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Times must be very bad. Roger and Stephen have both written books.
Here are extracts from the foreword to each. I hope they’ll encourage you to buy and read both.


by Ken Burnett,
writer, publisher,
motivational speaker and occasional fundraising consultant.

Blog 2nd March, 2015

These two are
not so much
business books
as cries for help.




‘Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents,
and everyone is writing a book.’

Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote the above words more than 2,000 years ago, yet they’re just as apposite today. What he meant, it seems, is that when a situation gets really dire, some folks will vent their yearnings for change by picking up their pens.

Books of course have a long and honourable tradition of articulating, leading and shaping change. Towards the end of last year I started not just one, but two really good books about fundraising.

I love a good book and read a lot. But these two are not so much business books as cries for help. Something, they both say in their different ways, is wrong in the land of Fundraising. It has to change. I urge you to get them both, soon, so you can help be a part of bringing that change about.

Here’s how I started these two important books. Links to help you get your hands on the rest of these texts are included at the end of each piece. It is of course a huge honour to be invited to write the foreword for two such illustrious works. Though very different, both books are similar in theme and urgency. Both can and should make a difference to the massive problems they address. But, only if you will read them, and then act.

Here’s power to you…

Here, in your hands, you hold the answer to this gargantuan ongoing catastrophe. The big question is, can you do anything about it?

This book is for fundraisers with the vision, tenacity and campaigning zeal not just to change the world but to change the way fundraising is done not
only in their organisation but throughout our sector.

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Ken’s storytelling book is reviewed here and here and you can buy it here.

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You can order Ken’s latest book
The essence of Campaigning Fundraising
here. Please follow this link for reviews too.




Retention Fundraising
, by Roger M Craver

An edited extract from the foreword by Ken Burnett

Our not-for-profit sector is bleeding to death. We’re hemorrhaging donors, losing support as fast as we find it, seemingly condemned forever to pay a fortune just to stand still.

It’s time we stemmed the flow.

Let me say this as simply as I possibly can.

Our sector desperately needs to take decisive, effective action to stem donor attrition. It’s costing our causes and all who depend upon them billions of dollars every month. It’s limiting, even stifling the great work we do. It’s a sure sign of disillusioned, depressed and deterred donors, our leaking lifeblood. It saps and diminishes our sector, which is a tragedy because we should be society’s jewel in this jaded world.

Yet fundraisers routinely put up with it, as if massive attrition were a fundraising fact of life.

It isn’t. Roger Craver says so.  I’m sure he’s right.

Here, in your hands, you now hold the answer to this gargantuan ongoing catastrophe. The big question – now you know the problem and you’ve grasped the potential solution – is, can you – yes, you reading this page now – can you do anything about it?

I’m not sure you can.

Because donor attrition seems to have stumped most of your peers.  What’s more, it’s getting more serious, not less. The new donors you’ll need to find to replace those you’ve lost today will cost more now than they did yesterday. That they’ll cost even more tomorrow is scant consolation…

Roger Craver’s book could scarcely be more timely. Let’s use it as a rallying call. Our sector – nonprofit organizations – doesn’t need more pundits, number crunchers, data geeks, social media gurus or consultants. These people are ten a penny and their impact has been limited at best. What we need is world-changers.

Cracking donor retention is a worthy challenge for any would-be world-changer. As Roger’s book shows, there’s so much for him or her to get stuck into. They’re all detailed in this book.

The formula for fundraising magic is simple: retention + commitment = increased lifetime value. It isn’t a wild dream. We just have to be as committed to it as we’d wish our donors would be, to us.

The statistics of donor attrition are set out in this book’s opening pages. They’re shocking. If you think that’s good enough, that we’re doing OK, well, bully for you. You’ll probably get a promotion and a pay rise.

I think you should be fired.

Because good enough isn’t anywhere near good enough for fundraisers. The leaking bucket is a sign of monumental failure in our profession. All who preside over such pallid performance deserve to be fired. Really. Unless you’re ready to change this, move over, get out of the way and give your place to someone who can implement the change our sector so desperately needs….

More follows. Order your copy of Retention Fundraising here.


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Ken’s latest book Storytelling can change the world
is reviewed here and here.







How to love your donors
, by Stephen Pidgeon

An edited extract from the foreword by Ken Burnett

I love this book with its clever title, practical content and overdue messages. And I’m delighted to see my long-time friend, colleague and respected competitor Stephen Pidgeon finally getting his take on donor relationship development into print. But I have to confess, I despair that it had to be written at all.

But written it had to be and Stephen has done us all a service in the process.

The striking thing about the case for exemplary donor care is that it’s such evident moral and financial common sense. Yet common sense is not common at all and ‘the bleedin’ obvious’ still manages to elude so many.

What is it about making donors feel good and treating them as if they’re extra special that so many fundraisers, CEOs and trustee boards find so hard to grasp? Why, when good causes have nothing more to offer in return for freely-given financial support than the warm glow and good feeling of having done something really worth doing, do so many imagine that it isn’t imperative that we ensure every donor enjoys the experience so much that they’ll willingly give again and again because being a donor makes them feel, consistently, so good?…

Attrition of course is not the right name for this tragedy. More accurately we should call it what it is – today’s professional fundraisers, failing to keep their donors. What prevents us from shaking off the dead hand of attrition is that as a sector we consistently fail to grasp the need for sustained major investment in the customer experience. When we see how completely the likes of Amazon have wrenched dominance of the book-buying market from a fragmented, under-investing book trade just by providing an exemplary customer experience, we realise that fundraisers could never aspire to emulate such a thing. The so-called not-for-profit sector (which really should change its name to the for-change sector) is too lacking in vision and unity, too hamstrung by short-term thinking and stunted by under-investment and the twin daft notions of cost ratios and immediate return on investment to ever aspire to putting such a grand vision into practice...

As you’d expect, in amongst this book’s practical tips, rants, keys and big ideas Love your donors (to death) covers all the basic essentials of fundraising direct marketing and also throws in some sensible insights into the more complex aspects of this endlessly fascinating activity…

We should all join forces to campaign for a transformation of the donor experience, yet sadly only a tiny, privileged elite of readers will take this book’s advice to heart. Their organisations and causes will prosper accordingly. Fundraising I’m sure will increasingly divide into those who get this and those who don’t.

This book therefore is for fundraisers with the vision, tenacity and campaigning zeal not just to change the world but to change the way fundraising is done, not only in their organisation but throughout our sector. Causes in future will be increasingly categorised as those that do great fundraising and those that don’t. As you’re holding this book in your hands, you have made a good start...

Order your copy of Love your donors (to death) here.

© Ken Burnett 2015.


Ken Burnett is co-founder of Revolutionise (formerly Clayton Burnett Limited), a director of The White Lion Press Limited, occasional consultant to The Burnett Works agency, former chairman of the board of trustees for the international development charity ActionAid International and is currenty an independent trustee of the UK Disasters Emergency Committee. He’s author of several books including Relationship Fundraising and The Zen of Fundraising and is managing trustee of SOFII, The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration. He is also a commissioner on the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing. His latest and most important book is Storytelling can change the world.

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The Inch Hotel, Loch Ness, inspirational setting for Revolutionise’s transformational events.

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