You can't annoy people into giving any more, says fundraising consultant

Alan Clayton tells the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands that this is not a sustainable model

UK fundraisers can no longer rely on a model of fundraising that annoys donors into giving, according to the fundraising consultant Alan Clayton.

Speaking at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands yesterday, Clayton said fundraisers were being forced to leave their jobs frequently because they did not feel respected within organisations, and the problem was particularly bad at smaller charities.

He said organisations would not succeed at fundraising unless they appreciated that they were raising money for the benefit of the beneficiaries, not the organisation.

"The model of fundraising that became popular in the UK – of annoying people so much they give you money to go away – made a lot of money, but it isn’t sustainable fundraising," he said,

He said great fundraising was about growth and sustainability, and was mission-driven.

"The key for fundraising success is long-term thinking," Clayton said.

The best-performing teams were those that kept their staff longer and motivated them effectively, he added.

"At this point, the number-one reason fundraisers leave their posts is not the salary, it’s not the state of the offices, it’s not the coffee machine," he said. "It’s constantly getting beaten up by other people inside the organisation. They get fed up of internal criticism and go somewhere else where they hope it will be better.

"And normally where it’s better is a much larger organisation, which means the smaller organisations end up feeding the bigger ones because the bigger ones have a bigger professional ring-fence around their fundraising department and more respect for the profession."

Clayton said that, in many organisations, the fundraising director was not given as much seniority as other departmental directors.

He said the most motivated fundraisers he had encountered were those working where the fundraising leadership ensured the fundraiser felt connected to the mission and was able to see the impact their work was having.

Leadership thinking had a significant impact on an organisation’s fundraising success and the value placed on fundraisers throughout the organisation, he said.

"In the organisations that failed to fundraise, the boards of directors viewed it their job to save money carefully," Clayton said. "In all the great organisations the boards had the attitude that it was their job to spend as much money as possible on the cause and therefore to raise as much money as possible.

"We are not raising money to fund the budget deficits of our organisations," he said. "We are raising money to make the world a better place, and the job of communications is to get the organisation the hell out of the way. It’s not about us, and that’s difficult."

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