1. Are you a lateral entrant or a skilled fundraiser?
And what did you do before your fundraising career?
I was a lateral entrant and now a skilled fundraiser! My initial career was in direct marketing and I worked in agencies for ten years. Most of my client base were charities, including Unicef, WWF, Red Cross etc and The Salvation Army. I developed a real passion and skill for charity direct marketing. The Salvation Army needed someone to develop their programme so I went to work for them and my role has developed here to encompass all aspects of centralised fundraising.
2. Why are you a Fundraiser?
And why did you decide to become a Fundraiser?
I am passionate about fundraising because it is a profession with values and ethics. It is highly accountable and transparent which means that successes and failures are quickly visible. It is about always trying to get better results, about managing costs and about measuring effectiveness. It is about managing risks and making wise judgments. It is about communication and people. All these are things I enjoy. It is an ideal job!
3. The most successful fundraising channel for The Salvation Army is direct mail appeal. Which direct mail appeal was the most successful one in the last three years and why was it successful?
In terms of donor recruitment one really powerful appeal was a simple four page letter, a donation response form and a reply envelope. No pictures, not leaflet, no colour. It was written by a journalist as an account of his visit to a Salvation Army centre and how the simple work we do impressed him. The appeal worked because it was simple, direct and powerful, at a time when a lot of charity appeals are complex and highly creative, or too creative. It fitted with the simple brand of The Salvation Army.
4. Mobile: Mobile Fundraising plays an important role strategically. How important are mobile campaigns for you? Are you concentrating on developing apps or more in mobile based websites?
We have an official Salvation Army app and for fun, we have a tambourine app with sleigh bells for Christmas! We have had some success with text donations but it is not a strong area for us at the moment. The digital world is growing and changing all the time and we want to focus on a small number of things that we can do profitably for fundraising. Therefore we are currently working with a consultancy on a digital strategy to make sure we stay focused.
5. Looking to the future…
What is your most important fundraising goal by 2015?
To make sure our fundraising strategy is starting to attract supporters from younger age-groups and finding ways to keep them loyal, engaged and giving.
6. To achieve that goal which will be your most important fundraising channel in the next 3 years?
The web and digital forms of communication. It is an excellent tool for two-way communication and to bring a charity to life. It can be easily changed and updated, it is an interactive medium, it is the way in which many younger people want to engage and it is where they feel most comfortable. It is exciting and by 2015 there will be ways of interacting that don’t even exist yet!
7. Finally a personal question: You are an important name in the fundraising sector. What are for you the three most important qualities to be successful in the fundraising sector?
Be creative – but in a disciplined way. Have lots of ideas but stay focused on the ones that will really work and deliver funds.
Be passionate about communication – fundraising is about asking people to give, so for all types of fundraising, you have to tell a story and communicate a need in ways that get results.
Be an optimistic realist about your brand – Always fight for the best results possible, stay positive and do the best you can, but be realistic about what will work. Not every fundraising method / technique will work for every charity.
And a fourth…fundraising is the best job in the world. Great fundraisers must love their work!
Julius Wolff-Ingham, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview.