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mark phillips
The person who manages Bluefrog, an agency that makes good charities even better.
Interests: Africa, anthropology, sharks, hi-life and afro-beat, bush craft, being in the wilderness, weird tv shows.
Recent Activity
Thanks for the comment Adrian. The full research will be published shortly. But I agree with your point about trust. It's a very broad term. Perhaps asking donors whether they trusted charities to treat them with respect might be a better question? Sadly because of the aggressive behaviour of (comparatively few) charities, donors are growing wary of giving to new organisations. In our research on mobile giving for example, we found donors initially loved the idea of giving via their mobile phone as it appeared to offer a means to control the relationship by allowing them to remain semi-anonymous. Sadly the heavy use of follow up calls proved them wrong. It significantly damaged both the technique along with general attitudes to giving. More recently, I've heard charities are now promising new donors – at the point of recruitment – that they will not call them to upgrade for a number of years as a means to counter this ill-feeling. Donors may well broadly trust charities, but if we extend that to trust us to raise money with respect, then we may well be disappointed by what we find. The approach of an individual charity justifying behaviour by pointing to a bottom line can't really be defended any longer. We are too interconnected now to continue acting without thought for other charities in the sector. The more I think about what's happened, the more I am reminded of what happened in the recent sub-prime disaster. I'm not sure if you've read the work of Gillian Tett who is US managing Editor of the FT, but initially trained as a Social Anthropogist. In her review of the crash she put it quite simply... “One of the reasons we got into the mess we are in is because they were all so busy looking at their own little bit that they totally failed to understand how it interacted with the rest of society.” That seems to sum up what happened to us. Keep up the great work.
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Last week I had the privilege of being part of one of the most exciting fundraising conferences I’ve ever attended – The Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School. A group of highly talented people shared, inspired and challenged us to do... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2016 at queer ideas
I’m currently working with Ken Burnett who has asked me to identify the best global fundraising practice to be featured in the final report of the Commission on the Donor Experience. Our goal is to demonstrate what can be achieved... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2016 at queer ideas
Last week, I shared a few thoughts in Third Sector, about Lord Grade's views on fundraising. You probably read about his interview in The Sunday Times and may well have heard his speech at the IoF gala dinner. What follows... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2016 at queer ideas
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There has been a surge of interest in mid-value fundraising over the last year, so I thought it might be worth sharing a few thoughts about the technique. For those who don't know, mid-value fundraising is a focused, engaging and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2016 at queer ideas
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For all the headlines, news reports and criticism of fundraising over the last year, the point that seems to have escaped attention is just how we found ourselves in so much trouble. It's all too easy to blame elements of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at queer ideas
Last year, I spoke at the Australasian Fundraising Forum in Sydney. I shared my thoughts on the fundraising crisis in the UK and how we ended up in such a mess. I also looked at what was happening in Australia... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at queer ideas
Hi Simone. It was perhaps one of my best ever days as a fundraiser. It's a shame that we'll never know what Tony would have topped it with (which he would).
With the most influential fundraiser/popularity contest up and running, I thought it presented a rather interesting opportunity. I’ve always been of the view than rather an opportunity to vote for mates, colleagues and famous faces, it should be presented as... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at queer ideas
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There aren't too many fundraisers who can be unaware of the power of using YOU in copy. One of my favourite fundraisers, Tom Ahern, gives the word central importance in his brilliantly effective Ahern Audit, with the famous You test.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at queer ideas
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First off, an apology. I'm asking you for your help. I totally understand that you read my blog for advice on fundraising and if that's all you are after, you can stop reading here and look forward to a couple... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2016 at queer ideas
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There's a fundraising technique that's caught on in the last few years based on offering important information as a means to obtain someone's contact details. You probably have seen the type of thing I'm talking about on TV or train... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2016 at queer ideas
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With the ongoing media storm, improving the public perception of fundraising is near the top of every fundraiser's list of concerns. But luckily, not only do we have the Commission on the Donor Experience working on the problem, senior staff... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at queer ideas
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The Super Fundraiser seemed to go down well, so here's her nemesis - The Neanderthal Fundraiser. Where the Super Fundraiser focuses on answering donor needs, our Stone Age chum is driven by a burning desire to get as many donors... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2016 at queer ideas
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In the face of the UK's fundraising crisis, lets not forget there are some super fundraisers out there. This is what I think makes them special. Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at queer ideas
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The More Partnership has just published a great (free) booklet that illustrates some important truths about giving. The facts you'll find inside are based on analysing the supporter files of 33 British universities. That's a load of data. In just... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2015 at queer ideas
Thanks for your comment Ian. As funders of Rogare, you know I agree with much of what you say. However, there is great use of the phone and appalling use of the phone. I'm currently engaged in trying to find out why I received a call on behalf of charities that fits neatly in to the absolutely appalling category and I'm struggling to get any information to help me. As a result I am about to embark on a formal process to get a recording of the call and associated details). There's also great face-to-face and there is appalling face-to-face. It's the same for direct mail, use of data and any other area of fundraising you might care to mention. As a sector, rather than saying that the regulators or newspaper are out to get us, I think we need to recognise that some fundraising has fallen below standards that we should expect of ourselves. However much I agree with the need for a formal foundation for a set of professional ethics, I think there are some practices that can and should be stopped now. If we, as fundraisers, had questioned these practices when we saw them (which we failed to do) we would not have faced this review. But it has happened and we have to live with it. I am hopeful that in planning for the future, more charities will think of the needs of donors as well as beneficiaries - which is no bad thing (at least to my mind). And we should also remember that this is still self-regulation where we have the ability to influence what happens next. That should be our focus now. We have a chance to create a charitable sector that is the envy of the world. I find that very exciting.
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On Friday, we had the chance to see how the plans for regulating the sector were shaping up. I watched online (it's here if you'd like to see it) and was pleased with what I saw. It was a pretty... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2015 at queer ideas
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As the first part seemed to go down well, we can have a sequel. This time with a few suggestions from your side of the screen. Thanks for sending them in. For many, it seems it was a chance to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2015 at queer ideas
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Yes. That’s right. No matter how many years you’ve been working in fundraising, no matter how many books you’ve read or how many tests you’ve been involved in, your grandmother (or mum) is instinctively a better fundraiser than you. She... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2015 at queer ideas
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Ladybird books are a series of British books that were used to teach children to read in the 1960s and 70s. As anyone who has read one knows, they presented a very stereotyped vision of family life. In 2014, artist,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2015 at queer ideas
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Back in 2009, Bluefrog undertook a huge qualitative research exercise to identify and highlight the reasons why donors stop giving to charities. The paper we published at the time is as relevant today as it was then. So I thought... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2015 at queer ideas
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Of all the recommendations in the Etherington report, it’s the Fundraising Preference Service that has generated the most concern. The whole idea of a reset button that can shift people into a world where charities can’t communicate with them is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2015 at queer ideas
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Keep your communications in the purple zone and you won't go far wrong. Update: This little diagram has really taken off, so I've produced two higher resolutions versions that you can have (no registration required). They are suitable for printing... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2015 at queer ideas
Following my last post, I've had a few discussions with fundraisers about professionalism and what it actually means. As a result, I thought it might be of interest to expand a little on my thinking. As I understand it, professionalism... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2015 at queer ideas