Bright Spot Fundraising

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

Seven ideas that help when working for a less popular cause

dreamstime_s_41948606I really enjoyed Laura Perkins’ recent blog – Five insights into how to raise funds for your Unpopular Cause. A couple of years ago I spoke at a conference on this subject and here are a few of the ideas I shared in that session.
1) Choose your focus. Laura makes an excellent first point, that your attitude is incredibly important. And when life is tough, how can you increase the chances you will stay positive? My answer is, control your focus. What we allow ourselves to focus on determines how we feel. In courses people often tell me particular things about their cause which make it especially hard for them to raise money – yes, I have even heard this from fundraisers at large well known children’s and cancer charities. My response is usually to ask ‘in the last 12 months I have done workshops with around 30 different charities… how many of them do you think felt their cause was easy to raise money for?’
2) Talk to your front-line. Sometimes I also ask, ‘why is it critical that you find a way to believe wholeheartedly that your organisation makes a difference? People tell me that if they don’t believe in it, it will be pretty much impossible to persuade someone else to do so. And what is the simplest way to get more convinced that your charity makes a difference? Proactively take action to visit those delivering services. This is so obvious, but you know it’s true that the times in your career when you’ve been most persuasive followed the times you took action to get closer to the cause. Could you book a meeting / visit today?
3) Increased loyalty. Clearly some causes have less appeal to the whole population. But there are some advantages to selling a cause which has less universal appeal. The fact that a cause can be ignored or mis-represented by the media / the establishment act as a positive spur to some of your supporters, making them more loyal and passionate. If you help them make a gift, you ‘help them throw rocks at their enemies’.
4) Appreciate that you’re improving. Working for a less glamorous cause will make you a more skilful fundraiser, since your existing brand is not going to generate many easy gifts. Remember to appreciate the fact that your skills are growing faster than they would be elsewhere.
5) Giant-killing examples. Which charity would you put your money on to win a £1m Charity of the Year pitch for a bank – a famous hospital for very sick children, or one which helps former offenders once they come out of prison? (Not only did the latter, St Giles Trust, win but it was one of the best examples of pitch-craft I’ve ever of). If you work for a less popular cause, a great way to help colleagues ‘believe’, is to seek out these examples.
6) Stronger team spirit. The underdog factor stated above can work in your favour internally too. Time and again, sports teams who appear to have been unjustly treated by a referee, (and eg football teams down to 10 players) work harder for each other and perform better than when there was a level playing field. What’s critical is how you harness this psychological ‘us against the world’ edge for yourself and your colleagues.
7) Think like an under-dog. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fascinating book about how underdogs always have some advantages which stem from their disadvantages, but only if they act differently from the main-stream, the Goliaths. David was not strong but he was nimble and he played to his strengths (ie fighting from a distance). What strengths does your charity have that you could make more use of? They are there when you look for them. My recent blog reveals three suggestions that help do this.


On June 15, 2015 / 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