Bright Spot Fundraising

Tried and tested fundraising techniques
that help you raise more money.

But wait there’s more: Three essential fundraising lessons from the self-proclaimed Salesman of the Century

I read the amazing life story of the ultimate ‘board-walk pitchman’ Ron Pompeil, in The Pitchman, an article by Malcolm Gladwell.

Ron Popeil Fundraising
I was intrigued by the influencing power of this extraordinary entrepreneur. If you sense you could be more successful when talking to your supporters, then Ron’s techniques will help.

Over the last ten years coaching fundraisers I have noticed that people not understanding the psychology of persuasion is one of the most common barriers to success. Here are three of Ron’s tactics that any fundraiser would do well to practise.


“You know, we’re going to hit a million dollars, just on the first hour,” one of the QVC guys said, and there was awe in his voice.’ He had been watching on his monitor, as ‘The Salesman of the Century’, Ron Pompeil completed his hour-long set selling his kitchen gadgets.


I read the extraordinary story of Pompeil’s life in The Pitchman, an article by Malcolm Gladwell for the New Yorker first published in October 2000.


I was intrigued by the larger than life story and influencing skill of this legendary ‘board-walk pitchman’. If you or a fundraiser you know is unhappy with their current ability to influence donors, then there is plenty we can learn from Ron.


I have trained or coached more than 5,000 fundraisers over the last decade, and noticed common areas where people usually fail to persuade – here are my three favourite ideas that we could borrow from Ron Pompeil.


1. Find and show the contrast

Before giving any detail about his product, Ron Pompeil always paints a picture of what is messy or arduous or time-consuming about carrying out the kitchen process if you don’t have his machine – “How many cut tomatoes like this? You stab it. You jab it. The juices run down your elbow…”


He understands, as every outstanding fundraiser understands, that you can’t just start talking about how fantastic your widget (or charitable service) is at scratching itches. For your widget or service to be appreciated, people must first tune into what the itch or problem is that your solution solves.

It probably sounds obvious to you that we should evoke the problem

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On March 3, 2015 / Fundraising Skills

Client Testimonials 
‘What I love about the Major Gifts Mastery Programme is it’s so practical. I’ve seen loads of monetary value come from what we learned, including a gift of £200,000 from a trust that came about because of the learnings in the course. If you want to raise more money, I’d urge you to do the Programme.’

Paul McKenzie, Head of Major Giving and Corporate Partnerships, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

Rob's outstanding pitch training helped me secure a partnership worth £380,000 over three years. One of the crucial things he helped me do was to better understand the psychology of who I needed to convince, and use this to craft my influencing strategies, structure and stories to help them say YES. If you need to win more partnerships, I would absolutely recommend you get on Rob's training.

Karen Arkell, Senior Officer, Corporate Partnerships, Teach First

'We recently had a pitch we just had to win. I'm absolutely clear that what we learned from Rob helped us get the deal, which is a partnership that's going to raise £1 million. Rob is better at helping you influence your donor to get the gift than anyone I've met.

Ben Swart, Head of Corporate New Business, NSPCC

Rob's exceptional training has taken our programme to the next level. One example was a colleague re-connecting with a lapsed donor on the phone, resulting in a £100k+ gift; his first in four years. I would absolutely recommend Rob's training programme as an invaluable investment for any fundraising team.

Victoria Stephenson, Head of Major Donors, UNICEF UK

Following the course, Major Gift Fundraisers at the NSPCC increased gift income by 29%

Citation by UK Skills National Training Award

We're currently involved in our largest ever Campaign, with a target of £500 million, so we've invested in the best training available. Rob's courses have been an essential part of our annual King's Knowledge learning programme for the last five years, because he continues to help us get outstanding results.

Gemma Peters, Director of Development, King's College London

I’ve found the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme hugely helpful already. It’s helped me in so many ways, but as an example, I applied one of Rob’s pitching techniques and it completely wowed the panel, and has resulted in a partnership worth over £100,000.

Kieran Cornwall, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

I was on the pitch team to win a partnership worth £1,000,000. I was determined to pitch to the best of my ability. Rob helped me present with confidence, persuasiveness and enthusiasm, enabling me to connect with the pitch panel – and we won the partnership.

Kirsty Lawson, Corporate Account Team Manager, (Head of) at Alzheimer’s Society

Rob showed my corporate fundraising team lots of excellent new business strategies. The techniques made a made a MASSIVE difference to our financial results, including helping to win a partnership worth £2 million

Jess Coombs, Head of Corporate Fundraising, Teenage Cancer Trust and formerly at Action for Children