Open Fundraising

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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


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A while ago, I decided I wanted to work for myself and that I should set up a fundraising agency all of my own. I was going to call it Small Axe after the Bob Marley song – for reasons that will be self evident when you’ve heard it (or perhaps read the lyric if you find the vocal a bit impenetrable).
Then, having read a book that said you should try to make what you sell evident in your name, I decided to call my company Love and Money. If you go to Companies House, you’ll see that I actually got to the point of registering that one. It’s still dormant and likely to remain so because I unexpectedly acquired a business partner who absolutely hated it.
I’ll spare you our longlist of awful names. For a couple of hours at The Queen’s in Crouch End we quite fancied Many but that was taken in all its URL permutations and when we sobered up we weren’t sure anyway. Tim favoured Cry London but as the parent of baby twins I just couldn’t get past the image of screaming snot in stereo. So we were both relieved when I thought of Open and Tim grudgingly accepted that it was a stroke of creative genius.
Why Open? Well, we both cut our teeth on Direct Mail and getting things open is pretty fundamental in that business. And in our Web 2.o future, everything’s open – sources, communities, this blog, you name it.
But Open is also about how we want to do business. Not just in the sense of being transparent but in drawing the best people and ideas from wherever we find them. We know that we can’t have everyone inside our company and under our control. But we can forge partnerships with the best and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
But I still think Love and Money is a bloody good name.
James
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A very brilliant man once told me to ’embrace the hassle factor’ if you want to achieve anything. That no one will want to change anything, let alone the world, if you haven’t put the work in.

He was talking about finding the right story and asking the right questions. Don’t expect people to support your work, give to your appeal, fall in love with your cause if you present them with a mediocre, unsympathetic case for support.
But we all know how hard it is to get that story. I was researching for an Appeal for the YMCA. I wanted to go and visit my local YMCA hostel: I knew the day centre served a relatively middle-class catchment, but heck it was easy to get home from.
Instead he sent me on a week-long tour criss-crossing the UK visiting hostel after hostel. I met some incredible young people who told me their stories of survival, of abuse and the grim reality of poverty. It was their stories that shaped the determined mind of a young fundraiser.
Today I’m about to embark on another journey. With more determination and conviction than ever. Thank you brilliant man for teaching me about hassle.

Tim