Ten lessons learned at the Scottish Fundraising Conference

By Ellie Revell

5 minute Read


  • Insight

Scottish Fundraising Conference 2019 collateral

This week Dragonfly had the pleasure of attending the Institute of Fundraising’s Scottish Fundraising Conference. The packed out event was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central and allowed us to immerse ourselves in the latest best practices, insights and successes from the Scottish fundraising community. Having recently joined the IoF, we loved catching up with some of our clients and making new friends.

Here are our top ten lessons we learned at the conference:

1. Capture donors as individuals.

Build meaningful relationships with potential donors so they understand your purpose, your message and everything about your charity. In turn, you’ll understand them better as an individual. They’ll be inclined to be more loyal to your charity and you’ll be more personalised and targeted when communicating with them. Gerald Richards of The Super Power Agency aptly put it this way: “Time and money are the most valuable things a person has. If you want someone to spend both with you, you need to invest in them on an individual level too.”

2. A personal touch makes a difference.

At Brain Tumour Research, the CEO hand-signs every letter. This is a nice personalised touch that’s not incredibly uncommon. What sets Brain Tumour Research apart is their PS – each letter gets a personalised one. You’ll get a personalised message depending on who you are and why you’re engaged with the charity. This shows that Brain Tumour Research really get to know each donor and shows the donor that they are valued, not just their donation.

3. It’s okay to say no as a community fundraiser.

Everything can start to seem like an opportunity to further the cause and brand of your charity, but it’s ok to acknowledge when you simply can’t do it all. Niki Bell of CharityNikki says “no doesn’t have to be a negative – and you can always turn the no into a positive opportunity”. Connect stakeholders with others from your team that can help. Or, say yes but build it into something that will be more purposeful. This is one we think can be adapted to any work place.

4. Online donations and online awareness are different things.

As it turns out, 46% of people can’t remember which charity they donated to the last time they supported a friend online. Can you? Many of us may donate to a friend running a marathon for charity without paying attention to which charity it is. It’s important for charities to make their online presence more recognisable. Just because they pull in a lot in donations doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re also growing brand awareness.

Opening talk of the Scottish Fundraising Conference 2019

5. The three questions to ask when writing snappy copy:

Who are you talking to? What do you want them to do? Why do they need to do it right now? This is essential for letter-writing. Cut out the added details and stick to the point! Keep the potential donor’s attention and get to all the important things right away.

6. You don’t have to focus on the negative to evoke a response.

Headlines that turn heads don’t need to focus on the worst parts of why your charity does what it does. Base your headline off your target audience and make it about what your charity does. Shock-value can work, but it isn’t everything. Sometimes people will respond better to an uplifting headline that urges them to help rather than one that pressures them to.

7. Test, test, test!

Cats Protection put on a positively wonderful presentation all about their most recent digital marketing campaign. What we learned is that digital, like direct mail, takes some testing to get perfect. Test, learn, optimise, expand! Identify your targets and then test some communication options. Take your results, cut down to the most successful designs and build off them to expand your strategy.

8. Everyone can leave a legacy.

Approximately 1 in 5 people in Scotland are retired and these retirees are likely to be updating their wills. But how do charities pitch the right ask? Founder of Radcliffe Consulting, Richard Radcliffe told us that everyone has the capacity to donate in their will, but the current demographic, Baby Boomers, want to dedicate this money to a charity they know will have an impact on the future. Charities should be targeting Baby Boomers to give them the idea to leave their charity a legacy. Individual giving is growing, but legacies are often a forgotten pathway to giving.

9. Volunteers are your ambassadors, nurture your network.

Don’t think of a volunteer as someone who just collects donations. They are often the first point of contact the public have with your charity. Plus, they’re the people who get to know you best! They share about you on social media, with their family, their friends and colleagues. They are also potential donors, and they’re likely to be loyal ones. Invest in your volunteers and nurture your relationship with them, it’s one of the most valuable ones you have!

10. Create a journey that surprises and delights.

We found the biggest take-away was how important it is to create a journey for the donor. Make sure the journey is one that builds a relationship between the donor and the charity. Always think about what you can offer in return for their donations. For example, if someone runs a race to raise funds for your charity, send them a congratulations and thank you card when they finish. Make sure they feel like their efforts are seen and appreciated!

Ellie Revell image

About the author

Ellie is an enthusiastic and driven member of the team and approaches all situations with a can-do attitude. Ellie has worked across a variety of industries and clients, providing efficient and successful solutions for clients, anchored by 4 years of experience, the JICMAIL Silver Award and DMA direct mail qualifications. Ellie particularly loves working with charity clients, knowing that the success of a campaign goes towards the amazing work they do.