25 awesome fundraising quotes

Often we hear great quotes capturing the essence of the message. They are inspiring! They remind us of the important reasons why we work for charity and how we should do it, or how best practice would describe it…

In December I attended The Annual Lectures, where an awesome line-up of speakers was challenged to deliver their message in 30 minutes. This forced them to be to the point. And I heard some great quotes.

For example, in her session about ‘Storytelling’ Lauren Semple from Aching Arms reminded us of the power of a true and emotional story:

Life is not scripted. Conversations with our donors should not be either.

A heart-breaking message is hard to capture in a phone script. Sincerity gets lost and it might even result in not taking our donors serious. I love the idea. I love the quote.

Another one of my favourites was mentioned in the same session, by Ken Burnett:

There are two ‘i’s’ in Fundraising – they should stand for inspiration and innovation, not imitation and irritation.

Everybody knows what this means and still many of us need to be reminded. That’s why I think this quote is both good and important.

I’ve asked around to fellow fundraisers lately and collected a good list of quotes and one-liners. Enjoy! Please add your own favourite underneath in the comments!


openqmMartin Luther King didn’t get up 50 years ago and say: I have a budget and a plan! – Alan Clayton

If you call yourself Save the Whales, every once in awhile you have to save a whale. – Tom Ahern

The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions. – Donald Calne

It always seems impossible, until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela.

Donor loyalty is not about the donor being loyal to you, it is you being loyal to the donor. – Harvey McKinnon

Unless you believe you’ll find the cure/right the wrong/feed every child with your next appeal it’s unethical not to focus on lifetime value. – Charlie Hulme

Stewardship at its best engages donors with the impact and outcomes of their investments of time, wisdom, expertise, connections, and money. – Karen Osborne

Retention is the new acquisition. Customer service is the new marketing. – Joe Connelly

Everyone wants charities to spend as little as possible on overhead. That’s backwards. Overhead is what drives growth. If charities can’t grow, they can’t solve problems. So overhead is a good thing. And I’m overhead. – Dan Pallotta

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank

The only thing that matters a damn is the donor experience. – Mark Phillips

Innovation isn’t about green bean bags and whacky idea sessions – its a long term business development strategy. – Lucy Gower

Volunteers will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no volunteers. – Ken Wyman

Fundraisers should use pride, not apology, when asking for a gift for a charity that is doing good work. – Henry Rosso

Fundraisers are the catalysts of change. – Unknown

Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving. – Henry Rosso

Most giving is 80% emotion and 20 % rational.  And the best way to get to someone’s emotions is to tell a story. – Unknown

It is impossible to overestimate the motivational effect of conspicuous success. – Giles Pegram

If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. – Jeff Brooks

People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou


Donors have little way to assess your charity’s work; they use the service you provide to them as a surrogate. – Adrian Sargeant

In good times and bad, we know that people give because you meet needs, not because you have needs. – Kay Sprinkel Grace

We don’t work in the non-profit sector. We work in the for-change sector! – Unknown

And I’ll add one from myself:

We need to value donors as much as we need value from them. – Reinier Spruit

Thank you Howard Lake, Marc A. Pitman, Claire Axelrad, Daryl Upsall, Charlie Hulme, Carla Huskamp, Karen Osborne, Pelagia de Wild, Phil Woollam, Ajay Ochani, Toby Bourke, Ken Wyman, John Burns, Michael Johnston for pointing me in the right direction.

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