Five quick tips for fundraisers

Here are five top tips on fundraising by Ken Burnett, author, lecturer, and consultant on fundraising.

Like most people, my start-of-the-year ‘to do’ list was already overflowing with unfinished business, so a request from Gabriella at DSC to pen a short blog listing five quick tips for fundraisers was not perhaps as welcome as it should have been. Still, I thought, five quick tips shouldn’t be too taxing. It wasn’t – the problem of course turned out to be the huge volume of also-important suggestions that any list of five tips has inevitably to leave out. I’m not sure the selection below contains the most crucial advice I’d like to give to today’s younger fundraisers, but they’re all valuable, useful, and practical, and if implemented consistently, would greatly improve both donors’ experiences and fundraisers’ net income.

1. Make a promise to your donors

Write it down, publish it, then live by it. Too often fundraisers market at supporters, rather than getting them on their side to create solutions together. For a specimen wide-ranging promise you can adapt for your cause, see Promise, fifth of the 6Ps document from the Commission on the Donor Experience. All of their findings can be found on Make sure everyone in your organisation knows all about your promise and understands that this is your undertaking as to how your organisation will treat its valued supporters.

2. Send donors regular consistently brilliant feedback on the difference that they make

This is invariably what donors want to know. And it’s usually a great story. So, show your donors the difference their donations make. Bring the story alive by communicating the drama, enthusiasm, and elation that can, at best, characterise the joy of giving. Practice the five Fs – commit to becoming famous for frequent, fast, fabulous feedback.

3. Master the universally accessible art of enchanting storytelling

Nothing works so well with donors as a concise, emotional story of compelling need. Just as repeated asking turns donors off, engaging stories draw them in. Learn how to tell your stories authentically, consistently, and brilliantly.

4. Don’t just ask, focus on giving a brilliant supporter experience

Fundraisers always prosper when they focus less on the money that people send in and more on the people who are sending it. So deliver delight and inspiration consistently in ways your donors will love, not cross the road to avoid. When you do this you’ll get better at your job and get more out of life. To find how to do this, join the CIoF’s supporter experience project.

5. Know your onions and master the basic fundamentals of fundraising and revisit them regularly

Read the books. Study the essence of your craft, the basic key principles of fundraising that no advances in technology or development will change.

OK, that last one demonstrates a streak of self-interest. But remember, the difference between a good fundraiser and a truly great fundraiser is that the great fundraiser simply knows more. Of course just five top tips is nowhere near enough. There are plenty of sources of information, free and paid, for fundraisers. Much fewer are the truly great sources. Find out where to find the good stuff. These links might help.

Extra Resources: