Ken Burnett

Writer, communicator and inspirational speaker


In this on-demand webinar, acclaimed fundraiser Ken Burnett takes a look at Relationship Fundraising – and shares effective techniques to engage and develop a long-lasting relationship with your charity's supporters.

Watch the video and find out:

  • seven essential foundations of fundraising
  • what really matters most for fundraisers and donors, plus how to put them together
  • three keys to being an effective fundraising organisation.


This is an important topic at an important time, the future fortunes of fundraisers hang in the balance so the question is, are we heading for a fundraising golden age or a downward spiral?

A bit of both. People are living longer, as the population ages but that means that our core donor group is set to grow. The corporate world is beginning to realise that charitable work is good for business and that making a difference in the world can attract customers with the empathy they show, more than with marketing.

There is a decline in the trust of charities and fundraising, with chronic short term thinking and underinvestment in the sector. There is a lack of long-term investors and the costs of getting new ones are high. Customers need to have a good experience as donors to make them want to stay so it’s even more important for us to do what we do as fundraisers right.


Fundraising = fudge

As a child, Ken would count the money from the Barnardo’s collection boxes that his mother was in charge of collecting. Anyone who brought in their coin box would get some of his mother’s fudge, resulting in queues down the street to hand in their boxes. It’s all about reciprocity.

What fundraising isn’t about – it isn’t about money

If you ask for it, you won’t deserve it. Fundraising is about work that needs doing urgently, and people talking about a cause important to them. It’s about inspiring people to believe they can make a difference and helping them to do it, and building long term, sustainable relationships that deliver lifetime value to the donor and the cause.

Building the dream

Walt Disney wanted the castle built before anything else at Disneyland, so that anyone working on the site could see the dream and why they were there, which is what we should do for our supporters. Show it in different ways but always make if the same recognisable dream. So build the dream and then engage people.

Don’t shout at my mum

Have empathy with your supporters, see things from their point of view, and inspire and innovate. Remember to respect the gap between being a donor and being a legacy prospect to avoid alienating them.

You – the most important word for fundraisers

Always make sure that you mention the donor, the most important word is ‘YOU’ in reference to the donor and how they can make things happen.

Finding your emotional heart

Use emotional words that describe the wonders of what you want to achieve.

Emotional storytelling can change the world

People remember stories, more than lectures. Present stories in ways that are digestible.


The need and reward cycle. Engage donors with an appeal, let donors know what their donations have achieved quickly, show donors what is in it for them to keep going and show them opportunities for them to make a further difference. Be Famous for Frequent, Fast, Fabulous Feedback.

Five great assumptions that underpin effective fundraising:

  1. Donors are usually generous and caring people.
  2. They are intelligent and know when people are taking advantage of them.
  3. They expect to be treated courteously.
  4. They are individuals.
  5. They are more likely to respond better when they get from us what they want to receive, rather than what we want them to have.

Three keys to being an effective fundraiser

  1. Ensure there’s sufficient investment and enough time to fundraise properly.
  2. Elevate ‘The truth told well’. Build an emotional story bank and communicate it properly.
  3. Enshrine the five Fs (be Famous for Frequent, Fast, Fabulous Feedback) in your commitment to donors and make sure your donors always feel very special.

The Investment Paradox

  1. Charities invest in stocks and shares but underinvest in donor relationship development.
  2. Investing in effective fundraising will cause money to leave your account but the return will far outweigh what you could get from stocks and shares.
  3. The twin secrets to this are investing time and money.

Relationship fundraising – a summary

  • Start with ‘Why?’ and tell a story.
  • Build a relationship.
  • Ask properly for help.
  • Consistent donor care.
  • Data collection and analysis.
  • Go back to the progression of the story.


Donations tools: CAF Donate

CAF Donate makes taking donations easier. Use it to set up online donation pages, process Direct Debits, manage postal/phone donations, and much more.

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