Bright Spot Fundraising

Tried and tested fundraising techniques
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Ignition – how to get more of this crucial ingredient for progress

One of my favourite books is the magnificent The Talent Code, in which Daniel Coyle demonstrates how the best of the best in a variety of fields develop such impressive skill. He describes his visits to a range of ‘talent hotbeds’, from a tennis academy near Moscow to a music school in Texas.


Coyle explores how those who develop advanced skill levels do not merely practice more, but they practice in a certain way, that is, they engage in ‘deep practice’.


The major challenge with deep practice is that to most of us it feels too hard to sustain. It takes more effort to practice in this way, to ‘stretch’ on the outer edges of what feels comfortable, which is why most people don’t do it very often.


Coyle was fascinated by how those he visited were able to willingly sustain this high quality …He wanted to know what creates a burning passion in someone so strong that they’re willing to keep plugging away learning and practising their craft at this deeper level.


The answer, he discovered, is IGNITION. A moment that sparked the desire…Coyle even states that in some cases it is possible to pinpoint the exact moment when that passion ignited.


For South Korea’s golfers, it was on 18th May 1998, when a twenty-year-old named Se Ri Pak won the Macdonald’s LPGA Championship. She became a national icon. ‘Before her, no South Korean had succeeded in golf. Flash-forward to ten years later, and Pak’s countrywomen had essentially colonized the LPGA Tour, with forty-five players who collectively won about one-third of the events.’


Another example started in May 1954, when Roger Bannister became the first person in history to run a mile in less than four minutes. A few weeks later an Australian runner, John Landy also broke the four-minute barrier. Within just three years, seventeen different runners had managed this same feat, something that had eluded athletes around the world until Bannister had made people believe it was possible.


How does ignition work?


A South Korean-American golfer, Christina Kim, said ‘I remember watching (Pak) on TV. She wasn’t blond or blue-eyed, and we were of the same blood…You say to yourself, ‘If she can do it, why can’t I?’


Coyle writes ‘Ignition and deep practice work together to produce skill in exactly the same way that a gas tank combines with an engine to produce velocity in an automobile. Ignition supplies the energy, while over time deep practice translates that energy into forward progress…’


How do you build an igloo?


In an earlier blog about the extraordinary power of The Compound Effect in fundraising, I described what happened when, on a snowy day earlier this year, my family and I attempted to build an igloo in the garden. Once the walls were up, my co-builders wanted to stop the over-ambitious plan of an igloo (‘…but Daddy, how are we going to make the snow roof stay up?’. I felt it was worth giving the roof a try. In the end we succeeded. How did I know it was worth persevering, even when the going got hard? Because I had IGNITION, sparked by a vague memory from when I was five years old and my mum had helped my siblings and I build an igloo in our garden. Knowing that it’s possible to build an igloo in your garden is what made all the difference to my ability to persevere.


This is why at my Bright Spot LIVE events, the one day conferences I run twice a year for members of the Bright Spot Members Club, as well as sharing lots of powerful new strategies, we make time for participants to talk about the progress they’ve been making since joining the Club. At the last one, we heard about recent progress achieved by attendees on the Corporate Mastery Programme. For instance, Sue Piper from Scouts celebrated the huge progress of her two colleagues Anna and Matt, including a brand new partnership worth around half a million pounds with a bank; and Dan McNally, formerly of British Heart Foundation and now at Sue Ryder explained how within 6 weeks of applying the Win that Pitch strategies, three of his BHF colleagues had won partnerships worth over £10,000.


I’ve found that nothing ignites a spark quite like hearing one of your peers, sat next to you, share an example of the progress they’ve recently made.


The importance of ignition also shapes the design of the Corporate Partnerships Mastery and Major Gifts Mastery Programmes; though there are many new tactics covered in every training day and coaching call, we always make time for participants to share their breakthroughs. Some of these are large (eg Heather Bush from Ipswich School recently talked about the three gifts she had secured, including two gifts of £10,000) and some are small (like managing to book a first meeting with a Dream 10 potential partner or win over a non-fundraising colleague to what is needed for a donor).


As a participant there is some clear benefit in the group noticing / celebrating your own hard-earned progress. But the much bigger reason we include this activity is that repeatedly hearing from all around you that success is possible, strengthens your belief that extra effort pays off. It keeps your passion to practice and hone your craft ignited. And with this fuel, it becomes so much easier to continually improve the way you do your fundraising.


And of course, this deeper level of effort brings increased skill, results and well-earned confidence.


How could you cultivate more IGNITION?


Find some references to help you BELIEVE that success is possible.


Obviously, the Mastery Programmes and the Members Club we run at Bright Spot are one option, but there are plenty of others – some need no budget at all:


If you can, join (or form) a group of fundraisers (ideally external to your charity) and meet up; go to conferences; read blogs and books which talk about fundraising successes; join the IOF Special Interest Groups; rack your brains and those of your colleagues for someone who you or they know who might agree to be your mentor; follow on social media the fundraisers with reputations and results you admire.


I hope you found this blog helpful. If so, please share it.


On October 9, 2018 / Uncategorized

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