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Facilitating global fundraising


5 May 2023 at 9:30 am
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
Givergy COO Ben Crook works with the global not-for-profit sector to amplify its impact, expand its reach and raise much-needed funds in an innovative and technology-driven way. He is this week’s Changemaker.


Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 5 May 2023 at 9:30 am


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Facilitating global fundraising
5 May 2023 at 9:30 am

Givergy COO Ben Crook supports the global not-for-profit sector to amplify its impact, expand its reach and raise much-needed funds in an innovative and technology-driven way. He is this week’s Changemaker.

Ben Crook’s career journey to fundraising has been anything but orthodox. Leaving school at 16 years old and without higher education qualifications, Crook worked his way through hospitality and retail stints, which cemented his customer service and people management skills, before switching gears to the travel and wedding industries, which helped him discover a passion for seeing the world, helping others and leading change.

Fuelled by a determination and hunger to lead a purposeful career, Crook found his dream job in the fundraising sector. In 2013, he joined GiveSmart, where he contributed to the company’s expansion from 30 annual events to 360, all within just two years.

In 2017, GiveSmart merged with its competitor Givergy, a global fundraising platform that helps charities raise more. Also a B Corp, Givergy has supported over 3,000 not-for-profit organisations across the world to raise over $1 billion.

After six years working as Givergy’s fundraising director, London-based Crook was promoted to chief operating officer, a role he has held for the past four years. “It’s been a journey, but with my team, we’ve taken the company to new heights and now support charities in five countries which I’m incredibly proud of,” he says, acknowledging his mentors along the way who have helped his career blossom.

In this week’s Changemaker, Crook addresses the biggest challenges facing modern fundraising; explains how to tap into the younger donor market; and unpacks the importance of completely switching off from work every now and then.

What does this role mean to you? 

It means the world to me. We’re determined to support as many charities as possible. 

Being education-focused is fundamental to Givergy, which includes the development of our global Future of Fundraising events. These shows bring together fundraisers to learn about new ways to donate, network and share experiences. They have become the highlight of the year.

This role has also allowed me to nurture some of the best talents. I believe you are only as good as the people around you, and you should always put your team’s career growth first. 

We are a team of younger leaders, and we’ve invested in people who have joined us, sometimes as interns, to become senior management within a matter of years. I love knowing that we have an extremely loyal team who have worked for us for years, travel around the world and, in many cases, even move countries for us.

Take us through a typical day of work for you.

My role is hugely varied as I dive into all business areas. My days normally consist of regular catch-ups with various stakeholders, reviewing reports and working on multiple projects that aim to push the company forward.

How has fundraising changed in recent years?

The pandemic has been the most dramatic change – it was an awful time, especially for fundraisers, but it did drive the industry and donor base forward in terms of digital adaption. 

Pre-pandemic, many clients were concerned about the ability for donors to adapt to technology, and as a consequence, would hold back on full rollouts. With the use of QR codes and smart devices, many fundraisers have radically moved forward with an all out use of mobile to bid and give. For example, the use of QR codes as a call to action is now widespread.

Name a challenge you’ve encountered in your career and how you overcame it. 

I’m known in Givergy as the driver of change. My biggest challenge has been pushing our team forward to achieve a future goal that they may not be able to see yet.

In recent years, we made a significant shift as a business to allow our clients to have more ability to build and edit campaigns. It was a big request from clients that we knew we needed to do, but making it happen took a lot of work. We offered 24/7 support across the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong to achieve this goal. This was a mighty challenge to launch a new team and support a shift pattern covering all regions.

Ultimately, it has taken three iterations of the service to work fully. Our customer support team now manages around 4,000 support cases per month; has gained a near-perfect customer satisfaction score; and can respond within four hours to any request, which we are extremely proud of.

If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give yourself as you first embarked on your career? 

Don’t take on so much! I know that I will happily jump into any area that needs support or change, but this can be to my detriment.

A great coach, Alison Edgar MBE, once asked me, if an orchestra member could not play the instrument, do you think the conductor would stop and play it for them? I, of course, said no. She asked me how can you run the business if you did the same? This massively resonated with me, and I’m constantly working on improving this.

Also, don’t labour in the past! So many people do this and quite often, they are not the right people to have in your business. Again, my coach Alison asked me about this subject. Do they think you’re Cher? You can’t turn back time. Absolute gold – very funny – but so true! Focus on the future and what you can do going forward. It’s essential to know the past and learn from it, but don’t let it be the trajectory of your future.

What are your predictions for the future of fundraising?

It might be surprising for some, but it would be the possible death of gala dinners. 

I’m extremely fortunate to travel to our regions and have now supported over 100 Future of Fundraising events. At these events, we always address fundraising challenges, and the biggest challenge I hear outside of donor engagement is being able to encourage the next generation of donors to attend events.

I’m 37 years old, and when I look at my friendship group, I couldn’t think of one person that would attend a gala event unless the company they worked for paid for them to go. And even if they did attend, they might buy a raffle ticket and nothing more. 

We know on average that only 20 per cent of the guests that attend events give, which is criminal. The donor perception is that by buying a ticket, they are donating, which is generally not true. A ticket simply covers the running cost of the events, and in some cases, it doesn’t cover that, so fundraising is critical.

Fundraisers are worried about how to move forward to ensure they focus on the next generation. Younger generations are giving, but in different ways. They are more cause-driven and would prefer to get out and do something than simply give money. Events therefore need to suit this audience to attract attendees. For example, an organisation could host a gaming tournament through Twitch or a similar platform. 

I think the focus for us all now needs to be on how to cater to this younger crowd. Making fundraising more inclusive and sharing ideas and successes will never be more critical than in the next few years.

How do you unwind after work? 

This has always been my biggest struggle.

I’ve been laser-focused on my career and our company’s growth for some time now, and I do struggle to wind down. Despite that, I’m getting better at it. I love reading before bed, watching a great series on Netflix with my family and trying out new hobbies.

I have learnt that you have to switch off entirely from time to time, so now, when I take a holiday, I remove the apps on my phone to stop emails and messaging for work. I switch off, and I come back a better version of myself, ready to tackle new challenges. I push this for my team too. 

It’s essential to wind down to ensure you don’t burn out, but also, by doing so, you are better at what you do when you return.

What was the last thing you:

  • Watched? Happy Valley. It’s gripping and I highly recommend it. I stood up for the last 10 minutes of series one – it’s that good!
  • Read? DJ Fat Tony’s book, I Don’t Take Requests. I love a turnaround story and this is one of the best. It’s an epic read and I still can’t get over that he survived and thrived.
  • Listened to? Special by Lizzo. She’s my spirit animal, I love her!

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at rubykranertucci@gmail.com.


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