Make Something, Break Something

If we’re going to fix fundraising we’re going to have to break with the past. Challenge assumptions.
Get rid of some comfortable thinking, models and even language. It’s going to be hard to let go.
It’s going to be downright scary at times.

But it’s going to be worth it. Because we have the chance to build something better. Something smarter. Something sustainable. It’s time to renew the fundraising model, culture and sector.
It’s time to fix giving.

If we’re going to fix giving, we’re going to have to put new ideas, new rules, new structures, even new people in place. But that’s just the start.

Giving fundraising a sustainable future requires a whole new ethos.
Let’s be honest, it’s not going to be easy.
But it’s going to be worth it.



We start with attitudinal segmentation. Then we overlay demographics. And every time we narrow the funnel, we discard more people we could be talking to. People who don’t just say they care about our causes, but show they do.
Thinking like this means we target small and shrinking groups – the same people everyone else targets. It’s time to think wider, bigger and smarter. Who cares about what we care about? How can we reach them, and what can we offer?


When we think beyond funnels and journeys, we’re freed to think about how we can be part of people’s lives. Meet them. Engage with them. Create value and emotional capital. Don’t assume a relationship. Stop selling. Be creative, attractive, challenging, engaging, enriching. Be there.



Recent research shows that trust in charities is at an all-time low.
In fact, a majority of people in the UK now say they trust business over the charity sector. Meanwhile, they’re increasingly looking to business, rather than charities, to fix the world’s problems.
Let’s stop assuming we deserve trust and support, and start earning it, by re-engaging people on their terms.


Altruism is alive and well. But people want to invest more of themselves in causes they care about – not just give money to help you solve the problem.

That means coming up with new models that enable people to be part of your story, not just ‘donors’. It means listening to them and letting them in. It means working with them to change the world – theirs, yours, ours.



Too many people’s engagements with charities only ever seem to turn into an ask for a direct debit. That relentless focus on a linear journey to a single product is preventing us from thinking more creatively about what people want. It’s time to stop trying to take millions of people on a journey they don’t want to go on. And think differently about the experience we offer people.


In a digital and social world, people have more access to choice, opinion and information than ever. It’s time to acknowledge that they’re free to engage on their terms, rather than having to follow a linear journey that we dictate. When we offer them more ways to collide and collaborate, we might find they have even more to offer – and that they feel in control of their engagement rather than forced into a funnel.



Giving has become too one-way. It assumes a level of trust and deference that’s dwindling fast. And it’s resulted in a culture of fundraising that’s unbalanced.

More and more people want to engage on their terms, not ours. They want to get value from the relationship, not just give it. Only by thinking about how we make people’s lives richer, can we change the story.


As fundraisers it’s been drummed into us that our job is to ask, and ask again, and that’s all. But only by thinking differently can we evolve fundraising into something more sustainable, valued and valuable. So perhaps it’s time to think about what we can give. What value we can create. How we can enrich people’s lives. What life-changing (or just fun and memorable) experiences we can offer. What emotional capital we can create in people we want to engage with. Flip the extraction model and we can change fundraising for the better.

This is a conversation not a lecture.
So let’s talk about what you think is worth keeping, what needs to change, where you think fundraising is going in your organisation and how you think we could help you get there.

If you’d like to talk further, just email or call 020 7738 1900 to set up a meeting.