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Making More Than Money

This week fundraisers from all over the country will be arriving on the Gold Coast in anticipation of the annual Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Conference where they will be set to learn lots, hear from some amazing speakers and network with their peers of the non-profit industry.

While looking forward to the conference, I’ve had some time to reflect on the one I attended 12 months ago. One of the highlights for me was hearing from international fundraising guru, Ken Burnett. Ken is probably one of the most well regarded fundraisers in the world and best known for his book, Relationship Fundraising. His ideas on donor-based fundraising are more relevant today, I believe, than perhaps when his book was first written 20 years ago.

You see, today, there are more charities looking for support and investment into their programs and services than ever before. There are more animal groups, environmental agencies and welfare organisations asking the Australian community for their donations. So competition (even though we don’t really like to call it that) is high. One key way to put your group ahead of the next is to focus your fundraising efforts on being donor-based.

Donor-based fundraising is about having your donors at the centre of your fundraising plan. At the centre of almost every fundraising decision you make. It’s about putting your donors at the centre of your communications and, rather than focusing on your organisational needs, talk about how they have enabled you to do what you do. Because let’s face it, without our donors (whether they are individual, corporate or philanthropic) most of our organisations wouldn’t exist.

You see, fundraising is more than just making money. It’s about making friends. Ken said it perfectly in one of his seminars last year;

“The hand we once had up their backs,
is now draped around their shoulder in friendship.”
– Ken Burnett

So, when thinking of your donors it is crucial to think about what they want. Think about them like a friend. You couldn’t just talk with your friends all about yourself or you probably wouldn’t have many friends left. You need to engage with them; make it a two-way street.

Here are four of my best tips for making sure you a heading toward donor-centric fundraising (aka friend-raising);

  1. Thank donors for their gifts (just as if you would always thank your friend if they gave you something)
  2. Inform donors how their money is spent (just as you update your friend about what you’ve been doing  since you last spoke to them)
  3. Respond quickly when donors contact your organisation (you wouldn’t wait a week or two to ring one of your friends back, would you?)
  4. Be polite when communicating with donors (just as you would with your friends)

As Calvin & Hobbes found, true friends (just like donors) are hard to find so we must hang on to them

Your organisation needs to build relationships with your donors in order to keep them. The effort required to keep a donor is much less than the effort required to obtain a new one. So work with who you’ve got. Start to really engage with those who are already supporting your organisation because once you do they will be likely to give larger, more frequent gifts for a longer period of time, than if you don’t.

What do you think? Do you agree? Have you already started to implement some of these key factors and seen a positive change?

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.


3 responses »

  1. Thank you Bianca, very well put. I couldn’t agree with you more. I really loved my visit to Australia last year – it was a highlight of the year for me. So, I hope I’ll get invited back.

    I also love the style of your company and the whole fish thing. Perhaps the only area where I veer away from total agreement with you is that, in my experience, if you teach a man to fish, he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

    But, it’s a small point.

    All best,


    • Hi Ken

      Thanks so much for taking the time to both read and respond to my blog post. I’m very excited that you found your way here. And thanks for your kind words about my business concept, even if you do slightly disagree. Haha. 😉

      The Fish Chick.

  2. Pingback: Donors are Dynamite (Part One) « Fish Community Solutions

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