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.





Are you running fast just to stay still?

shutterstock_392336767“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 Have you ever felt that you had to work really hard just to stay in the same place? Like a duck swimming in a current. Above water looking effortless and somewhat nonchalant. Underneath the water paddling like your live depended on it.

I see many charities feeling this especially now. We’ve never been able to predict the future, but now it feels that the only certainty is uncertainty.

We need to think differently about how to solve some of the fundraising problems that we are facing. In uncertain times I believe that there is even greater need to work in collaboration with local communities, businesses, entrepreneurs and charity partners to achieve our shared objectives.

What road do we take?

“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Perhaps it’s just as well that we are all paddling really hard to stay still, because in our experience many organisations are not joined up about where they are going. Or in some instances some teams and departments are clear on where they are going, while others are just paddling and others are heading in completely different directions.

The end result is that we all feel like the Mad Hatter (not good) and the beneficiaries that we are there to provide for do not receive the services they need.

The first questions we ask when working with clients are, ‘Where do you want to go?’ ‘What does success look like?’ It should be a basic question but the Alice in Wonderland quotes really chimed with us because often people and organisations don’t know where they are going, or different departments have different ideas about what the final destination is.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

It’s all very well for Alice. We can’t just disappear down a rabbit hole and eat cake and turn up again later and hope everything will be alright.

If any of the Alice quotes resonate with you, our advice is;

  • Stop running (or paddling) – Take time to think about where you are going. This is really difficult, you might drift backwards briefly, but it will make for better results in the medium to long-term.
  • Go back to basics – reassess what you are there to do. What is your core purpose? Stop doing anything that is not getting you closer to achieving your core purpose.
  • Involve your team – make sure they understand their core purpose and they also reevaluate anything else that are doing that is not helping them achieve that.
  • Check with your management team that you are not running in conflicting directions. And if you are – stand still. Regroup. Work through the difficulties. Start off again in the same direction

And if you’d like any help then drop us a line at lucy@lucidity.org.uk.

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