Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

I wish I’d thought of that

I wish I’d thought of that
I wish I'd thought of that

On 31 May, hundreds of fundraisers gathered in London to hear 22 fundraising professionals share which they wished they had thought of. I was proud to be included in the line up of speakers.

I took some away from every single presentation. So that’s at least 22 inspirations (if I include my own). And here they are in brief.

1. Amnesty International’s first ever direct mail pen pack points out that the pen you hold in your hands is an instrument of torture. One of the many important elements of this campaign is the importance of spelling out the truth.

2. Plan International’s SMS campaign linking the impact of your donation to a child in a developing country. Understanding donors is important, for example people are very attached to their phones, many sleep with them so don’t send updates at night.

3. Movember asks men to grow a moustache for the month of November to raise money and awareness for a range of male cancers. Key is to make your campaign idea simple and fun.

4. Charity Water bringing clean safe water to people in developing countries. It is a big idea, it’s honest and demonstrates how stories told online with great images and video makes a big impact.

5. MNDA’s campaign telling the story of the bravery of Jon Bell showing the world what it was like to live with motor neurone disease. Shows the impact of honest storytelling and making it real for donors.

6. Send a Cow Christmas thank you campaign; how the whole organisation got involved in thanking, which helped connect donors to the cause, helped staff work together and made donors feel good about giving. Which is core to good fundraising.

7. Prostate Cancer Research Foundation Give a few Bob campaign in which Bob Monkhouse leads a campaign to raise awareness about the cancer that killed him. A real story about a real person; but let’s not all rush out and find ourselves dead celebrities.

8. GOSH campaign using the rubble from the bombed hospital to fundraise to build a new one. They achieved this in 1945 before the war was over. For me this was about the emotional story and sheer determination. This campaign came from the archives and will be on sofii soon.

9. Live Aid – The first ever event of its kind, two concerts held in London and Philadelphia watched by over two billion people in 160 countries. A great example of peer-to-peer fundraising combined with an urgent and passionate ask (and a bit of swearing) for outstanding results.

10. UNICEF tele-facing campaign in India. Looking outside of the charity sector and outside of the UK for techniques that work elsewhere and adapting them for testing in your organsiation. We must get better at seeking out, borrowing and adapting from other places.

11. I CAN adopt-a-word campaign. ‘It costs us nothing to use a word; but being wordless costs a child everything.’ Another simple idea and the importance of a beautiful, engaging and personal welcome pack.

12. YMCA ‘give a pound’ campaign. The returns were astounding and my take out is; if you cant tell people why they should give a pound to your organisation – then you are in trouble.

13. Greenpeace, the creators of face-to-face fundraising. We must help people to learn to love face-to-face. It is the golden goose of fundraising and raises £130 million in the UK each year for charity.

14. Help the Aged and the value of a simple and attractive proposition. Would you be more compelled to help old people with disabilities in another country or to give £10 and make a blind man see?

15. Kiva‘s microfinance model means that we can all become philanthropists and lend to small business start-ups around the world. Connecting donors/lenders and showing them the difference they have made is really important.

16. SCF Gaza text campaign shows the amazing results charities can achieve when campaigning and fundraising teams work together. We must get better at working iike this if we are going to do the very best we can for the causes we fundraise for.

17. Plan child sponsorship. As humans, we all have emotional needs and child sponsorship works when it facilitates some of those. However, there must be a genuine exchange based on empathy not sympathy.

18. Botton Village and the value and importance of giving donors choices

19. Amnesty press adverts – Hard hitting and political. My take out is that it is our responsibility to give magic and inspiration to creative agencies so that they can produce this raw and hard-hitting work.

20. Macmillan Biggest Coffee Morning and their clever way of capturing data by entering The Coffee Morning into the Guinness book of records. “We need your details to prove it is a world record” Genius.

21. Doctors without Borders in Spain developed sweets packets that were distributed through pharmacies and sold for one Euro. Each sweet represented a disease and the active curing ingredient was love – which binds humanity. Got me to think about what emotion charities would sell on a supermarket shelf.

22. Greenpeace worked with Barbie and Ken on a campaign to get Mattel to stop destroying rainforests to make cheaper toy packaging. See for yourself the moment when Ken discovers the terrible truth here.

If you couldn’t make the event, video coverage will be available on the sofii website shortly. Some of the ideas we wished we had thought of are not on sofii yet. But they will be soon. So sign up to sofii to get alerts when they are published.

If don’t get something from ‘I wish I thought of that’ event or sofii that will help your fundraising, as Ken Burnett neatly summarised, “Check your pulse because you are probably dead”.

Lucy has been fundraising for over 10 years for a range of organisations and causes; from a lone fundraising, communications and marketing function in a small charity to part of specialist fundraising teams in larger organisations. Lucy has experience of trust, statutory, corporate, community and events fundraising. She was responsible for innovation and product development at the NSPCC, delivering a fundraising innovation strategy to help fundraisers to be more creative in their approach and delivery of fundraising. She also worked with the child protection consultancy team, developing ideas and delivering pilot projects to ensure that the NSPCC provides world-class consultancy and training to organisations working with children.

Lucy is passionate about innovation and how it can transform organisational and individual performance and, ultimately, make a difference to the causes that we fundraise for.

Lucy is now a freelance trainer and consultant specialsing in helping individuals and organisations think more creatively to get better results. Lucy is an active blogger on fundraising and innovation and regularly speaks at conferences both in the UK and overseas.

You can follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyinnovation or contact Lucy at or via her personal blog.

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