Welcome to our January 2020 Monthly Briefing

This month:

  • With 2020 upon us we suggest some bad strategic mistakes to avoid in the next 6 months
  • Creating a fundraising strategy – these are the 4 steps you need to consider
  • Good Jobs – a new jobs board for fundraisers

Five bad strategic mistakes to avoid in the next 6 months

As we all reflect on the year just closed and polish our aspirations for the next, we thought we could best contribute by suggesting some bad mistakes to avoid in the rest of the year.

Mistake No 1.

Organising fundraising by method of solicitation rather than source of funds. For the fact that budgets are developed around fundraising cost-centres, it is all too easy to plan fundraising around methods of fundraising – trusts, companies, wealthy benefactors, telephone fundraising for direct debits, street fundraising for direct debits, direct mail for cash donations, direct mail for legacies, to name the main ones.

Doing this is a big mistake because of the very extensive cross-over between the various ways of giving or becoming involved that are available to any one donor. Take a few examples: company directors can give via their company or individually and many do both. Wealthy benefactors often sit on trust boards (sometimes a trust into which their wealth has been placed). Small, ad-hoc cash donors often make very good legacy prospects.

Direct debit donors nearly all reach a time of life when direct debiting is no longer appropriate to their financial situation. Companies can often provide volunteers as part of their social responsibility commitment.

Fundraising works much more effectively when it is built around the donor, not the various avenues available for contacting that donor. It is about understanding the donor and establishing methods and timings of communication that are in line with that understanding.

So, to take a simple example, recruiting a donor by direct mail, thanking them by phone, informing them of direct debit opportunities, taking their email address and providing feedback by email and online, all makes more sense to the donor and offers better ROI to you.

Mistake No 2.

Being too timid to ask again. Donors get a huge amount of emotional fulfillment through giving. So why shouldn’t they want to experience that fulfillment again fairly soon? Recency of giving is such a powerful indicator of likelihood to give again that it makes no sense not to follow the logic and ask again quickly.

There’s even a very successful form of direct mailing that asks for 2 cheques – one for now and one dated 2 weeks ahead, to save the cost of postage and paper of another request!

Mistake No 3.

Not listening to what your data is telling you. If your direct mail has asked for gifts up to, say, £50, any donation more than this, that looks random (such as £80, £100, £125) is often a sign of a wealthy donor looking for guidance – usually for a much higher gift.

At the other end of the scale, 50p stuck to a donation form is a sure sign of financial stress and a plea to give in another way – such as a legacy. On the other hand, frequent gifts by cheque of £3 and £4 are not usually an invitation to ask the person to set up a direct debit – just a sign of age and financial limitation.

Mistake No 4.

Sucking up to donors. Donors, as we’ve remarked above, get great emotional fulfillment from giving. But, in their mind, they’ve given to the end beneficiary or cause, not usually to an organization. So when they get smarmy thank you (… without your donation and your commitment we could not have… ) from the fundraising department, they can be somewhat less grateful than you’d hoped.

You simply can’t love donors into giving you more. You can only convince them that their money is better spent with you. And that the picture they had in their mind at the time of making the donation has actually been fulfilled.

Mistake No 5.

Using useless data in mailings. Why keep on using profiled, lifestyle, datapool and other poor data when so much good data is available – and all GDPR compliant? (please contact us if you’re interested in this).

Creating a Fundraising Strategy

It is essential to have a clear fundraising strategy, both for the financial stability of your organisation and to keep on track with your goals. Every organisation’s strategy will be different according to its needs and could be two pages or twenty pages long.

Your strategy needn’t be long or complicated, but it will give you the information you need to strategically plan your activities in line with your organisational outcomes.

There is no set formula for a fundraising strategy, but if you are thinking about putting one together for the first time, or are in the process of doing so, there are some things you will need to think about.

1. Review your current situation:

Begin by reviewing your current funding position. Identify what has been successful and assess which sources have been the best supporters of your work. Perform a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and analyse each of these areas in relation to your fundraising. Refer to your past and present funding situation – where you have received money from, how much you have received, for what and, finally, when your current funding runs out. Identify your resources – in terms of budget, staff and volunteers. Also review the current environment, identifying any competition and potential collaborative opportunities.

2. Create a case for support:

This statement will set the tone for what you want to achieve. It explains why your organisation exists, what it does, who or what benefits from it, in what way they benefit, what funds are needed (and what for) and why donors should give.

This document is not something which will be sent out, but the information is useful to your organisation in many ways. The key thing is that it contains evidence of the needs of your beneficiaries and the impact of the work that you do as an organisation.

3. Planning:

Think about your funding options and decide how you want to prioritise them. You will need to decide whether you are dependent on a single source or are going to combine several. Every source will require a different level of your available resources and will vary in how quickly they deliver a result. Plan your timetable to fit when you need the funding. Make detailed costings of each area of work and analyse what resources this is going to take.

4. Review and Monitor:

Put in place systems to track your results. You will need to know if and when targets have been met and from which sources. It is important to review your strategy regularly as you will need to adapt it as circumstances change. You will need to review the outcomes of different fundraising activities to learn why they were successful or not. This will enable you to assess how realistic your targets are and amend them if necessary.

Good job there’s GoodJobs

For many years there have been plenty of jobs boards for fundraisers. The latest addition, Goodjobs, claims to be different. GoodJobs aims to bring benefits to small and large charities by expanding the range and skills of fundraisers that will drive charities’ resilience in generating income over the coming challenging years. The new site takes approaches that make it stand out from other providers:

Saving charities money

It avoids the model of paying a set fee per job advertisement. Instead, it offers a set annual fee for an unlimited number of jobs. It does so at a very modest rate, to ensure that it can be used by almost any sized charity. £120 a year for unlimited jobs could make national recruitment a more realistic prospect for small and very small charities, even if they use it just the once. The annual fee rises to £600 for the largest charities, which are of course more likely to recruit more than one fundraiser a year.

Investing in fundraisers

Undercutting existing recruitment sector providers is hardly a novel or necessarily sustainable business plan. There has to be something else for the service to stand out and appeal. This is where the GoodJobs bursary fund comes in. GoodJobs has been established as a social enterprise and is committed to distributing 25% or more of its profits for social good. Specifically, it will donate this sum via a grant-making fund to support the training of fundraisers. They will distribute the fund regionally to try to reduce geographical bias. It will be distributed based on the income generated via each region.

Finding even more fundraisers

The fund will also be directed at projects and services that are working to help find and recruit fundraisers from a much wider section of society. This reflects other moves at improving the diversity and inclusion of fundraisers from different backgrounds to achieve equity of career opportunities.

Who is behind it?

GoodJobs is a collaborative initiative from some individuals and organisations who have extensive experience in the fundraising and charity sector. These include Howard Lake, publisher of UK Fundraising, and Charity People, the charity sector recruitment specialists. GoodJobs launches in the next few weeks.


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Monthly BriefingJanuary 2020 – Monthly Briefing