For Liz

Yesterday we received very sad news. We heard that Liz Monks, one of the most respected fundraisers in the UK and a close friend and colleague to many of us in the sector, had died of cancer. She is a terrible loss.

I didn’t know Liz well but I was proud to be asked to became involved, along with a group of other, mostly fundraising folk (who all did much more than me), with a last project for Liz.

When Liz learned she had terminal cancer, she behaved entirely characteristically. She didn’t waste time in mourning. There was absolutely no self pity. She decided to make the world a better place.

So she launched a fundraising appeal to help others who faced the same challenges she had in her treatment.

Liz was an A list fundraiser. She wrote brilliant fundraising copy. So the best thing I can do is let her speak for herself.

This was the email she sent to friends and colleagues;

“I am writing to you one fundraiser to another, to ask for your help with a project very close to my heart.  I am writing at a time when fundraising itself is being questioned, and I hope this will show what our profession is all about.  

You will know, and as I have learned over my years as a fundraiser, that to make change and to help people, requires raising money.  It is donors and supporters who make charities’ work possible – very often because they themselves have personal experience of the need or benefits of the work they want to fund.   

Now, after twenty years as a fundraiser within charities, like so many donors I find myself as someone both in need of help, and as someone wanting to help solve a problem.   

Almost a year ago, I was diagnosed with something called high grade poorly differentiated small cell neuroendocrine cancer, and given then 12-24 months to live.  Without advice, support or professional guidance, and amidst the initial shock, there was a lot of fallout.  

As a charity person, I should have known to turn to an organisation like Macmillan, but we didn’t; we were afraid, in shock and panicking.  I now know that Macmillan could have helped me by handling some of the challenges for us, perhaps with a far better outcome.  But, I didn’t know then that there was a Macmillan centre in the hospital where I am being treated, and because I am seen in a different clinic than where they are based, the Macmillan team didn’t know about me.  

I want to make sure that no-one has to go through such misery and loneliness when someone can be there to hold their hand through their difficult decisions, advise or advocate for them.  But the centre has some real barriers to being able to reach out and help all those in need, people like me.   

There is little sign-posting via clinicians – many doctors still don’t know that such broad help is available.  Nor does the one centre staff member have time to work on building relationships around the hospital to ensure any cancer patient receiving diagnoses and treatment in any specialist department will be directed to and connected with Macmillan’s support services.  

I desperately want to change this, as I know to my cost the impact of the ‘gap’.   I am asking you to help me raise money for something that will help many people. People who will be in the same situation as I have been.

I want to raise enough to fund a Macmillan Cancer Support staff member, to be able to work full time for one year at the Royal Free Hospital in London.  At the end of that year, having demonstrated his or her impact, the post will continue as full time, funded by the NHS trust.   This will cost £20,000.

I want and need to raise it quickly, for reasons that are obvious. This is one of the most positive things I can do in the time I have left – to use my fundraising skills, and people I know, to make a difference that will help other people after me.  In my situation I am sure you’d want to do the same – it’s what makes our profession, and makes us so proud to be in it.   A pride we don’t often have the chance to show, and certainly not one recently reported.  

I know as staff in charities, or in agencies providing the help and capacity so desperately needed to fund the work of organisations like Macmillan, that you share this commitment and belief that a donation or funds raised can make all the difference.   This belief has, so very wrongly, been called into question recently.   As much as techniques and practice may change, what must not change is the simple fact that money changes, improves and save lives.

I am asking you if you would make a donation.   If you look at my JustGiving page, you will see that we’ve raised a chunk already, thanks to the generosity of a couple of fundraising agencies and colleagues.   Also, in no small part thanks to the Chair, the Board and the senior management team at Macmillan, who all wished to show their support for both this work, and for the fundraising for it.  

As we all know, finding a Board and non-fundraising colleagues prepared to make lead gifts, and then ask their contacts to do the same is rare, and I am grateful that they helped to kick this off.

So, please help me reach this total as quickly as I can. Please donate online at

In advance, I would like to thank you for reading this email, and for any donation you may make.   I look forward to hearing from you soon, and may I wish you the best of luck in the future, and everything you wish for yourself



Fundraisers and friends of Liz everywhere are already supporting this appeal. Come and join us.

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