7 tips to being a brilliant fundraiser

how to be brilliantFirst Thursday is a great event for fundraisers. You hear from a fundraising expert for 20 minutes, followed by opportunities to meet other fundraisers over food and drink. And it’s in a pub. What’s not to like?

Last Thursday I was delighted to be asked to speak – my topic was how to be a brilliant fundraiser.

Fundraising is hard. There are over 180,000 registered charities in the UK, all competing for attention. To be successful, charities must stand out and be different. To do that they need brilliant fundraisers. I’ve observed some qualities that I think brilliant fundraisers have. My top 7 qualities (its always 7 right?) are listed here.

  1. Brilliant fundraisers don’t take no for an answer – when a brilliant fundraiser hears no, they don’t hear it as an absolute and final no. They hear ‘no – not now’, ‘no – not for that’ or ‘no – not that amount.’ They don’t put the ‘no’ on a rejection pile. They learn to understand their donor better, they regroup and they go back and ask in a different way.
  2. Brilliant fundraisers don’t ask for money  – fundraising isn’t just asking for money, it’s giving your donor the opportunity to make a difference. Brilliant fundraisers see their role as helping their donors to make a difference.
  3. Brilliant fundraisers ask questions – they challenge the ‘way things are done round here’. They are always looking for ways to make improvements. They are restless, nothing is ever ‘finished’ nothing is ever perfect – it can always better.  They make small continuous changes that can add up to make a big difference.
  4. Brilliant fundraisers don’t sit at their desks  they spend time getting out and talking to donors, supporters and volunteers, to understand their needs. They don’t hide behind email. They also take time to understand their colleagues in different teams, they are excellent networkers, they sign up to receive other charities products and attend charity and corporate events to look for great ideas they can steal – as well as bad ideas that they are sure not to replicate.
  5. Brilliant fundraisers do not fear failure – in fact brilliant fundraisers aim to fail. They know that if they are not failing then they know they are just taking the safe option are not pushing themselves hard enough to achieve more. Brilliant fundraisers also create a safe environment in their teams to make it OK for others to fail, and importantly learn from failure so the same mistakes are not repeated.
  6. Brilliant fundraisers focus on the end goal – they constantly assess the activities they are doing to ensure that they are spending their time on projects that will most effectively enable them to meet their targets. They don’t get side-tracked by bright shiny new technology or ideas that do not get them closer to their goal. They are good at saying no.
  7. Most importantly brilliant fundraisers are brave charities exist to drive change. Making change happen is hard. Brilliant fundraisers take action. They are mavericks.  They respond quickly to opportunities and seek forgiveness rather than permission.

These are my top 7 tips from a much longer list of qualities of brilliant fundraisers. What qualities would you add?



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