Six essential ingredients for a compelling pitch

Your Pitch is vital. You need to nail it before you start speaking to donors or you’ll come unstuck. Time spent on this preparation is never wasted – it is a waste of time to write poorly-constructed proposals.

Making the most of your day – every day

“I work such long hours, this job is meant for two people, not one…” “Work is like the magic porridge pot of tasks – I can’t keep on top of it…” “I start the day with the best of intentions but “stuff” happens and I don’t always get around to those things I knew were a priority when I started…” “I know what I need to do but it’s hard when you’re accountable to a Director, a CEO, a Board Chair. They all have their own priorities and I’m the person they turn to.” If this sounds like something you might think to yourself, or something you’ve said, then you’re in alarmingly robust company – so many people I speak with are in the same boat. As a small business owner I find myself torn between so many competing tasks from client work to business development, from bookkeeping to managing office supplies – and that’s before someone calls me and adds a new thing to the list. One of the ways I’m combatting that is by identifying where my time vampires are coming from… I’m using a technique of Red, Blue, Black time – I wrote about it recently. The other way I’m combatting this is through a technique called Zero-Based Calendar which I think comes from a man called Bryan Harris, although I discovered it when I started using the SELF Journal from Best Self Co., which is a luxurious pre-printed twelve week diary and goal/activity management tool. This is a sample page from my journal. The idea is that distractions creep into your day in through the...

Interview with – Alison Cordingley

Alison has been an associate of Money Tree Fundraising since 2011! A motivated and enthusiastic professional with eclectic experience of fundraising and management, in a wide range of causes, Alison has worked in the voluntary sector since 2000 and has extensive experience in trust and foundation fundraising. Her experience of capital projects means she is well placed to advise and mentor charities embarking on this kind of work for the very first time.  She has also volunteered for Citizens Advice and is a trained debt advisor. Based in Manchester, she is currently a trustee of a Trafford based mental health charity; New Way Forward.     What was the first charity you worked for? My first foray into the third sector was as a volunteer for the citizens’ advice bureau. At the time I was working part time in housing, and joined to advise on housing and tenancy related matters. Although my employers were a bit twitchy about taking on this role should any of my casework became contentious. Eventually I became a trained debt advisor using counselling concepts such as negotiation, periodic reviews, and goal setting. When was that? It was round about when both my kids were in school, so about the late 90s What was your job? Mainly debt counselling although inevitably there was much cross over into issues such as benefits, rights in respect of debt collectors, bailiffs, evictions, county court judgements and so on. Additionally debt work I think helped to develop my skills in writing budgets, monitoring expenditure and reaching goals, also important to a fundraising campaign. How many years have you been fundraising...

12 tips on making cultivation events work

Using Cultivation Events well. Events will never the be-all-and-end-all of major donor fundraising.  Whilst they can be delightful, fun and a real talking point at home, they are more often than not an expensive distraction. If you are going to hold any cultivation event then you must be clear on all twelve of these points: Your event POO (purpose, objectives and outcomes). Criteria for each guest e.g. qualified capacity to give over a certain level, knowledge that an event will make the difference. Criteria for home attendance – only those with clear roles to attend. Nobody attends “because they ought to” outside of these clear criteria – guests, staff, trustees. Nobody. Never less than three months’ notice and longer if you’re running an A and a B list so that the B listers still get their three months’ notice. This advice comes from donors. A briefing on the day of the event for all home team. A debrief the day or two after the event to download all of the actions, lessons, intelligence of the night. A bespoke plan to follow up with every attendee. No group asks – never stand up and ask the room to give a gift. This is not a cultivation event. Smaller is better. You are trying to have meaningful conversations with your key donors – make sure you can do that in the event you’ve planned. You can’t do that in a room of 80 people. Allow for plus ones in your numbers. But only for guests. Your home team are working, so they don’t get a plus one usually. Consider the time...

Thank your donors… whatever they say!

Say thank you. Regardless of what the donor says. And listen hard for what the donor means when they say “no need to thank me” in case they mean “don’t make a fuss” or “don’t tell people” but would love for you to say thank you!