Run Johnny Run


Im always amazed at people who can do marathons and ironmans and triathlons, I can barely make it to the gym for 30 minutes!

This is former Sawdoctor (irish band) Johnny Donnelly who has set himself an incredible challenge. He plans to run a marathon a month for 4 years. Thats 48 marathons, over 2000 miles, more than 43 countries. Its all in aid of Seachange a new Irish charity working to eradicate world poverty through micro credit – giving tiny loans to the world’s poorest to help them help themselves.

Johnny doesnt want to do this alone, he wants people to join him, you can do that here

Inherited Wealth

I hope the Major Gifts Guru doesnt mind me sharing these great tips on approaching heirs of  inherited wealth:

Here are 3 points from the article about listening to inherited wealth’s attitudes toward their money:

  • What is the heir’s role when it comes to the inheritance? Does he/she want to guard it, share it, or grow it?
  • Is the heir the first person in the family to potentially guide family philanthropy, or does a legacy of giving already exist? Is a family foundation in place? Who are the trustees?
  • What are the heir’s interests? Where do his/her passions lie? How are heir’s intentions for wealth similar to or different from whom he/she inherited it?
  • Public Perception and Charity Reality – Gap

    You may have seen the new poll released by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO). It shows a scary gap between the public’s understanding of charities and the reality. ACEVO believes this could lead to an erosion of trust and confidence in ‘the special relationship’ the public has with charities.

    ACEVO believes that charities need to have a much more honest relationship with the public and it is calling on the sector to become more accountable and transparent to prevent an erosion of public confidence.

    ACEVO is, as a result, leading a coalition of 240 charities and trade bodies to draw up a ‘transparency manifesto’ which it will urge all charities to sign-up to. It will also seek the backing of the Charity Commission.

    ACEVO’s key public survey findings are:

    • Nearly 50% think there are less than 70,000 registered charities in England and Wales. Only 16% identified the right ballpark figure of over 170,000

    • 77% of respondents were unable to correctly identify the right bracket of the number of people working in the charity sector as between 500,000 and 750,000

    • On average charities spend 12.5% on their overheads. Only 20% of the public got this figure in the right ballpark. 61% of the public thought they spent more than 20% on overheads

    • 52% estimated that the total annual income for charities was less than £20 billion – it is in fact more than £30 billion

    • Only 16% were in the right ballpark on the average income charities receive from government as government grants, income and loans. Charities receive £11.5 billion from government

    I agree with ACEVO’s viewpoint that charities need to be more transparent. We can’t blame the public for their perceptions  if we dont commuicate with them properly.

    There was a post on the Bluefrog Creative Blog this week with a similar theme, called Why do people think charities waste money? Because we don’t prove them wrong? They made the point that:

    Whenever we work with charities on recruitment pieces, we encourage them to use the basic statistic of how many pence in the pound go on ‘real work’.

    You’d be surprised how many are reluctant to do so. When asked why, some point out that another charity has a better statistic. But by that, they may mean only one or two pence more are spent in the ways that are easiest to justify to a supporter.

    It’s a great shame if a charity doesn’t share their figures on the basis of just one or two per cent.

    We kind of only have ourselves to blame

    Hunt for the Best Fundraising Video in the World

    The Resource Alliance is seeking out the best fundraising video from across the world with the launch of the Gold Star Award for Non-Profit Video Advertising 2009.  For the first time, the Award scheme has been extended to include online fundraising videos, not just DRTV. 
    Sponsored by Rapp, the Gold Star Award will be presented to the best fundraising video advert submitted from across the globe, selected by a live audience at the annual International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in Holland (20-23 October). 

    To make a submission, fundraising videos must be uploaded to YouTube and an online application form completed online at The judging panel will select a short list of the top entries, which will then be displayed at the IFC, where delegates will again get the chance to vote for the advert they think best.
    Last year’s competition for the best DRTV appeal was won in a popular vote by the UK charity NSPCC, which beat off challenges from Canadian, Mexican and other UK NGOs.
    Entry Details – Gold Star Award for Non-Profit Video Advertising
    Upload fundraising videos at:
    Submit your applications at:
    Deadline for submissions: 25 September 2009

    Take the Donor-Centered Pledge (or die)

    This is from the fantastic Ahern Communications email.

    23 rules to live by

    We, [fill in the name of your nonprofit organization here], believe…

     1. That donors are essential to the success of our mission.

    2. That gifts are not “cash transactions.” And that donors are not merely a bunch of interchangeable, easily replaceable credit cards, checkbooks and wallets.

    3. That no one “owes” us a gift just because our mission is worthy.

    4. That any person who chooses to become our donor has enormous potential to assist the mission.

    5. That having a program for developing a relationship with that donor is how organizations tap that enormous potential.

    6. That we waste that potential when donors are not promptly thanked.

    7. That “lifetime value of a donor” is the best (though often overlooked) way to evaluate “return on investment” in fundraising.

    8. That donors are more important than donations. Those who currently make small gifts are just as interesting to us as those who currently make large gifts.

    9. That acquiring first-time donors is easy but keeping those donors is hard.

    10. That many first-time gifts are no more than “impulse purchases” or “first dates.”

    11. That we’ll have to work harder for the second gift than we did for the first.

    12. That a prerequisite for above-average donor retention is a well-planned donor-centric communications program that begins with a welcome.

    13. That donors want to have faith in us, and that it’s our fault if they don’t.

    14. That donors want to make a difference in the world — and that every gift is an attempt to achieve that goal.

    15. That donors are investors. They invest in doing good. They expect their investment to prosper, or they’ll invest somewhere else.

    16. That we earn the donor’s trust by reporting on our accomplishments and efficiency.

    17. That individual donors respond to our appeals for personal reasons we can only guess at.

    18. That asking a donor why she or he gave a first gift to us will likely lead to an amazingly revealing conversation.

    19. That fundraising serves the donor’s emotional needs as much as it serves the organization’s financial needs.

    20. That we are in the “feel good” business. Donors feel good when they help make the world a better place. We sell joy, the joy of “feeling like you [the donor] have made a difference.”

    21. That a prime goal of fundraising communications is to satisfy basic human needs such as the donor’s need to feel important and worthwhile.

    22. That the donor’s perspective defines what is a “major” gift. Is $250 a major gift? Many organizations would say no. Most donors would say yes. The donor’s always right.

    23. That, for the donor, every first gift to a new cause can open a door to a strange and exciting world, and you’re the guide to that world, through your communications.

    Nominations for Fundraising Ireland Awards close soon

    The closing date for the National Fundraising Awards is approaching fast, 5pm on Tuesday, 1 September.

    The Awards – which are presented by Fundraising Ireland and The Wheel with support from Vodafone Ireland Foundation – are Ireland’s only accolade for fundraisers.

    Voluntary or professional fundraisers can be nominated in one or more of the following categories:
    • Fundraiser of The Year
    • Fundraising Campaign of The Year
    • Community Fundraiser of The Year

    Nominations must be made online at by 5pm on Tuesday, 1 September

    Organisations don’t speak

    I was sent a message on facebook the other day from an organisation I support.

    But an organisation isn’t capable of posting a message is it!

    How hard would it have been to have said…Hi its Conor here from organisation X and I have some exciting news for you…..etc…

    I see it all too often where anonymous people send out group mails….it doesn’t make sense to me. Say who you are, make it personal.

    Small Change

    You may have just written an amazing letter, come up with a wonderful campaign, designed a great new proposal.

    But is it?

    A small simple change could turn it from amazing and wonderfully to brilliant and unstoppable. I was reminded today of the need to take a step back from things that I am doing and to be open to small changes that could make what you do better than amazing.

    Allow yourself the time in your planning to have others, with fresh eyes, take a look. And defend stoically your decision to do so. It could be the difference, it could mean brilliance.

    Back soon…..


    Im off for a while, taking some leave until August 18th. I had hoped to have a guest blogger posting while I was away but it hasnt worked out.

    See you in a short while and thanks for reading.


    Concern Worldwide and Gates Foundation Grant: An Interview


    You probably heard the news last week about Concern Worldwide getting a grant from the Gates Foundation of 41 million dollars. I was so delighted to hear the news that such a great organisation had secured this grant. Of course the 30 second news clips weren’t enough for me, so I asked Richard Dixon, Director of Fundraising at Concern Worldwide, would he mind answering some questions for me. He kindly said yes and here is how we got on:


    Congratulations on Gates Foundation grant, how was the news broken?

    The relationship with the Gates Foundation is managed through our US office, so they had to release the news (8am New York time) and as soon as it was publicly available in the US, we released it here to the various outlets. At the same time, we sent an email to a group of our key supporters and contacts to ensure that they heard it from us.

    I am intrigued to know more about the process involved, I imagine it was a pretty in depth pitch?

    We responded to a call for proposals issued by the Foundation just over one year ago. Concern were selected from short list of 15 to submit a proposal. We finally got confirmation last November that we were successful. We spent the intervening period establishing the structures within Concern, recruiting key staff and confirming the working arrangements within each country of operation.

    What do you think tipped it in favour of Concern

    Concern has over 40 years experience working and collaborating with communities throughout the world. Our approach is always to listen to the needs of communities and to work with them to find solutions. Concern has a history of researching and developing new projects and solutions in the sectors of healthcare, education, livelihoods and emergency response – for us, trying new and innovative solutions is nothing new! It is a huge honour to be selected by the Gates Foundation and it is recognition of the high quality of our work and the respect that Concern has, both at an international level and on the ground.

    The projects your are going to fund are being described as Dragons’ Den-style initiative to identify new ways of improving essential healthcare in Africa and South Asia, can you tell us some more about that?

    The aim is to understand the key challenges to delivering healthcare to mothers and children in the countries we are targeting. We will then invite people from all sectors of society to submit ideas on how they would propose solving these challenges.

    We’re particularly interested in hearing from those who may not traditionally have a voice, allowing them to share their ideas, their solutions. We really want to seek out solutions as far and as wide as we possibly can, recognizing that the most innovative solutions may come from the most unexpected sources. In order to reach out to the broad community we will use channels such as national radio, community radio, television, websites, newspapers, public notice boards, professional organizations and associations, word-of-mouth, community outreach, and travelling fairs.

    We will then carefully assess the ideas, short-list the ones with most potential to have greatest impact and then work to further develop those ideas. It’s a bit like the “Dragon’s Den” for Development!

    It’s a different type of collaboration, involving the private sector, universities, entrepreneurs, community leaders and mothers. Every sector of society will be invited to help find the solutions. The public call for ideas will start in Malawi in September. Sierra Leone and India will follow suit in November. Three more countries will be added to the project in 2010. The total duration of the project will be 5 years.

    How do you plan on communicating the results you will have or will that be done through the Gates Foundation?

    The results of the research emerging from the Project will be made available to the public in a way that maximizes the benefits to the developing world.

    You are being described as a conduit for the funds, how will this work

    Legally, the funding agreement is with Concern US Inc and will be implemented by Concern Worldwide (“Concern” – headquarted in Dublin).

    Are there strict guidelines in place the use of the funds in terms of how you administer it

    Absolutely. The funding is very specific to this initiative and cannot be used for Concern’s other programmes.

    What is the time scale of the grant?

    It’s a five year programme which will be delivered across 6 countries.

    Do you think this will have any impact on your fundraising, either positively or negatively (or maybe a bit of both) here or Worldwide.

    We were very away of both the potential benefits and risk in announcing the grant. The risk is that supporters might conclude that a grant such as this meant they did not need to support Concern financially anymore. We have tried to make clear that funding for the Gates project is for the specific purposes of finding new solutions to maternal and child health in the six project countries. It is in essence a grant to fund research and development work to investigate new ways to tackle health care challenges. We cannot use this money for any of our current work in our 28 countries of operation. Thus we continue to need the support of the public for vital ongoing programs. On the up-side, the grant has been seen as the strongest possible endorsement of Concern’s way of working, and we’re hoping that this will open other doors for us.

    What do you, personally , see as the being big Impact of this grant

    The whole point of this initiative is to come up with breakthrough solutions and so the investment is in the idea of a ‘public good’ which can be applied across the world to save millions of lives.