What Donors Want – Episode #28: Richard Curtis

Quote from Richard Curtis from his interview with What Donors Want podcast

Fundraisers – the twenty-eighth episode of What Donors Want is out and it features acclaimed filmmaker and Co-Founder of Comic Relief, Richard Curtis. Get ready because this may just be our best (and juiciest) episode yet!

For those who haven’t listened before, 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 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 a wide variety of donors – from the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Comic Relief. And now our twenty-eighth episode introduces the BAFTA and Emmy award-winning film writer and director, Richard Curtis. A man of many talents, Richard is not only the mastermind behind films like “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”, he is also a leading force for good in the social impact space, having co-founded Comic Relief, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals-focused Project Everyone and the ethical pension investment campaign Make My Money Matter.


During this lively podcast episode, Richard shared about what led him to social impact work, the challenges and opportunities fundraisers face today, and even a bit of Hollywood gossip.

Storytelling makes causes more accessible to everyone

It is probably safe to say that few people understand the power of storytelling more than Richard Curtis. It has been at the centre of every aspect of his career and is one of the primary tools he uses to push important causes forward. Richard emphasises the ability to make complex ideas and issues simple is one of the greatest qualities of a good storyteller.

He goes on to say how easy it is to overestimate how much the public understands, and that a passionate donor should not need to read long, complex articles in order to get involved in a cause – information should be available to everyone in a compelling, clear and digestible way.

Building a strong partnership-building practice

Richard highlighted the willingness of today’s businesses to engage in more open conversations about how they conduct themselves. He suggests businesses “are moving from corporate social responsibility to responsible social corporations”, which means fundraisers can (and should) talk with them about how they can be impact driven in their giving – but also their wider operations.

Richard did mention that organisations should, “never forget the public and how much public education does”. A fundraiser might say that there is more money in partnering with the private sector, but building a relationship with the public, and educating them, is equally as important.

Embracing digital and harnessing existing best practices

Richard brought up the impact digital fundraising has in today’s context, and how to do it best – a challenge which many organisations, including Comic Relief, are grappling with.

Richard highlights the importance of digital fundraising in building connection and activism, and suggests “study(ing) the people who are doing it best.” He goes on to name charity:water, Global Citizen, DonorsChoose, and Giving Tuesday as a few of the best digital fundraising organisations out there. 

Some might say this interview was BAFTA Award winning! You can hear the entire conversation with I.G.’s Alisha Miranda and Emily Collins-Ellis, featuring Richard Curtis, by subscribing to What Donors Want on iTunes. And stay tuned for our next episode coming soon. 

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Lauren Gross

Lauren Gross is a Philanthropy & Fundraising Advisor. She is the lead on London-based firm I.G. Advisors’ new digital platform for philanthropists and changemakers. Get in touch if you want to learn more.