Today, I want to talk to you about The Magic Roundabout, and what it should mean to charities, when thinking about fundraising in particular. Yes, I know that lots of my blog posts refer to 1970s and 1980s popular culture, but in this case I’m actually not talking about Florence, Dougal and Zebedee and their psychadelically colourful friends.
No, instead, through the magic of my writing and your imagination, dear reader, let me drive you to Hemel Hempstead (in Hertfordshire, UK). I bet you weren’t expecting this blog to go in that direction, were you?
When I lived in Oxfordshire, I would work in a town called Hemel Hempstead twice a week. They have something they call The Magic Roundabout. 100% would not work in SA… pic.twitter.com/mFvCpYqz6z— 32-12 (@BoknRoll) December 12, 2019
So, anyway. The Magic Roundabout in Hemel, not far from where I live, is a a huge roundabout made up of six mini roundabouts, as shown in the tweet above. It might look like the six circles of Hell, but somehow it works most of the time, and certainly when you consider half a dozen major roads go off it.
Why am I telling you this? Well, the exciting thing about this roundabout is that you can go round it either anti-clockwise or clockwise! So if you weren’t expecting this blog to go in that direction, you probably weren’t expecting the imaginary car I’m driving you in to do that either. If we’re turning right, we can just head round a couple of the mini roundabouts clockwise but still be proceeding anticlockwise! It goes both ways, people!
Have I lost you yet? If you’re hanging on in there, pressed back in the passenger seat on this white knuckle ride, I’ll now explain why the Magic Roundabout is applicable to fundraising:
Introducing the Fundraising Magic Roundabout
The Fundraising Magic Roundabout, as I see it, is all about the inter-relationship between three elements, as shown in the diagram below:
- Our offer: what we do, why we do it, and how we communicate it
- Building our pipeline: how we find new potential supporters and introduce them to our work
- Stewardship: how we build and grow our relationships with those supporters
Asking the right questions
Firstly, on the offer, here are some questions to ask yourself: Can we all talk or write engagingly and compellingly to potential or actual supporters about our work? Do we communicate passionately about why we’re important? Why do we need support right now?
Then, on building a pipeline: Are we systematic, strategic, efficient and effective in building and nurturing our supporters and funders? Have we established ways of progressing our supporters through from research & identification to actually asking for a donation – who asks, when, how much? Do we all, not just the fundraisers, know and understand our roles in prospecting for supporters, and do our systems enable us to deliver our processes effectively?
And thirdly, on ‘stewardship’: Do we hold our supporters close, understanding why we are of interest to them, showing them how much we value them, and do we update them well on our progress? Do we refine and tailor our engagement programme so that our encounters in person (and in fact all our communication with our supporters) are of high quality and help to strengthen our relationship with them?
Is it lean?
I have been pondering for a while about how to apply lean thinking business methodology principles to fundraising, without doing any bizsplaining, and this is the leanest model I’ve come up with, which I think contains the key elements you will need for even the smallest fundraising function in the tiniest charity.
If you’re doing something that’s not in any of these three circles, should you even be doing it?
But why is it a Magic Roundabout?
My key point about this model, and what makes it interesting, I think, is regarding the movement and the inter-relationship between the three circles (or mini-roundabouts, if you will. Do you see where I’m headed?).
Because we can’t build our pipeline or keep our supporters engaged without constant connection with why we exist and what we’re doing with their potential or actual support.
And because we need to recognise that our current supporters are our most likely next supporters, that after them our previous supporters are our next most likely next supporters. Why did they stop giving? How can we re-engage them?
It goes both ways, people!
So, I hope this has given you an idea or two about how you can bring more focus to your own fundraising process in your organisation.
No hallucinogenic drugs were ingested in the writing of this post, but I do hope that it can help bring that much needed “boing” (as Zebedee, below, would put it) to your fundraising in 2020.
Have a lovely holiday!