Helping corporate executives understand the fundraising mentality

CO2 Value Europe

“It was good to have external expertise with a method, rigour and experience to manage a rigorous Board. David was relentless in always bringing us back to the important question. His writing up of the minutes was also very quick, which is important for us – time is of the essence.”

Damien Dallemagne, General Secretary, CO2 Value Europe

CO2 Value Europe (CVE) is an association of partners from the European CO2 value chain, dedicated to carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and committed to coordinate and represent the CO2 utilisation community in Europe. Formed in November 2017 on a wave of enthusiasm for a booming topic, CVE had big ambitions for rapid growth but its finances – funded by membership fees – were insufficient and its members’ experience of the fundraising environment very limited. This was an association of corporate executives, used to commercial transactions. Secretary General Damien Dallemagne looked into the possibility of raising funds and quickly realised it was not going to be as simple as the CVE Board had imagined. He needed help.

Damien approached Action Planning for help in developing a headline Communications Strategy and Fundraising Strategy.

David began with the facilitation of a workshop in Brussels with four members of the CVE staff to coach them in the principles of fundraising strategy and communications strategy. The aims of this workshop were: to help them use their industry knowledge to refine CVE’s communication positioning; to define key target audiences, desired changes in behaviour and headline core messages to encourage those changes; to identify and cost out the most effective communications channels; and to start to think about how its impact might be measured.

This was followed by the facilitation of a workshop with CVE’s Board, also in Brussels, to validate the outcomes of the above exercise.

David then delivered a detailed report pulling together the outcomes of these two workshops and setting out the headline fundraising strategy and communications strategy. The report included a communication brief, headline estimates of the communication delivery costs, fundraising objectives, an assessment of the most appropriate categories of donor to be approached and a concrete action plan for fundraising.

A month after the Board workshop, David facilitated a Board Strategy session in Dusseldorf, with the aims of achieving clarity about the practical manifestation of CVE’s Vision and Mission, confirming CVE’s Values and ‘DNA’, examining CVE’s Three Priorities and how these might practically be taken forward, and agreeing a process for developing the rest of the strategic plan.

Along the way, David provided mentorship and support for Damien, who needed an ally from outside the Association to wrestle the attention of the Board. Damien described David as his “sparring partner”. David also mentored four people within the CVE Chair’s company, as they worked on business plans for possible ‘accelerator projects’. Action Planning Associate Consultant Derek Smith subsequently assisted with the preparation of applications to European foundations that might fund some of the Association’s work.

David’s objectivity and distance from the inner workings of CVE enabled Damien to pass on messages he would not have been able to convey himself. As a result, he was able to reach a point where CVE has a set of agreed values, a vision and mission and a clear operational plan. As Damien said, “Now we have a story which is relatively clarified as to what we want to achieve and how. We are ready to go fundraising.

“We also learned from David that you can only raise money for something very specific, that it has to be aligned to the objectives of the funder and you have to be able to show how it will achieve those objectives and how you will deliver it.”

Consultant’s insight:
This was a challenge! Introducing a not-for-profit sector culture into a trade association with a very driven Board of corporate leaders cannot be achieved overnight. And yet that culture had to come – corporates sell things to customers; not-for-profits sell ideas – ideas that usually benefit wider society, rather than just the funder, or ‘customer’. The problem is that, from outside the charity sector, fundraising looks easy. You just ‘raise awareness’ and the money pours in. If only it was that simple! Happily, although the CVE Board was robust in its challenges, it was also open to expert advice from another sector. They recognised that the argument “Something must be done about global warming” had already been won, so ‘raising awareness’ was no longer necessary. Now is the time to be taking specific solutions to specific policy makers, whose job it is to make sure that something is done about global warming. In theory at least, CVE should be pushing at open doors.

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