Bright Spot Fundraising

Tried and tested fundraising techniques
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Sprinting to Individual Giving Success

Guest Blog by Craig Linton (The Fundraising Detective), Individual Giving expert and co-author of Donors for Life.


In recent blog posts, Rob has been talking about the extraordinary effect of compounding. The basic idea being that numerous small improvements can, over time, lead to breakthrough results.


In individual giving A/B testing often leads to micro-improvements and allows us to make marginal gains in our performance. Sometimes though we need to go beyond A/B testing and think about other ways to make improvements to our programme.


This is usually easier said than done. Day-to-day activity gets in the way of making progress. Somehow, we never quite get round to implementing some of the ideas that we know could improve our results dramatically.


Some how can we overcome this inertia and unleash the power of compounding?


Organise a team sprint.

One of the many strategies that drives up IG results, and that we share on the Individual Giving Mastery Programme, is the SPRINT.


No, not a race to find the next Usain Bolt in your organisation, but a short period of time where a project team comes together to work on a specific problem, develop solutions and then implement changes.


There are five reasons why sprints are a powerful tool that every fundraiser should utilise.


1: They help you start and commit you to progress. By making time to solve a problem you focus on the doing and won’t get swallowed up by operational issues.

2: Sprints move you from abstract to concrete. We all know we should improve the supporter experience or it would be good to develop the supporter journey, but a sprint makes you focus on a specific element of the larger problem.

3: The first part of any sprint is identifying the top problem(s) you want to solve. This keeps you focused on what is important and stops outside distractions halting progress.

4: Sprints force you to make decisions. It is easy to sit on the fence or keep postponing difficult decisions until a consensus is reached. A well organised sprint will make you test, prototype or pilot solutions until you find a winner.

5: Sprints improve team spirit and are fun. Working together on a problem and seeing progress being made is great for team morale and spirit. It feels good to get things done and the positive energy often extends into other parts of work.


37 improvements in 21 days

So what can you expect to achieve when you run a sprint?


In one organisation, we used a sprint to completely overhaul our online thanking and follow-up process. Having this focus on a single problem over a two week period allowed us to completely revamp how we interact with donors after the first gift. Six months later the second gift rate had nearly doubled.


Another charity picked three areas to concentrate on for their sprint. Over a three week period we made 37 improvements to individual giving. We mapped out and reviewed processes, re-wrote thank you letters and online landing pages and proposed a new welcome journey and second gift ask.


Having that focus helped make improvements that otherwise would have stayed on the back-burner and never seen the light of day.


How do you sprint successfully?

There are lots of ways to run a sprint, but most contain the following elements:


  • An audit or kick-off meeting to define the biggest problems or areas for improvement
  • Defining the problems in sufficient details to make progress (and being clear on what you won’t be able to do)
  • Regular updates (often called scrums), such as a daily stand-up meeting or email on progress.
  • A mid-sprint meeting to assess where you are and who has responsibility for which tasks.
  • A final sprint showcase to demonstrate the progress you’ve made and to wrap-up the learning.


One great thing about sprints is you can run multiple ones. As soon as you’ve finished solving one problem you can go to the next thing on your list. This keeps momentum going and means you are constantly making progress.


Need to increase individual giving income?


The sprint process and how to apply it to individual giving is just one of dozens of techniques and strategies we’ll be covering in the Individual Giving Mastery Programme 2018…Curious? Why not find out more by following the link?

On April 3, 2018 / Fundraising Skills

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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.

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Victoria Stephenson, Head of Major Donors, UNICEF UK

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

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Kieran Cornwall, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

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