- The best advice I've had
Probably to ensure that when a charity makes an ask of a major donor, it should come from the most relevant person in the organisation, which is usually the person the donor has had initial contact with. This could be the day-to-day account manager, the chief executive or a trustee.
- The biggest challenge I've faced
Asking a major donor to help fund a programme that was still being developed, with no budgets yet finalised. The charity I was working at needed the money for initial core funding to start the programme of work, but the donor wanted more details before parting with their money. It was about finding a balance and, more importantly, understanding the donor's viewpoint. In this instance it helped that we had confidence in our programme of work, so we could get the donor to buy in to our new ideas.
- My greatest hit
I recruited a new major donor who has been so inspired by the conservation and other work we do that they now host fundraising parties for WWF-UK throughout the year, where guests and friends must make donations in order to attend. We get unrestricted funds as well as lots of opportunities for donor prospecting without incurring any costs. It's a dream.
- My worst moment
At the Royal Gala event we held in 2007, we had to ask guests to bring photographic ID as well as a utility bill to verify their identity because a member of the royal family was in attendance. One guest did not bring any ID, which caused major issues at the entrance. Royal security wouldn't let them in, tempers were frayed on both sides and it was down to me to manage the whole situation.
After several frantic phone calls, we were able to verify the imposter's identity and to allow them to be escorted through the front door. Thankfully, everyone ended up happy.
- My top tip
Listen to your donors' needs and requirements. Always allow them to tell you how they want to be communicated with and don't try to put all major donors in the same box. It won't work. Be mindful of charity limitations. You can always say no if the request from the donor is not practical or is not in keeping with your mission.