We talk about it a lot – but what is best practice fundraising?

FIA’s mission is all about promoting and developing best-practice fundraising. But what actually does that mean? This year, we asked some of our Conference speakers and program committee members what best practice means to them, and if they had any examples to share. Here’s some philosophy you can take to heart!

For Rachael Lance, head of individual supporters at Leukaemia Foundation, best-practice fundraising is all about being stakeholder-centric and putting your supporters at the heart of every decision and action.

“It’s more than being ‘you’-focused in our language, although that’s very important! It’s about ensuring that the journey we steward supporters on is centred around being the best experience for them individually,” she explains.

Rachael says best practice starts with having excellent data hygiene and doing simple things such as spelling a donor’s name correctly. Fundraisers can then further extend this by aiming to exceed supporters’ expectations; for example, remembering the name of their dog.

“In time we can get fantastically clever with things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, but I think too often we want to try and run before we can crawl. We need to make sure we get back to the heart of fundraising – delivering a relevant, personal and timely experience,” she says.

Julie Mullen, individual giving manager at Variety – the Children’s Charity of Queensland, agrees. Among her values around best practice is the importance of being donor-focused.

“Best practice also includes testing and innovating, offering preferences and choices, and connecting donors with the organisation’s impact. It’s fundraisers working every day to treat donors with care, consideration, integrity and respect,” she says.

“Importantly, we need to improve the experience for all donors, not just a few. Donors and supporters should be treasured for their role in making our organisations’ missions possible and should always be at the heart of our thinking,” she adds.

Best practice from across the ditch

And how does this fit into practice? Daniel McDiarmid, principal consultant at AskRIGHT Australia & New Zealand, has a few thoughts.

“Fundraisers who understand the fundamentals well can craft effective funding requests and in all respects carry forward the mission of the organisation. This is a completely different approach to changing the logo and a couple of details on successful copy and using it for your organisation – a common practice,” he says.

A great example of a best-practice campaign comes from a well-known New Zealand children’s charity. The organisation developed a Christmas mail request and thanks package that was innovative from start to finish and looked nothing like everyone else’s appeal.

“They also used the volunteers of one of their corporate partners to prepare the thank-you packages and won over scores of new supporters to their cause. This is working from first principles with imagination and represents best-practice fundraising,” says Daniel.

Let’s drink (ginger ale) to this campaign

Dry July is a campaign that encourages Australians to go alcohol-free every July to raise funds for people affected by cancer. Erica Larke-Ewing, fundraising and marketing director  at Cancer Council Tasmania, says it’s one of her favourite campaigns and a great example of best practice.

“It’s brilliant and engaging. The digital journey you’re taken on reminds you to fundraise and gives suggestions about how to do it. The badges that you earn as you raise more money makes you feel like you’re winning. The competition prizes should not be an incentive to fundraise more dollars…but they are!  And the letter sent by the CEO of the organisation you are fundraising for is a nice way to end the campaign,” she says.

Keen to learn more about best-practice fundraising? Make sure you attend FIA Conference 2020 in Brisbane. With 800+ fundraisers in attendance, 80+ speakers and seven masterclasses, it’s the largest fundraising conference in the Asia-Pacific region. Register today!