Ken Burnett

‘Who says that, in 2013, off-the-page donor recruitment can’t be massively profitable?’

by Ken Burnett

This candid exposé shares with you the inside story of a remarkable acquisition success, though it took such to-ing and fro-ing to achieve it that SOFII lost one of its star acts for the epic Once Upon I Wish I’d Thought Of That. Despite this sad story Indra Sinha’s experience shows that a former fundraising faithful is far, far from finished. And that fine writing is still worth its weight in gold.

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15 things I would do if I were the new head of donor development, part 1

by Ken Burnett

This list came about when a US journal for fundraisers asked me to imagine I’d just started in a new job, with a clean slate and sufficient resources to set about transforming the donor development function. It’s included here to help anyone in an even vaguely similar situation. And to help me set out my philosophy of donor development.

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15 things I would do if I were the new head of donor development, part 2

by Ken Burnett

These 15 strategies aren’t the only things I’d do. They may not even be the most urgent things I’d do, or even the most important. But they are the things I’d do that I think would have the most lasting impact, that would make the most difference to converting my imaginary donor development department from the under-funded, misunderstood appendage to the fundraising function that I found on joining the organization, into the finely honed, high-earning core activity that I’d like to leave behind me when, in the fullness of time, I move on to pastures new (you have to indulge me a little here, in this fantasy).

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A debt to the master: the Ogilvy effect

by Ken Burnett

Part two of SOFII’s tribute to ‘the pope of advertising’, David Ogilvy.

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A tribute to George Smith, 4th March 2012

by Ken Burnett

SOFII pays tribute to George Smith, fundraising guru and communicator par excellence, who died on Friday 2nd March.

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Amnesty International press advertisement - North Korea’s death camps

by Ken Burnett

A challenge. Start reading. If you make it to the end you’ll know what to do next.

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Amnesty International: the letter in the pen pack

Women’s letter page one

by Ken Burnett

Now on SOFII, one of the letters that was sent with the legendary Amnesty pen pack. This moving example of fine writing was written specifically for women and sent to women only.

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An earlier incarnation of NSPCC’s The Children’s Friend

The Children’s Friend cover

by Ken Burnett

Managing trustee, Ken Burnett, shares with SOFII readers how the idea for the original NSPCC supporter magazine The Children’s Friend was born. In this revealing article, Ken gives us a glimpse into how NSPCC’s most significant donor communication was developed and how it became something of a family affair – SOFII’s not just thrown together you know!

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Building the fundraising dream team

Letter from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol

by Ken Burnett

This addition to SOFII’s How to be an Effective Client showcase will help you assemble the team that’ll produce your next great fundraising campaign.

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CDE project 6. The emotional fundraising showcase

by Ken Burnett

2.12. The emotional fundraising showcase video collection

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Commitment. And why it matters more than anything for fundraisers

by Ken Burnett

Has the argument about the value of donor commitment finally been brought to an end? Ken Burnett reports on how Roger Craver of the Agitator and his colleague Kevin Schulman have developed a way to calculate your donors’ commitment and, from this, ascribe a commitment score to each of them.

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Dr Barnardo’s Home: the home collecting box

by Ken Burnett

The home collecting box remains many people’s closest link with charitable giving. Some collecting boxes are themselves collector’s items.

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Even for a charity there’s no such thing as a free lunch

Robert Cialdini and his seminal book

by Ken Burnett

At least, not without some reciprocity.

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Fifty ideas that could transform how the public views street and door-to-door fundraising.

by Ken Burnett

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express an assortment of passengers are marooned with a murderer on a train stuck in a Yugoslavian snowdrift, with only little Hercule Poirot to help them work out what’s really going on.

The story seems to me an analogy for how we fundraisers might work ourselves out of the fix we find ourselves in, with our equivalent of being stuck fast in snow – the negative view the public has for our most successful method of acquiring new donors in volume, face-to-face fundraising on the street (F2F) or door-to-door (D2D).

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Help The Aged: ‘make a blind man see’ press advertisement

Original advertisement.

by Ken Burnett

This ad is a classic. Created by the legendary Harold Sumption in the late 1970s, it embodies one of the most direct and hard-to-resist fundraising propositions, ‘Make a blind man see’. It is a brilliant example of fundraising communication at its best.

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How to be an effective client

by Ken Burnett

SOFII’s founder and trustee, Ken Burnett, introduces this showcase and explains why he thinks it’s not just important but critical, that fundraisers have a place to go where they can learn how to be an effective client. The reason for this? To ensure that not so much as a penny of donor’s faithfully given money is wasted. SOFII can be that place.

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How to grow income rapidly, at a reasonable cost, retaining donor loyalty along the way

by Ken Burnett

In Relationship Fundraising, the classic read for all fundraisers, Ken Burnett takes us carefully through the fundamentals of good fundraising. Ken reminds us that a unique relationship exists between donors and the causes they support, and shows us how to preserve and develop that relationship.

Review by Neil Sloggie.

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How we deal with data, why it matters and why we’ve really got to get this right, right now

by Ken Burnett

Access to and control of data is becoming more and more restricted, which will have serious repercussions on UK charities, so we need to get how we deal with data right - now. This is the realisation Ken Burnett came to after reading Steve MacLaughlin’s Data Driven Nonprofits and his conclusions are essential reading for all fundraisers. 

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How, precisely, do you build a better board? Part 1

by Ken Burnett

Good governance seems to top every nonprofit’s agenda these days. Perhaps it’s also aided by the realisation that bad boards are still many fundraisers’ biggest bugbear.

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How, precisely, do you build a better board? Part 2

by Ken Burnett

Welcome to the second and final part of this listing of what makes an effective non-profit board.

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Investing in testing

by Ken Burnett

Has the rigorous testing regime that used to pervade in every seriously ambitious charity been allowed to slip in your organisation? Are your trustees afflicted with the ‘lowest possible acquisition cost’ mentality? You must test properly, says Ken Burnett, otherwise your prospects for innovation are reduced to a matter of random chance.

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Ken Burnett’s two great stories.

by Ken Burnett

Here are two grainy, shaky but very inspiring stories; Gabriella’s new feet and The worst tourist in the world.

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LEGGE HEADS ARMS BODY: top ten secrets of headlines that pull

by Ken Burnett

If you are raising funds in any public medium your responses will directly relate to the effectiveness of your headline. A good headline can easily double or triple your response, and a great one can do even better – up to 17 times better, some say.

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Lessons for fundraisers from yesterday’s cigarette advertising: instructive campaign images from the 1930s, 40s and 50s

by Ken Burnett

This article has been on SOFII for some time, but I have a feeling we didn’t actually tell anyone. We hang our heads in shame and urge you to check out some astonishing cigarette adverts – and what campaigners and fundraisers can learn from them.

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Macmillan Cancer Care and Bethesda Hospice: meet Etta Macleod, an extraordinary fundraiser

by Ken Burnett

Etta Macleod personifies the unsung heroes of the fundraising world: the courageous tireless volunteers who raise millions of pounds for their favourite causes. Etta’s fundraising is unconventional and a pleasure to witness.

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Notes from Ken Burnett following his review of the document ‘Current Situation and Tendency of Internet Fundraising in China’.

by Ken Burnett

This summary from the report shows that on-line digital fundraising has already made great progress in China recently and is likely to show even more potential for growth in the very near future. But, while there is good cause for optimism, some lessons have been learned and it is clear that Chinese fundraisers can gain even more, if they learn to do Internet fundraising right. 

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Pure gold – the 34 fundamental foundations of fundraising

by Ken Burnett

Which, from the all-time best fundraising wisdom and experience ever, are the most precious gems, the absolutely topmost important things every fundraiser everywhere really should know, from his or her first day? Of all the nuggets of essential knowledge buried within all the lists, books and articles ever written, which would be the one list, if room for only one was all there was, that you’d choose to hang directly above your space, your workplace?

This is that list. 

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Sharing the unspeakable: the ultimate donation

by Ken Burnett

The ultimate donation: When his family faced an unspeakable tragedy Ken Kesey, author of the classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, found the strength and courage to write about it in intimate, personal terms, so creating a most moving, raw and inspirational piece of fine writing, a story so striking it’s sure to stay with you.

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SOFII’s small charity showcase

by Ken Burnett

The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) helps small charities by sharing knowledge, expertise and experience. Upwards of 1,500 charities are helped each year, not one of them with a turnover above £1.5 million and most raising considerably less. SOFII believes we should celebrate small charities more than we do so, together with FSI, has started this showcase with the aim of levelling the playing field, or even to get the ground sloping just a little in the small charity’s direction.

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Some closing remarks: more on fundraising legend Guy Stringer

by Ken Burnett

For many years the closing remarks at the International Fund Raising Congress (the gathering of professional fundraisers from around the world that takes place each year outside Amsterdam, in the Netherlands) were delivered by Guy Stringer, formerly director of Oxfam, one-time senior executive with a major manufacturing company and now one of fundraising's most eminent and respected gentlemen.

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The 11 pillars of fundraising wisdom – plus the five assumptions that underpin effective fundraising

by Ken Burnett

In this noisy, brash and insincere world, how can fundraisers and their organisations stand out and be understood when much of the ground we would occupy is not our exclusive preserve? Indeed, our traditional territory tends to be crowded with other occupants who also posture, to the same audiences we wish to inspire, as ‘socially concerned’ and ‘worthwhile’, so we nonprofits have to struggle to be distinctive and different.

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The Bruce Barton letters: 22 classic direct mail appeals

by Ken Burnett

If you are new to SOFII, or an old hand, please have a look at some great fundraising letters you’ll love. Written by Bruce Barton over many years, they are priceless examples of the craft of writing fundraising letters.

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The collection: it’s never too late to do something wonderful.

by Ken Burnett

A new fundraising experience for less-than-new fundraiser Ken Burnett: rattling a bucket on behalf of Syrian refugees. Read how he met some interesting people, raised some money and learned that truly it’s never too late to do something wonderful.

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The elephant man: a fundraising success story from 1886.

by Ken Burnett

The extraordinary story of how a successful fundraising appeal transformed the final years of one of the most tragic and moving figures of the Victorian age.

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The emotional brain

Brain diagram

by Ken Burnett

Seasoned fundraiser Ken Burnett says of his latest article, The Emotional Brain, ‘It seems to me that fundraisers don’t know as much as they might about what it is that makes people give and why; what makes them loyal or repeat donors and what binds them to our cause above other causes, come what may. So I’m fairly sure that the emotional brain is the most important subject I’ve written about in a long time. Working on it has quite altered my view of what, as fundraisers, we should be doing when we acquire and then communicate with our donors.’

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The gold standard in fundraising, part 1: laying the foundations.

by Ken Burnett

Giles Pegram of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Redmond Mullin of Redmond Mullin Limited describe how a seminal five-year fundraising campaign irrevocably transformed the fortunes of one of Britain’s top charities.

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The gold standard in fundraising, part 2: exceeding expectations.

by Ken Burnett

Final part of a conversation about transformational fundraising that Giles Pegram and Redmond Mullin had recently with SOFII’s Ken Burnett.

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The Harry Secombe soft sell legacy approach

by Ken Burnett

This campaign dates back to the late 1980s and was created by Burnett Associates Limited with Dennis Kingshot at the NSPCC.

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The Leprosy Mission: phial of sixpences, from the 1960s

by Ken Burnett

The product featured here captured the imagination of a 10-year-old boy who went on to work with some of the most successful fundraising organisations around the world. It’s a simple proposition and an easily usable collecting device with a clear, tangible objective and outcome.

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The UK donor commitment study. And why it could be worth thousands of pounds to you and your cause

by Ken Burnett

An open letter from SOFII’s managing trustee announcing a free SOFII/ Agitator webinar of some importance.

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This is for YOU: an urgent appeal from Ken Burnett, founder of SOFII

by Ken Burnett

​It’s about SOFII and about you, but to explain properly, I need to start further back with why SOFII exists in the first place.

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Three little words lost – the end of Make Poverty History

by Ken Burnett

The ambitious proposition explicit in the Make Poverty History campaign may not yet have succeeded in changing political agendas, far less in eradicating poverty. But it has certainly captured the public's hearts and minds.

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Why should God have all the best ideas?

by Ken Burnett

The concept that inspired the creation of SOFII.

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中国网络筹款的现状和趋势 ——Ken Burnett点评《2014中国网络捐赠第三方平台研究报告》

by Ken Burnett

这一报告的摘要表明,在线筹款最近在中国已经取得了很大的进展,很可能在不久的将来表现出更大的增长潜力。但是,虽然有很好的理由保持乐观,也需要吸取一些教训。很明显,中国的募捐人可以获得更多,如果他们学会正确的互联网融资。

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About the author

Ken Burnett is author of Relationship Fundraising and other books including The Tiny Essentials of an Effective Volunteer Board (The White Lion Press Limited, London, UK) and The Zen of Fundraising, (Jossey-Bass Inc, San Francisco, USA). His latest – and in his view, most important – book is Storytelling can change the world, just published by The White Lion Press.

Ken is also SOFII's managing trustee.