Category Archives: Fundraising

Put the gun down or the charity gets it

Apparently there is a view out there in the stratosphere that charities are out to make people feel bad. Take this article from Geek Ergo Sum, where militant employees of charities prey upon unaware shoppers demanding they choose which is the more worthwhile cause.  Contrary to this popular belief, in my experience many charities are trying to make people feel good… even inspired. Yet the negative perception of fundraising is no stranger to me. Whenever someone asks what I do and I explain that I am a data monkey for a not for profit and I help both fundraising and clinical, they are inevitably more interested in the clinical side. In fact, sometimes it’s like I never said the word fundraising.

When I first started working in fundraising, I was uncomfortable saying ‘I am a fundraiser.’ In fact, for many years, I would preface any suggestion or recommendation I was about to give with ‘I’m not a fundraiser, but I think…’

Some time ago I went to a talk where a very seasoned fundraiser got up and spoke about the fact that no one (or no one he knew) grew up saying ‘I want to be a fundraiser.’ He urged the audience to find some pride in the profession – being a fundraiser should not be a source of shame. For me, I had yet to even identify myself as a fundraiser – after all, fundraisers were those people who actually went out and asked for donations; not a data monkey like myself. Yet as the years have gone by, I have realised that it takes many skills and talents to form a fundraising team and I can no longer hide and say ‘I’m not a fundraiser.’ I am most certainly one. I have also realised that I am fortunate.

The daily post this week asked bloggers to comment on the cause they would like to support (if they didn’t need to work). Nothing came to mind. Then I realised that’s because I don’t have to give up work to support a cause. I am one of a lucky few who don’t have to dream about it. I get to do it each and every day. And that’s pretty cool… I daresay even something of which I can be proud.


How to write engaging presentations: 7 tips for success

I recently went to the A G Bell Listening and Language Symposium in Los Angeles to present a workshop: When Paper and Excel Aren’t Enough: Tracking Every Child’s Development.

IMG_1957When I got back a member of the clinical team at work said to me: how do you write a data presentation that’s engaging? How do you come up with your ideas? How do you create something that will make them sit up and listen and not go to sleep?

This got me thinking… how do you write an engaging data presentation – or any other type of presentation for that matter. Here’s my quick guide.

1. Be Clear On Your Objective

I know, BORING but true. When I am the clearest about what I hope to convey, what I want the audience to gain from the presentation, I do the best job. 

2. Develop the Creative

Yes, data presentations can be creative. If what you have to present on is rather dry, then what a wonderful challenge to your creative side! My mantra is that data is only dull if it doesn’t tell you anything. Use your data to tell ‘stories’.

I’ll give you an example. Some time ago I was working on a presentation about donors and fundraising income. I had a limited timeframe to try to paint a detailed picture of the Organisations supporters such that people could leave the presentation understanding what the opportunities and limitations of fundraising growth may be.

I played around with various analogies before settling on ‘a rainforest’. I described how the donor database was made up of many individuals (trees) and depending on the types of trees, the overall ‘health’ of the forest changed over time. I discussed the old growth forest – those loyal supporters who over the years had increased their annual gifts.

However just like a forest, new individuals have to be added to the forest for it to be healthy and certainly if it is to grow beyond its original borders. Whenever you plant a sapling, you will invariably lose some. And a new tree is never going to be as beneficial to the forest as a mature tree. It will take years for those saplings to stretch towards the canopy.

By using an analogy, I was able to say many things I could not otherwise say. It would have been easy to say ‘yes, the database is bigger than it was as we have added  X thousand new donors but you can’t expect to generate the income at the same rate from these new donors – your growth estimates are too high’… and it would have gone in one ear and out the other. By putting the scenario into an analogy, it makes it easier to discuss. (Some may say that to describe donors as ‘trees’ is to dehumanise them. I’d argue that describing your donor database as a precious rainforest is an appropriate representation of  the many thousands and millions of people who generously support not for profit organisations. The planet can’t live without rainforest).

Finding this ‘analogy’ or creative hook is not always easy. In preparing for the A G Bell Listening and Language Symposium, I spent a fair bit of time in the toy room… thinking. Before the final presentation (which uses children’s books as a theme), I had pulled out buses, Mr Potato Head and Pop-Up Pirates among other things. In the end, if you are clear on your objectives, your creative execution will come.

3. Write your presentation, then remove half the words

Presentations I give today have far less words on the screen than I once used. I’ve noticed that after the first draft, my process is to remove words with each revision. In my last presentation, at one stage, I left a bunch of text on the screen in a font which was way too small to read to actually prove the point that it’s impossible to decipher quickly, if at all and then showed the visual graphic I had conceived in our database which replaced all that text.

There is nothing more painful, than sitting through a presentation which is drowning in words and the presenter adds so little extra that you might as well just have downloaded the slides and saved yourself a whole heap of ‘listening’ time.

I also agree with many articles which say, don’t read your presentation. It’s a guaranteed pathway to a yawning audience in my book.

4. Give of yourself

People connect with people. When I first started doing presentations, I think my content was such that someone else could have picked up my presentation and delivered something approximating what I had delivered. These days, my presentations are infused with a lot more of my personality. Prior to going to the Listening and Language Symposium, a now former colleague said to me ‘are you going to do one of your wacky presentations?’ (I prefer the term quirky to wacky for the record). I remember saying something like… I think I may need to be a little more serious that I usually am.

So I wrote a presentation that was slightly more serious. I did a trial run. The test audience found the pieces of the presentation which I had infiltrated with ‘seriousness’ to be the least effective. (Thank goodness I did a trial run!)

If it comes natural to you – go with it. It will invariably be better.

5. Consider your audience

I’m a data monkey who is lucky enough to work with an amazing clinical team of Audiologists, Auditory-Verbal Therapists and Counsellors. I also get to work with some very talented and capable fundraisers.

The point is there is not another data monkey among them. While a presentation of defined fields, absent of all ‘free text’ based information may excite me, it’s hardly going to get the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist humming with excitement.

I told Mr West some time ago – ‘if you’re going to present to Clinical, take a toy.’ He was brand new at the time. He thought I was being flippant. He has since learned that I am deadly serious.

6. Wear comfortable shoes

I’m thinking back on a presentation I saw many years ago where the presenter, had a habit of walking 2 steps to the left and 2 steps back to the right (and it wasn’t the timewarp dance). It drove me nuts.

If someone is constantly straightening their clothing, it would equally annoy me. Or tossing from one foot to another because their shoes have given them blisters.

Comfortable shoes and familiar clothes lead to confident presenters!

7. Take Risks

Discussing fundraising through the use of a rainforest metaphor could have been a complete flop. Lucky for me, it wasn’t!

I strongly believe that leaving some room for spontaneity in your presentation is a key to being engaging. An overly rehearsed and scripted presentation with little room for detour to suit the audience is safe. Yet this ‘structure’ can affect the tone of your presentation. There are very skilled presenters I am sure who can deliver the same presentation time and time again and have it almost word for word and still be engaging. I am not one of those presenters. I believe an element of spontaneity and risk is fundamental to success for me.

Sometimes it backfires.

I presented at fundraising software user forum 2 years ago. I decided that I wasn’t going to do a formal presentation. I would ask the audience to all get up and make them part of my presentation.

They looked terrified. It wasn’t my finest performance.

Relying on an audience to ‘give you back’ what you need to drive your presentation is risky. It’s also – I believe – one of the most engaging things you can do. People are far more likely to feel ‘connected’ to your presentation, if you give them avenues to be a part of it.  Just have an escape plan if it starts to look like a turkey!

And there, are my 7 steps to ensuring your presentations are engaging.


Miss Milly packs her shoes


Miss Milly – the woman who could sell spats to snakes – is leaving.

Miss Milly is a very talented fundraiser who values having a data monkey around, if only to laugh at the data monkey’s quirks! Reflecting on my time working with her, I realise that she is a rare breed indeed – a colleague you can have an argument with and still be friends at the end of it!

In honour of her departure (somehow that wording seems oh so wrong!), I’m re-posting my original description of her below. I will miss you Milly!

Miss Milly could sell spats to snakes

I have a colleague who could sell spats to snakes. I once had a boss who was similar. A mate said of her ‘she could say you had two months to live and somehow you’d think that was good news’. Indeed when I think of former boss and current colleague – who I’ll call Miss Milly – they both had a similar way of smiling at the very moment you wanted to scream at them. They repeatedly have that ‘surely that can’t be too hard’ expression?

It’s Miss Milly who convinced me that it was ok to implement a new fundraising database (aka big bird) AND within a few weeks kick off an acquisition campaign, a supporter survey, a few random eDMs and a step up in the community fundraising activity. I have no idea how she managed to hoodwink me into this one but as I say, Miss Milly could convince you to put a screen door on a submarine.

To be fair, Big Bird is weathering the storm quite well. He’s only 3 weeks old and we are certainly making him run. I can tell I’m in for a chaotic couple of weeks. I already am telling myself ‘when I get through these few weeks I’ll have time to sit-down and learn how to use our new database better.’ I am of course delusional because when I get to the end of these few weeks, there will be Miss Milly and her smile and two words… Christmas Campaign.

There’s something about Dorothy

Oh no, it’s that time again. Training of new staff. You’ve been given the brief – go explain what fundraising does. You’ve done this bazillion times before and you know how it will play out. You go in and explain what fundraising does. You mention that a key element of fundraising is Direct Mail. You’ve sussed the crowd, hunting for the 20-something year old person who is going to come out with it… And then they say it…

‘What about younger donors? What are you doing online?’

This particular day, this particular monkey, is not in a particularly good mood. I can’t help myself. So what do you mean when you say younger?

‘Oh, not super young. Maybe 35?’


As a data monkey, I answer questions with data. The problem is in most organisation’s I’ve ever worked in at best, there has been reliable age or date of birth data for about 1 in 4 donors. I answer in my usual style. ‘About 50% of donors are aged over [insert number here usually between 75 and 80]’. The 20 something looks at you unconvinced. I imagine them having a conversation tomorrow on the bus (because we all know that all irritating conversations occur on public transport)… “and this woman was like, saying this stuff like, young people aren’t the best donors, and like, she didn’t even say like every second word.” (Yes, I know this makes me look incredibly old but I assure you that I’ve just been exposed to an excess of teenagers on transport of late who have two words they use to excess. One is ‘like’. The other starts with f. I’ll let you figure out the latter).

If you are as tired as I of people looking at you as if you are a moron when you assure them that the majority of donors are over 65, then try this exercise. Go to your database and select the 20 most common names. Then go to a site such as “Behind the Name” and do a percentage based popularity search (I used United States). If the bulk of those top 20 donor names are born after 1970 or 1980, I’ll eat my data monkey hat!

So what names were popular before people started using the word like to excess? Here’s just a taste:

Ruby SlippersDorothy: If your donors are called Dorothy, then chances are they were born well and truly before 1950. Why have I chosen Dorothy as an example? It’s nothing to do with my employer’s database (although it wouldn’t surprise me if we did have more than our fair share of people called Dorothy). The answer is it was my grandmother’s name (born 1913), and also my aunt (born in the early 1940s). What Behind The Name did show me was that Dorothy actually reached it’s popularity height back in the 1920s and to my surprise doesn’t seem to have an over the rainbow ruby-slippered inspired resurgence in 1939. (The popularity it seems was reserved for the name of the star rather than the character, with Judy and Judith being very popular during the early 1940s. Similarly, the name Shirley surged in popularity in the early 1930s, I presume as a result of a chunderous little 3 year old movie star with ringlets).

The E’s: There are a bunch of E names which just scream early 20th century. Ethel ranks among the earliest and I suspect the days of Ethel being in your top 20 donor names went out a couple of decades ago. (Hmm… this has me wondering when Ethel Merman was most popular… I can see a film and theatre trend emerging here) Esther, Enid, Elsie, Edna and Ernest are all probably in your database but no longer the main names.

Beverley was popular through the 1930s and 40s, as was Donald, Joyce, June and Joan. Anyone called Helen is most likely pre-1940, as is Grace…. or they are still a minor as it appears to have made a comeback in the 21st century. Margaret was around for decades, steadily declining from about 1950 onwards. Marjorie, Marjory, Margery and any other variants thereof, were popular in the 1920s and 30s. Marilyn on the other hand, was a little later… I wonder what impact the movie star had on that one!

Of course, there will be names in your top 20 which are timeless. I expect you’ll find John,  William, Mary and Elizabeth (and all the variations thereof).

If you’re running a regular giving program, perhaps Karen, Sharon, Janet, Mark, Adam, David, Christopher, Daniel, Brett, Kirsten or Laura will be more common?

What are your top 20 donor names?

PS: For those interested you can access the most popular names of recent times at the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages website. It seems that Ruby has made a resurgence!

What’s in a face?

Do you ever wonder what you can tell about a person from the way they look? Recently, I’ve been assisting with some donor research for a major campaign. When gathering information, photographs invariably come into the mix. This got me wondering – what can you discern from the way your donor looks?

If I were to take the advice of my mother, the answer would surely be ‘a good deal.’ I grew up listening to my mum during the evening news tell me all about people from the way they looked. ‘I don’t like that man; he has a nasty mouth.’ (I don’t really want to admit it but I tended to agree his mouth wasn’t born out of happy street).

It seems my mum isn’t the only one who uses mouths and eyes as a indication of personality. As I collate the research together and a new image appears, I hear comments from colleagues like ‘he looks friendly’, ‘she’s like my grandma’, or ‘oh… I’m not sure about calling him, he looks cranky.’

Snoop: what your staff says about youSo I delved into my bookshelf and unearthed a copy of Snoop: what your stuff says about you. I acquired this book more than 2 years ago now. It seems that since then the author Sam Gosling has acquired a PhD and the book has been re-released with a new lime green finish.

I remember buying it. It was the first paragraph on the back which caught my attention:

What does your desk reveal about your personality? What about the books you own or the pictures on your wall? And what’s the best way to find out what your new partner is really like?

It was the desk comment which did it for you see, comments on my desk are not uncommon. Many a colleague has remarked that they don’t understand me and my desk. My messy desk does not fit with all their other perceptions. ‘How can you be so meticulous with your data but have a desk like that?’ This one is almost as common as ‘How can you work with numbers all day long yet you can create art like that?’ (For my answer explaining the two can co-exist see: Data and Creativity.)

Would Snoop reveal to me the mystery of my messy desk? (I’m not sure whether it solved the mystery but Gosling himself admits to a mess of a desk and he seems to have some street cred when it comes to analytics so I’ll take that as proof that a messy desk does not spell the end of my analytical career).

But back to donors and their faces. Gosling for the most part focuses on physical environments, however he does talk about some research he conducted where he asked students to 

rate people’s personalities just from looking at photographs of them. Considering they have nothing more than a still photo to go on, our observers… were surprisingly accurate at judging others’ levels of extraversion, agreeableness, and openness.

So it would seem if on viewing a photograph of a donor I see them as creative or unconventional, this can be a valid way of determining they are a person high in openness.

My next line of thinking is whether we can do anything with that? I tend to think perhaps we can.

If people who are high on openness like playing with new ideas, trying new activities and challenging traditional thought, then I’m sure that in turn can influence which programs they may want to financially support. Alternatively, if I’m seeing photographs of donors who appear relaxed and cheerful, then assuming that they may be high on agreeableness is apparently ok. And I’m sure that fundraisers are looking for people high agreeableness since they “tend to be helpful, selfless, sympathetic, kind, forgiving, trusting and considerate.”

He doesn’t say much about people with nasty mouths though. I must tell my mother that.



Big Bird gets a makeover

One of the databases I use each day is getting a make-over. ‘Big Bird’ – as I have affectionately named the DB in question – it would seem is due for some cosmetic surgery.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking the same. With a nose that size, I’m sure that a bit of rhinoplasty isn’t going to be enough. The surgeon is really going to have to pull out a hammer and chisel to make his face more streamlined. Trinny and Susannah will be hard pressed to find clothes which suck in Big Bird’s waist and accentuate his curves. Considering the magnitude of the change required to give a giant yellow feathered gawky bird a make-over, I started to ponder whether he really needs one? What is ‘beauty’ in a database? (assuming that a man in yellow stockings with giant feet it is not). And is the pursuit of beauty an appropriate one for a not for profit database appropriate?

Is this what a not for profit database should look like?

Is this what a not for profit database should look like?

I stop and try to imagine what a not for profit database should be. A family station wagon with a 5 star safety rating? A Datsun 120Y? A turbocharged 4wd porsche – stylish but suitable for different conditions? I’m sure we would all agree it isn’t a Bugatti Veyron.

If you had asked me 2 years ago whether I cared about how stylish my database was, I would have said NO. I was moving from Barry Fife (the bloody useless database), to Big Bird, the simple, yellow gawky database and I was happy. But over the past 18 months or so I’ve come to realise that good looks may be needed for good functioning (and probably good grammar which I’m clearly in need of at this point in the day!). When the ‘look’ of a database starts to get in the way of people using the database, then it is time for that surgery to occur. I’m pleased that Big Bird’s masters have realised this and are working on redefining him. I’m hoping that his makeover plan involves:

  • a cosmetic surgeon to soften his face
  • a personal organiser and psychologist specialising in hoarding to work on getting rid of some of the clutter,
  • a speech pathlogist to improve his clarity and language, and,
  • a GP to look at his health problems holistically and refer for treatment where needed.

I can imagine re-defining the image of your database is a tough ask. I’ll be watching with interest to see how the medical team fare on this one. I’ve seen a preview of the care plan and so far I’d say the patient is in good hands.

Spare a thought for the goat counter

imageoutput.phpDid you save a caged bear this Christmas? Buy a hamper for a disadvantaged family in need? Buy medicine for a tiny village in another country? Well done you!

I bet when you purchased your virtual gift you weren’t thinking about how your charity of choice was going to ensure that your gift went to your program of choice.

Whoever came up with the ‘buy a goat’ concept, I’m sure won many marketing awards. Let’s call him Marty. Indeed, Marty had a stroke of brilliance. He came up with a concept which helped people feel they were making a difference. Their small donation, achieved something large… and smelly if all my memories of children’s goat stories serve me well. While Marty was winning awards for his brilliance, there was a data monkey sitting in the corner going grey.

My experience with tied – or designated funding – is inextricably linked to caffeine… and chocolate. Figuring out how to cost services / products, then how to track them reminds me of the “Impossibles” puzzles I once did. It was a jigsaw puzzle with no borders, a repeated pattern and 5 extra pieces that went nowhere. Only difficulty was my puzzle had 4 extra pieces and 2 holes, courtesy of a tortoise shell cat called Miss Piggy who I suspect slept on my puzzle one night and knocked off a couple of pieces which were vaccuumed into oblivion by my mother. Of course, I’m showing my age here because the puzzle seems so ancient no photos of it bless the almighty google images. Instead, I’ve included one of a cow… in purple gumboots. I concede it would be more on topic if it were a goat, but, sometimes I feel like I’m attempting something as difficult as getting a cow to wear purple shoes.

The challenge appears to be that everyone wants to slice the pie differently. Let me give you an example. I’ll return for a moment to my fictitious charity: the Free the Flamingo Foundation. (Yes, I certainly have an animal theme going tonight). It would be really simple if we had two categories of flamingoes – pink and white. Which one do you want to support?

Can donors support a local flamingo? Oh yes of course. What a good idea – donors like to support causes in their local areas. So pink, white, by local area. That’s still manageable.

Oh. You want to support the breeding program rather than the retirement bird program? Ok, now you’re getting a little complicated. So now do I need to track pink ones in the breeding program versus white ones, versus pink geriatric ones?

Add in the flamingo drug rehabilitation program and I want to sacrifice a goat rather than donate one. Marty sure has a lot to answer for.

Why I gave back some of my pay

My text message conversation went something like this:

Me: “I refused some of my pay today.”

Andrew: “What??? Have you gone soft in the head?”

Me: “No. I’ve just seen the end of year forecast for work. We are facing a massive shortfall. We have over 300 deaf kids to help and I’ve just seen a letter from the state government saying we are only funded for 45.”

Andrew: “Oh. Got it now. Not soft in the head at all. As you were.”

This news comes around the same time that Andrew and I finally get to drop off the car to have the wheelchair lifter fitted. 6 months ago, I rang charities asking for help to fundraise for this vital equipment. One charity said if we could prove Andrew had his neuro-muscular condition before he was 18 then they could help… but there was a 2 year waiting list. Another told me how hard it was to get funding and then sent me information about a government scheme. The scheme was only for  families and even if we had been eligible, it was a drop in the ocean compared to the real cost. I rang another charity – yes, we help with making vehicles accessible for wheelchairs – but only for children!

Despairing that our need didn’t seem to fit into anyone’s criteria, I didn’t know where to turn. I told my boss and my colleagues what was happening. They didn’t blink.

‘We’ll help.’

In the coming weeks, friends, colleagues and people who were brand new to the Organisation, and didn’t know me from a bar of soap rallied around. People gave up time after work and on the weekend. Some donated goods for the garage sale; others came to the fundraising dinner; a group of ‘cake bakers’ sprung into action; a sausage sizzle was organised along with a cheese stand. Many gave private donations. I was absolutely blown away.

Today, someone asked me how the Shepherd Centre was different to other services. It’s hard to answer – not being an employee, a recipient, or an observer of those other services. But I felt I could say one thing with confidence: it’s not in the Shepherd Centre spirit to turn people away. If help is desperately needed, help is given. The things people did for Andrew and I – on their own time – was consistent with what they do for our families. I admire their passion and dedication and think myself lucky to work with such a fantastic group of people.

My friends and colleagues at The Shepherd Centre supported Andrew and I in ways for which I can never thank them enough. Giving up a little of my pay was the least I could do right now.

If you are thinking about giving a donation to a charity this Christmas, please consider The Shepherd Centre. For more information see the following article:

Government funding cut despite record number of children at The Shepherd Centre

Disclaimer: the above is my own personal opinion. I would also like to stress that all assistance provided to Andrew and myself was on people’s own time and independent of the Organisation.

Training a new data monkey – what would you recommend?

After a 4 month search, I have finally acquired myself a trainee data monkey. Now comes the critical question – how to train the monkey?

I’ve started by piling a number of articles and books on his desk! Here are a few that I consider ‘foundation’ pieces. I’d be most interesting in hearing from other fundraisers as to books, articles, blogs etc that you regard as essential!

Fundraising books

These would be my top 3 books for getting a good grounding in fundraising. What is your top 3?

The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks.

Since hearing Jeff Brooks speak at the Fundraising and Philanthropy forum in Sydney two years ago, I’ve been a fan.

I love Jeff’s simplicity, his wit and most of all his dislike of brand gurus! I mentioned to a colleague that I had ordered a copy of Jeff’s new book and in response, they said to me that they expected it to be just a summary of what he writes on his Future Fundraising Now blog.

Only half way through the book, I can certainly say there are many familiar themes, yet I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I think it will be a fantastic book for my trainee data monkey.

Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay.

I first read this book about 6 or 7 years ago and its impact has never left me. My experience of fundraising texts to that point had been of rather vague prose banging on about how to make donors feel important.

This book combined definitive data about why donor loyalty matters with concrete strategies for improving it.

It remains a favourite to this day.

Relationship Fundraising: A Donor-based approach to the Business of Raising Money by Ken Burnett.

Many people recommend the work of Ken Burnett. He talks about donors as friends. When I first read this I thought it sounded nice but it didn’t actually click with me until I became a donor myself.

I support the Cat Protection Society at Enmore ever since I adopted my two tortoise shells from them in 2009. I subscribe to their facebook page and actually look forward to their facebook status updates telling my who has been adopted. I was asked to write an article for their recent book, Feline Friends, about my girls’ fascination with walking through my paintings while they are still wet. To my delight, it didn’t end up on the editor’s cutting room floor. When I approached them for an advance copy for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, they happily obliged.

I am a donor yet I feel like a friend.

Fundraising Articles

Of all the areas of fundraising, I find major gifts one of the hardest to find quality reference material. I’ve directed my new colleague to a most entertaining and informative series of blog posts by Jeff Schreifels from Passionate Giving.

If you haven’t seen 10 Reasons Why Most Major Gift Programs SuckI strongly recommend it.

Last but not least, is an interesting 2 part blog post on what makes a great database manager by Ivan Wainewright. I have to admit to reading this post with some trepidation as I am a database manager with no formal training in the area. I like the article because personally it pointed out some strengths I’d overlooked and highlighted areas where I can improve my skills.

I’d be really interested to hear from you – what books or articles would you add to this list?

A proud profession

A couple of years ago I was at the Fundraising and Philanthropy Forum and I heard John Jeffries of CBM give a presentation on the state of the fundraising profession. During this talk, he said something like:

No one leaves school and says, ‘yes, I’m going to have a career as a fundraiser!’

It would seem that being a fundraiser is not a sexy profession. At times the way people talk about fundraisers, I’m wondering whether the phrase should be ‘never discuss sex, religion, politics or fundraising.’

Recently personal experiences have shown me that far needing to whisper ‘I’m a fundraiser’, people should be shouting it from the roof-tops with pride.

I’ve always known that fundraising changes lives. There have been times when I’ve seen it’s impact.  Yet it’s only recently that I’ve really understood what ‘life-changing fundraising’ really is.

It took for a person dear to me to be in dire need of vehicle modifications in order to maintain his independence for me to really see how powerful fundraising can be.

Less than 2 months ago, I was sitting have a conversation with Andrew about his increasing difficulty lifting his wheelchair into his car. His struggle to get in and out of the car was getting too much. ‘I’ll just have to quit TAFE’ he said. ‘And organise some other way to get my groceries.’

With a price tag of anything from $8,500 up to $20,000, depending on the option he chose, it did seem hopeless.

I went away and thought about it. I wasn’t ready to give up. I came back and said, ‘you’re right, we mightn’t be able to raise the money, but I know I’ll always regret it if we didn’t try.’


Little did I know that within 2 months, we would have already raised close to $3,000. We may only be a third of the way there – and what an emotional rollercoaster it has been – yet hope has returned.

When your profession changes people’s lives like this, then there’s plenty of reasons to be proud.