Open Fundraising

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For those with a sophisticated view of development issues, there’s plenty to dislike about this project. Affluent kid from Canada raises a bit of money and goes poverty-touring in Bangladesh. Makes a video diary about it. Incorporates a voting system. Focuses on service delivery rather than capacity building and empowerment. Comes across as a little sanctimonious.

Then again, you don’t have to have a sophisticated view of development issues to want to make a difference. And the latest episode of his occasionally excruciating epic has had (at the time of writing) 47,827 views on YouTube.

Read that again. Then go and have a look at the site.

Even if you disregard the content, this is Web 2.0 with all the bells and whistles. A nice bit of tab navigation takes you to Flickr, to YouTube (where all the action is) and to Facebook – where our man has a group 1,118 strong.

Pretty impressive for one 27 year-old bloke with a camcorder, a laptop and the ability to weave some simple social networking platforms together. I wonder what kind of budget most charities would assign to create that kind of noise in the Blogosphere?

So hats off to Save the Children who (in Bangladesh at least) seem to know a good idea when they see one and have shown off their work. Hats off to the people who have given – despite the fact that the donation page opens with the line ‘Please Don’t Feel Obliged to Donate’. And hats off to Shawn and his mate for making it happen.

Now who wants to do something better?

James

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James

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We recently went to Australia to see an old friend Sean.

It’s not a pleasant flight but here’s a tip. If you go into the chemist at Bangkok Airport and say ‘do you have anything to help me sleep’ then your next clear memory will be the stewardess shaking you awake as the cleaners try to steal your iPod.

So what is Pareto Fundraising all about? When Sean’s not busy staying at my house and poaching staff, what is he up to?

Building a reputation of being a world-class fundraising agency that produces ‘data led creative’ we’re told. Focusing on impact and integrity. Yep. Sounds good. But isn’t that what we all claim to do? Solid RFV, focus on the Pareto Principle. Surely this is just old fashioned DM?

Well maybe. But maybe the science of our trade has become somewhat neglected and a little unloved over here. Confined to the dark, damp corners. Maybe, just maybe, we should all get back inside the box and build our plans off the back of some sensible and sadly sometimes highly complex data modelling.

Benchmarking models have failed to captivate the sector and get universal buy in but when you see the consequences of sharing you get to see how the (not so) backwater markets are rapidly catching up.

All this cleverness costs money. But so what if the net returns are so great? Wouldn’t you be happy to pay a bit extra to be pretty darned sure what a new recruit will be worth over four years? Or how to boost your income AND annoy fewer donors with mailings they are┬ástatistically almost certain not to respond to?

The UK is different, of course. DM fundraising is more evolved, the market is more competitive and the 300% increases that Pareto have scored with some clients might be harder to replicate.

But it doesn’t take 300% to make your programme look a whole lot better…

It was a great week. I made peace with an old friend, met some clever minds and learnt a few things to.

Thanks Sean (and Jan and Paul). You’re right to be proud. See you again soon.

Tim