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On developing a fresh approach and bringing it to life for fundraisers

On developing a fresh approach and bringing it to life for fundraisers

Maggie’s Centres are for anyone affected by cancer. They are places that cancer patients, their friends and families can go for professional advice, a community of support in a beautiful environment.

In 1993 when co-founder Maggie Keswick Jenks was told that her breast cancer had spread to her bones liver and brain and she experienced first hand the lack of supportive environments for those affected by cancer to reflect, to cope or just to be.

Maggie died in 1994, but the idea for Maggie’s Cancer Centres was born. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and today there are 15 centres in place, being built or actively planned.

Maggie’s story is inspirational. The centres are beautifully designed works of art. When I visited the Edinburgh centre, I was unsure of the address. I told the taxi driver it would be whatever building looked completely different to anything else at the hospital. When I said that he knew exactly where I meant.

300,000 people in the UK are told every day they have cancer. There is a huge need for the support that Maggie’s centres provide. Their fundraising team are pretty inspirational too and have ambitious targets.

In order to make a step change in their fundraising, a change of thinking is required. I worked with Stephen George, Director of Fundraising at Maggie’s and his senior team to develop a fresh approach to their fundraising and to bring it to life for fundraisers.

The shift in thinking was achieved through the development of a set of principles that encourages fundraising teams to work together closely to provide an outstanding experience for the donor. Key to this approach is

• Putting the donor first – every time, not the organisation or the fundraising team target

• Shifting from a mindset that fundraising is just asking for money – to fundraising being about giving people the opportunity to make a difference

• It is all fundraisers’ jobs to seek insight to inform new fundraising ideas

I delivered a workshop at Maggie’s fundraising teams two-day conference to help fundraisers understand the principles and what that meant for their everyday fundraising.

The conference itself was (not surprisingly) inspiring and I loved working with such a vibrant and committed team. I heard about exciting expansion plans and some hugely powerful personal stories about the people that Maggie’s have helped. Connecting to the cause and telling stories are essential skills for fundraisers. This team has these skills in abundance.

With key principles driving their fundraising and the whole team working together to bring them to life, I look forward to seeing what new fundraising developments will emerge from Maggie’s over the coming months. These new developments will be vital to recruit new supporters and further engage current supporters and enable Maggie’s to continue to expand their unique blend of vital support and care for people with cancer and their families.

Lucy Gower is a freelance trainer and consultant specializing in helping individuals and organisations think more creatively to get better results.

She is an active blogger on fundraising and and regularly speaks at conferences both in the UK and overseas.

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


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