askblog

Are you looking for supporters in all the wrong places?

- Jul 5 2018

Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re living through strange times. From Trump to Brexit, the old certainties are being swept away and fundraising is no different.

For copywriter Aline Reed, this means fundraisers need to stop repeating what we’ve done in the past. We need to innovate, we need to meet our supporters where they want to meet us, and we need to build long-term relationships with our donors through powerful storytelling. How we go about doing that is one of the big questions we’ll discuss over two days at Summer School this July...

Q1. What big changes or challenges do you see coming down the track for fundraising?

I've dusted down my crystal ball and gazed into the future – it's horrifying and unbelievable. An unstable lunatic has become U.S. President and the country I live in is trying to regress to a golden age of isolation that never existed. At the same time, charities are being hit by a series of senseless scandals that is testing even the most loyal of supporters. Worse still, it's possible I've confused the television for a crystal ball and this is reality.

Given I'm struggling with the present, I make no claim to understand the future, but what's clear to me is that charities can no longer repeat what they did in the past and expect the same outcomes when it comes to fundraising.

Q2. How do you think fundraisers can best prepare or adapt for those changes?

Fundraising as we knew it – going out and finding supporters for a charity – is becoming increasingly difficult for a variety of reasons it would be tedious to list here. We all know them. Charities need to shift their attention to those points, on and offline, where potential supporters are coming into contact with them (often actively seeking them out).

Depending on the cause, this might be because someone needs help or information themselves. It might be they are giving unwanted clothes to their local charity shop. Or it might be there is a personal reason or world event that has motivated the person to give a donation. All too often this is the start and the end of their relationship with a charity, but that needs to change.

My view is that charities have to focus on their core work and do it well – then, at every point that potential supporters come close to them inspire them to give. They should also be looking after their existing supporters very well, because they're precious.

Q3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about fundraising?

Nothing motivates giving more than telling true, emotional stories.

Q4. What has got you excited about coming to Summer School this July?

I can't pick out one speaker, because there's a whole list I want to hear. People have told me that Summer School is not like other conferences and I'm looking forward to that.

Join Aline at Summer School in Trinity on the 12 & 13 July.