30 years and 10 top lessons from Guy Mallabone

publication date: Dec 12, 2011
author/source: Kathryn McKechnie
Guy Mallabone is recognized internationally as one of the most thoughtful and inspiring leaders in the nonprofit sector.  He has been instrumental in raising approximately $500 million in the arts, social services and higher education sectors in Canada. At the 2011 AFP Toronto Congress he shared the top ten lessons he's learned in 30 years of fundraising leadership.Kathryn McKechnie photo

Lesson one: know yourself

In fundraising there are many variables. The only constant is you. Therefore, it is important to know your own style, personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Lesson two: passion

Your passion inspires donors and helps connect their money to your mission.

Lesson three: opportunity offerer

Fundraisers give people the opportunity to direct their money to an amazing mission.

Lesson four: Mallabone's fundraising law

People give their money to the things in their life that they're closest to. Therefore, fundraisers must bring people physically and emotionally closer to their organization.

Lesson five: making the case

Why would anybody give money to support your cause? The most important features of the case are:
  • How compelling is it?  You must bring the passion from the mission forward.
  • How urgent is it? If your case isn't urgent, people will set you aside.
Lesson 6: donor-centred relationships

Donor-centred fundraising involves managing relationships one-on-one, matching donor interests against your needs, and finding out what motivates a donor.

Lesson 7: it's about the money

We will not be judged on our ability to build relationships with donors. Raising money is the focus of what fundraisers do. What are you doing to raise money today?

Lesson 8: five moons

Aligning the five moons will help you to know when it is the right time to ask for money and what you need to focus on to get to that point. However, you should also listen to your gut because it will tell you when it is the right time to make the ask.
  • Moon 1: amount You'll never get it right! You'll always ask for too much or too little. Put a specific number on the table, not a range, and then be quiet and wait for the response.
  • Moon 2: timing Has there been a liquidity event in the prospect's life? Is there any reason to put a red flag on it?
  • Moon 3: project The project must be one in which the prospect has an interest.
  • Moon 4: who's asking Don't leave it to chance - script it! Who has influence? Who knows about the case?
  • Moon 5: who's being asked Who is present in the room when you make the ask? Is the prospect alone or are they accompanied by someone else, such as their spouse?
Lesson 9: power of the peer

Involving peer volunteers gives instant credibility to what you're doing. Define specific roles for the volunteers to make it easier for them to agree to participate.

Lesson 10: stay focused

It is not easy, but try to divide your time. Set metrics. Hold yourself accountable.

Guy Mallabone is the editor of Excellence in Fundraising in Canada, the first comprehensive fundraising textbook written by Canadians for Canadians.  To order, visit http://bit.ly/oqkrsu.

Kathryn McKechnie is a Toronto-based fundraiser with over seven years of small shop fundraising experience in Canada and the UK. Recently she started Kathryn McKechnie Consulting, focused on providing advice, resources and hands-on fundraising services for emerging charities and small shops.  She sits on the Board of Directors and is Chair of the Fundraising Committee for the Scarborough Women's Centre. Contact Kathryn by email or 647-459-4858.

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