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The village fete in english summer sunshine. Rows of stalls around the green and the makeshift stage, held together by committees and clubs, by local heroes of all generations

Among the tombolas, the tea, the crafts, and the cakes you encounter sweet moments of gentleness and civility, of enterprise and giving, of order, nostalgia and ritual yet happy chaos and impulse. A place on display, at its best, at its most magnificint. Full witness to how generations share and hand on together. The village fete is once every so often, but this goes on quietly the next day and the next and every day.

A short reflection after a sun kissed afternoon in England is that this is not just about this ideal place on this perfect day. It happens everywhere, with everyone who makes it happen. And where this mixture, this potent life force does exist, then each generation they touch stands a real chance of living life to its full. Of belonging. Of handing on. Of giving more than taking.

This is the currency of community.

listening

There is an essential logic in fundraising. Hearts, minds and cash. The mantra for this is no gift is made without emotion to drive it.  The moment you connect. A close spark or bond created. This remains true above all with legacy gifts. But we often focus on function first – wills, probate, tax. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we don’t  understand. Maybe we don’t know. Either way it’s not where transformational legacy gifts sit and it’s not where donors start.  Here’s 10 emotional connections for legacy fundraising to get you connecting

  1. Find your founder story and relive it though the eyes of your founders
  2. Systematically collect and share stories
  3. Recognise long-term consideration of a gift will start with an emotional connection
  4. Understand the motivation for giving is emotional and won’t always be remembered
  5. Teach your organisation to be able to have a legacy conversation as you would to a trusted friend
  6. Show the work and the inspirational transformation made by legacy gifts
  7. Join up legacy admin so its part of the gift process and joy of giving
  8. Do everything possible to make face to face happen
  9. Reassure donors about their fears and barriers – soothe them
  10. Find and use your own personal connection to legacies

So – uncover the emotion, dig deep, be brave, open your hearts – but above all, connect.

There are 3 magic questions every donor or supporter should hear. For everyone. Whilst simple, they are a way to the heart of that persons giving.

The 3 questions are these.

How did you first get involved with us?

Why did you choose to support us?

Tell me your story

Ask these then listen. Ask and we honour them. We tune in and we gain insight.

And they feel good.

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Thank you. Simple words and simple sentiment. Trips off the tongue and the page. Yet in reality, it can be completely boring we don’t even see it. Time for an upgrade.

First thing first. Why is it boring? Because it doesn’t feel like its heartfelt. A template more likely. Where is the art? Where is the love? If you were delivering a thank you speech you would give it a lot more attention wouldn’t you? But a letter. So imagine treating it like a creative writing exercise. As if you meant o connect and meant to make them sparkle when they saw it. Wouldn’t that be magic? So to upgrade do this.

  1. Keep some structure in your head – hello, what they did, the difference, thank you, where next, more
  2. See the person in front and see how they might feel
  3. Now upgrade to making a connection as if they are your friend (because in fundraising, friend raising comes first remember)
  4. Now flow, just write with love

Here’s a letter that appeared in a local newspaper saying thank you for a collection.

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A sleep walking letter. But what if you created some art. Here’s the same thank you.

Imagine the scene last January outside Tesco’s. Streams of shoppers place gifts one by one into collecting tins held by warm-hearted but cold fingered volunteers. By a warm fire later, each volunteer was able to smile at the sum of those cold fingers – £1317 for our hospice. That’s the price for 5 nights of Hospice at Home care giving families the break they need from daily caring.

Thank you really matters, because without those volunteers and shoppers, we could not deliver the love and care we are able to daily. We wanted to share our thank you publicly.

We would love others to join us and help us do more. Its an inspiring place – everyone is welcome in our family – so if you are interested and want to explore please send me an email at XXXX or call me on XXXXXX.

Thats’s how you upgrade. Love and art. Try it.

 

facts or myths determine

We need trustees. Good ones, calm ones, listening ones. But sometimes, some of our trustees believe weird things. Like conspiracy theories that gain currency, some trustees can interpret their understandable and limited knowledge with the gossip and hearsay that sometimes surround fundraising. A dangerous and toxic mix we need to avoid if we are to move forward. So here are a few we hear every so often and a few slightly exasperated yet young in cheek responses I am sure we have all felt but may not have said.

  1. You don’t need to spend money to raise money – Yes well it’s all for free isn’t it, like lunch or a free gift. Except it isn’t. It costs. Simple as.
  2. You can get your money back really fast – McDonald’s are to blame for this one. In some cases you can. But for most, well we need to be patient and plan
  3. Fundraising is like selling really – Well to be fair it is isn’t it….well it isn’t. So accepting some similarities for ease, we need time to expand this one, but for now it just isn’t
  4. Fundraisers are responsible for raising money – it’s not everyone else’s job – No comment.
  5. We don’t really need to pay staff to raise money – Frankly we aren’t worth it to be honest. Why pay? See 1.
  6. We spend too much on admin and overheads – Define? Exactly. Please someone. Watch Dan Pallotta and discuss.
  7. We need a new audience – Completely. Nasty old rich people a? You know the ones giving us the money right now, lets ignore them and go elsewhere more trendy?
  8. We are ok not to tell people what the money is for – Cash machines, walking wallets, etc. Contempt breeds contempt
  9. We know best – By yourself you don’t. With professionals working together, we know enough to get the job done and done well

So these are the myths that sometimes surface. Chase them and confront them. But before it gets to that, educate, explain, inform. And remember, all it takes for nonsense to triumph is for good people to say nothing

pantheon

A signature on a work of art can be a powerful statement. Or a name on the spine of a book. Or the credits rolling at the end of a film. It’s a claim of art, of creation, of work delivered. I wonder then, why, if everyday when we make something that changes worlds, we are less keen to claim its creation?

Sitting in a cafe last year, drinking a beer in the fading sunlight of an early spring afternoon outside the Pantheon in central Rome, I pondered on the creation before me. The Pantheon is magnificent. Inside its huge dome, held aloft by granite and concrete, the largest free-standing concrete dome anywhere is focussed on a perfect circle – an oculus at 142ft that shines the dimming sun through to the marble and stone space below. When it rains the water flows through and down into a hidden drain – snow is said to be magical. Its doors from the 15th century overshadow the vast space around it. Outside 16 pillars hold aloft the triangle roof and the huge, majestic latin words across the front. No doubt a noble call to arms or a bold statement to the glory of Rome or god or life. The words – lost in meaning to most, dominant the square below.

M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT

Closer inspection however, reveals the real meaning “M[arcus] Agrippa L[ucii] f[ilius] co[n]s[ul] tertium fecit,” meaning “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this building] when consul for the third time”

So it’s that simple. One of the great wonders of the world – I made this. A signature. Graffiti. A roman selfie. Huge. Enshrined forever.

Maybe we are too modest. Maybe we collaborate so we can hide. Maybe the creation is not recognised or understood. Maybe as time moves on we revise history and our claims are forgotten. Maybe we are content to hold them to ourselves and forsake the public display of ‘ I  made this’. Either way, when people all around us make and do things that change the world for good, maybe we could shout a little more, be a little bolder. Here’s to Marcus Agripp. I made this.

Good on you Marcus.

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At the heart of every legacy gift is always a story. It’s a currency that runs strong and is rarely devalued. Sometimes visible, most often not. Sometimes shared, sometimes celebrated. But most, if we are honest are forgotten, if found at all.

Presenting on legacy strategy recently, I focused on the power of story. One questioner from the floor, asked what was needed to find stories. How can you collect and where from? I told her that they are all around and we just need to be mindful and then ask the question. Look to your donors, executors, volunteers, programme staff, founders and fundraising staff. Ask them, train them and give yourself a place where you collect and share.

Later in the day, the very brilliant Michael Clark from Cystic Fibrosis Trust, was talking about why gifts can come from people you don’t know or have never met and that for them they had a connection we will often never know. He talked of a very large gift from a man who was not known to them but on his death he had shared his reasons for the gift in his will.

One day he was sitting in a park and watching the world go by on a break when his peace was disturbed by a young child whose cough was loud, consistent and disturbing to him. He asked the mother if the child was alright. The mother told him her son has Cystic Fibrosis and this was level of coughing was normal and daily. She thanked him for asking and disappeared from his life. A moment he never forgot. And from that a legacy gift and from that a legacy story.

There is no marketing involved here, except the moment when that donor sought out the charity as the means to make the gift. It was a human moment that germinated for a long time. A human moment driven by a story and connection.

Stories and connections are our currency.  How much better would we be if we were just able to ask, listen and share?

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