Today, I spent the day at the Sustainable Fundraising Conference run by NCVO in London. I was there with my colleagues from Sho-Net Systems who specialise in helping organisations improve their fundraising processes through use of CRM solutions such as Salesforce.com.
My overall conclusion from the day was that Fundraising is a Marketing and Sales problem which many voluntary sector organisations haven’t yet got to grips with. I suspect that ‘Marketing’ language is still alien to many of these organisations. One of the things that Sho-Net focuses on is helping organisations with the ‘language’ as well as the technology. There is no point trying to impose private sector ‘sales’ language on a charity!
For example, Kate Bull from the People’s Supermarket said she hated the term ‘stakeholder’ and much preferred ‘communities’. She then identified a range of different members of her communities, from suppliers, to members and politicians. Each community needs a different message, delivered by appropriate channels.
Clyde Williams, Chairman of Sho-Net spoke in one of the lunchtime sessions about three ideas for improving fundraising. These were:
- stop wasting time on bids you’re never likely to win
- identify a range of people who can influence the success of your bids
- map the relationships between these key people
He showed an assessment tool, built in Salesforce.com to evaluate the attractiveness of an opportunity and it’s winability. He emphasised the need to be rigorous and ruthless in these evaluations, otherwise you risk wasting time and effort on ‘no hopers’. The identification of key people in a target organisation needs to describe their likely behaviour and their roles. Finally, a visual relationship mapping tool was demonstrated which highlighted how different people could used to help build a communication plan to help win bids.
In another session I attended, Lucy Blythe spoke with Stephen O’Brien about approaches to engage Boards and Trustees in Fundraising. There was a clear message about treating each person as an individual and tapping into their unique knowledge and skills in relation to raising funds. She also made a point about challenging Trustees to make a tangible, personal commitment, even if at a small symbolic level. She shared an Americanism in relation to Trustees: “Give, Get, or Get Off”, which she says is a brutal expression that makes it easy for British boards to say ‘it’s not done that way here’ and to avoid facing the issue of asking board members to demonstrate leadership in this way among others.
Clyde and I have worked together since 2007 and we bring a unique combination of people, process and technology capabilities to help voluntary sector organisations improve their fundraising. Read about our previous seminar on streamlining fundraising processes. If you would like more information, do get in touch.