What is it like to take part in a Bright Spot Mastery Programme?

Caroline Crowther talks to Rob Woods about her progress and 3 things she did to achieve the largest gift of her career.

I was recently looking through some notes I had made in an old work notebook from 2011, and it brought home how differently I operated then. Then, the only way I helped fundraisers was to run one or two day, in-house training days. I was proud of those training days, and people found the content really helpful, but I was also aware that there was so much more I could be doing to add value and help those fundraisers actually implement the fundraising strategies I teach.

What we do now is utterly different. We share my techniques through blogs and books, webinars and video training bundles, audio and video interviews with world class fundraisers, Breakfast Clubs and, most powerful of all, we provide six-month, immersive Mastery Programmes which are a rich cocktail of all these tactics. I’m aware that my business is a bit different to yours – mine is about helping people to grow and take action, and yours is probably mostly about increasing support for your charity, so why am I telling you this?

Because though there are key differences in what we do, I want to convey that there are two key reasons I have been able to make so much progress in how I do my work, so that I now help far more fundraisers in a far deeper way, and these keys are just as relevant to progress in fundraising:

  1. STRATEGIES.  Every year for the last six years I have invested in the best training courses I could find, internationally or in the UK, to find the strategies to help me make the improvements I wanted.
  2. CONFIDENCE / MOMENTUM. And I found a fantastic coach to help me. I have been talking to my coach Heidi every three weeks for the last five years, because it’s not enough to know the strategies. Executing those strategies is what the game is all about. And I’ve found that solving the every day problems and continuing to take action is far, far easier when you have a brilliant coach helping you. You always find a way to solve things and keep pushing forward till you get the results you’re looking for.

The three mastery programmes we offer from April to September 2018 are designed to give you both the STRATEGIES and the CONFIDENCE / MOMENTUM to make progress in your fundraising. But unless you have been on a programme, it may be hard to imagine how this works, which is why last week I asked a fundraiser taking part in the current Major Gifts Mastery Programme, Caroline Crowther who works for Action Against Hunger, to explain what the experience has been like for her.

Caroline first explained why the Major Gifts programme had appealed to her: ‘I knew I wanted to improve my skills in high value fundraising and Rob’s name kept popping up, with other people and organisations being very complimentary about his website, training and blogs.  I went to my Manager and got the go ahead to invest.  I really liked the idea of an immersive programme where the momentum would be carried through the training and coaching days and online resources.  I’ve been on courses before where some parts have been good, and some parts not so useful, but everything on this course has been so useful in my day to day work with major donors and trusts; It’s a really holistic approach to training.’

The new approach pays off…

Increased confidence is obviously invaluable in fundraising, but sometimes its effect can be hard to measure, in the short term. But in terms of tangible results, one clear victory Caroline said the Programme has helped her achieve already was a gift of £300,000.

‘One example of progress is that we had been talking to a large trust and our initial proposal for a complex research project did not go well, we’d fallen into the all too common trap of making our proposal too technical – and so we’d failed to convince the trustees of the foundation.  But because of techniques I had learned in the Mastery Programme, I decided to completely unpick and re-build our proposal. Some of the improvements I managed to push through in this new version were to bring our case to life with better story-telling; way less about the technical ‘how’ information and way more about the compelling reasons ‘why’; and also making the complex info much clearer through eye-catching infographics that we specially created.

‘Then I persuaded the trust to meet us again, and this time the trustees loved the proposal, and decided to give £300,000. I was thrilled, not least because this is the largest gift I’ve ever been involved in.’

Coaching builds your confidence and momentum

Caroline said that the regular coaching calls that take place throughout the 6 month programmes have been a huge help in how she has built and maintained her momentum: ‘I really love my coaching calls, I really look forward to them, Charly, my coach, is brilliant…Sometimes in fundraising you can get a bit stuck, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture when you are so close to an issue, but with Charly’s help I have been able move forwards with particular gift issues and donor relationships that she has helped me to think through and solve.’

Although only two-thirds of the way through the programme, Caroline said that she has found the experience invaluable already: “I am so pleased that I am on this course! The mix of immersive training over 6 months, with 4 training days and regular coaching calls – I really value and look forward to all of them.  And coming together with peers who are in a similar position to you from other charities is also invaluable, you just can’t get this anywhere else… The tools and skills I’ve been given are practical…it really is a holistic approach to major gift fundraising and can also benefit other people in your organisation too.  It’s been beneficial to my organisation as a whole.  If you can find the budget, it is really, really worthwhile.”

Want to find out more? 

If you are interested in learning more about our 6 month Major Gifts Mastery Programme, please click here. We also offer another other 6 month programme which operates in the same way as the one Caroline is attending.  You can find out more here: The Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme.