Hospice fundraising – we can’t just keep doing more of the same

Andy.GoldsmithA guest blog by Andy Goldsmith.

Three years ago, our friend and neighbour Claire House Children’s Hospice came back from a fundraising masterclass at the Inch Lodge in Scotland talking about big ambitions and how everyone at the Hospice was a fundraiser.

At Hope House, we face similar challenges to Claire House (and many other Hospices) in that we need to raise significantly more money if we are to be there for everyone in our community that needs us – both today and in the future.

We knew that to raise a lot more money we couldn’t just keep doing more of the same and that we would have to think differently. So last October I took seven of my senior team to the Inch Lodge in Scotland for a Hospice Fundraising Masterclass to explore how Hope House Children’s Hospices might significantly grow their income (and to see what all the fuss was about).

It was an inspiring three days, Alan Clayton and Lucy Gower helped us understand what makes fundraising organisations that significantly increase their income different from organisations that just increase their income by a small percentage each year. The days were not without challenge and we came away feeling exhausted, inspired and knowing that this was just the start of a much bigger piece of work to fundamentally shift our organisational culture to become a great fundraising organisation.

Over the last six months we’ve worked really hard to get the foundations in place for big change.

  • We’ve got investment from the board for fundraising for the long-term. We have two years to show how this new approach can have impact. This means we can focus decision-making on bigger long-term goals rather than chasing smaller incremental targets this year.
  • We have a project group that meet regularly. (At one point it got too big because so many people were enthusiastic to get involved. A good problem to have!)
  • We’ve identified three core themes and associated work streams. They are:
  1.  To develop and refine our central proposition that will unite and inspire the whole organisation.
  2. To develop a series of fundraising campaigns to test our new approach and learn what creative and messages deliver the best returns.
  3. To align the culture of the organisation so that everyone is proud of our fundraising.
  • We delivered a staff conference where we shared the core themes of the masterclass so that everyone has the same understanding of fundraising.
  • We’ve changed our communications and appointed a storyteller whose role is to ensure the organisation leads with story across all communications (not just fundraising). Their role is also to broker relationships between teams to ensure the most powerful stories are found, told and shared – and always done so with truth and integrity.

In just six months we’ve already seen a change. Many small things. For example, fundraising and care teams working more collaboratively and starting to share stories, an increased bravery in telling the whole story including the sad and difficult parts, and in confidently making an ask to supporters to help us provide more care.

“We are so proud of the care we provide and the difference this makes for children and families often at the most difficult of times. We cannot do this without donations from our fantastic supporters. Families tell us there is more we can do and we know we don’t reach all the children and families that need our support. Lucy and Alan have shown us that we should be proud of our fundraising, cherish and celebrate it and how we can grow our support as without it there is no care and we fail in our purpose.” Andy Goldsmith, Chief Executive, Hope House Children’s Hospices

We hold a business ball every year, which usually raises in the region of £30,000. This year Karen, one of our nurses told a story about a young child who receives care at Hope House, and how that care has helped her father to cope with other traumatic incidents in their lives. It was so powerful and told so well. The room was captivated. That year the ball raised £60,000. The team had worked really hard and made lots of small improvements, so I can’t say categorically that it was Karen’s story that made the difference, but my hunch is that it was the shift to confidently telling powerful stories that was the most significant factor in doubling our income from that event.

We have much work to do, ‘Operation Nessie’ (as its been termed internally) is a long-term shift in our approach to fundraising and we, like our supporters are in it for the long-term.

Claire House – thank you for the introduction

Andy Goldsmith is Chief Executive at Hope House Children’s Hospices.

If you are a charity and serious about raising significantly more money, then check out the 2017/8 Great Fundraising Masterclass programme here – or email lucy@lucidity.org.uk for more information or an informal chat.


6 Comments on “Hospice fundraising – we can’t just keep doing more of the same

    • Indeed – and it means that everyone is a communicator – not just those with ‘fundraising’ or ‘communications’ in their job titles

  1. Excellent blog highlighting the power of the narrative. Go Hope House Children’s Hospice

  2. Thanks for the name check – but it’s all down to the internal will to change, stay focused and stay brave. Well done Andy and HH.

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