Have you ever donated your foreign change to charity?

I’m always mystery shopping and collecting stuff that charities are doing, with a view to stealing ideas, or copying them – and with any luck making the idea better.

Have you ever donated your spare foreign change to charity on your flight home? On a recent trip I came across two airline and charity partnerships giving passengers the opportunity to make a difference. Below are my observations.

Qantas has a partnership with UNICEF as part of the *Change for Good campaign. The envelope looks like this.

Qantas Unicef charity partnership envelope front Qantas Unicef charity partnership envelope back








There was an announcement shortly before the flight landed telling passengers about the envelope and asking us to donate any spare foreign change.

I like the clear thank you, the story about a boy in Pakistan and that I know what my $6 dollars can buy – as well as the difference it will make. I like that they use the opportunity to ask for a cheque donation, card donation and contact details. But it’s hard to fill in the details once you have filled the envelope with change and sealed it – and you have no time to get another envelope as the plane is about to land. Do UNICEF gain significant income from cheque and card donations from Change for Good I wonder?

I don’t like that there are two options to hand in my envelope; to cabin crew or if you are a domestic passenger to place it in a UNICEF bin in the terminal. I wonder how clear that is or if people forget?


British Airways have a partnership with Comic Relief called **Flying Start. The envelope looks like this.

British Airways and Comic Relief donation envelope front

British Airways and Comic Relief donation envelope back








There was no mention on the flight (that I recall) about making a donation in the envelope.

I like the £1, £3, £5 shopping list options telling me the difference my donation would make and the clear instruction to hand the envelope to a member of the cabin crew (If only we had been told about them).

There is no ask for a cheque or card donation on the envelope. I wonder if that is something that has been tested in the past?

Do UNICEF and Comic Relief ever share data for their Change for Good and Flying Start programmes? Testing different approaches and sharing results could help both partnerships raise more by better understanding their audiences, identifying what works – as well as avoiding duplicating what didn’t work so well.

There is not much space on an envelope to make an impression. Next time you take a flight think about what would grab your attention. And what messaging would nudge you to bother to fish out your unwanted coins, or even make a further donation?

*Change for good has raised over $70 million since its launch in 1987.

**Flying Start has raised over £4 million since the partnership began in 2010.




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?



work that diving community

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Every February the London Diving Chamber puts on an evening of free inspiration to ignite scuba divers passion and raise funds for The Scuba Trust. On Friday night I listened to…