10 life lessons from the fundraising floor


Today we have a guest blog, from the wonderful fundraiser Susie Lomax. Susie has been fundraising for Pell & Bales for just over a year now and recently took time to reflect on her time as a fundraiser. It turns out she has learnt a lot…


10 life lessons from the fundraising floor

What began as a part time job to pay the bills became a wonderful adventure. One of the greatest things I have learnt is that if we are willing to commit ourselves to excellence then the most extraordinary things happen. For example have you ever considered the wide range of skills that we can learn as fundraisers?

So much of what I have learnt in the past year, I can take with me and apply to every aspect of my life, even my relationships! For many becoming a telephone fundraiser might be to ‘pay the bills’, a filler while at University, or maybe while waiting for that ‘big break’ as an actor. However, I would challenge everyone to stop and consider how valuable this experience is. Here are a few things I have learnt;

1. Stepping through fear: It’s really easy to give up. Sticking with the difficult calls awakens a kind of tenacity that gets results.

2. Listening: I used to love talking! Now I love to listen. We get to hear real life stories every day. If we listen just a little more we can respond with real empathy and make our calls a great experience for everyone.

3. The Art of Diplomacy: learning to be polite while keeping our objective in the forefront of our minds no matter what. It’s not about us.

4. Never assume: I am still learning this one! People surprise us every day.

5. Leaving my ego outside the door: Lets face it we all bring our own agenda’s with us. The trick is to recognise our own personal interest and then we can allow room for other people’s concerns.

6. Always a call away from success: Just one more call can make the difference to our stats and our confidence.

7. Asking for the money:  Most people don’t enjoy doing this but there is a skill to it that can really make the difference to the amount of money we can raise for the our charity clients and the amazing work that they do.

8.Taking action now: We can learn to ‘do’ and not put off until tomorrow. Just do it!

9. Having great conversations: We get to do this every day with every strata in society. Great communicators go places, have great friends. People remember them.

10. Never give up: We owe it to ourselves to get passionate about life. It can be tough but in my experience it’s pretty fantastic. It’s simply up to us.

4 Lessons from 5 Amazing Fundraisers


4 Lessons from 5 Amazing Fundraisers

There was much celebration in the P&B office last week upon raising our £1 Billionth. Last week I blogged about some of the numbers, this week it’s all about the people.

A special accolade goes out to five very special individuals who have each been fundraising with P&B for over ten years. Between them have spoken to over 300,000 donors, and raised a phenomenal £12 Million.

For those that have ever worked with or for Pell & Bales it is more than likely that you will recognise these names. Please join us in congratulating them, and every fundraiser to have worked with us in our 21 years.

So what can we learn from these amazing fundraisers? What in their view makes a great fundraising campaign and what inspires and compels them after all these years?


When I caught up with our ‘super fundraisers’ I was really humbled to hear that what motivates them is “When the supporter thanks you for calling” or “when you’re congratulated for doing a great job and helping the cause.” 

Darlene simply enjoys “conversations where the supporter has relaxed with me and there is laughter”

It is clear that what makes these individuals amazing telephone fundraisers is that they really do enjoy talking to donors.


Often the easiest causes to engage with are those that as a fundraiser you can relate to directly, for many an example of this would be a cancer charity. But Tom also mentions the power of “charities that are passionate, non-apologetic and not scared to say it how it is.” Ingredients that of course go a long way towards truly engaging conversations.

It was unanimously agreed that a great briefing is key. It will lead to great conversations and great fundraising.

So what makes a good briefing? Held up were examples of visits: to science labs, heritage sites, hospices and centres. Welcome are speakers: midwives, survivors, field workers. Appreciated are personalised fundraiser newsletters, updates, thank you’s and awards.

Unfortunately we don’t do this enough. Next year I will make it my mission to do more.


Campaigns remembered most fondly are those with a real sense of urgency, where the supporter passionately believes in the cause: believes that they can change if not the world, then at least one person’s life.

Amongst supporter groups remembered for being really engaged are Labour Party supporters and their determination to secure a win in the ‘97 elections, those that have experienced first-hand the impact of a MacMillan Cancer Nurse, and the community of outraged people stepping up to support Save the Children UK in the 2009 Gaza crisis.

These campaigns were life changing, award winning and one of a kind. Speak to anyone at Pell & Bales who was involved in these campaigns and the pride is tangible.

These campaigns also teach us the value of finding prospects and supporters who share your beliefs: supporters who will be truly passionate about your cause. Not only will this ensure the most successful appeals, but the most engaged supporters too. And if we are to believe that ‘commitment’, ‘shared values’ and ‘engagement’ are key drivers of loyalty then donor retention will be great too.


Tom remembers fondly the day Simon Pell hired a lecture theatre and marched the whole office across London because we simply had to watch The Orphans of Nikandla. He knew if we watched that documentary together, as the group of amazing compassionate fundraisers that we were, that we could not walk away from that room without committing to change the lives of everyone living in that village.

Simon no longer works here, but he has left with us an amazing legacy that is Pell & Bales: A unique place full of committed and passionate people, determined to change the world.

Thank you Pauline, Patricia, Tom, Ariel and Darlene for the time you have spent with our supporters. And for the life changing sums of money you have raised.