Bright Spot Fundraising

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

Two simple changes that boost confidence

dreamstime_xs_42327082In my new book, The Fundraiser Who Wanted More, the heroine struggles to feel confident when dealing with important, wealthy, older donors.

She learns the fourth law of persuasion in fundraising, which is about the extraordinary difference your state makes to your ability to confidently influence both colleagues and donors. She learns that there are three keys to changing how you feel, for example, from nervous / inferior, to confident / persuasive. One of these keys to managing your state is the words you habitually use. Obviously choosing particular words can make a difference to how a donor feels, but she discovers that becoming more aware of how you talk to yourself is even more important.

Here are two examples as food for thought:

  1. Your words affect your self-identity.


Four months ago I coached a fundraising manager who had been asked to assume the role of ‘Acting Head of Events’. Two months into the role, she lamented that some of her colleagues did not respect her as she would like. I suggested that from that moment on, she would never again refer to herself as the ‘acting’ head of events, but only ever as the Head of Events. This included removing the word ‘acting’ from the footer of her email.


As she made this shift, she said that people started treating her differently, and within three months she told me that her manager had made her role permanent. This tiny change in how she labelled her role had had a subtle but undeniable effect on how she went about her business. Because she was now behaving more boldly and confidently, other people reacted differently and the self-fulfilling prophesy worked in her favour.


Does your current job title help or hinder you? You may not be able to change the official one, but could you boost your performance with a stronger psychological label, even if you only use it in your own head?



  1. Your words affect your ability to invite people to give.


Many fundraisers find themselves getting worried when they think about  future conversations with powerful donors. Two very common questions I hear fundraisers asking are ‘how can I get him to open up and talk?’ and ‘how are we going to get her to give?’ If these questions were running through my head, I’d feel gut-wrenchingly nervous too.


When you think about it, the word ‘get’ implies coercion, which is unlikely to be appropriate or successful. For a donor to talk freely about their interests, they must genuinely want to do this. Similarly, for any gift to be made, it obviously must be something they truly want to do, for their reasons.


Can you see that if we use the word ‘get’ in our planning, we channel our thinking into a mode that is about manipulation. Instead, prepare by asking yourself something like: ‘I wonder how we could help her want to make a gift?’
The truth is, the precise words we use can make a surprisingly big difference in how we feel and therefore behave. And how we behave makes a big difference to the results we generate.


The first stage to reaping the benefit from this idea is to become aware of our existing language patterns. This greater awareness enables us to choose the words that are most likely to help donors achieve great results for themselves and the people or animals our charity serves.


On June 29, 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