Roger Lawson – always learning
I discovered fundraising in 1992 as a small charity called Feed the Children needed a temp to open the post and record donations to a Sunday Times appeal for money to take aid into Bosnia at the height of the Bosnian war. Five years later I was still there, I’d managed the database for 2 years and managed the direct marketing after that. We’d grown from a few hundred donors to over 60,000 in that time. And what I learnt from reading letters and talking to donors about what motivates them to give still helps me today when developing insight strategies with clients.
After that I ran the individual giving programme at WWF for five years. This included the Membership, animal adoptions, appeals, Guardians (mid value) and trading programmes. I learnt a lot about creating great products and asks for different donors, which still feeds into the proposition and product development work I do today.
In 2002 I joined Alan Clayton and we built Cascaid into one of the largest charity direct marketing agencies in the UK working with charities such as FARM-Africa, WSPA, Mencap, Christian Aid and RSPB before merging with Ideas in 2007 to create The Good Agency of which I was a founding director. I was lucky enough to work with some of the best known charities in the UK including developing Cancer Research UK and Age UK’s legacy propositions and developing the direct marketing elements of Save the Children’s new ‘No Child Born to Die’ campaign.
Working across so many fantastic charities has taught me a lot about the different options that charities have and the importance of finding the unique answers that are right your you as a unique charity with a unique set of challenges.
For the last two years I have worked directly with charities, helping them to learn about their donors, develop their direct marketing strategies and create some great campaigns. And sometimes to change the way they work internally to break down those silos that we all hate so much.
Outside of work, I am a Trustee of the brilliant Galapagos Conservation Trust and I am on the board of the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention.
Once Friday evening comes and I swap my laptop for a woggle and become Bagheera the cub leader. On Saturday mornings I coach an U11 football team and on a Sunday I can be found managing them in their matches.
If that all sounds very worthy, don’t be fooled – I do all this because I love it! And there’s a lesson in that… I don’t believe in pure altruism. I believe that, as charities, we have to give all our donors and volunteers something that makes them feel good. Fundraising is about the offer, not the ask. Only then will we have loyal and valuable supporters for years to come.
That’s something else that I’ve learned!