Why am I interviewing Craig? BECAUSE man! He’s a fabulous researcher for fundraising and always has good links on fundraising articles, AND I just shared a train compartment with him last month, and he was all “HEY!” And I was all, “HEY! Can I interview you for my journal, we could write a monograph”
I said, “So, Craig, let’s escape from the bad guys together, and also, do you have some of the same problems in England that we have here in the USA? Like, do the fundraising professionals in the UK get taken for granted, just like in the US? And does that contribute to people job-hopping?” And he broke character and said, “Ooh Girl! Yes!”*
*(Well, actually, he’s British so he didn’t say that, but he said something like that.)
Anyway, onto what Craig REALLY said (and did):
0. How did you get involved in fundraising?
I stumbled into it after I finished uni. I decided to take a year out and ended up working at my local hospice. I absolutely loved it and when I was going to go back and do my post-grad course, they offered me the opportunity to run an appeal and for me to do an MBA, so I stayed – that was 12 years ago and I’ve never looked back!
1. How is UK fundraising different than USA fundraising? Do you focus on monthly donors? Do you have lots of major donors?
The basic fundamentals of good fundraising are the same the world over, but in the UK we seem to have a lot more monthly donors giving smaller amounts than major donors. I think there were only 174 million pound plus gifts in the UK in 2011, whilst in the US there was over 6,000!
2. What is a formula that you found works for you in direct mail?
For people already giving to your charity it’s all about telling amazing stories about the difference the donor is making to your beneficiaries. Never forget you’re trying to write from one person to another. The best direct mail reads like a personal letter. Concentrate on that to begin with and then start to get more sophisticated by clever use of data, personalisation etc. Most importantly don’t forget to make a specific ask – it’s amazing how many direct mail letters I’ve looked at that fail to do this.
3. What are some challenges that fundraisers face in the UK right now?
The recession has hit hard and giving is static, making it even more competitive to attract donors. Donor attrition is a huge problem, especially with committed giving.
4. How can charities keep good fundraisers?
Pay fairly and competitively. Don’t expect miracles. Take a long term view. Inspire them with the cause and the difference they are making. Develop a supportive culture that encourages risks, innovation and mutual support.
(Ooh YES! I could NOT AGREE MORE! -ed.)
5. Do UK charities rely a lot on direct mail, more so than other kinds of fundraising?
Not overly. As you can see from this graph from Fundratio, direct mail only account for around 7% of giving.
6. Is the voluntary sector/third sector growing or shrinking in the UK right now? Are a lot of people starting charities, or are a lot of charities going under?
The total income in the sector is pretty static.
Charities are being set up to cover gaps in government funding cuts. However many smaller charities seem to struggling as they face a perfect storm of government cuts, grant funding cuts and inflation. However, I’m surprised more charities haven’t gone under.
7. What does your fundraising plan look like for the year? Direct Mail, Major Gifts, Special Events, Grants, E-newsletters, Phone-a-thons?
As I only started my current role in January, my plan for this year is pretty basic and boring!
Getting the basics right and concentrating on improving communications with our existing support, as well as testing some fundraising ideas for donor acquisition.
I’ve cut the number of events we do and we have just launched the Little Heroes appeal – www.littleheroesappeal.com, which is a community/direct marketing campaign.
8. Aside from you of course, who are some bloggers to watch in the UK fundraising scene?
Probably my two favourite UK blogs are from the guys at Bluefrog – Mark Phillips www.queerideas.co.uk and Aline Reed http://bluefrogcreative.typepad.com/bluefrogcreative/ always post good content.
The UK Fundraising website always has good blogging content and general fundraising news: www.fundraising.co.uk
Plus I’ve been impressed by the quality and variation that the guys at 101fundraising have posted: Although strictly it is based in the Netherlands, many of the bloggers are from the UK. http://www.101fundraising.org/
9. Where can people reach you?
Thank you so much Craig!
If you have any questions about UK fundraising, ones that I somehow forgot to ask, please leave a comment, and I will ask Craig to answer your Qs! If we ever get out of these woods, that is!
PS! If you’d like to see ANOTHER fundraising detective interview I did, check out my Sherlock holmes post on the 5 questions you need to ask in your next nonprofit interview!
Until next time, keep your nose to the ground and your magnifying glass on the clues, gumshoe!