IoF National Convention 2013 Learnings

This year again I wanted to type up my key notes from the convention and put them in to one handy place – and again I decided to publish it. These aren’t necessarily things speakers directly said…sometimes they plant seeds of inspiration or I drift off and think of something else.


1. Being a Donor Is Lonely
The only thing lonelier than being a fundraiser is being a donor. We need to get donors to communicate with each other and advocate for you.

2. Be Careful of Analysing How Donors Behave
It’s happened a few times now at conferences: people claim donors are more likely to keep giving because of something you’ve done, overlooking the fact that very possibly you’ve been able to do that something because they’re better quality donors.

For example, look at the donors who go to your events – they’re undoubtedly better quality. But they’re not necessarily better quality because they go to your events. More likely they go to your events because they’re better quality. So have a think about it before you arrange loads more donor events.

You see it a lot from the digital guys – amounts raised on-line are increasing so there’s the assumption that on-line is driving people to give. That’s a dangerous assumption, and dangerously pushing smaller charities to spend money on digital before they have the basics down.

 (Word of the Day: Retrocausality)

3. Agency vs. In-House Donor Attrition
According to the DARS report there is a statistically insignificant difference in the attrition rate over 5 years between donors recruited by a charity in-house and those recruited by an agency. VERY interesting!

4. How Do You Start Fundraising If You’ve Never Fundraised?
You know what’s missing from all these conferences? A beginner’s guide to fundraising. Whenever someone shows an amazing campaign one of the first questions from the audience is always ‘How much did it cost?’ and the feeling that it’s just too far beyond reach.

Let’s run a seminar showing how to use filters and mail merge in Microsoft Office to run clever segmented mailings for free. Let’s talk about who the first people on your database should be, where they come from, what you capture and what you do with them. Let’s practice your first cold call, face-to-face pitch and hand-written mailing.

The reason there’s so few qualified fundraisers out there is because there is no first rung on the ladder.

5. People Like Lists In Presentations
Make a numbered list in your presentation and everyone will write it down, even though they know they’re going to get the slides.

6. Twitter Rocks
Twitter really cuts out a good bit of time at these things and allows you to meet up with people you know you’re going to like.

7. Are We Wasting Time & Money With Research?
No, I don’t think so. But we’re never all going to agree on whether giving is going up or down and we’re never going to find the solution to what works perfectly, because there isn’t one. But we can learn from other’s mistakes and data should influence our decisions.

Still though, sometimes you’re just better off spending your time picking up the phone and ringing your supporters. Seriously, when was the last time you, as a fundraiser, had a conversation with someone and then asked for money? Would that be cheaper and more effective than what you’re doing right now?


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