Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit …

A  great study by social scientist Adam Grant has just been bought to my attention .  Grant carried out a study on motivation and productivity in a university fundraising call centre in Canada.

He separated fundraisers into three groups and prior to calling they were to;

  1. Read stories written by other employees describing personal benefits of the job (personal benefit condition)
  2. Read stories written by students who’d benefited from fundraising (task significance condition)
  3. Control Group did not read any stories at all

Grant measured the number of pledges and donation amounts one week before the above and one month after. Group 1 performed exactly the same. Group 2 earned more than twice the amount of weekly pledges and doubled the value (donations went from $1,228 a week to $3,130!)

While at the university, Grant saw a sign on someone’s desk that said:

 “Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit – you get a warm feeling no one notices.”

 So he set up a second test to thank fundraisers. One group did the job as normal. The other half were visited by the director of annual giving who said “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the University.” Just 16 words difference between the two groups. The first group (obviously) performed as normal, the second made 50% more calls in the following week!

We definitely see a difference in results when charities come in to do fundraiser engagement sessions with our fundraisers.  We are experts at training, coaching and motivating our fundraisers, but nothing can match hearing appreciation directly from the beneficiaries or thanks from the charity in person. It brings fundraisers closer to the cause and always drives more passionate conversations and better results.

Thanks to Charlie Hulme for pointing me in the direction of this study. You can read more in the bookGive & Take’ by social scientist Adam Grant  

 Thanks for reading, Bethan

Follow Bethan on twitter @bethanalys


Key take-out’s from Sofii’s IWITOT 2014



Yesterday was my first experience of Sofii’s IWITOT event and as a new Account Manager at Pell & Bales it was a great introduction to the sector and an insight into the minds of some of the key players in the fundraising industry.

I spent the afternoon listening to some genuinely inspirational talks and supported a fellow Pell & Bales fundraiser Jess Borham doing her talk on National Asthma UK’s Straw Mailing Pack (sounds too simple to have any impact but it was really effective!).

You’ll be hearing from Jess soon but for now, here are my take out’s from the day..

  • While supporters are being generated through ‘new’ channels like social media and SMS, it’s slowly dawning on charities that they still need traditional channels to engage & connect to these supporters and if anything the telephone will become more important
  • Speed is everything. Charities are beginning to realise they need to be on top of social media channels in order to capitalise on things like #nomakeupselfie or the #icebucket challenge. As a telephone fundraising agency – this breeds opportunities for us to be more flexible and agile in our strategy and campaign planning – pulling together campaigns within a few days of a social media meme taking off!
  • Making it personal. The most striking campaigns covered were #FindMike presented by Fiona Lishman Head of Client Development at On Agency (which eventually won on the day) & ‘Cathy Come Home’ presented by Chris Barraclough Creative Director at Orchestra (not strictly a campaign but led to such a public outcry it changed an entire generation’s view of homelessness & poverty). The best campaigns were far away from Branding & PR Marketing. When you have the Deputy Executive Director of Fundraising from UNICEF imploring the room that we need “Fundraisers with Balls” you realise it’s up to us as individuals to be brave and take risks.
  • Despite all the excitement about, perhaps, striking it lucky with a campaign like the # icebucket challenge, insight was a recurrent theme. CRUK’s Dryathlon was probably the best example of this and was presented at the event by Sinead Chapman, Strategy Director at Open Fundraising. CRUK set out to recruit more men between 25 & 45 yrs old and created a campaign specifically to appeal to this demographic; low commitment, facilitate banter, etc. The huge success of this campaign was underpinned by insight gleaned from research & willingness to explore this ‘new’ demographic. In the same vein, we need to continue to mine as much learning from our SMS & social media campaigns as possible, because while traditional demographics don’t appear to tie these disparate supporters together, there are clearly psycho graphic patterns which can unlock key learning for us.


‘You couldn’t tell agency fundraiser from charity fundraiser’

Spot on Ian.. we thought the same…


you couldnt tell



” Yesterday I listened to 19 fundraisers (should have been 20 but one wasn’t able to make it) talk about the fundraising ideas from the past 130 years that have so inspired them that they wished they’d thought of them.

Of the 19 people who presented at the event, 10 worked for a charity and nine for a commercial supplier to the sector – including a digital consultant, a trainer, telephone and direct marketing agency staff and a street fundraiser.

Apart from the 18 excellent (and one that was OK) ideas presented, the thing that struck me most was that everyone displayed similar levels passion and commitment to fundraising and the impact fundraising has on the world. So much so that I would defy anyone to have sat in the room and, without knowing who worked for whom, predict with any degree of confidence who were the charity staff and who worked for suppliers.

 Those vocal members of the anti-fundraising brigade who complain about how third party agency fundraisers are mercenaries with no real commitment to the causes they work for should have gone to IWITOT yesterday and put their theories to the test. They would have found them wanting.

The people on stage yesterday were not agency fundraisers and they were not charity fundraisers. They were fundraisers. “


Ian Macquillin talks about IWITOT 2014 in UK Fundraising  (Click here to read the full article)