Four well-meaning (dangerous) myths about major gift fundraising
Having trained thousands of fundraisers to improved results over the last 12 years, I have found a handful of well-meaning myths that hurt any hard-working fundraiser’s ability to raise money. Have any of these Toxic Whoppers seeped in under your radar?
Harmful Myth 4. ‘Our cause is too hard to raise major gifts for…’
How many fundraisers do you think feel their cause is easy? Certainly some can be easier than others, but even the ones you’d think have it easiest of all, often have things in their organisation, strategy, size, that present big potential barriers to donors. To focus on how hard our cause seems, misses the point. If it was easy they wouldn’t have needed to hire someone smart and proactive like you. The question to focus on is not ‘what is hard / unfair?’, but what are our advantages? My blog on selling an unpopular cause helps you do this.
Harmful Myth 3. ‘It’s impossible to get any decent stories about my cause…’
There are a number or reasons why a fundraiser may think that it’s almost impossible to find concrete human examples to convey a) the urgent need for the work and b) the feeling that the service is effective. In the Major Gifts Mastery Programme I reveal proven techniques that help you find and tell stories and numerical outcomes that persuade tough-minded donors.
In the meantime, one thing you can do is ask your brain for an example, any example, of why your charity’s service is needed. Unless you currently meet the needs of the entire country / region, someone somewhere is suffering. As a start, be able to provide an example of one such person / animal and what is tough for them. This helps the donor feel why your service is needed.
Harmful Myth 2. ‘Very rich people and trusts won’t meet someone from a charity…’
What exactly are your strategies for persuading past donors to meet you for tea / coffee or new prospects to come to your brunch event? (ie what do you say and how do you say it, and through what medium?). If what you’re currently doing isn’t working, it is of course tempting to conclude that this is the donor’s or the cause’s fault. Tempting, and comfortable, but not helpful if you’re really serious about great results.
Here are seven tried and tested techniques to help you get more trust-building contact time with major donors. On the Major Gifts Mastery Programme we help everyone apply these in practice. One extraordinary fundraiser, Lois from National Library of Scotland, once used the strategies to secure 56 meetings with wealthy donors in between Day 2 and Day 3. Though not everyone will achieve these results, every single participant gains the confidence to take more action in this area, leading to a minimum of twice as many donor meetings. If you doubled your contact with your donors, what would that do to your donor relationships and ultimately, the number of people who donate?
Harmful Myth 1. ‘Your current ability is what matters most. Either you can or you can’t do the key skills of major gift fundraising’.
Most people instinctively think that ‘Talent’ is the key factor in your future success. You hear it all the time. In the excellent book GRIT, Angela Duckworth debunks this lie. Passion and perseverance in the long-term trumps so-called ‘talent’ every time. What is comforting about the Myth of Talent is it saves us from taking responsibility for improving our current knowledge and skills. But the danger is we are not aware of just how much greater our impact could be.
The truth is, once you focus on a specific skill that you care about improving, there are always plenty of things you could do to get better at it: What book could you read? What high achiever blogs on this topic? Who, inside or outside your organisation, is really good at it? Could you ask their advice?
As Professor Duckworth explains, though tactics like these and many others are always available, what holds us back from actually taking consistent action is a lack of belief that great progress is possible. This is why a key ingredient on the Mastery Programme is examples of how people just like you have taken action and achieved great results. Even if you don’t attend the Programme, a key thing you can do is seek out examples of fabulous results. This will help you believe, which makes all the difference to your ability to persevere at developing your skills.
Would you like to raise more major gifts in 2016? To apply for your free Major Donors coaching session, (normal price £95) click here.
On June 29, 2016 / Uncategorized
‘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