Bright Spot Fundraising

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The £250 million ask – Part 2 – two more techniques

dreamstime_s_8299101Chelsea Football Club’s recent award-winning shirt sponsorship campaign was unorthodox and wildly successful. To any curious fundraiser, the way they achieved this lucrative feat is worthy of study.


They sent a personalised package to the CEOs of 250 of the most successful companies in the world. If you were one of those chosen few, when you opened the package, you would have found firstly a Chelsea shirt, in your size, with your name on the back.  You would also have found a laptop, pre-loaded with a film which painted a picture of what life will be like when your company becomes Chelsea’s main sponsor. The film includes fans celebrating with you on the street and famous Chelsea players scoring unbelievable goals, wearing a shirt with your companies’ name on it.


The tactic generated interest from several companies and through the subsequent bidding war the price increased until Yokohama finally won the multi-year deal, worth around £250 million.


Tactic 1. In my last blog I described how two charities have applied the primary influencing tactic from Chelsea’s play-book, (securing gifts of £14 million and £50,000 respectively).


Today I want to explore two more tactics which made this £250 million ask succeed:


Tactic 2. Deliberately use names. A major cost to the sponsorship team was making every film bespoke, painstakingly slotting each prospects’ name into most scenes. My guess is you are well aware that people prefer you to get their name right, but were you aware of just how powerful people’s names are in affecting their decision-making, such as whether or not to give to charity?


For example, in a study of factors which affected donations to the Hurricane Katrina Appeal, researchers found that people whose name began with ‘K’, like Katie or Kevin, were 260 times more likely to give than people whose names began with a different letter. Yes, really! This study defies common sense, and yet Professor Jesse Chandler has found a similar effect following every hurricane stretching back decades. The ‘initial effect’ suggests that we are so attached to our names, we are subconsciously more likely to respond to opportunities with which we share an initial.


If our donors’ names are so important to them, (but we don’t raise funds for a hurricane relief effort) what should the power of names remind us to do differently?


Go the extra mile in proactively using people’s names.


For example, in one study carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team attached to the Cabinet Office, Deutsche bank employees received a generalised email (eg Dear colleague…’) from their Chief Executive encouraging them to sign up to give a day of their salary. 5% percent agreed. But, when employees received an identical email that began instead with a personalised greeting (eg ‘Dear Mary’) the take-up rate rocketed to 12%.


Tactic 3. Future pace it. Watching the film evokes a world in which the Chief Exec has already agreed to the sponsorship and is enjoying the fruits of that decision.


Whenever you’re helping someone make a decision that involves some short term effort (eg getting yourself to go to the gym; helping a supporter agree to partnership), a powerful strategy is to help them feel those future results now.


One of my favourite examples was when Alzheimer’s Society, pitching to Tesco for what was to be the largest partnership ever, brought with them a mocked up 3D version of what the proposed Memory Buses would look like, including the prominently displayed branding of the supermarket next to this important social cause.


The power of these tactics is once you have seen, heard or smelt a version of what will have happened long after you have said ‘yes’, it becomes easier to believe that such a reality, with those benefits, is possible. When pitching to a corporate, could you show the tweets or headlines of what great things will have happened for the company in six months’ time? When talking to a major donor, are you able to help them look with certainty at a future reality in which they have already transformed lives?




On March 15, 2016 / 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