Peter Dalton explains how two fundraising vehicles can transform your organisation.

When a donor makes a donation, is it to the for-purpose organisation or to the beneficiaries of the organisation – to the people, animals or the environment the donor cares for? Ideally it should be both. Aligning your branding, positioning and communications with ‘why’ your organisation exists – with its mission – connects staff, volunteers and supporters with positive emotions for your organisation and its cause. It’s an alignment that can be transformational. Such transformation can be achieved, surprisingly, with two fashionable fundraising vehicles – a comprehensive capital campaign and an emotional fundraising proposition.


Start With Why author Simon Sinek writes: “WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money – that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is our purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” The genius and success behind the University of Melbourne’s Believe campaign is that it’s both a comprehensive capital campaign and an emotional fundraising proposition. Believe is the why of the University of Melbourne. Believe is why a donor or a fundraiser or a volunteer or staff member, gets behind the cause and stays loyal to the organisation and its mission.

Framing a fundraising campaign’s communications with why gives donors hope, provides positive feedback, and fosters connection and trust in a shared mission to make the world a better place. The Believe campaign’s tagline highlights the comprehensive nature of the campaign. It’s ‘the Campaign for the University of Melbourne’, but it’s also positioned as a campaign for all of us. “Thanks to thousands of donors worldwide, the face of Melbourne has changed forever. Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne – is more than a philanthropic initiative. It is an extraordinary effort that is helping this institution change the lives of future generations…The impact of philanthropy has seen us become more engaged in the community, creating public value and helping advance society,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis. The Ivy League universities in the US have been running comprehensive capital campaigns for decades. Harvard has raised US$9.1 billion as part of The Harvard Campaign, which was launched in 2013 and surpassed its target of US$6.5 billion in 2016. While slogan- free, the campaign is all about Harvard’s commitment to advancing knowledge and generating ideas to solve the pressing issues of our time.

I was privileged to work at Cambridge University Hospitals from 2008 when the University of Cambridge was running its first comprehensive capital campaign. It’s 800 Campaign aimed to raise £800 million to celebrate its ‘800 years of people, ideas and achievements that continue to transform and benefit the world’. Yes, another campaign for all of us! This truly transformational comprehensive campaign raised over £1 billion. The University upped the ante in 2015 with Our Dear World, Yours Cambridge campaign designed to showcase what Cambridge had already achieved (gravity, evolution, computers and pulsars) and what it could achieve (clean energy sources, longer lives, quantum computers and parallel universes) with £2 billion in donations. Half of that total has been reached already. Over at Oxford, the Oxford Thinking Campaign set a target of £3 billion and is nearly there with £2.66 billion in donations.


Traditionally viewed as an exercise to raise funds for ‘bricks and mortar’ projects, comprehensive capital campaigns are more strategic than the typical single-purpose capital campaign. They are always aligned to the institution’s global strategic plan and focus an organisation’s energies into one campaign with multiple goals and revenue sources. It’s this aspect that enables ‘sight-setting’ for ‘mega gifts’, which is exactly what we are seeing in the tertiary education sector in Australia and NZ. More and more capital campaigns in this sector are morphing into a comprehensive capital campaign model to raise funds for endowments, research, scholarships, new or expanded services, and new staff – including more fundraisers thereby investing in the fundraising function itself, arguably the most cost-effective investment of all. But what about other for-purpose sectors? Given their transformational nature, why aren’t we seeing more comprehensive capital campaigns in the arts, health, welfare and environment sectors?


There’s a lot of noise in fundraising circles about what ‘emotional fundraising’ actually is and how it may be applied to transform for-purpose organisations. At its heart, emotional fundraising is about relationship building – connecting the organisation’s broad base of stakeholders, not just donors, to its why, its mission, to drive better outcomes. Emotional fundraising can complement and enhance ‘relationship fundraising’ – Ken Burnett’s inspired, donor-based approach. Building relationships through emotional fundraising communications showing the positive impact created by supporters and staff builds loyalty. And emotionally satisfied donors, staff, volunteers and other stakeholders feel needed and appreciated, connected by their shared vision and mission to make the world a better place. Yes, for all of us!

That’s why Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK adopted an apparent emotional fundraising positioning: ‘The child first and always’. “This principle guides our decision making and drives us all to do more for sick children here and around the world – regardless of the challenges and obstacles we face,” said CEO Dr Jane Collins in the Hospital’s 2007/2008 Annual Report. Just to be clear, it’s the whole organisation – Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity – that’s been transformed by the shared values the campaign promotes. In fact, when you go onto the GOSH website, ‘The child first and always’ statement is more prominent than the logo. It is a powerful, emotional statement connecting the institution and its mission to its community.


In 2002 I was appointed Director of Fundraising at Austin Health, a major public teaching hospital in Melbourne. The hospital was undergoing a major campus re-development, and with cancer services spread over three campuses in out-dated facilities there was an urgent, compelling clinical need for a new integrated centre. My fundraising team was asked to assess the potential to raise $50 million for what was to be called the Austin Health Cancer Centre. On the face of it a successful campaign seemed feasible. After all, we were talking about raising funds for cancer care and research in a well respected and leading cancer care hospital. But we advised the CEO that in our view Austin Health was not in a position to launch a major philanthropic capital building campaign for a new centre and certainly not for $50 million.

So, what was the problem? Austin Health wasn’t the only public health cancer centre of excellence in Australia, nor even Melbourne. Austin Health is based in North Eastern Melbourne, 15km from Melbourne’s CBD. There and in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, several high-profile hospitals provided cancer care to patients from wealthier postcodes, including major philanthropists, trust and foundation representatives, and other well networked Melbournians, many of whom served on the boards of these hospitals’ foundations. To raise anything like $50 million, we would need to reposition our reach to a much broader market.

A few years after advising the Austin Health CEO and board of ‘the problem’, I was interviewed about the solution we had found: “It is a very difficult task to come up with the one person who would be respected locally, nationally and internationally; who has an association with cancer and a legitimate profile and reason to care. And that shortlist ended up being a list of three people: Olivia Newton-John, Olivia Newton-John, and Olivia Newton-John. So frankly, if we didn’t get Olivia, we wouldn’t be raising $50 million dollars for a new Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre.” We did get Olivia on board and her extraordinary personal journey became our campaign. We focused on a single, powerful statement: “I felt alone and scared.” Yes, it was Olivia Newton-John who told us she felt alone and scared when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. People from Australia and around the word connected with Olivia and her reaction to a life-changing diagnosis.

Would donors from around the world have connected to and donated to an Austin Health Cancer Centre in the same way or scale? Probably not. The emotional fundraising repositioning of cancer services at the Austin Hospital was profound and far-reaching. Every day when a clinician, nurse, researcher, administrator, cleaner or volunteer walks into the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre they are reminded of why Olivia lent her name to the centre: it’s the same reason why they are there.

For any organisation, a comprehensive capital fundraising campaign is a major undertaking, but when conducted carefully and strategically it can profoundly influence an organisation’s finances, operations and culture. When combined with emotional fundraising, it can be truly transformational.

Peter Dalton CFRE Peter is a fundraising leader, passionate about transitioning for-purpose organisations from good to great through fundraising leadership. He was FIA’s 2016 Arthur Venn Fundraiser of the Year. In 2018, Peter’s fundraisingfutures client, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, won an FIA Award for Excellence in Fundraising for its capital campaign.

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Why fundraisers need to embrace the new norm … volatility

There has never been a better time for fundraisers to lead on change.

To create great fundraising in the institutions we serve we no longer have a choice, all of us must lead on change.

Most of my for-purpose organisation clients are in a change-management process but by the time they’ve completed the process, with social and technological change accelerating exponentially, they need to start again! It’s a pointless exercise in which fundraisers and fundraising teams are as frustrated as the rest of the organisation.

We know, from our daily experience, the hierarchical structures and processes our for-purpose institutions have used for decades are no longer up to the task of winning in this faster moving world.

The greatest challenge fundraising leaders face today is how to stay competitive amid this constant turbulence and disruption. To meet the challenge we need to embrace volatility, to embrace it with lean thinking and agility.

Fundraisers in organisations sometimes experience a volatility embracing moment, a “thinking wrong” moment, where the mind opens to the possibility of leaders leading at all levels, yielding a totally new way of working both in their fundraising team and across their organisation; just imagine that!

“The world has seen enough appointed committees. Then there’s bureaucracy, rigid accountability, metrics that measure certain things that are relevant right now but discourage people from trying new things.” (1)

That’s why there has never been a better time for fundraisers to lead on change in their for-purpose organisation.

That’s the why, to learn how to lead on change is why we created FIA’s Fundraising Change Leadership course.

If you’re serious about leading change within the fundraising sector, your organisation, and the mission you serve, consider this …



(1.) John P. Kotter Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus  Harvard BusinessSchool.




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Wise Monkeys Leadership Challenge

Do you have a positive, step up ‘exit strategy’ from your current fundraising position? What’s your moves management plan for it? What skills do you require to successfully implement that plan? Are the skills you need primarily fundraising best practice skills or leadership skills? Are you confident you can answer these questions without work-shopping them with your peers at a wise monkeys choice … Fundraising Change Leadership course?

What is Australian and international research telling us about successful fundraising managers and leaders? How do you stack up? Is it YOU … or your employer’s leadership style, organizational structure/culture that’s holding you back?

I challenge you to join me at a Fundraising Change Leadership course to find out what YOU can do about it.

Fundraising Change Leadership is more than a cute title linking fundraising professionals to the growing field of change leadership in for purpose institutions. Fundraising change leadership can transform a fundraisers career, and by do so, can also become transformational for institutions and causes. At the course fundraising leadership relevant academic research and for purpose organisation case studies are work-shopped; challenging you to reassess your fundraising career, to transition from a fundraising practitioner to … Manager, Leader, Change Leader

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Becoming a Fundraising Maestro

Why do relatively few successful fundraising professionals become not-for-profit CEOs or board members, let alone serve on the senior management executive team?

This question needs answering, when you consider that for many Australian not-for-profit organisations, fundraising provides the largest source of income and the dollars to deliver new, transformative programs and services.

Now more than ever fundraisers are required as leaders. It is they who have the knowledge that can help the Australian nonprofit sector navigate through a time of flux, when the very concept of philanthropy/nonprofit income is being redefined by the arrival of venture philanthropists, impact investors, crowdfunding and social media, all of which is growing not-for-profit organisations’ funding and market reach.

An urgent need to invest in leadership capacity-building

Pro Bono Australia’s 2015 sector survey, Gauging the State of the NFP Sector, identified nonprofit capacity-building as a priority – particularly investment in education and training relating to leadership and management, strategy and governance – given the pace of sector growth and change, and the challenges and opportunities this presents.

It is gradually starting to happen. As not-for- profits seek to manage accelerating change and invest in leadership capacity-building, more executive fundraisers are joining their organisations’ executive teams.

And more fundraising managers are being challenged to lead on change, which is a
key leadership responsibility. It’s no longer enough to simply respond to the evolving environment, to just manage change. The most effective fundraising leaders today create change in their organisations, and impact organisational culture.

As the 2012 paper What Makes Fundraising Truly Great, by Professor Adrian Sargeant, Jen Shang and Clayton Burnett, states:

“What was distinctive about the approach of the [fundraising] leaders we interviewed was their ability to discern complex systems at play within their organisations and consciously manage those systems to achieve the outstanding fundraising they sought to create … what seemed to us to be unique 
to this group was an ability to think clearly about themselves, what they could offer the organisation and how organisational systems could be managed to create the environment for fundraising to flourish.”

But be careful what you wish for

The challenges that face fundraising leaders are the same for many departments and managers in all types of organisations. That is, they feel disconnected from the main action at the executive table.

The request to be represented at the executive team level of course is not limited to those in fundraising. It’s echoed in IT, marketing, human resources and more. The motivation is to have a voice and to be able to use positional power to bust through the vertical silos of organisations. Including the corresponding dysfunctional behaviours, turf wars, lack of collaboration, and resource battles that are collectively given the label of ‘internal politics’.

The lack of board level engagement, 
cross departmental support, and inclusion 
in strategic discussions, is often more a symptom of the organisation not operating effectively, than an indication of a conscious decision to exclude fundraising from these conversations. Again, other departments can find themselves in the same situation.

Therefore, fundraising managers need to be careful what they wish for. If they gain a seat at the big table they might find that all their issues still exist, the internal politics are alive and kicking, except they are now part of the problem too!

Having direct power is not as powerful as you may think. The power to influence others can be far more effective, as people you are influencing end up doing things because they want to, not because someone told them to do it.

The importance of creating harmony

The ultimate answer is to have the entire organisation work effectively, together, aligned to the outcomes of the mission/ purpose statement. As opposed to the turf wars between departments, where internal metrics create competition that leads to non-collaborative behaviour.

The good news is that fundraising leaders are in a unique position to wield their influence across the depth and breadth of an organisation.

The funds they raise are what powers organisational functions. That means their role can legitimately enable them to embed themselves within every department, and thus become ‘sponsors’ of change, 
as described in the 2014 edition of Best Practices in Change Management by the research company, Prosci, which states that “during a transformational organisational change, leaders throughout the organisation are expected to sponsor the change.”

Fundraising leaders can attend the team meetings of other departments – whether finance, marketing, operations or programs – and gain an understanding of how the organisation works and interacts, with the message of: “I am hear to listen, learn and to see if I can help”.

Just like a maestro needs to know how to have the entire orchestra playing together to the same beat, cadence and feeling, fundraising leaders need to know how to have their organisation aligned, to enable the fundraising development function to embed and flourish across the organisation.

They need to know what motivates people and teams and how to transcend the silo walls that exist inside most organisations today so that they can all play together, harmoniously!


F&P Magazine | April / May 2016


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Fundraising leaders … ‘consider your exit strategy’

As I sat in the lecture theatre listening to angel investor guru Dr Tom McKaskill present on … ‘Venture capital investment and high value exits’ … I kept thinking about how fundraising leaders might apply a high value exit strategy to benefit their careers and the organisations they serve.

Maybe I was just daydreaming when McKaskill said … business owners, entrepreneurs and investors are locked into an old paradigm about value creation being based on proven profitability… because I was hearing …flawed fundraising cost ratio discussions and damaging short term fundraising budgeting.

Maybe I was just daydreaming when Mckaskill said … but this is not what ‘acquirers’ are evaluating. They are looking to the future and assessing what return they will achieve on their investment … because I heard ‘donors’ in place of ‘aquirers’!

But after McKaskill said … thus it is the future potential of the business which is much more important than its past. As soon as we accept this view, we can be proactive about creating a future which can deliver a much higher value to the buyer than what can be shown from past results … I realised I wasn’t dreaming after all! That’s what fundraising leaders accept too, and that’s what they invest in with donors and with the institutions/causes they serve.

So when should fundraising leaders start planning their next career move? By applying ‘exit strategy’ they should consider when they might leave an organisation before even agreeing to work with an organisation – when considering applying for a new position or when considering providing fundraising counsel for a new client. As McKaskill says they need to be … looking to the future and assessing what return they will achieve on their investment.

If you can’t deliver a strong return on an organisation’s investment in you, don’t invest in them. You need to be able to ensure the ‘right’ organisation makes the ‘right’ investment in you before committing your skills to create new strategies and work practices delivering higher fundraising returns on investment over a prescribed period of time.

You need to be able to assess, prepare and deliver a three to five year fundraising business plan. You need to know the critical timeframe in that plan when the return of investment in you is at its peak – because that’s the point at which you need to apply your exit strategy.

It’s in your best interest that you leave at the point of greatest return and least reputational risk.

It’s in the organisations best interest because part of the fundraising business plan you prepared includes succession planning strategies, team building, fundraising professional development and fundraising corporate culture strategies.

Thanks Dr Tom McKaskill for reminding us that fundraising professionals … need to focus on strategic exits if they are to achieve a high return on their investments.

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Why aren’t more leading fundraising professionals on Not for Profit Boards?

Why indeed when for many Australian NfP’s fundraised income is their largest source of income or provides the difference dollars delivering novel, transformative programs and services. Why indeed “when the most significant benefit of having fundraising expertise at CEO and board levels is strategic direction/oversight (as opposed to additional people ‘asking’ for support)” (1) 

The Australian Institute of Company Directors Good Guidance for NfP Organisations list as a good mix for membership of NfP Boards – Strategic expertise, Accounting and finance, Legal, Managing people and achieving change, Specific NFP/industry knowledge and, finally, Experience with dynamics of fundraising.

How beautifully expressed, experience with dynamics in fundraising; sounds like you need a fundraising professional on your board, right? A ‘qualified’ fundraising professional, a Member of Fundraising Institute Australia and preferably a Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE).

In my experience board level fundraising expertise is most typically volunteer ‘expertise’; for example, experience in serving on a volunteer fundraising campaign or event committee. Whether you’re a legal, finance, marketing, PR or fundraising professional serving on a NfP Board, you understand the terrifying truth behind Alexander Pope’s … A little learning is a dangerous thing.

So what’s at stake here, what’s the cost benefit of having a qualified fundraising professional on your NfP board … when the most significant benefit of having fundraising expertise at CEO and board levels is strategic direction/oversight? The ACPNP study(1) found that when setting fundraising targets (not to be confused with setting fundraising budgets) approximately half of targets were set by the NfP CEO, a quarter were set by the Board and just a quarter by the fundraising professional. What’s that all about!

The targets referred to here are typically annual targets. The fundraising expertise NfP Boards desperately need are fundraising professionals with experience in developing 3 to 5 year fundraising business plans, aligned to the organisations strategic plan. They need to be part of the board’s comprehensive institutional strategic planning process … because for many Australian NfP’s fundraised income is their largest source of income or provides the difference dollars delivering novel, transformative programs and services.

When revisiting the aptly titled ACPNP study ‘Who’s asking for what? Fundraising Leadership in Australian Nonprofits’ I was stuck by this …

Fundraisers are reflecting that more insights to this area on the board may boost success and organisational leaders are indicating that these skills are covered by their existing governance approaches. It would be possible, indeed probably desirable to include fundraising as a topic in the range of board training courses on the market. The more critical issue is for an organisation to determine whether these skills are indeed part of a well-rounded governance makeup for their organisation.

(1)   Scaife, Wendy A., Williamson, Alexandra, & McDonald, Katie (2013) Who’s asking for what? Fundraising and leadership in Australian nonprofits. Australian Centre of Philanthropy and NonProfit Studies, QUT Brisbane





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It’s time fundraising managers are heard and even listened to!

Fundraising Management for Professional Development – Are you being heard, do you deserve to be heard?As professional fundraisers, a primary objective is to efficiently and progressively increase fundraising income. We call this ‘fundraising development’.A cursive assumption many boards and CEOs make is that you (the Fundraising Manager / Director) will affect fundraising programs and systems to change the charity’s very fundraising dynamic, and be able to do so with minimal additional investment in the ‘development function’, or even in you!That’s why you need to be heard, to be able to articulate the need for fundraising investment long-term. But how do you articulate that in language that will be heard by your line manager, CEO and board? What is your strategic fundraising plan, how do you develop it, how do you present it with impact and be listened to? That requires leadership skills, not just fundraising or fundraising management skills.

This new all day workshop, specifically for Fundraising Managers and Directors, aims to help you focus on developing your strategic fundraising planning and leadership skills. It will be co-facilitated by Peter Dalton FFIA CFRE, Director, fundraisingfutures, and Sharon Hillman FFIA, Director of Fundraising, Austin Health / Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre Appeal.

Date: Tuesday 14 July

Time: 8.30am – 4.00pm

Venue: St Joseph’s Hall, 274 Rouse Street, Port Melbourne

Pricing: Member: $220; Staff of Organisational Member: $250; Non-Member: $285




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Are you being heard … do you deserve to be heard?

Hey executive fundraiser, are you being heard, do you deserve to be heard?!

Ever heard of a fundraising director being appointed the NFP CEO … not very often? Even when 90% or more of the NFP’s income is fundraising income? Ever heard of a Finance Director, COO or even Marketing Director being appointed the NFP CEO … quite often?

Is the fact that so few fundraising directors become NFP CEO’s because they lack ambition or because the term fundraising professional and institutional leader are at odds with NFP Board members?

Surely fundraising directors managing a large staff, budgets in the millions and running community wide cause positioning public relation campaigns, tick all the CEO recruitment criteria boxes. So when headhunting for a NFP CEO how many executive fundraising leaders are in the frame of boards and their executive recruiting agencies … not many?

Fundraising directors not only need to be part of a NFP’s executive team, they need to be listed to, to be heard by the executive team, the CEO and the Board

If you’re a fundraising director or manager how would you answer this question … Are you being heard, do you deserve to be heard? If you’re not being listed too by your line manager or the CEO consider this




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Digital fundraising likely to be a bigger part of the future?

In market circles, it is predicted that by 2018, some 80% of marketing will be digital.

As we know, fundraising is in many respects just another type of marketing.

Fundraisers are selling intangibles, but it is still a marketing approach.

So what level of fundraising will be digital in the future?

What’s your view?

And what are the new digital fundraising opportunities?

With capital and major gift campaigns, what will be the impact of digital technology? For example, so-called big data is likely to allow new types of donor research.

Every industry is being disrupted by the digital future.

What is the digital fundraising future?

Let’s know your thoughts?


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Making things happen in fundraising

From planning to execution:

Management and leadership at the FIA Conference in 2015.

Fundraising is a strategic business. But how do we capture and articulate a clear and actionable strategy, how do we make big dreams become reality, how do we get the job done, and how do we measure our progress? All this and more will be covered in this end to end session on planning.

  • Simone Joyaux – Strategic planning for fundraising & big things fundraisers need to do
  • Sue Hunt – BIG Hairy Goals – what you need to do to make them real
  • Peter Dalton – Turning plans into action – models for operationalising fundraising plans
  • Mick McDade – Applying a Balanced Score Card approach to fundraising


I’m really looking forward to be joining Simone, Sue and Mick on the panel for this discussion and answering your questions. So start thinking!

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