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  • I'm Mark Phillips, the founder and CEO of Bluefrog. After a decade working for both ActionAid and YMCA England, I decided in 1997 to create the fundraising agency that I had been searching for. This is my private space where I share ideas, results, research findings and the odd thought on fundraising. I try to avoid looking at my belly button and concentrate on stuff that will make fundraising more effective. It should all be stuff that you can actually use. If you want to know more, click on the About button below.
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« It's time to listen to the Hamster of Fundraising Wisdom | Main | Give the hat back! »

Sunday, October 04, 2015


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Giles Pegram CBE

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your support. I certainly agree we shouldn't be reinventing wheels. We should be identifying best practice, distilling it, sharing it and promoting it.

Your selection of great reading is impeccable. There is nothing I would remove. I would add one. "The Tiny Essentials of Donor Loyalty", by Professor Adrian Sargeant. Short but incredibly astute, and very readable. Published by White Lion Press.

Best, Giles


Confessions of an ad man - David Ogilvy. One of the few books to recognise that the way you look after and treat your staff and agencies is directly related to the level of service they will convey to your customers / supporters.


What a list!! I would add It's Not Just About the Money How to build authentic donor relationships, written by Richard Perry & Jeff Schreifels.

Amanda Santer

I would add, The Zen of Fundraising also by Ken Burnett. Easy to carry with you for useful suggestions, inspiration and wisdom as the title of the book suggests.

Richard radcliffe

As always you speak a lot of sense. Two quick comments late at night (which might not be the best time to comment when brain is tired after a day of meeting donors and volunteers).
I am concerned about the Commission on Donor Experience which might be diverting a focus from the Insittute of Fundraising which for me Giles and Ken was the instrument we all founded to encourage best practice in terms of training fundraisers to be brilliant.
I am worried about the assumption that donors want relationships when most of the best donors do not want a relationship in the way we as fundraisers define it.
The best donors (who end up leaving a legacy) do not want never ending asks
The best donors do not want or need a persistent "thank you"
The best donors only want to know they have made a change which is NOT the same as wanting a relationship.
The NEED for a relationship is born by a fundraiser and never a donor.


I think it can be difficult in the charity sector to get that balance right between reinvesting (in brand, procedures etc.) and acting like a profit making corporation. The fundamental difference is that a corporation's profits tend to go to those who can afford to take a lower payout now in return for a bigger payout later. A charity's beneficiaries on the other hand often can't afford to take a lower payout now - a lower payout now could result in going hungry or worse.

mark phillips

Thanks for your comment Alex. The issue with many large charities is that they have decided to build significant reserves instead of allocating those funds to help beneficiaries. That might suggest that the balance is perhaps leaning towards the commercial.

Phil Legs4Africa

Hi Mark
I've just stumbled across this blog and i'm transfixed! I'm relatively new to fundraising and am working my socks off, trying to stabilise the finances for a small charity that myself and some friends have set up. I am wondering which of the above books you would recommend as a first read?


I'm inclined to agree with you Mark. Financial prudence is all well and good but like you say, if charities are sitting on these large reserves then they aren't giving them the their beneficiaries. It's a difficult question indeed. But you're right we need to see a bit of a trend away from the commercial.

Mark phillips

All are great but I always default to asking properly by George smith.

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