Category Archives: Fundraising Advice

How To Overcome Apathy

What’s the greatest obstacle to getting support for a worthy cause according to adventure fundraiser Alastair Humphreys?

Overcoming apathy (so many people running marathons) and lack of time (so many worthy causes running events). The challenge is to be different, and to request people’s attention and money infrequently but meaningfully.

Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has some advice that might help you with this challenge.

What is the best way to overcome the apathy of the public who are approached by so many people and organizations promoting runs, marathons, challenges and adventures?

An important part of fundraising and charity is that people give to people. They might not ordinarily give to your cause, but if someone they know asks them to support or participate, they are quite likely to. So, it’s critical that your cause uses its major supporters and their contacts as much as possible.

An innovative or creative event can help too. There are so many adventure/athletic events now, so it’s helpful to be able to stand out in some way. This can be important but it pales compared to the first factor—connecting.

How can we move past simple differentiation and make an adventure and/or campaign remarkable?

It goes back to the first answer. It’s all about connection. Because at some point, the adventure is going to be get dwarfed or forgotten by the next fad or craze. Or someone’s interest changes. But a connection with a cause can remain a long time.

So we have to focus on stories, on impact—why the charity and cause exists and what change do you bring about change in the community.

In your opinion, what are the common elements of a remarkable campaign?

They’re all about the donor. We say that effective and ethical fundraising is donor-centered—it has to be about the donor. Engaging the donor. Inspiring the donor. Making them feel like they are part of something. That they’re doing more than just making a gift—they’re making a difference. It’s about communicating with them, from beginning to the end, and making them feel part of the movement and cause.

I would also add that dividing the campaign into distinct achievable elements is also important. Particular for programs when you’re training or raising funds, divide the major goal into sub-goals. Congratulate participants on key accomplishments throughout the process. Positive feedback and encouragement is also critical.

Do you have any tips on creating campaigns that people choose to talk about, regardless of what the others are doing?

With so many of these kinds of adventures happening now, don’t be afraid to try something new. But always do so with the donor in mind. You may think you know what’s best for your donors and supporters, but we always can stand a good check. Talk with your strongest supporters and see what they think. They can be your best minds and provide good perspective.


Rough Road Photo credit: carolina terp via photopin cc


Will Fear Stop You Before You Start?

What’s the greatest obstacle to taking on a major challenge to support a worthy cause according to adventure fundraiser Jamie McDonald?

“Publicly announcing that you’re about to take on a challenge that you don’t know is possible. Once it’s out there, the fear will get to you if you let it.”

Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has some advice that might help us face down that fear.

“I would say remember WHY you’re doing it, and connect it back to your cause and mission,” Nilsen stated. “The people who are supporting you and the cause WANT you to succeed—they’re on your side. You’re not going to let them down because the attempt – and bringing awareness to the cause—is the main part of what you’re doing.”

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 30,000 members in 235 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs.  The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.

Even for people who love adventure, fundraising can be more intimidating than an expedition. Where to start?

Arming ourselves with knowledge can help us face this fear, just like with any other challenge. There is a code of ethical principles and standards that fundraisers use.  According to Nilsen, all fundraisers should be aware of them, though some apply specifically to professional fundraisers.

“The Donor Bill of Rights is probably where fundraisers should start. This list spells out explicitly what donors should expect when making a gift and what charities should provide. I think it will help fundraisers to let their supporters know they’re following this Donor Bill of Rights.”

Photo credit: Andrew_D_Hurley via photopin cc