Image: Harold Sumption

The founder of modern fundraising: 5+ insights

We are very excited to host guest blogger and fundraising lifer, Giles Pegram CBE this month. Giles ran his first campaign, a jumble sale, aged just 12 years old, raising an incredible £80 for Oxfam – £1,000 in today’s money! As many of you will know, Giles has devoted his career to the sector, spending many years as Appeals Director at NSPCC, as a trustee of the CIoF, and more recently as vice-chair of the Commission on the Donor Experience. Giles was awarded with the ‘Lifetime Achievement in Fundraising’ Award in 2002, and a CBE in 2011.

As you look back from 2021 and look forward to 2022, don’t forget 1972.

The advice that follows is over 50 years old. It comes from Harold Sumption. Some, like me, regard him as the founder of modern fundraising and believe that his thinking is as relevant in 2022 as it was 50 years ago.

Harold was a seasoned commercial advertising professional. He enjoyed a key role at several innovative UK advertising agencies, and applied his great commercial experience to the world of fundraising. He knew precisely what he was doing.

Six of Harold’s greatest aphorisms

Harold was not just a brilliant fundraising mind; he also managed to distil his thinking into simple statements. So they have survived.

  1. The charity is the agent of the donor
    The role of charity as the agent of the donor in bringing about change, and that fundraising is the process that brings donors and cause together. Like many of Harold’s aphorisms, both simple and profound.

  2. Open their hearts, open their minds, then open their wallets
    All three, in that order.

    Present the need that your charity is addressing, the solution it is providing, and engage the donor in being part of that solution.

  3. Present the need, powerfully, not to shock but to engage
    Charities have used shocking images, attracted media attention and defended them on the basis of the intensity of the problems they were tackling.

    But donors? They recoil. We must present the need in a way that viscerally engages the emotions of the donor by making them want to help. Not shock them.

    This is both acceptable and indeed good. Donors will feel they are making a significant difference when they give, so will have a better experience. Not just be shocked.

  4. People give to people, not to organisations, mission statements or strategies
    People say they give to the NSPCC: In fact, they give to prevent a child being cruelly treated.

  5. Fundraising is not about money. It’s about important work that needs doing. If you start by asking for money, you won’t get it and you won’t deserve it.
    This is brilliant. I’ve nothing to add.

  6. Success produces congratulations. Need produces results.
    Tell that to your trustees when they ask why you aren’t presenting the great work of your charity in your fundraising. Money is the means to that end. And it’s supporters who give time and money. To meet a need.

Harold was a man of great stature. But at heart he was a very humble, ordinary man. Who changed the fundraising world.

Now, go back to what 2022 can learn from 2021.

Giles Pegram CBE – November 2021

Image: Giles Pegram