rainy day

The rainy day fund -the right level of charity reserves

The right level of charity reserves is an important debate and pertinent for the beginning of 2021 for obvious reasons. Our 2020 Benchmarking study asked respondents how many months’ running costs they had in reserve*.  The average number of months was 5.5. I wonder what the figure will be for the end of 2020 and again at the end of 2021? *please note, these were pre-pandemic figures and that most respondents were charities with an annual turnover of £1m plus   Best practice It is […]

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coffee laptop desk

Stewardship checklist for trusts and foundations

At the time of writing (January 2021), so much of our daily lives feel like an uphill struggle.  It’s really hard to feel good and to find the motivation to do the basics, including the stewardship for trusts and foundations which we know to be so vital in this climate. Many of our fundraising activities have changed.  If they haven’t changed, then our expectation of the outcomes have. We can send out the same number of trust applications.  But unless we’re working on the frontline […]

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chocolate brownies

Asking a major donor for a gift without fear

Asking a major donor for a gift can be a nerve wracking experience.  In this post, I want to show you why you don’t need to be scared (and promise to whet your appetite along the way…) I’m part of a book club.  It’s called the Totally Awesome Women’s Network book club and mostly we read personal development / non fiction stuff. Last month’s tome was ‘Chillpreneur’ by Denise Duffield-Thomas, also author of ‘Lucky Bitch’ and ‘Get Rich Lucky Bitch’. Errr…. My judgy pants were […]

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black notebook

I am not your black book

The little black book. Treasure trove of ‘names’: connections, friends, neighbours, acquaintances, business contacts and family members. Being interviewed for both permanent roles and consultancy contracts, I’ve been asked (on more than a few occasions now) about the personal connections and contacts that I would be willing to bring to the role. Below is an example of a genuine interview question (to which I responded ‘absolutely not’):   “Please gives us the names of ten contacts you would introduce us to if you were appointed […]

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images spectacles notebook

Major donors and the charity image problem

My Uncle John and his wife, my Aunty Judy are two of my favourite relatives.  They have worked hard all their lives, endured challenges, taken some big risks and are now (mostly) retired and in a position where many would start to think about philanthropy and / or taking on a trustee role. Except Uncle John is not keen on charities. He is a very generous man, supports numerous causes through donating / participating in events (plus my aunty volunteers at their local hospice shop) […]

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thorn in my side

How to identify a major donor prospect

When considering how to identify a major donor for your charity, don’t allow yourself to become distracted by the house / car / appearance.  It may be only skin deep… Allow me to elaborate.  Chris Dawson, founder of The Range (home / DIY / garden centres) is Devon’s first billionaire. Therefore, every major donor fundraiser working in the locality will have him suggested to them as a possible prospect.  He is our local Richard Branson and quite frankly, a thorn in our sides (sorry Mr […]

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coffee and chat

Major gifts fundraising and informal, agenda free conversation

Last week’s article pondered how ‘simple’ major gifts fundraising really is and wrestled with the idea that the title of our new Major Gift training course is perhaps at risk of dumbing down or minimising what is a highly sophisticated profession.   It is my dream to make Major Gifts fundraising accessible to as many charities as possible and to help those new to it to distill it, as far as possible, into some easy starting principles.   The importance of informal, agenda free conversation […]

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major gifts made simple graphic

Is Major Gifts fundraising simple?

Good question – Is Major Gifts fundraising simple??? Our new online training course is called ‘Major Gifts Made Simple’. I had originally intended to call it ‘Major Gifts Magic’ but felt that it might be confused with legendary fundraising trainer Rob Woods’ course ‘Major Gifts Mastery’. I explained this to Rob this the other week, describing my desire to come up with a suitable (alliterative obviously!) name which didn’t cause cause confusion. As we were chatting, I was thinking, in all honesty, a) It’s still […]

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slow cooker

The slow cooker approach to major gifts fundraising

This is a revised version of a blog originally written for my friend and colleague Louise at Summit Fundraising.   The slow cooking movement was a revelation for me.  More so in the days when I ate meat and the winters in my house in Cornwall (where there was no central heating) felt long and lonely. Coming home to a perfectly cooked stew full of the softest veggies and melt-in-the-mouth meat, bound together in a richly flavoured sauce with herbs and wine permeating throughout, always […]

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red flag on beach

Red flags and super high ROI’s in fundraising

On the surface, high ROI’s in fundraising should be a cause for celebration / back slapping / bunking off early on a Friday. It might also point to some problems within your organisation. Ever the pragmatic voice (I can’t help it!), here are some red flags to be mindful of if you have a super high ROI:   Are your expectations aligned to your activities?   One of my clients has had loads of success with grants fundraising for a capital campaign. Funding from grants […]

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