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!

Remember what your donor gave you money for!

We often speak to donors introduced to us by charities we work with. We suggest this as a great way to get honest insight into what their donors think of their cause, their communications, their way of asking for money, their point of contact at the charity, funding needs, etc. Contrary to popular belief, we get a great take up from donors, who are pleased to be ask their opinion. We are then able to feed back to the charity the views of their donors, summarising any key points that will enable them to improve their donor contact, keep their donors happier and consequently raise more money. There are many insights from donors that pop up time and again. One of the ones that sticks with me from lapsed donors, in particular, is that charities seem to forget what they gave their money to in the first place. This could fall under the banner of that oft-bandied around term, ‘impact’, but it is more specific than that and less onerous to get right. The example I tend to quote is of an environmental charity who better wanted to understand why some of their best donors had stopped giving. The answer soon became clear – the charity was good at informing donors what it was doing now, what it hoped to do and what good a donation could do – what it got wrong was not reporting back to the donor on what good their particular donation had done. You could argue that this is hard to achieve, but is it really? Major donors more often than not give restricted...

Six Key Indicators of Success in Capital Fundraising

How do you know if you should launch a capital appeal?
How do you know that the capital appeal you’ve launched is on track?
How do you focus your efforts on the important things to make your appeal a success?
These six key factors will answer all of those questions for you.

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