News  |  FundraisingBest practice

Why breaking the fundraising bubble is the key to success

Wednesday, 4th March 2020 at 5:22 pm
Maggie Coggan
“Throw down that notepad, just sit down and just talk about real life,” fundraising expert says 

Wednesday, 4th March 2020
at 5:22 pm
Maggie Coggan



Why breaking the fundraising bubble is the key to success
Wednesday, 4th March 2020 at 5:22 pm

“Throw down that notepad, just sit down and just talk about real life,” fundraising expert says 

Fundraisers have lost the art of serendipity in their work, and need to step outside of their bubble if they want to get better results, UK fundraising expert Esther Kwaku says. 

Speaking to Pro Bono News following her keynote speech at this year’s Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) Conference, Kwaku said that fundraisers were getting bogged down in the day to day of the job, to the detriment of the causes they were raising money for. 

“We get so caught up in the day to day when we become fundraisers. The pressure on the fundraising, the planning, the budgets, you’re on your toes all the time,” Kwaku said. 

“Serendipity is a reminder that we need to step out of that bubble to find other ways and ideas and solutions to keep ourselves inspired.”

Driven by an urge to work with more grassroots communities in rural areas, Kwaku quit her job in the charity sector, and founded the Nerve Network, a social enterprise that works in tandem with Ugandan-based organisations to support micro-businesses in the area. 

She said that when she stepped outside the sector, she met with a whole range of people that really helped shift her perspective. 

“In the last year, I’ve worked with robot scientists, I’ve worked with schools, and it’s given me such a range of perspectives I could have only ever gotten by surrounding myself with people from different walks of life,” she said.  

“It’s so important to remember that we are here to do something. We’re here to not only fundraise, but to make our fundraising transformational.” 

She said traveling to over 40 countries to meet new people and have different experiences had really helped her develop her skills, and she urged all fundraisers to do the same. 

“We need to get into the practice of hearing these stories more and get into the practice of connecting with people more,” she said. 

“So throw down that notepad, just sit down and just talk about real life. You have to make the connection with people in order to keep it authentic.” 

With dropping donation levels, and inaction on outdated state-based fundraising laws plaguing the Australian sector, Kwaku said it would take a collective effort and bravery to shift the mindset of fundraisers to overcome these issues. 

“You’re talking about breaking often decades of deeply embedded ways of working. People have to be brought along the journey and that has to reach from the frontline fundraiser level up to board level,” she said. 

“I feel sometimes that we’re looking to the side to see who else is going to do it but we just need a bit more bravery, to lean in and feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at

Get more stories like this


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


UK expert calls for a new age of responsible fundraising

Luke Michael

Monday, 2nd March 2020 at 4:06 pm

Giving governance

Lisa Grinham

Thursday, 27th February 2020 at 8:14 am

Centralised disaster fund dismissed by charities sector

Maggie Coggan

Friday, 24th January 2020 at 5:32 pm

Fundraising efforts must continue

Katherine Raskob

Thursday, 16th January 2020 at 8:51 am


Government temporarily doubles unemployment payments amid COVID-19 outbreak

Luke Michael

Monday, 23rd March 2020 at 4:43 pm

Calls to extend coronavirus supplement to DSP recipients

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 24th March 2020 at 5:03 pm

Government unveils stimulus support for charities

Luke Michael

Monday, 23rd March 2020 at 5:36 pm

NFPs reveal the devastating impact of coronavirus on their organisations

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 18th March 2020 at 2:47 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!