Bright Spot Fundraising

Tried and tested fundraising techniques
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The art of pitching – three influencing tricks

dreamstime_xs_13356358During my train journey yesterday I was advised that ‘due to the inclement weather, passengers are advised to take particular care when alighting…


Can this really have happened? Here we are, playing with our smart phones and they’re talking to us like we’re a retired colonel in an Enid Blyton story?


Some people might argue, what’s the harm if the announcements sound a bit old fashioned?


I think that repeatedly using a tone of voice that clearly does not match most passengers has two negative consequences for the train company:


  • Some people (children and many people for whom English is not a first language) just won’t understand. So if the intention had been to reduce accidents, the announcements will fail.
  • There are several reasons why many people get upset with some train companies in the UK, including prices and reliability. But even if they improve these things, if mine continues to talk to us like a head teacher from the 1950s, at a subconscious level people will not be won over.


How tone of voice loses (and wins) valuable partnerships


Every day corporate fundraisers fail to influence companies because they fail to express the possible partnership from the point of view of the company.


In training thousands of corporate fundraisers over the last ten years, I’ve discovered that doing this well is harder than it looks. If you hold up a beach ball with six segments of different colours in between you and a colleague, you’ll find it’s surprisingly hard to remember to talk in terms of the colours that your partner sees.


And in corporate fundraising, even if you carried out good insight research as to why the company might say yes, failing to pitch in terms of their side of the beach ball is the most common reason otherwise-winnable pitches fail.


On the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme one of the ways we help fundraisers raise more money is by helping them win more pitches.


Last year I worked with a charity that was invited to pitch for the chance to partner with a section of the armed forces, a huge employer.





  1. Structure.   Firstly I recommended a change to the order of her presentation. Like 95% of pitches, she had been planning to use the crucial first two minutes to talk about who the charity was and it’s worthy aims. We switched that round, so that within seconds of starting, she was talking about the other party and what it would gain from the partnership.
  2. Values.  Then we evoked the panel’s likely values. I asked her if she’d ever had a conversation with an officer from this part of the armed forces. She said she had. Once she remembered what he was like, I asked her to think of ways in which his values and language seemed to be different from most civilians’. Key words she came up with were organised, hierarchical, high standards and my favourite, extraordinarily early. She then looked at her presentation and deliberately found ways to demonstrate that her charity would conduct the partnership in these ways.
  3. Specific words.  She now adapted her language to be more in-keeping with this stiff-backboned culture she was pitching to. Can you imagine the kinds of words she added in and the subtle change this had to the underlying message. It started to convey ‘we are alike’.

The result? Her language was no longer a barrier to her good intentions coming through, but another way to help them feel this message. The four person panel heard their own side of the beach ball, and so were not only then open to hearing about what the charity wanted, but also to agreeing to this value. On the spot, they agreed to a three year partnership worth more than £300,000.



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On November 30, 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