Five Ways for Fundraisers to Inspire Creativity and Connection

What are the barriers to creativity in your organization? What gets in the way of creative processes?

These questions were recently answered by Derek Humphries of the DTV Group during his visit to Blakely. This fundraising powerhouse flew all the way across the pond from the UK to lend his time, wisdom and charming accent to Blakely.

Because we’re all about #clientlove, Blakely organized a half-day session for Derek to share insights with our clients. In his charming, concise manner, he spoke about boosting creativity to inspire and connect with donors.

Because many of you didn’t witness Derek’s magic in person, we have distilled his session into five key recommendations:

1. Don’t be afraid to fail

Yes. It is okay to fail. We know this may sound cliché, but Derek shared a quote by Film Director Nicholas Ray, and it resonated with us.

“There is no formula for success. But there is a formula for failure, and that is trying to please everybody.”

We need to start doing the things we feel we cannot do, or things we feel we may fail at. That is when we will truly succeed!

So go ahead and try it. Take strides towards that one thing you feel you cannot do in your organization. Who knows, you may surprise yourself!

2. Allow for a deeper connection

According to Derek, we need to realize that our work is incomplete without an audience – and that involving the donor changes everything. We couldn’t agree more.

What are you doing for your donors to foster a deeper connection with your cause? What is going to be that defining moment that will have a donor saying, “they have me for life.”

Are you letting them experience things first hand – whatever that may mean for your cause? Are they really seeing how their money makes a difference for the charity they choose to support?

3. Too many ways to kill creativity

We, unfortunately, know this all too well. An amazing idea can continually get diluted until it is so far from where it started, there is no parallel at all.

So Derek got us all thinking – why does this happen? And why do we allow it to happen?

Here are some of the ways we kill creativity.

Brand Guidelines – Derek said it best. “Following brand guidelines in creative can sometimes be like communicating from a straight jacket.”

Power of Committee – Great creative doesn’t usually come from committees. We need to remember why a concept was created in the first place, and remember the key insight.

Just like a Picasso piece, a creative idea or concept is not going to be loved by everyone on your team, nor should it be.

What matters is your target audience. Is your donor going to like it? Will it resonate with them? Inspire and engage them? If the answer is yes, then feedback on the buckslip from Jane Smith over in Finance shouldn’t be keeping you up at night.

4. Fostering a Creative Culture

Derek spoke in depth on how organizations tend to supress creativity.

He asked everyone in the room where it was they felt most creative. I will give you a hint – it wasn’t at their desks staring at their computer screens.

For Derek, it was on a train ride or in the shower. For others it was riding a bike, cooking, working out, and brainstorming with others.

I don’t think Derek is suggesting we all build gyms in our offices, or take showers at work, but I do think he brought up a good point.

We need to do a better job at fostering a creative culture in our organizations where ideas can be generated and shared without fearing they are ‘too stupid’ or will be immediately dismissed by others.

It’s as simple as figuring out where you feel most creative, what gets your team thinking differently, and where you come up with your best ideas. And if that means doing a few laps around the office… then so be it!

5. Small changes = big impact

Derek posed the question: What small changes can you do now in your organization that will revolutionize your programs?

Small, subtle changes will not only make you more effective at your job but, in turn, create big impact for your organization.

Most of the time we are so worried about doing the ‘next big thing’, or creating the next ground breaking campaign that we forget about the small steps in between.

Challenge yourself to make one small change today, and we assure you bigger changes will follow.

As Derek said, “There is no next big idea, there is simply inspiring connections.”


With love, from your Fundraising Strategist team!