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4th – 6th July 2016

Focus is Power

: Rob Woods

In 2014, I interviewed Louise Parkes, Director of Fundraising at British Heart Foundation to find out how her events team had completely transformed the Return on Investment (ROI) they achieve on every event in their portfolio.

I wanted to know how they had achieved such a staggering uplift. She summed up the strategy in three words ‘FEWER, BIGGER, BETTER’. 

I’m pretty sure that if I’d interviewed any of the events team they would have been able to give me the same answer. That, I suggest, is much of the reason they succeeded and continue to do so. Everyone was crystal clear on where to put their energy, so that when inevitable challenges arose and when there are difficult decisions to make. For example, ‘should we repeat this event we like, even though it has a poor ROI?’ - they are able to make decisions which are consistent with the strategy.

This sounds incredibly obvious, and yet it is much harder to achieve, both at an individual and a team / department level than most people realise. As you read this now, can you sum up in a few meaningful words the guiding principles of the strategy you are working to (whether or not you created the strategy?)

In working with thousands of fundraisers over the last decade, I’ve found that a major reason people do not take more of the key actions that would lead to results is that they are not completely clear what they are aiming for.

Rob Woods addressing audience

What outcome will drive the results you care about?

In my own career and with my coaching clients, I have found that where your attention goes, energy flows and, in turn, results show. And you can’t focus your attention on something if you’re not crystal clear on what that outcome is.

When people attend my Major Gifts Mastery Programme, a key reason their results always improve is that on the first day, I help them focus on getting more ‘cup of coffee’ meetings / event attendance with wealthy people.

Would you agree that the fundraiser who meets six rich people who may care about your cause, per month will have raised more money by the end of the year than the fundraiser who meets only three per month?

Most intelligent relationship fundraisers understand that spending more time with wealthy prospects increases your likelihood of developing relationships that lead to large gifts. It’s just that they have not got utterly clear on the disproportionate importance of this, so they rarely get round to doing what’s needed to generate more donor contact time.

The truth is, though not all of the things you need to increase your results in a key result area are easy, all of them are do-able once you get clear what you’re aiming for and feel how valuable this focus will be for you.


Rob Woods, author of 'The Fundraiser Who Wanted More' and Director, Brightspot Fundraising

Rob is speaking in the Community, Events and Volunteers track and the Philanthropy track at Fundraising Convention

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