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What Donors Want – Episode #4: Nick Jenkins of Dragons’ Den

Howard Lake | 6 February 2018 | Blogs

The fourth episode of What Donors Want is out featuring philanthropist, Nick Jenkins, founder of Moonpig and former Dragons’ Den judge.
For those who haven’t listened yet, What Donors Want is a podcast by I.G. Advisors, which offers a fresh, dynamic (and slightly irreverent) view into major gifts fundraising from the donor’s perspective. Each episode, we interview a different kind of major donor and get right down to it: what do they actually want from the fundraisers who cultivate them. All of this and more – straight from the donor’s mouth.
Our past episodes feature the Hewlett Foundation, Kiawah Trust and Comic Relief. And now our fourth episode features the philanthropist you’ll recognise as the Founder of Moonpig (the greeting card website with that catchy jingle), and famed BBC Dragons’ Den judge.
When Nick Jenkins sold Moonpig in 2011, he endowed the Nick Jenkins Foundation, and has spent the last seven years helping thousands of people as an angel investor and philanthropist, particularly around reproductive health in Africa.

Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs vs. major gift fundraisers

Nick Jones' quote for What Donors Want
We were very eager to interrogate Nick on the differences between entrepreneurs pitching for start-up investment on Dragons’ Den versus major gift fundraisers pitching for grant funding. The answer was fascinating. We spoke about appetites for risk and failure, and how this differs between charitable donors and business investors. And how charities should tailor their approach for strategic philanthropists who have a more sophisticated understanding of social change. In the words of Nick, “an awful lot of pitches I see from charities are too glossy. These problems are complicated and I want to deal with the truth.”

The donor’s dilemma

Nick Jones' quote for What Donors Want
Nick also spoke to the unique perspective of major donors who are trying to support systemic social change, but require the expertise and leadership of charities to do so. Hearing him address the power dynamic in this context was fascinating, and something every major gift fundraiser should remember when cultivating and soliciting.
As a philanthropist, Nick Jenkins is a kind of holy grail – he understands failure, approaches his giving with humility, and isn’t afraid to fund causes that others deem ‘risky’. Our interview was illuminating and valuable, and he even shared a few thoughts on the UK’s incoming GDPR regulation in the context of profiling major donors (as well as a unique take on speaking Russian that you won’t want to miss).
You can hear the entire conversation between me, I.G.’s Juliet Cockram Agnew, and Nick Jenkins by subscribing to What Donors Want on iTunes. And stay tuned for our very exciting next guest, coming shortly.


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