The Great Fundraising Masterclass

Great Fundraising Masterclass

What is great fundraising?

A Great Fundraising Organisation is defined as one which:

  • Achieves large scale growth in their fundraising: typically 200% – 400% or more in the middle term.
  • Sustains the income levels achieved.
  • Attracts a base of donors who genuinely buy-in to the mission.

The masterclass

This masterclass is an outstanding opportunity to learn the cultures, behaviours and leadership required for your organisation to achieve great fundraising and grow your organisation and income significantly.

Formed by a unique mix of academic research and case studies from around the world the Great Fundraising Masterclass pays particular reference to the Great Fundraising Report, which can be downloaded at It is highly energetic, participative and will leave you inspired to act, with a toolkit for immediate implementation.

Subjects covered:

The Great Fundraising organisations

This session combines a summary of the Great Fundraising research from Professors Sargeant and Shang with insights from over 350 case studies. It seeks to answer the question ‘What makes the Great Fundraising Organisations different?’ You will learn:

  • The essential role of organisational leadership in enabling Great Fundraising.
  • The requirements for and demands of a Great Fundraising team and culture.
  • The importance of long-term thinking, combining constantly fresh ideas with a permanent dream, to drive financial growth.
  • How the Great Fundraising organisations maintain focus, inspiration, drive and energy.
  • The essential ingredient of the communications which drove the performance of the Great Fundraising organisations.

A fundraising culture

The greatest fundraisers spent 50% of their time raising money and 50% of their time working internally to make their organisation ‘fundraisable.’ This meant they understood that, in order to deliver the best quality to their donors, they had to receive the best quality from other departments. This involved developing a culture where the whole organisation was proud of its fundraising. This session summarises learnings and recommendations on cultural development:

  • Why a learning culture is essential to allow you to commit to great fundraising.
  • Two internal conflicts are the greatest blocks to fundraising, and how to overcome them.
  • The board and executive team must set the example for a fundraising culture.
  • How to ensure that the rest of the organisation respects the culture needed for a successful fundraising department, and that fundraisers are in the emotions business.
  • Using staff surveys, training and systems memes to proactively develop the culture.

Leading great fundraising

The culture needed to drive fundraising growth is different from the scientific, academic or beneficiary-focussed cultures necessary to most charities, NGOs and non-profits. It takes a special type of leader, therefore, to bridge and drive both cultures, ensuring that tensions between the two are creative, not damaging or paralysing. This session introduces the following key leadership behaviours:

  • The two decisions regarding fundraising that senior leadership cannot delegate.
  • Knowing that belief is more important than trust, and how to create belief.
  • How to work in the emotional space when needed.
  • Getting people on board for the long haul: commitment and determination.
  • The pitfalls of the compromise salami, and how to avoid it.

Fundraising communications that work

There are very specific criteria that communications must fulfil in order to raise money. Simply raising awareness and hoping the money will follow simply does not work. This session considers communications of all levels, from brand to campaigns, from appeals to specific products and channels. It draws on research, test results and history to show:

  • Emotion drives the clear majority of fundraising transactions and far outweighs a rational approach, even for bigger donors.
  • The danger of non-profit narcissism: A brand which is about the organisation does not raise money. A brand about the ‘dream’ or ‘new ambition’ is what is required.
  • That advertising and fundraising are very different.
  • The single question that must be answered powerfully and simply in all fundraising communications.
  • A checklist for details which drive income and donor satisfaction.

How to create fundraising communications

Many fundraisers use agencies, some produce communications in-house. In both scenarios, ACA have seen that it is those who are trained in specialist fundraising communications that succeed. This session will introduce five key questions which the best fundraising communications must answer:

  • What is the problem we are trying to solve?
  • How do we focus on the problem we are uniquely placed to solve?
  • How do we know what our supporters want to give to?
  • How do we communicate our solution powerfully and simply?
  • How do we get noticed in a crowded market?

Supporter centred thinking

Successful and under-performing organisations all knew what they wanted from fundraising: more money! Only the Great Fundraising organisations knew what their donors wanted in return. ACA call this skill ‘donor centred thinking’. It’s difficult, because it involves thinking about emotions, feelings, values and beliefs. Topics include:

  • The organisations attitude to its ‘other customers’ – the donors.
  • Emotional fundraising: how people feel before and after giving.
  • The four reasons people need to give.
  • The values and beliefs different people have which mean they give to different types of organisation.
  • A checklist for communications that meet donor needs.

Getting going with great fundraising

Even the greatest organisations sometimes had flat periods in their fundraising. When this happened, they behaved like a start-up and effectively re-launched. Whether an organisation is new to fundraising, or wanting to create a new surge of growth, the process is the same. This session covers the following areas which will leave you with a to-do list and timeline. It will be simple, but not easy.

  • Getting people lined up and on-board.
  • Gaining permission and investment: combining belief and evidence.
  • Having the big idea and using it to create powerful communications.
  • Committing to and delivering on a launch.
  • How to keep going!


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