too that sponsors have connections that can help help your organization go further, by nurturing your sponsors they can become ambassadors for your organization, they are more likely to talk to like-minded people about the work you do, your needs and as a result you could find yourself with more people wanting to help.

If you don’t acknowledge sponsors, if you don’t invite them to see your work, if you don’t keep them updated on your work; the chances that they will stay with you and speak favourably about your work becomes less likely.

Pick up the phone and call a sponsor today and ask them to come for morning tea and see your work firsthand – remember, it is them that are helping you make a difference.

Why do businesses sponsor events

Why do people sponsor charitable events, are they doing it out of the goodness of their heart or is there more to it?

Surely sponsoring a charity event is a ‘business decision’ before being a philanthropic one – ask an accountant what they think about it, those I’ve spoken with have said – when clients talk about sponsoring events we ask them does it fit the business, does the opportunity to ‘invest’ show signs that there will be gains?’.

So I’m taking it that – yes, sponsorship is business first.

When you offer a sponsorship opportunity maybe you’re best talking as it being a ‘business investment’ might get you further. Perhaps talking about where their name will be seen, the reach your promotional campaign will have, will have more impact on them than simply talking about how their contribution to the event will be blah blah.

I’m not saying leave the ‘mush’ at the door, you need to give your story – what I’m saying is that when seeking sponsorship look it with a different set of eyes; use different language than you probably would in other ‘donor requests’.

Remember too, that sponsors become ‘partners’ in the event and, you need to take their wishes into consideration if you want to ‘win them over’; if they want XYZ above what you can offer them, look to see if there’s a way you can deliver or at least come to a compromise – it’s business after all, so expect to negotiate.

Pick up that phone

After reading Phone first! On 101Fundraising, I got to thinking about how many missed opportunities for funding/sponsorship I’ve witnessed – simply because someone was – too lazy – to pick up the phone.  

That phone call is like gardening, it allows you to plant the seed; to learn something about the person/organisation you’re calling, it also gives you the opportunity to get the ‘permission’ to send more information, or arrange a meeting to advance your cause.  

All too often we hear about organizations seeking support making their first contact via email or letter, this does nothing but add to the requests that the receiver has likely had already. 

By simply picking up the phone and talking about your organization, what you do and how the person you’re talking to can help will get you a lot further than any unsolicited mail. 

Even if you’ve been referred to the potential supporter, you are still better off picking up the phone and making a call. The ice has already been broken through the referral and you can use this as your ‘opener’. 

If you’re unsure about how you can and should use the phone, there’s some great advice in Phone first!, if you’re looking for support for your organisation, the tips and advice could make all the difference. 

A good way to also learn about good use of the telephone when seeking support is to take note of calls you may receive, there’s bound to be some callers who techniques catch your attention – use some of what you learn from these calls to improve your own. 

Share your thoughts, comments: 

Are you using the phone?

 How are you using the phone?

What’s working for you?


Could charities be in for a hard time?


With so many natural disasters and humanitarian relief needs around the world, and so many people, organisations and businesses being called on to help – either financially, skills or an increase in the needs for volunteers; could some charities find themselves in a deficit situation? 

It has to be asked, and by deficit – yes, I am saying financially, but there’s so many other ways that a charity could “miss out” – even goods in kinds could become scarce, volunteers may not join as they see other “things” that needs their help. 

Are we prepared for this in the charity sector? Can we even prepare for it; in Ongoing Support is Needed I touch on how organisations need to stay in contact with their supporters, and it’s likely to become even more vital now that the attention of world is turning to another natural disaster one that we will all want and need to help with. 

How can charities or non-profits prepare for the fall out when attention moves from one ‘cause’ to another? 

A few things I see as being necessary to stay ‘afloat’ is in planning, organisations need to sit down and work out how they can do things, where they can make changes and more. 

A few things that could be looked at 

Educate donors on how they can give 

Donors need to know why they give, what the benefits to the recipients are. Organisations, now, more than ever have to talk about what they do, where the money goes and how donors contribution make a difference. 

This however needs to be factually rather than pull at the heart strings of donors. Appeals used to seem to pull at the heartstrings of donors, but they’re wary of them now and want facts. 

Payroll giving 

Payroll giving isn’t something new, it has been around a long time. Some countries have only recently enacted legislation to allow it. 

Organisations, as part of their campaign process should be speaking with companies and their employees about the benefits of payroll giving. 

It will take time, but that time needs to be invested to help ensure the ongoing success of the organisation. 

Join forces 

Yes, I do suggest joining forces. There a numerous organisations out there doing identical or very similar things. Aren’t they simply like two clothing stores with similar merchandise and similar markets – competing against each other, whereas a united ‘brand’ would have the potential to do more and potentially better? 

How many organisations do we know of in our country, county, borough doing the same thing? Take a look at how many are working in the cancer field, or those offering assistance to at risk youth. 

I know of at least three organisations who struggle to deliver what they’re established to do, yet if the joined forces they’d have more chance. 

Legislate to put a cap on fees charged by professional fundraisers 

In some situations groups working in the community could take up the batten to urge their local government or legislature to enact legislation preventing funding organisations, umbrella organisations from taking too much of the funds collected. 

Organisation who raise funds on behalf of other organisations should have to disclose their full accounts and not hide behind vague “commercial sensitivity” as a reason why they can’t, or rather won’t disclose how much they actually collect versus the sum handed over to the organisation they have collected for. 

What’s a reasonable amount, I couldn’t personally say; but I do feel that anything more than 40-50% is perhaps exorbitant – or to put it more bluntly a rort. Yes, there are organisations who collect on behalf, or using the name of an organisation “charging” a fee that is way beyond justifiable. I personally know of at least one who for many years were faced with “overheads” that ate into the money collected to the tune of 80%+. 

Most areas have an organisation representing it’s interest, Fundraising Institutes, Volunteer organisations – all of these should be approached to push their local governmental (central, local, borough) to introduce legislation to force full disclosure of fund collected v funds distributed. 

This will help clean up the sector, and help create confidence in the giving public. With more confidence that funds are being used for what they’re meant to be. 

All of these can and should be looked at by community, charity and other groups seeking support from their communities. Times are going to get tough, and the sector needs to look at how they can instil confidence, maintain their donor base and continue to deliver their services.


© David Winwood |


Know who gives and why



Remembering that you’re selling a ‘concept’ to people – support for your organisation – you need to know who and where your supporters are, what they’re interested/passionate about….. you need to be able to tell stories about the work of your organisation that will be heard, that will inspire people to help.

Knowing who and where your supporters (current and potential) are, and what triggers them will make it easier for you to retain and gain support through targeted approaches.

Using a scatter gun, hit and miss approach will gain some support, but not nearly as much as a well planned and targeted approach.

Do you know where you main supporter base is? Is it in your local neighbourhood or further afield? Do your supporters have common interests in the community? Do they play sport, attend stage shows? Do they have school aged children?

All of these questions should be asked of yourself and your supporters. With the answers to these and any number of other questions you will have a ‘supporter profile’ and will also open other avenues for you to approach them and others like them.

If your supporter is male, plays golf, works in your local area and has school aged children you have the potential to be able to approach others just like this through – the golf club, the school and local business groups.

If your supporter is local and belongs to a business group, perhaps you could approach the group and ask if you could speak to their members about the work of your organisation. The same could be possible with the golf club, which could even open the doors to a charity golf tournament.

Just like any other market – your supporter base will change, and you will need to know what’s changing and why. By having an understanding of your ‘core’ supporter you’ll be in a better position to alter your appeals according to market changes.


Not-for-profit – Giving Survey Results

Fundraising – Knowing your donor

What are your plans for 2011?