Think Tank

The Tarnside Think Tank follows a simple yet proven process. Trustees, patrons, fundraising staff, key project staff, stakeholders and potential major donors can all be involved.

Challenge: Setting an aligned appeal strategy

Fundraising appeals will be less effective when key decision-makers are neither aligned nor working to an agreed plan of action; targets are missed while time and expenditure are wasted.

When a fundraising opportunity arises…

• How do you ensure that trustees and key seniormanagement decision makers are equipped and        prepared to tackle the challenge?
• What will motivate them to support a robust fundraising strategy?

Key questions to ask

• Are all key individuals aligned in their thinking?
• Is there a truly agreed plan for the appeal?
• Are you underselling the value of your project and appeal?
• Who are the critical messages aimed at – an internal audience or potential funders?

Solution: Tarnside Think Tank

Tarnside offers a fully-facilitated Think Tank day to help clients ensure all individuals are aligned behind their project and appeal. Trustees, patrons, fundraising staff, key project staff, stakeholder and potential major donors can all be involved.

Benefits of Expert Facilitation

• Helps participants take a broader view and focuses the minds of all involved;
• Brings participants to explicit agreement over the key messages of the campaign; and
• Brings experience of other campaigns to help develop a practical fundraising strategy.

A campaign strategy is needed which is supported by an enthusiastic, determined and targeted team, whose members understand the ideas behind the project, engage with it and, critically, are committed to the plan.

The Tarnside Think Tank Day

The day takes participants through five structured stages of thinking:

1. What is our organisation about?
A structured discussion about why participants became involved with the organisation and what it means to them. Potentially animated, it highlights any mismatches in perception and establishes clarity and understanding about campaign objectives.

2. The “If I Won The Lottery” Test – Part 1
The group looks at the cause from a donor perspective, to identify the key messages to potential funders. Awkward questions help participants recognise that their own idea of why someone should be motivated to give may not necessarily fit with a donor’s needs and perceptions.

3. The “If I Won The Lottery”Test – Part 2
Focusing on the comparative strengths of their cause in the competitive fundraising market and examining possible sources of funds helps participants assess likely attitudes to their cause and the importance of carefully structured approaches.

4. Gift Ladders
Participants consider the fundraising target they have been set and work out their strategic financial plan to achieve it. This is a simple exercise that replaces a daunting appeal target with a clear and realistic idea of the challenge and how best to tackle it.

5. Develop the Strategy
This is an animated session brainstorming potential donors that gives everyone a chance to see how their knowledge and networks could be used to advantage. This closes the ‘think tank’ day with readiness for action.


Participants leave enthusiastic about the task ahead, having developed strategies that will bring success.

They share:

• A realistic grasp of the challenge;
• The importance of a structured rather than scatter gun approach to fundraising; and
• Agreement on the key selling points for the campaign.

The organisation has developed a clear, agreed strategy based on a logical process. Key individuals are aligned and committed to the plan and anxious to begin work. Everything is in place for a successful fundraising campaign.

Further opportunities

Follow up with the facilitator can enhance the positive thinking created through the Tarnside Think Tank day. This could include:

• Individual interviews with trustees to identify networks and contacts in order to realise plans;
• Help in developing the case statement; and/or
• Mentoring the in-house fundraising team to sustain the lessons from the day.