Professionals, in Fundraising

The team at the University of Barcelona Postgraduate Certificate in Fundraising – on which I teach – have produced a new video promoting the profession of fundraiser and, yes, our course.

If you have friends or colleagues in Spain or Catalonia, pass them the link!

International Research – some Resources for RiF

At the Researchers in Fundraising Conference, 25th November 2016, I promised a list of the sources I mentioned. Here it is.

Bilanz 300 Die Riechsten
Type Magazine Article
Publication Bilanz
Date Annual
Language German
Abstract Annual rich list published by Swiss business and economics magazine.

CNMV – Informe anual de Remuneraciones de los Consejeros de las sociedades cotizadas
Type Report
Institution Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores
Language Spanish
Abstract Annual survey of salaries of company directors in quoted companies in Spain. Shows breakdown of average salaries, and is useful for estimating income.

FIN Association of Foundations in the Netherlands/ Vereniging van fondsen
Type Web Page
Abstract FIN, the Vereniging van Fondsen in Nederland, is the association of leading Dutch foundations

Fondsenboek 2015 and Fondsendisk
Type Book
Author Sophie Duijts
Place Zutphen
Publisher Walburg Pers
ISBN 978-90-5730-987-8
Date 2015
Language Dutch
Abstract Directory of foundations in the Netherlands, including information on 737 foundations. €49.50 price.
# of Pages 448

Helen Brown Group
Type Web Page

Kamer van Koophandel
Type Web Page
Abstract Legal register for all companies in the Netherlands. Includes company ownership information and accounts

Type Magazine
Language Dutch
Abstract Lifestyle magazine aimed at HNWIs in the Netherlands. Includes some profile interviews, and occasional features on philanthropy.

Moving Mainstream. The European Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report
Type Report
Author Robert Wardrop
Author Bryan Zhang
Author Raghavendra Rau
Author Mia Gray
Place Cambridge, UK
Pages 44
Date 02/2015
Institution University of Cambridge, Judge Business School
Language English
Abstract Includes details on crowdfunding, with data on growth, with peer-to-peer fundraising

Type Web Page
Abstract Business website and magazine for Luxembourg. Publish an annual “Paperjam Guide” including a business directory and biographies of company leaders.

Portal de la Transparencia
Type Web Page
Language Spanish
Abstract Spanish Government website showing structure, funcion, curricula and salaries of top civil servants.

Type Web Page
Accessed 05/09/2013, 16:03:03
Language French
Abstract Company information from the French Registre du Commerce

Transparente ANBI
Type Web Page
Abstract Listing of ANBI including foundations in the Netherlands, following the transparency law. Searchable by foundation name.

How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe.
Type Book
Author Christopher Carnie
Place Bristol
Publisher Policy Press
ISBN 978-1-4473-3110-0
Date 01/18/2017
Language English
Abstract There is a new age of philanthropy in Europe – a €50 billion plus financial market. Changing attitudes to wealth, growing social need and innovations in finance are creating a revolution in how we give, aided and sometimes abetted by governments. Mapping the changes, Christopher Carnie focuses on high-value philanthropists – people and foundations as ‘major donors’ – investing or donating €25,000 upwards.

8th Festival del Fundraising – Italy

In Italy there is no fundraising “conference” – no dull meeting of people saying the same old, same old.

But there is a Festival. The Festival del Fundraising took place this year on the shores of Lake Garda, near Verona. With 650 participants it was bigger this year than ever before, and it launched the festival mood with “Fundraiser’s Got Talent” an opening session in full Italian TV-show style. This is a young and growing fundraising market with a strong backbone of training, thanks to the Masters in Fundraising offered by the University of Bologna. This year there was an invited group of students from the Columbia University MSc in Fundraising Management, so the conversations in class and around the bar were cross-cultural: everyone learned from each other.

Italy’s NGOs, universities, arts and cultural organisations are increasingly looking to fundraising for growth. The Italian state is cutting back, and there is a hunger for doing more and better. Leading NGOs have focused in the past on direct mail marketing but many are developing DRTV and new media methods, and a few are focusing on strategic (major) donors.

I gave a master class on foundations in Europe. The Italian foundation sector is significant – the largest in Europe by assets. [See figure]

Assets and Spending by European Foundations
Assets and Spending by European Foundations

Why so large? Principally thanks to a handful of mega-foundations created when the Italian Government split the huge regional savings banks which had previously carried out a mixed banking and social role, into banks, and foundations. Thus the Fondazione Cariplo has €7.7 billion in assets, while Fondazione CRT, built from the old savings bank of Turin has €2.2 billion. These huge foundations are relatively easy to find but the rest of the sector remains a mystery. There are thousands of foundations in Italy including family and church foundations which are almost completely invisible, and certainly do not have the type of glass pockets that would be expected amongst US or UK foundations.

The lack of transparency amongst strategic donors was a common theme in the conference – many donors do not want their name published nor their gift known. There are many reasons for this including, according to one speaker, the Catholic culture of separating philanthropy from the rest of one’s public life. This tendency to secrecy has been exacerbated by a new tool being used by the Italian tax authorities for measuring individual wealth: part of the measure is how much you give to charity. If you give a lot it is assumed that you have a lot, and people of wealth are concerned that this will mean they end up paying a lot more tax.

There are also problems of recruitment in this young and growing market. In the strategic donor area there are very few fundraisers with experience of strategic donor or foundation work, and almost none with prospect research experience. Setting up a team involves difficult choices between waiting to recruit someone experienced or training a newcomer. Salaries in the sector are still modest and so it is especially hard to recruit people with experience from relevant commercial sectors such as finance and banking.

The strong foundation of the Master in Fundraising at Bologna combined with a sector that wants to grow and the enthusiasm of hundreds of Italian fundraisers means that this is an exciting development market for fundraising. It is now time for the philanthropic sector to respond by moving toward a modern, transparent, accountable style of giving. Then we can have a real festival of fundraising.

Thanks to Columbia University and Valerio Melandri at the Festival del Fundraising / University of Bologna for the opportunity to speak at this event.

Factary is active in Italy, where we have carried out research, training and consultancy assignments for leading NGOs.

Training Researchers and Fundraisers from Barcelona to Boston

This week there are two significant training events for Factary. Today, Tuesday 8th October, Factary’s Chris Carnie is helping to launch the new Postgraduate Certificate in Fundraising at the University of Barcelona.


Launch of the Postgraduate Cert in Fundraising, University Barcelona


The course runs over an academic year (November to June) and covers the skills and techniques required to be a fundraiser, with a focus on practical tasks and actions. We’ve got a range of great speakers and trainers taking part, from NGOs, cultural and arts organisations, campaigning organisations, the health and foundation sectors. Find out more, and register, here.

And on Thursday, Will Whitefield and Chris Carnie are giving a webinar with APRA on prospect research in the UK.An Island of Information is aimed at researchers and fundraisers outside the UK who want to understand the market here. Find out more, and register, here.

Postgraduate Certificate in Fundraising – Spain/Catalonia

Factary’s Chris Carnie is part of the planning team for a brand new certificate in fundraising at the University of Barcelona.

The new course ( runs from November 2013-April 2014.

It has a great team of tutors, including the Director of Fundraising at MSF Spain (Médicos sin Fronteras) Anna Pineda, and the director of one of the most innovative nonprofits here, Oriol Alsina from Fundació Amics de la Gent Gran. We’ve also got Juan Mezo, ex Marketing Director at Oxfam now at Valores y Marketing, and Miquel de Paladella, from SIC Social Innovation for Communities.

The course is focused on real-life practice – so it includes sections on how to ask, on understanding the market, on face-to-face and on innovation in fundraising.

Join us for this great new course, or tell your friends in Spain about it!

Twitter hashtag #fundraisingIL3

Due Diligence: can you accept that donation?

The Colonel and the College

In December 2008, London School of Economics approached Saif Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, for a donation. On the 23rd June 2009, the governing Council of LSE agreed to accept a gift of £1.5m from a group of companies in Libya, channelled via the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, controlled by Saif Gaddafi. This story emerged in the media only after the uprising against the Gaddafi regime began, in February 2011.

LSE was attacked in the UK press for having accepted the gift and the controversy grew so severe that by March 2011 the Director of the LSE Sir Howard Davies resigned. The LSE Council later funded an independent enquiry led by Lord Woolf.

As Lord Woolf’s report makes clear, all this was in the historic context that at the time when the gift was being considered, Libya was being seen as a potential friend by the West. The UN Arms Embargo against Libya had been lifted in 2003 and the Bush administration had removed Libya from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism in 2007. The Colonel had been met by Tony Blair in an official visit in 2007; the then Prime Minister saw Gaddafi as a potential ally. In 2009, Libya was seen as eccentric but progressing steadily in the right direction.

But just two years later the Colonel had become a reputational risk for LSE. The School’s reputation had been damaged, and the Director’s neck was on the block.

This story illustrates many of the issues in due diligence and major donors:

The Speed of Change

It shows how fast reputations can change. Your celebrity donor today can tomorrow be vilified because he has been caught, literally, with his pants down. Due diligence today is useful, but it is only of any value if it is a continuous, reviewed process.


It shows how hard it is to measure reputational risk where there is complexity. This gift was supposed to come from a consortium of companies, in a country in which little or no corporate transparency exists, channelled via a foundation led by the son of a dictator. Complexity makes due diligence difficult. But major donors often lead complex lives and make gifts via complex structures.

Just what are we measuring?

What, in the case of the Colonel, was LSE supposed to be measuring with its due diligence work? The Colonel’s reputation with the politicians? His son’s reputation? The ways in which his wealth had been accumulated? Clarity in understanding what we are attempting to measure is a key part of due diligence work.

So, what is Due Diligence?

Due diligence is used in the context of “doing a thorough job of checking a prospect.” Up to now most of the focus in due diligence work has been on companies. But fundraisers are now asking for due diligence research on individual philanthropists, wherever there is a concern that reputations or finance could be at stake, or where there is a moral issue to untangle.

What can we check?

1. Is he who he says he is?

At Factary we were asked this recently. A man who said he was a Vicomte had been in contact with the nonprofit and there was talk of a very large gift, possibly into the millions. The nonprofit had started to cultivate the relationship with meetings and social events. The nonprofit’s in-house researcher was suspicious and asked us to carry out a due diligence check. It was difficult because he had covered his tracks well, but eventually we demonstrated that he was definitely not a Vicomte, definitely not French, and that lived in a very small house in Peckham. There were hints that he had done this kind of thing before, although no public reports of convictions. We reported our findings to the nonprofit who stepped away from the relationship.

Proving that a person is the person that they claim to be is difficult – you don’t normally ask potential donors for their passport or ID card – but it’s an essential part of due diligence.

2. Is there money, really?

Does she have the money – a key question for fundraisers – should also form part of a due diligence process, just as it would if you were a business and about to take on a new customer. This means researching wealth and income, shareholdings and properties.

3. The Source of the Money

The origins of the funds to be donated are researchable…in some cases. There are geographic limitations (I have tried, and failed, to identify the source of wealth of certain Russian oligarchs) and there are historic limitations (how far back do you really want to go? The source of her money? Or of her grandmother’s fortune?).

4. Criminal convictions

Due diligence research can reveal criminal convictions where these are recorded in the public domain. But some of this is of limited value. In Spain, for example, a common search will list the overdue parking fines of Spanish citizens – hardly the basis for “reputational risk.”

5. Reputation

This is the slippery, difficult-to-define word of the due diligence researcher. We can research reputation in the press and media (but is that not a very biased source?), we can research the circle of contacts that a prospect moves amongst, and we can ask people-who-know-people for their opinions.

The focus of reputation should be trustworthiness – the perception in the public mind that your organisation can be trusted. Your objective is to maintain and enhance your organisation’s trustworthiness. So reputational risk means; “If we link up with this donor, could this damage the public perception that we can be trusted?”

Can we Check Everything?

There is much about donors that we cannot check. Thankfully, most of us have lives that are private.

We can’t check on money held in banks – it’s private. We mostly can’t check wealth held through private trusts, or wealth held in certain jurisdictions (try the Netherlands Antilles, for example…) We can’t tell whether someone’s secret sexual activities will, tomorrow, be the subject of long-lens photo-“journalism” or of a kiss-and-tell story in the yellow press.

Ethical and Legal

There are ethical and legal frontiers too:

Data protection

You are simply not allowed to store defamatory material on people. So how are you going to record the (reputational risk-related rumour) that he was a diamond smuggler in his youth?

Nor can you store information on sexuality, health or religion. Any of these could, in some organisations, imply a reputational risk.

Researcher ethics

Those of us in prospect research live with clear ethical guidelines (see the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement). For me, for example, this means that I am not willing to use private detectives or false “survey calls” to source information on philanthropic prospects. The first is too intrusive and the second is, simply, lying.

Real-Life Issues

In real-life fundraising we face other issues. For example, if the Director General says we should accept the money, what do we do? Do we stick to our agreed due-diligence procedure? Or does the DG’s political power mean that we take the money despite our concerns?

Other organisations question the whole moral basis of this type of research: “We don’t do due diligence on our normal consumer donors, so why do it with strategic or major donors?”

The debate starts here

There are no perfectly satisfactory answers to these questions. But we were in the same place over the issues that arose from starting prospect research 20 years ago.

In time we will together build the protocols and sector norms that we need to enable us to do a good job of being duly diligent. Now, we need the debate.


Factary provides due diligence research for clients. For more information contact Nicola Williams, Research Manager,

Factary’s Chris Carnie will be running a workshop on Due Diligence and Major Donors at next week’s International Fundraising Congress Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands.

This is a slightly extended version of a piece that first appeared in

Due Diligence for Major Donors

Is your donor clean? Meaning – would you accept a donation from them? We are used to carrying out due diligence research on companies, but now there is the challenge of how to do this for individual philanthropists. I’ve written a piece on this for Reinier Spruit’s 101Fundraising blog, and will be giving a workshop on Due Diligence and Major Donor’s at IFC later this month.

Major Donors – the Keys to Success

Martine Godefroid, Managing Director of Factary Europe, gave a seminar on major donor fundraising at the Belgian National Fundraising conference on 5th April 2011. Martine’s seminar focused on defining, understanding and approaching strategic donors, and included a valuable overview of the situation of individual philanthropy in Belgium.

Download a copy of the presentation here.

Major Donor Fundraising conference, 7th Feb 2011, London

Chris Carnie will be chairing a session at the Institute of Fundraising’s Major Donor Fundraising conference in London, 7th February 2011.

His session will include:

  • Addressing the challenges of integrating fundraising in to the heart of the organisation
  • Smaller charities: building an effective major donor strategy with a small team
  • International charities: creating specific projects suitable for major donor funding

Full details on the conference are at the Institute of Fundraising website.