Small worlds

com-1If you’re one of us who was dismayed by the referendum result,you might be contemplating taking your fundraising experience abroad for a while. Or for ever…

Fundraising is a skill set that is exportable and there are many UK fundraisers working in lots of different markets worldwide. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had experience of fundraising in quite a few different countries. It’s always interesting to see what’s the same and what changes from country to country.

Recently, I’ve been to some countries where fundraising as it’s recognised in the UK is just starting. With different projects I’ve travelled to Nigeria and Georgia (the country) and seen the early days of fundraising programmes in countries with no tradition of of charitable giving outside religious contexts. What’s fascinating is to see how general fundraising principles apply in such markets, what is the same everywhere and what can be completely different.

A common feature, everywhere, is that charities are convinced that their cause is uniquely difficult and unattractive to their countryfolk. “People in Nigeria/Georgia/Narnia will never give to children/old people/environment/talking animals”. But then you find someone, somewhere in Narnia actually is raising money for talking animals and doing pretty well. Not all causes are equally popular and every cultural context is different but it is striking how often  a fundraising approach that works in one country is also effective elsewhere.

In Nigeria,  a country that would not normally be regarded as a place where funds are raised rather than spent,  ActionAid are pioneering face to face fundraising and DRTV. Results are very interesting, there are not a lot of donors  but average gifts are remarkably high. Georgia is starting to develop a fundraising sector led by SOS Children’s Villages with local charities quick to follow.

Some techniques work in a very similar way in most countries they’ve been tried. Face to face fundraising is now a commonplace  of emerging fundraising markets such as India, Brazil and Indonesia. DRTV campaigns run by major international NGOs such as Save the Children work successfully in lots of countries with essentially the same creative approaches and formats. Digital fundraising also seems to be an area where broadly the same elements are successful in many different places.

But there are always differences and nuances in individual countries whatever the outward similarities in approach. So DRTV works in a very similar across Europe except that celebrity endorsements are much more important in countries like Italy and Greece than in northern Europe. And Italians prefer to respond to ads by phone whereas Swedes,for example prefer to give by text message. Indian fundraising is complicated by  the idiosyncrasies of the banks so charities employ a host of men on scooters to go and collect cheques from individuals who have pledged over the phone. In every country the local cultures and context determine the messages and mechanisms that work.

Successful fundraising everywhere is based on asking for money appropriately. That’s very different in Chinese culture for example than in Europe. But everywhere, fundraising fundamentals are the same. The compelling and emotive proposition, a clear call to action and good stewardship and reporting back are what makes the difference between fundraising success and failure everywhere.

Even in Narnia, probably..



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