The fundraiser’s dream – a great ask

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ruth Ruderham at the IOF convention last year. At the time she was at Christian Aid (she has since moved to British Waterways) and she spoke about the Nets campaign that they were successfully running.

£3 will save a child's life

It struck me at the time that the real strength of the campaign was in the ask. For those of you that haven’t seen it, Christian Aid is focussing in on one area of work, stopping the spread of malaria and therefore saving children’s lives. The answer, as so often is the case, is simple – a mosquito net that costs just £3.

What a fantastic ask – I can save a child’s life, I can see exactly where my money is going and I can feel great immediately.

With this ask, they have used lots of different channels. If we fast forward 6 months, you will find me sitting on a train looking at a Nets ad on a panel. It stands the test of time.

£3 buys a hero a drink

Train posters are a great discipline. To tell the story well, the ask needs to be simple, tangible and immediate.

The Christian Aid ad has all of this. There is a really clear need, a real threat, a solution that I can play. And, most importantly, I can see what I am going to achieve.

Alongside it is another that I think has a fantastic ask – buy a hero a drink. Again it’s a £3 text ask. Again it’s simple, tangible and immediate. Again, how could I not do it?

Again, I can see exactly what my donation is going to achieve and I can see the impact that I will have. I feel great!

£3 does something to do with water

Unfortunately, not all the ads I’m looking at are the same. (South West Trains has recently turned my  07:38 to Waterloo into a showcase for these ads recently). I am looking at ads from UNICEF where the ask isn’t clear. To be honest, it looks like they have started from the perspective of how ‘can we make an ad for Roger’s train?’ rather than start with a great ask.

Yes, UNICEF is a fantastic organisation and yes we know they do great work. But I’m left wondering what my money is needed for, what it will achieve and what I will have done if I give. I hope that the goodwill that UNICEF undoubtedly has in bucket-loads means this will be cost-effective, but I fear not.

Recently the Agitator asked us to share our dreams. Mine is simple – that all fundraising will be based around a great ask. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So why do so many of us make it look difficult.

Over the next few weeks, I will blog about what I think the best asks in fundraising are. In the mean time, I’d love to hear what you think are the best.

Happy New Year

So it’s 2012. The fireworks have finished, Samoa has jumped forward a day and we have all made our resolutions.

For me, 2012 is going to be a year of change. I am leaving The Good Agency in February to work directly for charities, helping them (you?) to change their (your?) results.

It’s a scary time, but an exciting one. For now there are lots of things to sort out that I never imagined I’d be interested in. I’ve registered a company (Roger Lawson Consulting Ltd, original eh?), created a website (you’re looking at it) and got more involved in financial matters than is healthy.

I can’t wait to start the real work!

My new year’s resolution is to share my experience wider and this blog is going to a key part of this (along with speaking more). My blog isn’t going to be about me, but it will be my take on what is happening in our sector. I’ll look at research and reports and give my take on them. I’ll look at how people are fundraising and I’ll give you my opinion. And I’ll share my thinking on all things fundraising.

I’ll challenge you to think differently.

Most importantly, I’ll try to give practical advice that you can take and apply straight away. The ultimate aim is that there will be something in here that will help you to raise more money. After all, that’s what it’s all about.