Friendraising - what's in it for you?

“Everybody who donates to our organization is a friend to us. We make no difference in how we treat our donors.” It’s about a year ago when Eveline Aendekerk, executive director of dance4life, said this to me. At first I thought she shared this as her ‘vision on fundraising’ to me, as a lot of fundraisers do. But she went on and told me about the friends4life concept. And I learned that when Eveline talks about her donors as her friends, she means it literally.

It all started a few years ago, when Eveline received a hundred deluxe tickets to the Sensation White party in Amsterdam for free. Eveline: “We didn’t want to just give them away to our staff, donors or stakeholders, we wanted to do something special. So we created the friends4life concept.” dance4life decided to sell the tickets: € 1.500 for one ticket or € 2.500 for two tickets. As a buyer, you’re not only invited to the deluxe area of the Sensation party, but also to several other dance4life related events.

friends4life logo“We were not familiar with the expression back then, but it was through friendraising how we connected the first donors to our friends4life concept. I made a list of potential donors, and it were my own friends who I approached first with the ask to buy the tickets.” What had started with a small group of 10 close friends, ended up as a program with 125 friends4life (in three years’ time). Each friend donates at least € 1.500 per year.

Now, don’t be afraid. Friendraising doesn’t mean you have to approach your own friends and commit them as donors to your organization. Having said that, very often I experience that fundraisers struggle with the ‘friend’ part in ‘friendraising’.  They often wonder how close they can or cannot get with donors if they start practising friendraising. And if they have to become real friends in order to be successful friendraisers.

I get that. The word ‘friendraising’ can be a bit confusing, and lots of fundraisers use different definitions to explain it. To me, friendraising is: building sustainable relationships (with persons, foundations and corporations), in order to get to know them better, and in order to both be satisfied with the relationship you’ve created. It’s about learning from the values you share in the relationship with your personal friends, and implementing them in your fundraising strategy. Like: being attentive, not acting selfishly, being in contact once in a while, and showing that you care.
These values are also implemented in the friends4life program. I asked Eveline for the secrets of the program’s success, and building personal relationships is the key ingredient, it appears. Eveline: “Being an executive director means being a figurehead of the organization. For donors it’s important to get to know this figurehead. At least, for our friends4life it is. So I make sure that there’s enough time to get to know each other better, to build a personal relationship. I visit each friend at least once a year, for example.” Next to that, she participates as a (paying) friend4life herself too. Eveline: “Some people are amazed by this. But to me it’s just the right thing to do. It’s my way of expressing that I really believe in the importance of our organization’s work. Also our board members participate in the friends4life program. And, as I think of it: everybody who works at dance4life supports the organization financially.”

During the 60-Minute session ‘Friendraising, what’s in it for you’ Eveline and I will give you more insights in the success of the friends4life program. But it’s not only about the program, it’s also about you. So, are you curious how friendraising can work out for your organization? Do you want to learn friendraising tips and tricks from experienced friendraisers? And do you want to know how you can start with friendraising right away? Then come and join our session on Wednesday October 16, at 17h30 (Boston 13)!

Session outline
Often ‘friendraising’ is explained as the step you have to take before starting fundraising. As if it is about one technique following the other. As if it is the job of the fundraiser only. Well, it’s not. Friendraising is a way of life for all persons who represent an NGO. It is as important for the receptionist as well as the executive director, it is as important for a fundraiser as well as a board member.

Friendraising is building sustainable relationships with persons, foundations and corporations, in order to get to know them better, and to (co)create a wide variety of ways to support your organisation.

This session is aimed at fundraisers with the ambition to commit (prospect) donors to their organisation. We discuss what friendraising means to you and your organisation, and we share effective strategies. Moreover, you’ll be introduced to the friends4life programme of dance4life, an inspiring friendraising concept. The session is based on my ´Handbook Friendraising´ and will deliver both insights and practical examples.

Prepare yourself for an inspiring, fun and energising 60 Minute Session!
ifc2013 logo
Vera is the fifth IFC speaker to contribute to the IFC Series 2013.

Check out HERE where you can see Vera present at the IFC.

101fundraising is proud to once again be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress 2013!

Ever considered being a fundraising consultant?

by Ramses Man and Vera Peerdeman
Our experience is that quite a lot of fundraisers at some point in their careers think about how it would be to transform from being an employed fundraiser to working as a fundraising consultant. But the gap between daydreaming and really taking the step and going into business for yourself as a fundraising consultant seems to be quite a big one.
Regularly fundraisers with the ambition to become a consultant come to us for advise, because they are uncertain about what exactly they could expect and what their chances are as a fundraising consultant. Based on our experience as  consultants for the last 15 years, we always ask them the same five questions. In this blog we would like to share these questions with you, so that you can decide for yourself if perhaps there is a bright future for you in fundraising consulting.
expertQuestion 1: Are you a fundraising expert?
It’s rare that a CEO or a fundraising manager will entrust their fundraising program to a fundraising consultant who has never raised a penny him/ herself, or to a consultant who doesn’t have a high level of expertise in a specific fundraising area. An expert is defined as having 10.000 hours of experience with the topic they claim as their expertise. If you use a traditional 40-hour workweek as your ruler, that means you need at least 5 years of full time experience with (a specific form) of fundraising in order to call yourself an expert.
And to stay an expert, you will have to be determined to continuously keep working on building your skills. You can charge higher fees when you have more knowledge and expertise. How do you pick your field of expertise? Don’t worry, usually it picks you. Go with what interests you, especially if little is known about it or if it can still use a lot of development. But make sure it isn’t so avant-garde that nobody needs it.
At the same time, it’s also good to realize that you don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert in your field. Being an expert means that you have more insights than your client does on a specific area of expertise. You will have to accept that there will always be someone who knows more than you about certain fundraising techniques and programs. You should not let your awareness of your shortcomings keep you from accomplishing all that you might be able to do for your clients.
In order to jumpstart your expert status, there are numerous things you can do, like teaching a course, having an article published in a fundraising magazine/ blog, writing a book or providing services to a high-profile client.
Question 2: What ethical rules will you follow?
Ethics are important for anyone in business. They’re particularly important to consultants and they are crucial to fundraising consultants. This is directly related to the fact that for fundraising organizations their trust is their most valuable economic asset, hard to create but easy to destroy.
As a consultant you often get access to the confidential and proprietary inner workings of the organization. Therefore it is logic that NGO’s only want to work with consultants that pass all integrity tests. To gain a high level of trust from your clients you will have to show them what ethics you follow.
EU-consultWhen we started our consulting firm Nassau five years ago we immediately joined EUConsult. This is a European network of senior, highly professional, ethically-minded consultants serving the European not-for-profit sector. A key part of membership is the commitment to the EUConsult Code of Ethics. EUConsult Members agree they will comply with the EUConsult Code of Ethics in their services for and about not-for-profit organizations. They shall maintain good professional standards and financial integrity, protect and promote the reputation of the not-for-profit sector, protect and promote client interests and they shall provide good service for fair compensation.
No single code of ethics is appropriate for everyone, but some very basic ethical beliefs can and should form the basis for the code of ethics that you follow. You can write your own, personal code of ethics or you can chose to underwrite an existing code like the one of EUConsult.
Question 3: Do you want to be a consultant or a contractor?
A lot of people that say that say they want to become a fundraising consultant, actually mean that they want to become a contractor. What’s the difference? Well, it’s likely to get a different definition of consulting and contracting from every person you ask, but you can basically define each this way:
Consultants have technical expertise plus strong management skills. They define and lead projects with a defined outcome, and are expected to be self-directed in fulfilling their obligations. A consultant is brought in when the organization has a need and either isn’t able, doesn’t wish to, or doesn’t know how to take care of it, and doesn’t have time or desire to figure it out themselves. The consultant analyses the problem and decides how to solve it, often using methods or tools that the client hasn’t even thought of. The consultant is self-directed and does whatever it takes to deliver the solution that meets the client’s needs.
A contractor essentially acts as a temporary employee. The contractor has technical expertise, contributes as part of a larger endeavor, and is expected to be managed. He or she is told what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done.
How do you judge your own capabilities and how do you want to position your business? It comes down to whether you simply offer your time, or you offer solutions to problems.
There are lots of talented fundraisers that are very capable in doing what someone else tells them to do in order to create good work. But that’s something totally different from having the creativity, experience and initiative to assess a client’s needs, determine the best way to solve the crisis and implement and deliver the solution. Plus, a consultant does all this very independent. Be honest to yourself, what profile fits you best?
Generally, a consultant is paid higher fees than a contractor. Of course, this depends on a lot of factors, such as the demand in your market, your skills, and the client’s need.
Question 4: Do you truly enjoy bringing in new clients?
Consistently attracting new clients is the most challenging part of running your consultancy business. You need a constant stream of future clients to keep your consulting business healthy. We personally set aside 35% of our time prospecting for new clients. Since it is such an important part of the job, you really have to like selling your services and chasing new work. Especially the first few years as a consultant, you shouldn’t expect clients to come to you. Of course, it would be great if you would have to beat customers off with a stick after some years, but reality is that you have to keep working hard on getting new projects in.
how-to-negotiate-on-a-used-car-salesmanThis doesn’t mean that you should become a used car salesperson that never stops smiling and is patting the prospect’s back every few minutes. A clever sales pitch won’t bring in any consultancy jobs. Selling consultancy work is basically about starting the consulting process before you’re officially hired. Clients will hire you when they believe you fully understand their problems, you have the skills to help them, and the problem is worth solving. By structuring sales meeting so that you’re questioning your potential client about their problems and exploring the opportunities for solving them, you’re positioning your expertise far better.
Question five: How are you going to make money? And how much?
You might think that you will make a lot of money when you go into business for yourself. Well, reality is that a lot of consultants end up netting less money than they made as employees, especially the first few years. Don’t underestimate the fact that as a consultant you will have to set apart around 30% of your income for paying for all your own benefits (if you can even afford them): vacations, insurances, sick leave, maternity, pension, etc.
If you consider becoming a consultant, you will also have to ask yourself if you can deal with a high level of uncertainty. Every year you will start with zero and your total yearly income varies year to year. Financially, there will be good times and there will be bad times, and you need to learn to live through them both.
You will also have to think about how you will charge. By the hour, day, week, month, or project? Or will you require a retainer in addition to hourly? There are all kinds of arrangements for getting paid, and none is really superior to any other.
Customers often prefer fixed-bid projects, because they know in advance what they’re going to pay. For the consultant it can be problematic, because there is a reasonable chance that you will be working a long time for free. That’s why a  highly detailed specifications is needed that list exactly what is expected.
Hourly billing is the easiest to manage: you work an hour, you invoice the customer for a hour. However, a billing per hour contract requires that you have earned a great deal of your customer’s trust.
Setting their consulting fees is a very difficult task for many new consultants. Typically, they price their fees too low, mainly because they underestimate their operating costs. Another reason to start with a lower fee could be to attract attention by competing on price. This is probably not a good strategy, since it will be hard to substantially raise the fees later.
We would advise you to spend enough time on a serious process of introspection and skill inventorying before starting as a fundraising consultant. Hopefully our five questions can help you in that process. The more convinced you are about why you could be a great fundraising consultant, the better you will do. To say nothing of long-term personal happiness. After all, making a chance in your career is an important part of life. Good luck!
This blog is also published on the international crowdblog

Geven in crisistijd - een verslag uit Spanje

“Je treft ons op een spannend moment.” Marcos Concepción Raba begroet me met twee kussen en leidt me door het kantoor van de Asociación Española de Fundraising (het Spaanse fondsenwerving instituut) in Madrid. Hij is hier directeur en was zo aardig mij te ontvangen om me te vertellen over de trends en ontwikkelingen in de Spaanse fondsenwerving markt. Carmen Gayo, de voorzitter, schuift ook aan. Aan het – in Nederland zo gebruikelijke – voorstelrondje komen we amper toe. Marcos en Carmen zijn beredruk met het voorbereiden van een grote landelijke campagne, en ze vertellen meteen honderduit.

“Het is een gezamenlijke campagne van 35 NGO’s en het wordt volgende week gelanceerd.”, vervolgt Marcos. “We willen het belang van geven aan goede doelen onder de aandacht brengen bij particulieren.”. En dat blijkt hard nodig. 

De geefbereidheid in Spanje is erg laag, tenminste, als je het vergelijkt met Nederland. Carmen: “We hebben in 2012 een grootschalig onderzoek naar geefbereidheid gedaan en het blijkt dat slechts 19% van de particulieren geeft aan goede doelenorganisaties.”

Toch vraagt dit percentage om enige nuance, leggen Marcos en Carmen uit. Ten eerste kent Spanje pas sinds eind jaren ‘70 NGO’s. Geven aan goede doelen zit bij de Spanjaarden nog niet echt in de genen. Carmen: “Het voelt nog een beetje als een luxe om te geven. Het concept van filantropie is hier nog niet echt ingebed.”. Ten tweede wordt geven ook niet bepaald gestimuleerd door de overheid. “Spanje kent een van de laagste percentages voor giftenaftrek in Europa,” licht Marcos toe. “Voor particulieren is dit slechts 25%.”. Tenslotte is het percentage gericht op de geefbereidheid aan goede doelen. Het wil niet per definitie zeggen dat Spanjaarden niet vrijgevig zijn. Carmen: “Spanje is een katholiek land. Er gaat ontzettend veel geld naar de kerk. Jammer genoeg zijn hiervan geen cijfers bekend. En er wordt veel aan de familie gegeven. Dat is een belangrijke reden dat gezinnen het nog steeds redden in deze tijd van crisis.”.

Het onderzoek van het Spaanse Instituut Fondsenwerving is eerder ook in 2010 uitgevoerd en toen gaf 18% van de Spaanse bevolking. Een marginaal verschil. Toch zien Marcos en Carmen het als een hoopvol gegeven dat er nu – in tijden van crisis – door meer particulieren aan goede doelen wordt gegeven. In het geefbedrag per jaar is de crisis trouwens wel zichtbaar: gaf een particulier in 2010 gemiddeld € 178 per jaar, in 2012 is dit gedaald naar € 164.

Er zijn ongeveer 28.000 NGO's in Spanje. Hun belangrijkste geldstromen kwamen tot voor kort van de overheid en van spaarbanken (bijv. Caixa). Maar de laatste jaren staat de NGO sector behoorlijk op z’n kop. Er is fiks gekort op subsidies en de crisis heeft hier vooral de spaarbanken getroffen. Gaven zij jaarlijks eerst maar liefst € 1,7 miljard, is dat nu teruggeschroefd naar € 700 duizend (!) per jaar.

“Fondsenwerving is in rap tempo een serieus vak aan het worden.”, besluit Marcos. “Ja, ik weet het: de budgetten zijn hier nog veel te klein om echt een grote stap vooruit te kunnen maken. Maar laten we eerlijk zijn, als goede doelenorganisaties willen overleven zullen ze wel móeten investeren in fondsenwerving.”


Vorige week is mijn inspiratiereis naar Spanje begonnen. Twee maanden trek ik door dit land met mijn vrouw en hondje. Steden als Bilbao, Madrid en Barcelona doen we aan. Over mijn ervaringen, ontmoetingen en leermomenten ga ik bloggen. Niet alleen voor Nassau, maar ook voor Stadswild.

Een uitgebreid verslag van mijn ontmoetingen met Spaanse fondsenwervers en consultant volgt in Vakblad Fondsenwerving.

Return on (fundraising) Talent

Acquisitie, retentie en upgrading. Wie kent deze begrippen niet? Het zijn de top prioriteiten binnen het beleid van iedere fondsenwerver. En als fondsenwervers weten we het als geen ander: de kost gaat voor de baat uit. Ook al is de omvang van ons budget soms een uitdaging, het zijn de programma’s voor acquisitie, retentie en upgrading waarin we willen investeren. We focussen immers graag op het behalen van een maximaal rendement uit onze donateurs. Maar hoe zit het eigenlijk met de uitvoerders van onze programma’s? Focussen we wel genoeg op het behalen van maximaal rendement uit onze fondsenwervers? 

Het zijn vaak de inkomsten uit fondsenwerving waaraan we onze eigen succes en dat van andere organisaties afmeten. Wie werft het meeste geld? Wiens inkomsten groeien het snelst? Het zijn ook deze punten waarop we worden gewaardeerd in de ranglijsten, denk bijvoorbeeld aan deze crowdblog.

Echter, de drijvende kracht achter een succesvol fondsenwerving programma is niet zozeer de toegepaste techniek, maar de fondsenwerver die deze in de praktijk heeft gebracht. Het talent van deze fondsenwerver is dan ook van onschatbare waarde voor het rendement van je programma. De vraag is dan ook: in hoeverre stel je de ontwikkeling van dit talent eigenlijk centraal binnen je organisatie? 

We meten allemaal wel de Return on Investment van onze fondsenwerving programma’s, maar in hoeverre meten we de Return on Talent van onze fondsenwervers?

Waarom is dit eigenlijk zo belangrijk, zul je wellicht denken. Laat ik Nederland als voorbeeld nemen. Hier is op dit moment een groot verloop onder fondsenwervers. Worden zij bij hun huidige werkgever niet gewaardeerd, of zien zij geen mogelijkheden om door te groeien? Dan is de overstap naar een andere organisatie snel gemaakt. Door de flinke overheidsbezuinigingen in ons land, is de markt van fondsenwervende organisaties namelijk in rap tempo gegroeid en daarmee de vraag naar goede fondsenwervers. De strijd is hierdoor niet alleen gestart om onze donaties, maar ook om onze fondsenwerving talenten. Toch wordt er – in verhouding tot de investeringen in onze fondsenwerving programma’s – maar mondjesmaat geïnvesteerd in de opleiding van fondsenwervers. 

Het is daarom tijd voor een weldoordacht beleid. En dat hoeft niet moeilijk te zijn. De prioriteit die je verbindt aan de ontwikkeling van je donateurs, kun je een-op-een doorvertalen naar de ontwikkeling van je fondsenwerving team. 

  1.   Focus op acquisitie. Vraag jezelf af: hoe versterk ik mijn team met de beste fondsenwervers? Hoe ga ik de concurrentie aan met andere non-profit organisaties? En, nog uitdagender: hoe ga ik de concurrentie aan met de for profit sector, waar veel hogere salarissen geboden worden en interessante traineeships worden aangeboden? 
  2.  Focus op retentie. Ga de dialoog aan met je fondsenwervers over hun ambities en zoek samen naar een passende vorm om deze te bereiken. Meet de tevredenheid van je fondsenwervers, en hoe lang zij gemiddeld in dienst blijven. Doe je eigenlijk aan exit interviews om te achterhalen waarom mensen bij je weg gaan?
  3. Focus op upgrading. Ontwikkel een programma om het talent en de kennis van je fondsenwervers een flinke impuls te geven. Bied hen voldoende nieuwe uitdagingen in hun werk, maar ook inspiratie en denk na over hun (interne) doorgroeimogelijkheden.
Het succes van je organisatie wordt voor een belangrijk deel bepaald door het talent van je fondsenwervers. Investeer daarom in een Talent Development programma naast je Donor Development programma. Of anders gezegd: laat je Return on Investment toenemen via je Return on Talent.

      Graag wil ik een zeer talentvolle fondsenwerver bedanken die heeft meegewerkt aan de totstandkoming van dit blog:  Hans Broodman, interim manager fondsenwerving bij KWF Kankerbestrijding. Bedankt voor je heldere uiteenzetting van je visie op Return on Talent en het delen van je tekentalenten.

      Dit blog is ook gepubliceerd in het Engels, op