Charities… the new supermarkets?

This post has been published today at Most of mine and Richard’s latest content appears there, so please do sign-up. But in case you missed it there, here’s a piece I wrote today about the need for charities to show leadership…

It was four months ago today that the Government put us all into lock-down; 1/3 of a year. For a moment, I’d like you to cast your mind back to that time. It feels a long time ago, doesn’t it?

It was a time of massive fear, as we were all scared about our health and the ability of the NHS to cope if there were a big outbreak of the virus. It was a time of concern for loved ones, especially elderly relatives if we couldn’t be there with them.

It was also a time of panic buying and unfairness as every day we heard stories of NHS workers and the elderly not being able to get to a supermarket to buy toilet roll and Paracetamol.

The problem was urgent, but simple. And the solutions, clear.

Up stepped the government. A week after the Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool hosted Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, they provided the leadership and clarity that we were all looking for by announcing the lockdown.

Up stepped communities. We set up WhatsApp groups so we could help our neighbours and we were grateful to our elderly parents’ neighbours for doing the same when we couldn’t be there. We protected the NHS with our sacrifices, and we clapped the NHS and other key-workers. And we cheered on Captain Tom Moore and gave to the NHS and other charities.

And up stepped supermarkets. Yes, SUPERMARKETS! While the government announced lockdown for all, supermarkets were seen as carrying the flag for the vulnerable – they raised the profile of the problem and gave us answers in the form of NHS-only shopping hours, and priority shopping for the elderly.

Supermarkets were the unlikely heroes of COVID-19 – providing leadership and a solution to the injustice that we all saw, but felt powerless to address.

Now fast forward and think about how different things are today.

What was a simple health problem has become a complex, multi-faceted one with no clear answers. We might be a little less scared for our own health, but we are still worried that the virus will come back. Mostly people are conflicted and confused as they want the economy to open up, but they don’t want to risk a second spike in cases. Most people want to go out and live normally, but they are scared to do so.

People (including your donors) want clarity, they want someone to tell them how we’re going to get out of this mess and they want a vision for how the things they care about most will be in the future and what they can do. They want leadership.

We’ve seen this in our public COVID-19 sentiment tracker, and Mark Phillips has reported it in the qualitative research that Blue Frog has undertaken.

But where is this leadership going to come from?

This time, it’s not going to come from the supermarkets. While trust in them remains high, they aren’t the ones who will provide this vision.

It’s not going to come from the Government – where net approval has fallen from a high of +41% at the end of March to little more than 0% today.

And it’s not going to come from the communities – who are the very people looking for the leadership.

There is a vacuum of leadership that we must fill. In the same way that supermarkets stepped in a few months ago, it’s time for charities to step in today.

We must be the new supermarkets! We must be a loud and relevant voice in the discussions and decisions around how our society comes back – painting the picture of a society that is better and stronger than ever. We must stand up and provide this leadership.

Yes, it’s our duty to do this. We owe it to our beneficiaries to make sure we never return to the inequalities and injustices that have been so horribly exposed by COVID-19.

But it’s also a massive opportunity for us and for our sector. Our donors (those amazing people who have stood by us over the last four months, kept their regular gifts going and given to our emergency appeal simply because they never stopped caring) want us to.

So, where should you start? There are three things to focus on:

  1. Give donors a vision to believe in: Don’t think too far ahead – we’re talking weeks and months, not years. Show them what you are doing today, and how you will help your beneficiaries through this time of confusion and fear for so many. What’s your current fundraising proposition?
  2. Make donors feel needed and valued: Ask! Don’t be afraid to ask, after all donors, just like all of us, will be delighted to know that they can play a role in making it happen.
  3. Ensure donors know that they are part of the solution: Thank and feed back. Show them what they have achieved. Make them feel great about the difference they have made.

It might be your vision, but you have given donors the vital role in bringing it to life.

That’s leadership!

Merry Christmas – and the answers

The Christmas answers is always one of my most popular posts – and I think this year will be even more so as I obviously made it a little tricky.

Especially number three, which even had it’s own #noideaonquestion3!

Congratulations to Craig at Macmillan, who was the only person to get all 15 right. Eagle eyed readers will note that he was first out of the hat last year, so double congratulations! As ever, he wins £50 for the charity of his choice.

And thanks everyone who entered. £200 is also going to SOFII.

So, to put you out of your misery, the answers….


1. All bands to have had 3 Christmas number ones. Band Aid was a slight stretch as they had different make-up, but that didn’t seem to throw you.

2. These are all John Lewis advert songs

3. The tricky one – only Craig got this. They are all Christmas songs where the title doesn’t appear in the lyrics. I bet a few of you have bruises from kicking yourselves about that one.


4. Bob the Builder. Sorry to remind you about this song. The sequence was Christmas number ones from 1997 to 2000. I wonder if we’ll have a sequence that ends with LadBaby one day?

5. Drummers drumming. From the 12 days of Christmas.

6. Fuel. The last word of each line from the first verse of Good King Wenceslas.

7. Your Song, by Elton John. These are songs featured in the most recent John Lewis adverts

Missing vowels

8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause (Or Mummy depending on which version you prefer)

9. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

10. Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

11. Santa Clause is Coming To Town

12. St Winifred’s School Choir

13. Mr Blobby (sorry to remind you of this song too – you’ll have this on the brain all Christmas now!)

14. Shakin’ Stevens

15. Band Aid

I hope you this gave you a little bit of fun over the Christmas period.

All that remains is to wish you a very happy Christmas, and a healthy and happy 2019.


Happy Christmas

Christmas is nearly with us. So it’s time to wish you a very happy Christmas, and send you my quiz.

I got so many replies last year from people who share my love of Only Connect, that I decided to stick with it again. But this year I have questions for all rounds except a Wall – maybe next year for that one.

Happy Christmas 2018

I think some of these are a bit tricky, so please send in as many answers as you can get, to me at

As always, every entry (no matter how many questions you get) will see £2 being donated to the wonderful SOFII. Please help me get to the target of £200 again.

And at midday (GMT) on Christmas Eve, one person will be selected at random from those that get most right to win £50 for the charity of their choice.

I hope this brings you a little bit of fun at this busy time of year. And I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019.



Donor experience: Are we doing it all wrong?

It’s just one month until the IOF Convention, and I’m looking forward to some exciting sessions this year on an increasingly important topic.

If we look at the most commonly used phrases in our sector at the moment, I’d hazard a guess that ‘donor experience’ must come a very close second to ‘GDPR’. We’ve had the Commission on the Donor Experience, we’ve got a new IoF Donor Experience Special Interest Group setting up the Donor Experience Project, we have donor experience teams and ‘donor experience’ is appearing in more and more job descriptions.

And, excitingly, we have included a number of sessions focusing on individual giving and the donor experience at Fundraising Convention this year. As a member of the Convention Board, and part of the team that has put together the Individual Giving track, I am excited by these sessions, and that we are curating a ‘Donor Experience journey‘ through the convention sessions that will allow you to identify the most relevant ones to go to – from advice on creating multi-year, multi-channel fundraising campaigns to a global view of mid-value giving or how to harness the power of community when talking to audiences connected to your cause there are many different angles of donor experience to explore. Academics will take you through social psychology principles in Relationship Fundraising 3.0 and how to write a better thank you.

But first, it’s worth taking a look at what we mean by ‘donor experience’ – how important is it; and, crucially, are we doing it right?

It’s this last question that I’ll be focusing on in my session, How to Get Your Whole Organisation Behind Delivering Great Experiences. While it is great that we’re taking this subject seriously, I see common mistakes. I’ll cover several of these, but there are two things I’d like to point out now that I think we’re getting badly wrong:


We spend too much time eliminating negative experiences

Does that sound odd? Surely we don’t want to give our donors a bad experience? Surely that’s what caused the problems in the first place?

Of course, that’s right. And we should certainly try to get things right – it’s right that we spell the donor’s name right; use tactics that don’t unduly pressurise the donor; and spot when a donor is vulnerable and support them rather than exploit them.

But we need to recognise that these are simply satisfiers – noticed when you get it wrong, but expected (and therefore unnoticed) when you get it right.

It is moments that surprise and delight donors that they remember, that they talk about and that build the most valuable commodity of all, donor commitment.

It’s the hand-written note from the CEO that simply says thank you and that we’ve noticed your long-term support; it’s the private message to the donor that says what a difference they’ve made; it’s the book of stories from the children the donor’s donations have helped. At Cascaid, we used to call it ‘magic’.

We spend far too long worrying about the things that donors will never notice, ensuring the experience of giving to us is no worse than (and therefore the same as) giving to everyone else. And too little trying to create magic.


We measure the wrong things

The second common mistake I see is that we measure the wrong things. Or, more to the point, we don’t measure the most important things.

Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. If we want to improve the donor’s experience then we need to measure it. And that means measuring how they feel about giving to us.

Yes, there’s a cost involved. Yes, it will take up time. Yes, it’s scary. But if you’re serious about wanting to improve the donor’s experience, you’ll want to know how they feel.

Many of you will know that I set up About Loyalty, which offers charities a quick and simple way to measure the commitment, satisfaction, trust and emotional loyalty of their donors and, importantly, benchmark them against other participating charities to evaluate their own performance. Our research shows that higher scores in these areas lead to greater retention of donors, and a quantifiable increase in repeat giving. (A copy of the report can be requested here.)

This is just one option – you can create your own donor satisfaction scores, use the simple Net Promoter Score or even do as the NSPCC did and create your own ‘donor happiness‘ index. I wrote about these in the Commission on the Donor Experience Project on Measuring Satisfaction and Commitment.

Whatever route you choose, the single most important step you can take in improving your donor’s experience is to measure something. The moment you start to measure something you change it, and it changes you. So choosing any one of these measures will change the way you behave, the way you understand your donors and the way you plan your fundraising.

Measure it. Something. Anything! And report it just as widely as you do your financial results.


These are just two of the things that I see us getting wrong. In my session, I’ll go through others, the research behind them and some tips for getting it right.

And yes, we’ll be asking you how you feel about the session when you finish. So I’ll definitely spend a bit of time thinking about how to include a little bit of magic too that you still want to talk about it in years to come.


This post is also being published on the Institute of Fundraising’s site today.

Supporter Experience – where to start

On Monday I met with 14 charity professionals who have the phrase ‘Supporter Experience’ somewhere in their job titles. It was fascinating to hear the different roles they have in different charities, and also to hear the shared frustrations and concerns.

There was a shared sense that the task is big, with so many areas to look it. And with any big task, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start. It reminded me of this article that I recently wrote, a shortened version of which was published on the new Donor Experience Project website.


Where do I start?

OK, I know I’m supposed to create a better donor experience, but the Commission on the Donor Experience (CDE) has 28 projects, over 600 pages to read and over 500 recommendations. Where on earth am I supposed to start?

Is that you? Has the sheer volume of good stuff (and there is some very good stuff in there!) made you think you don’t know where to start? If so, I can’t say I blame you.

If I could do just one thing, I’d do the single most import thing. I’d change what I measure and put in place a KPI around how my donors feel about supporting us. Then I’d ask them. And then I’d report what I find.

What you measure is what you do.

When I wrote the CDE project on Measuring Satisfaction and Commitment, I started by saying that, “an obsession with short-term financial KPIs is the single biggest reason that donors are dissatisfied with the way charities fundraise.”

I continued, “It forces us to follow ever more aggressive strategies in order to achieve the target amount of income or new donors. It also means that we never understand the impact of our communications in terms of how we make donors feel about us, or how emotionally engaged they are with us.

Of course we’re here to raise money and we should have our financial KPIs. Adding longer-term financial KPIs is an improvement. But the biggest step forward will be when we add a KPI around how we’re making donors feel. Then change will happen.

The moment that you begin to measure something, you change it – and it changes you!

So, what should we measure?

Donor Satisfaction

This still leaves the question of what you should measure. To be honest, I don’t think it really matters, as long as you measure something!

In the CDE I outlined some choices including Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort, through to measuring Loyalty, Commitment or Donor Satisfaction. And I give examples where charities and companies have used standard tools like these or where they have created their own.Loyalty

And many of you know that I set-up About Loyalty to make it simple for charities to measure and benchmark Loyalty (Commitment, Satisfaction and Trust).


In all the examples I gave, it’s the act of measuring something (and reporting it widely) that has created the change – a change for their donors and customers and, in the longer term, a change for their incomes.

If you’re serious about changing your donors’ experience and you don’t measure it then it simply won’t happen. Do it today!

(By the way. If you need more persuasion, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that improving donor loyalty, commitment and satisfaction generates more income in the long term. I’m working with the IOF’s Donor Experience Project to pull this body of evidence together – watch this space!)


A P.S. about GDPR (because I couldn’t not mention it today!

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Christmas answers and Christmas wishes

Judging from the replies I received, there are lots of other Only Connect fans out there. Maybe next year I’ll create a wall?

Congratulations to so many of you who got all the answers correct – more I think than for any previous quiz. Once again, £200 is on its way to SOFII.

And a big congratulations to Craig from Macmillan Cancer Support who was the first drawn at random and wins £50 to donate to whichever charity he chooses.

And thank you too to those who made me laugh. I particularly liked one person who thought they were all acronyms that their programs team use.

So now it’s time to put you all out of your misery. The answers are:

  1. Last Christmas by Wham! There’s a campaign to make this the UK Christmas no. 1 in the year George Michael died – making up fort the fact that it was kept off the no. 1 spot by song no 8 below when it first came out
  2. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and the much missed Kirsty MacColl – released 30 years ago this year (how old do you feel now?)
  3. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas by Bing Crosby – the world’s biggest selling single
  4. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, the opening line of The Christmas Song
  5. Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow which I had to put in as it reminds me of my holiday this year. We were in Mexico in August and this was played in a restaurant where we were eating – surreal!
  6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Of course!
  7. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, or I allowed those of us on the UK to enter with I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus
  8. Feed the World, the refrain from Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?
  9. All I Want For Christmas is You. Cheesy…? Yes. Brilliant…? Yes!
  10. Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum, from The Little Drummer Boy. Did you know that this was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers who were the inspiration for The Sound of Music?
  11. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth. Sorry. Enough said!
  12. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard
  13. Merry Xmas Everybody. Just brilliant, from Slade
  14. Frosty the Snowman
  15. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
  16. Santa Baby, first sung by Eartha Kitt

I really hope you enjoyed the quiz this year. I’m already thinking about next year’s!

All that remains is for me to wish you a very



Happy Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is just a few weeks away so it’s time for a good quiz.

This year’s quiz is my way of paying my respect to my favourite TV quiz – Only Connect. For those of you who don’t know it, the last round is the ‘Missing Vowels Round’ where the vowels are taken out of well-known phrases and spaces are added in random places. Your task is to identify the phrase.

In this case, all the phrases are Christmas song titles, or famous lines from Christmas songs. So, as an example:


Would be ‘Simply having a wonderful Christmastime’ by Paul McCartney.

So over to you. Regular players of my quiz will recognise a few of my favourites in here, but there are a few new ones too.

Have fun!


Happy Christmas

When you’ve got as many as you can, please email me your list. For every entry I receive I will donate £2 to the wonderful SOFII.

And, at midday on Tuesday December 19th, one of the people who get the most right will be selected at random and given £50 to donate to a charity that they choose.

Good luck, and have fun!


P.S. If you want to know the answers I will post them before Christmas – be sure to sign up to make sure you get them.

* I have chosen SOFII again this year as they provide an invaluable resource to all us fundraisers. Our job is to inspire donors and SOFII makes this a little easier for all of us. Much as I love them, I need to limit my donation to them to £200, but please do enter to make sure we get there.

Happy Christmas, and the answers

I had more entries than ever this year. Quite a few got the answers all right, but a few struggled so I’ll put you out of your misery.

The answers are:

White is the colour of Christmas that I’m dreaming of, as sung by Bing Crosby (and quite a few others since!). I told you it was an easy start.

Someone special is who I’ll give my heart to this year, unlike Last Christmas as Wham! sang about.

Your Granny is up and rock and rolling with the rest, according to Slade in Merry Christmas Everybody! It’s CHRIIIIIIIIIIISTMAS!

The Christmas party hop is where we’ll be rocking around the Christmas tree thanks to Brenda Lee.

The boys of the NYPD choir were singing ‘Galway Bay’ as we heard in the brilliant Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and the much missed Kirsty Macholl.

Blue is the colour that my Christmas will be without you – or more accurately it’s the colour Elvis’ Christmas would have been without you.

He began to dance around. This one caught out a lot of people, who obviously aren’t fans of Frosty the Snowman.

Thank God it’s them instead of you, which Bono sang on the original BandAid.

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Clause underneath the mistletoe last night.

Santa Clause is coming to town, which is why you’d better watch out (and better not cry etc).

I hope this gave you a little bit of fun, and well done to those of you who got them all right.

Thank you to everyone who entered. There is a donation of £200 on its way to SOFII as you read this. And especially well done to Kat from the University of Southampton, who was the first with 10/10 out of the hat who will get £50 to donate to any charity she chooses.

All that’s left is to wish you all a very happy Christmas and new year and a successful and healthy 2017.


Merry Christmas

It’s nearly here, so I want to wish you a very Happy Christmas.

My Christmas Quiz is back. And it’s testing how well you know your Christmas lyrics. How many of the ten questions on the card can you answer?

Click here to see it in a larger format.

Happy Christmas!

Just send me your answers. For every entry I receive (right or wrong) I will give £2 to SOFII*, and at 5pm on Thursday 22nd December I will draw one name from all those who get the most right answers and donate £50 to a charity of their choice.

Just email me (or use the Contact Me link) with your guesses.

Enjoy the quiz. And I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.


P.S. If you want to know the answers I will post them before Christmas – be sure to sign up to make sure you get them.

* I have chosen SOFII again this year as they provide an invaluable resource to all us fundraisers. Our job is to inspire donors and SOFII makes this a little easier for all of us. Much as I love them, I need to limit my donation to them to £200, but please do enter to make sure we get there.

Christmas wishes and answers

Thank you to everyone who entered the Christmas quiz this year.

Firstly an apology. There were actually 13 bands / artists in there. No-one spotted my mistake, which meant that anyone who spotted 12 was entered into the draw (but more on that later). To put you out of your misery, the 13 were:

Danny Williams (no, not the Reading midfielder who scored a fantastic volley on Saturday!) who was no. 1 in 1961 with Moon River

Slade with the brilliant “Merry Christmas Everybody” in 1973

Mud, with “Lonely this Christmas” in 1974

Queen. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was no. 1 in 1975 and again in 1991 – the year Freddie Mercury died

The Beatles, who had four Christmas number ones… “I want to hold your hand” in 1963; “I feel fine” in 1964; “Day Tripper” / “We can work it out” in 1965 and “Hello, Goodbye” in 1967

Wings who were no. 1 in 1977 with “Mull of Kintyre” / “Girls’ School”

St Winifred’s School Choir (sorry for reminding you) with “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma” in 1980

Boney M who were no. 1 in 1978 with “Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord”

Benny Hill with “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)” in 1971

East 17 who were no. 1 with “Stay Another Day” in 1994

Cliff Richard, who was no. 1 with “Mistletoe and Wine” in 1988 and with “Saviour’s Day” in 1990

Band Aid who were no. 1 in 1984 with “Do they know it’s Christmas”…

… which kept our 12th, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, off the top spot.

Well done to those who got all 12. And apologies if there is a bias towards older records – I guess I’m showing my age!

Thank you to everyone who entered. There is a donation of £200 on its way to SOFII as you read this. Especially well done to Phoebe from the Galapagos Conservation Trust who spotted 12 and was the first out of the hat. She gets £50 to donate to any charity she chooses.

Have a happy Christmas everyone, and here’s hoping your 2016 is fun, successful and healthy.