E8 – The generosity guy with Kieran Johnson
The generosity guy – I love that! That is the label my guest in this episode has. We had a really interesting chat where Kieran, as his name is, spoke about how generosity is something he strives for.
We also talk about him going from working in the banking business to finding his place within fundraising.
I hope you enjoy the episode.
The transcribed version of the interview is available further down.
Diana: Welcome to today’s episode of Fun with Fundraising. Today I am talking with Kieran Johnson and we’re going to be talking about major contributors. Welcome, Kieran.
Kieran: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Diana: You’re welcome. Okay, so we talked a little bit before starting the interview about the difficulty of asking for money and that’s really something that I want to talk to you about, and especially with the large contributors. But first off, I would love to hear some more about you and your journey into fundraising and what it is that you do?
Kieran: Well, I guess if I go far enough back, I started out my working career in banking and spent five years working for a bank traveling around. Eventually, I was a business development manager, and I was meeting with financial planners here in Australia, and I was having conversations with them about how they should invest their client’s money with us as a bank. They would tell me about how many millions of dollars they had in funds under management and after a while, I thought this doesn’t excite me at all. These sorts of money conversations for this purpose I’m not excited by that.
So, I left the banking world to find what it was that I cared about in life and journeyed through some time at the community radio stations which was wonderful but then ended up in sort of the international development, not for profit world. So, I spent some time working for World Vision that was doing stuff in schools here in Australia, helping educate young kids around poverty and getting them involved in some funding then went to another organization called Opportunity International Australia which does micro-finance. So, small loans from others in Asia to help them start a business and work their way out of poverty.
Now I’m working for Anglicare WA here in Western Australia, who we provide services for young people were suffering from homelessness. Also, people who are in relationships where there’s domestic violence, indigenous communities here in Australia as well, and people who are going through financially difficult times. So, my role over the last few years has been connecting with those who are major supporters. So, people who’d be giving thousands of dollars as a donation every year.
Diana: That sounds like a really amazing job to have.
Kieran: It is.
Diana: I find that a bit funny and it might just be me that you are going from banking and then maybe not feeling as comfortable asking for money. Sorry, that might just be me. I’m finding that funny.
Kieran: No, no, I, I can sense that. The irony is not lost on me. It’s all still finance but it’s a different process and I think that the purpose and the benefit for the world that comes when people give to a, not for profit, I’m okay with that rather than just banks making a profit for the sake of making profits.
Diana: It’s a really good way to look at it. Okay. So, you’re working with these major supporters. So, I’m guessing that it would be so much easier to get a lot of major supporters and especially for me, for my 2021 goal I would be… But how do you start off these conversations?
Kieran: It depends on the class, but yeah, it’s really all relationship-based. For a lot of the people who have been supporting these organizations that I’ve worked for, I have become the face of that organization to them. They know the organization because they know me. The more that I get to know them, the more that they can connect with me, the more that we can build trust, the more comfortable they feel with the organization as a starting point.
They’ll do some research behind the scenes to go, okay, what are you spending your money on? Are you being effective and efficient? Are you actually making a difference? But that starting point of connecting with me one on one, usually over a cup of coffee when we can meet face to face and, you know, just getting to know people. Through that process, me being curious about them and understanding what it is that they care about and what it is that they want to see happen in the world, what difference they want to make, and through that process finding alignment and going, okay, cool.
If there’s an alignment, if your passion aligns with the work that we’re doing, then we can carry that conversation. So, it’s not about trying to sell something to someone it’s not about trying to force someone to give money against their will. It’s journeying with people who are of that generous mindset who want to give and trying to find a good connection for them to give something that’s going to help them find purpose in that.
Diana: That makes so much sense. I’m going to go back a step further, actually, because it makes so much sense to creating relationships with people and yeah, and just getting to know them and know what makes them tick and what kind of donation or what kind of charities they would like to connect to. But how do you get the initial contact with people? because I’m guessing that for me, at least like going to my own personal network, they are starting to get, some of them at least a bit tired. So, getting that step further, because what I’m thinking is if I just call you up out of the blue saying, hey, would you like to donate money or, hey, I would love to know you but what I really want is for you to donate money. Give me a blueprint on how do I do that?
Kieran: Well, If I could do that, that’d be amazing. There’s a couple of things at play in. So, the initial conversations that I have with people generally they’ve started giving to the charity at a small level. So, someone might have seen, oh, okay this is charity. I might give maybe $50 to them and then they will test us out. Over time, as they get to know the charity, then I get to know them then they might grow and grow and grow from there. There’s a term that we use in Australia. I don’t know if it’s a global thing. So, you know, forgive me if this doesn’t work. But you know, the people that you meet on the street that try to get you to sign up, to donate to a particular charity we call them chuggers, charity muggers.
Diana: We call them faces.
Kieran: Faces, that’s probably a nicer term than chuggers
Diana: No, because they’re all up in your face.
Kieran: Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny because there’s thinking within the charity world that, that actually works and it does work at some level, but the longevity of that, the relationship of that is so short people might sign up to donate to a charity and then get home and go I regret that and then cancel their donation. So, the fact that that still happens, it’s so cold. It’s so salesy. There’s no relationship there at all. There’s no longevity. So, the philosophy that I have, as I mentioned, it’s about relationship. It’s about maintaining a long-term sustainable relationship with a major supporter over a long period of time.
So, as I said, often, they would be giving to us already. We always say our next major supporter is already within our database. We’re already within someone that we know, we just haven’t gotten to that point where they’re going to give a larger amount yet because they’re still testing us out and they don’t have that relationship yet. But outside of that, it’s word of mouth. When people actually become really comfortable with the organization, they will go to their network hey, these guys are doing a great, great job, and I really love what they’re doing. I really love the connection and they introduce their network to us and that’s usually how those conversations start.
There is a certain, you know, a small portion of. I wouldn’t say cold calling, but more like cold emailing too that I will do to people who I would consider our potential major supporters and just haven’t connected with us yet. But the return on investment for that is so much lower than someone who is going to give us a warm introduction through their network or someone that’s already giving to us.
Diana: Gives me an idea. Thank you.
Kieran: Great. Job done.
Diana: Yeah. Well, no, maybe not. I think it’s really interesting and I’m sitting here as a one-person wanting to do a major charity event kind of thing. Don’t really have a network of people. Like you say, it’s a different aspect when it’s into an organization. But that’s totally fine, but I got an idea and I need to write it down.
Kieran: Let me stop you there as well because I think there’s an element of, we think that we don’t have a network sometimes and I’ve been in that space as well. But your network grows every single day with the more people that you meet. I think especially when you’re doing something like you are doing with your goal for 2021 and how you’re looking to raise that and connect with people, and you’ve got this podcast and you’ve got these ideas about growing this network. Your major supporter is one conversation away.
The next person that you meet might be the person that goes, oh, I love what you’re doing. You should meet a friend of mine. So, it’s really just turning up wherever you are and having conversations with people and growing awareness of what you’re doing, especially when it’s, you know, events like this sort, a one-person, big-ticket thing can create some momentum and can connect with people quite easily and not go viral necessarily, but grow a fairly large awareness sometimes without you even noticing. It just can happen really easily. So, don’t be disheartened by it. I think there’s still a whole lot of opportunity ahead of you.
Diana: Thank you. That’s a really good point. Okay. So, going back to you. You’re talking about, having people follow you and connecting with you. So, I’m curious because and it’s kind of actually back to the same question about connecting with people and do people then follow you instead of the charity because you talked about also having been in other organizations. I’m curious to know if the relationships that you make then means that people will follow you instead of following the organization with their donations.
Kieran: Yeah, not yet. I haven’t had that happen, which is great. I’m really happy about that because I think the way that I connect with people and the people that I connect with, they connect with me because they really love the heart of the organization and they can understand and hear about that heart through my passion for the organization and the work that they’re doing. So, they will start really because they’ve connected with me and they trust me as the face of the organization.
But over time as we meet up and I report back on what their giving has been doing, and they might come to an event which helps them connect further to the organization. It becomes less about the one on one relationship with me and I’m just more facilitating their connection to the work. So, if I’ve done my job well enough when I do leave the organization and go somewhere else, they don’t come with me because the organization that I go to would be different and it doesn’t have the same processes, doesn’t have the same programs. So, yeah, again, if I do my job well enough, they will stay giving to that organization when I leave.
Diana: That’s both really good and really sad at some point.
Kieran: What is that sad?
Diana: Okay. So, the good part, of course, is staying with the charity and organization and giving to them. But I’m just thinking, I love connecting with people so much that I would feel okay, so getting a new job, I would cut everyone off because now I need to start making all new connections.
Kieran: Well, you’d be surprised that people who give to a charity will give normally to maybe three or four. So, when I’ve changed organizations, there’s been a number of people that are still the same. So, they’ll give to both charities, you know, one that I’ve just finished up with and the one that we started with some of the names are exactly the same and so the relationships continue on, which is great.
Diana: That is amazing! So, you should actually change organizations more often because then you would help more charities.
Kieran: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Well, you know, this has a bit of a confession, you know, just between you and me and the podcast. When I first started working through a charity in this particular role, the title would be Philanthropic Relationship Manager, and that whole concept of yes, now I’m a fundraiser. I’ve felt uneasy about that term and so the organization that I was working for previously was international development. I went, that’s fine because that’s really in line with one of my greatest passions is seeing extreme poverty eradicated across the world especially internationally. Australia has its issues, but, you know, domestically, we’re doing okay.
So, I felt comfortable in this place of, well, I’m not a fundraiser, I just work international development and as a result, we’ll raise money. But since leaving that international development agency and working in a domestic charity based in Western Australia, which, it’s a wealthy state. Recognizing we still have our own social issues and coming to terms with the fact that yes, I am a fundraiser and I do ask people for money and that’s okay because it’s about the relationship with the person. Seeing that there are needs and necessities and issues, you know, right across the world, just because I’m not working in international development anymore doesn’t mean that I’m not doing important work and connecting people with what they’re passionate about.
Diana: I think that’s a really good point that no matter where you are more or less in the world, there is still someone in your local community who we’ll need help. I actually want, wanted to get back to also what you’re talking about. Fundraising was hard in the beginning, the term of fundraising and putting it into perspective for whatever it is that you were doing.
But today how do you make fundraising fun then? How do you get from, because fundraising should be fun, hence the title?
Diana: Right. But how do you get from being like, I don’t want to be seen as a fundraiser to having, well it’s actually fun and it’s actually amazing work that I’m doing?
Kieran: Just a change in mindset from how I was thinking of fundraising and asking people to give money is a bad thing and people don’t want to be forced into that. When you ask them to give, then they feel bad for saying no and you know, all of that kind of got it all up in my head. This is a really challenging situation and it’s awkward and I don’t want people to not want to speak to me. I created this experience and I shifted that thinking over time, to go no, no, I’m actually, I’m not asking people for something I’m offering people value. I’m offering people an opportunity for them to do something significant in this world through an act of generosity.
So, there’s a dual benefit that comes when they give money to a charity that does amazing work, and it helps the people or the animals or whatever the charity is doing at the end of the day that really helps out a need in the world. But at the same time, because they’re giving, generosity is one of the greatest things that we can do for ourselves. There are psychological benefits. There are emotional things. There are health benefits for us as individuals when we give something away, whether that is money, whether it is time, whatever. When we do something for someone else, there is so much benefit that we get in return.
So, when I got to this place where I thought, oh, I’m offering people an opportunity. It became less difficult. I didn’t say it was easy, but it became less difficult to have a conversation with someone and say, hey, here’s a need would you like to give to that and give them the option to say yes or no? If it’s a no, that’s fine. That’s completely up to you. I can’t force you to do it, but just know that there’s an opportunity there.
If it’s a yes, excellent. Let’s see what we can do. Let’s partner together and make a significant change in the world. So, that mindset shift really helped me. So, the best part of my day is when I get to meet with people face to face and I connect with them and just hear their story. I’m innately curious about people’s stories in general, but also hear about their passions and can report back to them about the difference that they’ve made and the joy that they find in that, that feeds me. So, that’s been a real benefit to me.
Diana: I love, love, love the part about giving. It gives me something to help others and to give to others the whole, oh, that’s why I’m doing this.
Kieran: There’s a really interesting concept that people talk about when it comes to acts of charity when they give money to charity and it’s like, if they feel good about it, then it actually means that they’re not giving for the right reason. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing that you would come across, but I know it’s very much in Australia. There are people who give a lot of money away in Australia, and most of them don’t want to be known for it. Some people do, there are some philanthropists around who have a great name, but there’s a murmuring within our [16:22 inaudible] culture in Australia at times where people will say, oh, they’re just doing it for the glory of it. They’re just doing it to be so the people will think they’re amazing.
Diana: So, what… I’m sorry. I’m sorry but so freaking what.
Kieran: I totally agree with you, I’m a hundred percent on board.
Diana: As long as they give the money.
Kieran: Yeah. Yeah. Let me give you a bizarre brief history lesson. I think it was about 400 years ago when historically people would give money to charity as a penance. They would give money away to cover over all the bad things that they’ve done. So, there’s that kind of baggage that we carry when we give money to charity now. Like there’s still ingrained somewhere in our culture that if we give my money to charity, we can’t feel good about it because it’s actually just paying for something bad that we’ve done.
We’ve broken through that mostly, but just to keep breaking through that, to go, I’m going to give money to charity because it’s going to make a difference and not because I’ve done something bad. I want to feel good about it as well. So, feeling good is okay, embrace it. There is no such thing as a completely selfless act. You cannot give something to someone selflessly because just by default of doing it you’re going to receive some sort of benefit and that’s okay.
Diana: Even if the benefit is just you feeling good about it.
Kieran: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
Diana: Totally agree. You cannot do anything that doesn’t serve you in some way, and it just might be the feeling of doing that that’s still serving you.
Kieran: Yep, exactly. Exactly.
Diana: Okay. So that was amazing for one, but I want to get back to kind of the process of having a relationship with the major donors because I think that’s really important. I don’t know if you can give me a step by step. You’ve talked a little bit about it, but kind of a step by step okay so you get these donors and who’s giving $50 or whatever. So, how do you build the relationship? What is it that you do? Do you start googling them to figure out where the kids go to school and how much money they have? How do you kind of.. don’t laugh at that because I know people who are doing that.
Kieran: I know I’m laughing because that’s exactly what you do.
Diana: Oh, okay.
Kieran: this. So, there’s a whole process and it’s really an opt-in process. So, we’ve got people that would give to our organization that would give a lot of money, but don’t want a relationship. They don’t want to hear from us. They are just happy to give and that’s their journey, that’s fine. But there are others that do want to hear from us and so you go where people want. If they want to have a relationship, then you follow that path. If you want to start a relationship with someone and they’re like, no, I’m not interested then you respect that. You don’t chase them because that’s not going to fix anything.
So, people will opt-in. So, all of a sudden you’ve got this group of people that want to connect with you, whether they are happy to have a chat on the phone as a starting point, or they might come to an event, or you go through this group of people, this portfolio of people and if a name sticks out, if they’re giving $50 a month giving a couple of hundred dollars a year and the name sticks out as they’re connected to a fairly large corporation or some extensive foundation that gives money away, then that’s a good starting point.
You can reach out to them and say, hey, I’d like to talk to you about your giving and what kind of purpose you’re looking to get out of, what sort of difference you’ll make. Are you wanting to have maybe a bit of a conversation around the impact that you’ve made over the last little while and what you can make in the future? I do it as soft as that, and it’s like an email or a phone call or a letter or something as just a starting point and then consistently following up. Not every day, but after a little while, just touching base because people get emails all the time.
People get phone calls from charities fairly regularly asking them for stuff. They get mail but if they start seeing your name consistently, then they know, oh, there’s an actual individual behind that. It’s not just this faceless organization that’s trying to get my money. It’s someone trying to build a relationship with me. They become comfortable with it and over time they will, you know, if they don’t react straight away then over time, they’ll react. I’ve had people that I’ve tried to connect with for 12, 18 months come back to me and go I’m so sorry, I’ve been meaning to get in contact with you, but it’s just been a lot of stuff going on. That’s the reality, especially for people this year. So, it’s just being really gentle, but consistent and respectful but always inviting people into a relationship.
Diana: That makes sense. Now I’d really like to get specifics. So, you’re saying you don’t contact people every day. Okay. So, is it every other day?
Kieran: Only on uneven days.
Diana: Yeah, like only on Thursdays when there’s two in the week and it’s raining. What I’m going at is if you’re new to this, like I am, for example, how do you not scare people off? Because that’s the other thing that I hear, you’re saying that if you keep contacting the people who really don’t want for you to contact them, then they might just stop giving altogether. That would be bad.
Diana: So, does writing or calling work better?
Kieran: It depends on the context and the situation. My process is giving people a touchpoint every month. Now, that might be in a quick email, just saying, hey, thanks again for your support you’re making a big difference. It could be a newsletter that gets sent out. It could be a phone call or a coffee meeting. Over time doing that, you will get a gauge on who wants that sort of contact and who does it and even have the conversations of, hey, how often would you like me to be in contact with you? Is it okay if I send you a monthly email? Is it okay if I send you a weekly email and thinking about your context as well, keeping people updated with the things that you are doing?
I think that’s a really safe way to connect with people. That’s a safe email to send every week or two and be able to go, hey, here’s what’s going on. Here’s the process that I’m making thanks to you because thank you’s are so important. I think the biggest mistake that charities that we have made across the globe, let me just make that statement is that we just ask, and we ask, and we ask without going, hey, thank you. You’ve, you’re amazing. You’ve done this incredible thing and thinking frequently and consistently and not asking at that same time. Not saying hey, thank you can you give some more. That might happen on occasion, but the majority of the time, it’s just thank you.
So, finding great ways to engage people with nice, generous communication without asking, but then also having those times where you do ask specifically. So, in Australia, I don’t know how it works in Denmark, but in Australia, we’ve got the end of the financial year is June and that is our main time to ask people. So, my monthly touchpoints process is a process that builds up to that ask that happens maybe April, April, or May. Then I’ll sit down with people and go, okay, this is our need. How are you situated? What are you thinking for this year? Another time of year is Christmas. There’ll be another sort of softer ask at that point. It’s just kind of shaping around that
Diana: Is the asking in June because people have money left in their budget or is it because you want to get in the start of the new fiscal year to have them donate when they still have money?
Kieran: Yeah. It’s a cultural time to give, end of June for tax deductibility. So, people will be looking at their finances at that point and go okay, great. Yes. I’m going to make a donation. So, the majority, sorry, 90% of donations that are made from individuals comes in June.
Diana: You’re saying that the new will ask a lot in June, but is that then, and then the soft asking at Christmas. I interviewed someone and I think he said, as far as I remember, it was like he would send out seven emails or newsletters or stories or posts with nothing, no ask before he then sent an ask. So, I’m curious on, is that our process. Because I’m thinking there is a long way from contacting people every day to once a month. I’m thinking once a month seems like not a lot.
Kieran: Yeah. That might be not much in your context absolutely. Yeah. I can see that, but like in my major supporter context, I am under no illusion that the charity that I work for is not the most important thing in the lives of the people that support it. They’ve got lives, I’ve got family, they’ve got work. Some of them are retired, but they’ve got other stuff going on and this is a nice little addition to helping them complete that part of their life.
Again, some people will get more connected and more engaged but if I’m just staying connected with them, sort of monthly basis to stay hearing from us. It’s just a regular reminder of the difference that they’re making. But in the context of creating a community around this immediate thing that you’re doing, then once a month will be too little. You’d need to create more opportunities to connect with people, so they become more engaged and are more aware of the momentum that’s being built.
Diana: How do you get people interested? When you’re saying that it’s not as important to them, it’s not the most important thing in the world. I struggled with that for the Danish MS Organizational Foundation. It’s very much for the people who are related to this illness because my experience is that we have this huge Danish cancer show on TV and everything. One in three people in Denmark get cancer before they turn 70, I think it is. That’s a lot of people. Then, in contrast, it’s about 16,500 people in Denmark who have multiple sclerosis. So, it makes sense that it’s harder to fundraise for that because not as many people are touched by that, but how do you then make people interested in the cost. Does that make sense?
Diana: Because I know that it’s really important to me because that’s my life. But how do I make people interested?
Kieran: It’s the power of story. Absolutely. The reason that you are, it is because it’s so close to you like it’s in your home. So, those that get connected with organizations that they don’t have an immediate family connection to it’s because someone in their network has told them a story. It’s a friend who has gone, hey, this here’s the story of my, of my life. This is what my life looks like and being able to share that in such a way that it’s not about the 16,000 people that are impacted it’s about this one person that has impacted and what life is like for them. If you can break it down to your story and your partner’s story, people are going to be engaged by that because it humanizes it. That’s the powerful impact that it can have.
Diana: How do you do that? How do you connect? Because what I’m thinking is that it’s hard. If people are not that invested, then getting them from the $50 contribution to 2000 seems like a hard sell to me.
Kieran: If they’re at the $50 level, that’s not going to be a hard sell at the time. If they have the capacity and you can tell them a good story, then it’s not going to be easier than you think, but it’s going to be possible. That’s what we do is it’s about sharing a story. So, we work with young people that are experiencing homelessness here in Perth, and there are on any given night 3000 young people who are experiencing some form of homelessness across the city which for a city like Perth which is really quite a wealthy city, it’s devastating that this sort of impact happens.
I can talk about the numbers. I can say 3000 and I can talk about 9,000 in total homelessness across Western Australia, all that kind of stuff but that’s not going to connect with you at all. But if I sat here and went, hey, there was this student at a university and her mother went on a trip and left her alone and just didn’t come back and all of a sudden this student had to look after her younger brother who was disabled and her father who was living into state said, okay, I’ll take care of your brother, but you’re on your own. So, she had no parents around and she was a teenager.
She was going to university, lost her job because she was trying to look after her brother. Lost their home because their mother moved out and left her and she was living on the streets through a family situation. She was assisted by one of the services that we offer, and it got her back into accommodation and it got her back into university and she’s now studying to be a social worker. All of a sudden you can picture that. Now that wasn’t amazingly told by me, but it was a story of one person who had a real struggle who then went through a journey. and has been able to come out on the other side. You can picture that. You can understand that. So, that sort of story, connecting people with that one person is the most powerful thing you can do when talking about need.
Diana: It worked. I’m sitting here getting all sad.
Kieran: True story, by the way, true story.
Diana: Yeah, yeah. That’s really sad.
Kieran: It is really sad. Connecting emotionally to these things is really important and at the same time, emotionally manipulating people is not okay. So, it’s finding that balance of telling an emotional story and allowing people to engage in it but not using it to beat people up and make them feel guilty about it. So, it would be okay that’s a really important point, actually. So, it would be telling them the story and having them react the way they want to react and not telling them the story and saying, so this is why you should definitely support us because you don’t want this girl to be in that bad of a situation now do you?
Kieran: Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly right. It’s about inviting people into the journey and if they don’t want to engage in it, that’s okay. When people say no to a thing, that’s totally fine. It might be a no like forever, but it might be a no, not now. I always leave the door open for conversations to happen down the track. So, if you push people and beat them up with emotional manipulation they’re going to respond fairly negatively. You can guilt people into giving maybe once or twice, but it’s not a long-term solution.
Diana: Important point. I want to dive a little bit into accepting a no part because I think it’s important that for me. At the moment we have this huge Danish, I don’t know what it’s called, but the whole, like the MS Foundation has this Countrywide thing where they, once a year, they can go out and knock on doors and raise funds. For the area I’m living in I am the one trying to motivate people to go out and do that. What I do, I ask people and I don’t mind asking people.
I can meet someone while walking the dog and saying, hey, when you walk your dog on this day, wouldn’t it be amazing to also help some people and go out and knock on some doors. Most people are actually really friendly about it and also some people will say, no, I’m not just going to go to the other side of the road and grab someone and say, hey, don’t you want to do this? But if I’m talking to people, the thing is if they say no, then I’m like, okay, that’s fine. If I don’t ask, I don’t get to know but I’ve heard this before that in any other context, please don’t take this out of context, but that a no is not a no. Okay, I’m just, yeah.
Kieran: My philosophy around that is a no is absolutely a no.
Kieran: If you’ve got to the point where you’ve asked them, they’ve said no, then you’ve either got to the place where that’s their answer or you haven’t asked correctly. If they wanted to say yes and you’ve done something, that’s not quite right to them and they’ve said, no, then that’s your issue and you’ve missed your chance. So again, I think a long-term relationship. I want every interaction I have with someone to be a comfortable one, something that is enjoyable for them, even if they end up saying no.
So, they’ll remember how they felt during that conversation so when I see them next time, then they’re going to be willing to continue on a conversation and then maybe one day get to a point where they go, actually. Yeah, I really want to do that. Now, that’s different to the context of knocking on someone’s door and saying, hey, can you donate some money? That might not be helpful in that sort of environment.
But I think that the one thing that you’re guaranteed to get when it comes to fundraising is a no. And I celebrate no’s because it means that I’m like, excellent. Now I can take that mental energy that I had around that particular relationship. I’m going to park that relationship over there with the no’s, and I’m going to focus on the next person. So, that’s a win, a no is a win because it means you can move onto the next one.
Diana: I love that perception of it as well as like, okay. So, a no is just one person closer to the next yes.
Kieran: Yeah, absolutely.
Diana: I love that idea, but I think it’s a really important discussion to have because I know that some people, and if knocking on someone’s door and they say no, thank you I’m not going to stand there and keep knocking until they say yes. I promise you that. No, exactly respect people saying no. I think it’s an important discussion to have because like you said, might be a no for right now so what is the…
Kieran: Discovery around that’s really helpful as well. Is it a no to the organization? Is it a no to the timing or is it a no of the amount and just respectfully try to figure out what that no means? If they shut down and don’t talk well then okay, no worries. But if you can find out what the no is actually about, that’s going to help you in the future.
Diana: I think it’s a really good idea if you can figure out okay so is it a timing thing. For example, okay, my dad just died, so I’m not really in the headspace for this. It’s a really gruesome example but…
Kieran: Yeah. Yeah. But that’s the reality. Life stuff happens to people and we don’t know what’s going on for them so it’s really about respecting that space.
Diana: Yeah. Then that also means that you can either ask, can I get back to you in three months or six months and then write that down or get back to them and just say, hey, have things cleared up for you and how are you? Are you ready to, or do you want to take this conversation so that you keep them in the pile of people you still want to continue talking to?
Kieran: Yeah. Here are two examples from the last couple of months. I made a phone call a few weeks ago to a guy who gives a little bit to the organization but I’m looking to engage them a bit more and he answered the phone call and I’m like, hey, this is who I am, and I just wanted to have a chat to him. He went, oh, I’m actually, I’m in the middle of a meeting right now. I answered this call because I thought it was someone else. Now, I’ve got him on the phone.
Some of the hardest things to do with the world is to get someone on the phone. I had the option to go, well, I really want to talk to you right now because I’ve got you or I can go, and this is what I did. Totally fine. I’ll call you later. I’ll send you an email and just completely respect them in their space. The second one was I rang someone. This was last week. I rang her on the phone, and they had given a little while ago and I wanted, from what I understand, they have the capacity to become a major supporter. I just wanted to reengage them. She’s like, look, I’m actually at the hospital visiting my mother at the moment. I’m like no worries. Your life situation takes priority over a conversation with a charity on the phone. But again, I’ve got her on the phone. How hard is that to do? That can be quite challenging. So, just respecting people’s life spaces and recognizing that there is stuff going on for them and finding a way to communicate with them around that life stuff again, the respectful way so that they will not be turned off by you and will actually want to engage with you down the track.
Diana: I think respect is so important.
Kieran: I don’t know. For me, it’s just treating people how I would want to be treated. So, that’s where respect comes from and looking at it through the eyes of wanting to provide them with an opportunity to do something great. That’s probably one of the greatest things that you can allow people to do.
Diana: If you were to give advice to someone who would want to say, I want to do something small. I want to start fundraising for my favorite charity. What would your advice be to someone?
Kieran: Yeah. It’d be find something that you enjoy doing and monetize that. So, I’ve seen people who have just made lunches for their friends and ask their friends to come and just pay a little bit of money for that lunch and then donate that money. I’ve seen people have made cupcakes and sell cupcakes. I’ve seen people have started something or made some clothing.
So, it’s finding something that you enjoy doing and that you can do consistently over time. It doesn’t wipe you out every time you do it from an energy perspective, it actually gives you energy through those things consistently. It might only raise a small amount, but a small amount still does a great deal. Over time, if you keep doing that, it builds up and becomes something significant. So, little things over time that you enjoy doing, that is the best way to fundraise.
Diana: Amazing. Thank you. If people want to find you and follow you and maybe connect to you and your cause.
Kieran: Yeah. Absolutely. So, I’m known as the Generosity Guy. So, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Diana: By the way it’s amazing.
Kieran: Instagram, thank you. That’s me leaning into it. It’s well, this is what I’m doing. So, I’m the Generosity Guy, which I have to have to put a preface on that. I’m the Generosity Guy, not because I have life sort of out, and I’m just the most generous person in the world. But I am recognizing that generosity is so good for us and just wanting to bring people into some education around that. So, it’s a journey that I’m on and I’m becoming more generous as I go. But the website is thegenerosityguide.com, that’s my blog.
Diana: Right. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. It’s been an amazing conversation and I really look forward to sharing it with the world.
Kieran: You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me. It’s been great.
I had such a blast doing this interview, speaking about going from banking to fundraising. That was really inspiring but the one thing I really think was most interesting was having this mindset of fundraising being a bad thing and feeling like I’m an inconvenience for people when I ask for money towards this whole thing about offering value and doing something significant and giving the opportunity for other people to do something significant.
I think that was amazing. I’m really, really glad I have this opportunity to do this interview with Kieran. He is the Generosity Guy, and it makes so much. I love that part and building relationships which he also talks about are so important. So, just start small I think. For me, there’s so much to take from this conversation about my own journey. So, I’m thinking I need to start small and take the relationships I already have and be using them as a starting point. So, I’m looking forward to diving into those.
If you want to join the next networking call, you can go to smart business planning.com/network, and you can find the link to participate. It’s going to be amazing and that is it for this episode. In next week’s episode, we’re going to be speaking with Margaret who has a whole different approach to fundraising because Margaret has her own store and her online shop. What she does is she gives part of the profits away to charities.
Thank you for listening to the Fun with Fundraising podcast. I’m your host, Diana Lund and if you want to get ahold of me, you can find me on Instagram