Want to build fundraising growth (or an igloo)? The CRUCIAL ingredient…

In my last blog I shared examples of the extraordinary power of compounding to increase your fundraising success over time. Put simply, by focusing on small, very achievable bits of progress in just a handful of (the right) areas, this momentum multiplies to achieve spectacular lifts in fundraising results.

One of the most fascinating things I have noticed about what author Darren Hardy calls The Compound Effect, is that it takes a while for the really impressive results to show up. For example, he explains that if you start to eat a bit more healthily and do ten minutes more exercise every day for a week, you may feel a little healthier by Friday, but the truly impressive lifts in your energy levels obviously won’t kick in for a while.

Similarly, on our Major Gifts Mastery Programme and other Programmes, we’ve found that your initial efforts to eg improve your skill in securing meetings with rotary club chairs / major donors / potential corporate partners, will definitely help as soon as you implement those new tactics. But the most transformational results and ‘expert confidence’ will probably take a while longer to earn. And because of human nature, the risk for most fundraisers is that the many temptations to slip back into the old habits will kick in before those truly impressive rewards have happened.

In today’s blog I want to share with you the single most important ingredient to help you continue doing the right things for long enough for the really great results to start showing up.

How to keep going?

You may remember from when you were little that thrill of waking up to find that it snowed during the night. When the so-called Beast from the East had dropped five inches of snow in our garden, it was inevitable that my children and I would go out to play. After about 45 minutes of being pelted with snowballs (including two that found their way down the back of my neck) I felt a strong urge to change the game. I heard myself saying to my son ‘do you want to make an igloo?’

After an hour’s graft, we had some half decent walls and stopped for a hot drink with the rest of the family. At that point, one question dominated the conversation. ‘Daddy, how are we going to make the roof?’ By now all four of us were involved, but I was the only one showing any faith that British snow could ever be coerced into forming a roof for the igloo. I believed that if we kept on compounding our efforts, building the walls up a bit and in a bit, up a bit and in a bit, this engineering feat could be done. I’m very happy to report that each successive lump of snow strengthened the bits next to it, until these small bits of progress compounded to form a roof.

Why did I feel it was worth persevering?

What made the difference in my willingness to keep going was not some innate talent or gift for grit / determination. It was simply a matter of belief; I knew this could be done! And the reason I knew it could be done was that many decades ago, when I was five years old, my Mum had helped my siblings and I to build an igloo in the garden. I have barely any memories of this event, but I have a certainty that it happened because my family has reminisced about it on snowy days ever since.

Do you want to harness the amazing power of compounding to lift your fundraising? If so, and you are shrewd enough to understand that you will need to sustain certain strategies and habits, here are two ideas that will help you BELIEVE. They work because when you believe, its much easier to be do fundraising resilience.

  • Examples! Study fundraising success, not only for technique, but even more importantly for belief. If, like most fundraisers, you are the only person in your charity that does your kind of fundraising, it is often incredibly hard to keep doing the right activities (that would compound your results) because no one else is doing them. This is a vital component of these programmes, but whether or not you are able to join one, I encourage you to anyway study, read, listen to as many real examples of fundraising success as you can, to drown out the outer cynics (in your office) and even more important, the inner cynics (in your head).


  • The power of the group. Get solidarity with a group of positive people who are taking action together. For example, on the final day of the Bright Spot Mastery Programmes, a key reason people report they’ve taken so much bold action (and so made such progress) is the power of the group to inspire the belief that success is possible.

Those who were sitting next to Claire from Demelza Hospice Care, on Day 4 of Corporate Mastery, heard her describe how she had just won five pitches out of five in two months. Those who were on Day 3 of Major Gifts Mastery heard Caroline from Action Against Hunger describe exactly how she had just achieved her largest ever gift (£300,000). You can’t sit listening to these kinds of examples, shared with the sincere desire to help others, without finding that your own resolve gets stronger.

The activities of any positively focused group help you keep searching for those crucial inches that ultimately compound to bring you the massive progress you desire. There are plenty of ways to create or access a positive peer group. Whether or not you join a Bright Spot Mastery Programme, regular contact with a group like this makes a huge difference to your success.

Want to increase income in high value, corporate or individual giving fundraising?

You can find out more about how the Major Gifts and Corporate Partnerships help improve your confidence and strategies by following these links.