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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E140 - The Value Of Training With Mark Carrigan

"You’re investing in the organisation’s ability to impact the cause.” - Mark Carrigan

In this episode, we speak with Mark Carrigan, the Managing Director of Carrigan Consulting and trainer for the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. We discuss why training is so important and accessible to all, regardless of the size or budget of the organisation.

1) Mark Carrigan on providing training and advice to fundraising professionals

Mark shares that being a successful trainer relies on a student’s faith in you and your ability to deliver successful training. For Mark, being an expert can be a double edged sword as you begin to realise that you know enough to know how little you know.

Mark believes that we should redefine an ‘expert’ from an all-knowing person to someone who has the knowledge to effectively source information.

2) Why fundraising training is needed now more than ever

Mark suggests that one of the charity sector’s greatest issues is the lack of ‘permission’ to invest in increasing fundraisers' impact. Mark believes that training allows us to perform better and that investing in improved processes and up-skilling is vital in times of change. Due to the current circumstances caused by the pandemic, charities and fundraisers need to evolve quickly however this is something that should also be adopted post-pandemic. Businesses invest time and money in adapting to societal change. Mark suggests that the non-profit sector should similarly invest resources to respond proactively rather than reactively to civil society.

Mark added that charity services can only be as good as the people delivering them. Talented staff can better support beneficiaries and donor’s philanthropic intent. Mark has observed that organisations are continuing to invest in training despite challenges presented by the pandemic.

Long-term, Mark would love for the sector to have the tools and capacity needed to plan ahead for future events and societal change. Mark believes that this is the best way to support processes within the organisations and have the best impact on society in the long run. Although fundraisers are often tasked with meeting short-term wins, we should move towards a longer-term strategy which is an evidence based approach to fundraising, engaging the organisations internally as well as donors and beneficiaries. This applies to organisations of all sizes, in fact for smaller organisations it is even more important that resources are managed effectively. Mark Carrigan references the Pareto Principle; 20% of your time should be spent planning how to best utilise your resources and the other 80% of your time will be used as effectively as possible.

Creating a clear strategy with key objectives that aligns with your organisation’s mission and purpose will allow you to decide whether day-to-day opportunities will help you to meet your objectives for that year.

3) Why it’s important for charity staff to champion training within their organisation

Mark believes that we have an obligation towards donors to invest in the organisation. Not only is training something that should be discussed internally across departments but also externally with society. As a sector we need to improve our communications on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what we do and how our decisions have a positive impact for the beneficiaries.

We should discuss “how decisions are well informed, constitute good judgement and are appropriate in pursuit of the mission of the charitable organisations” - Mark Carrigan.

Issues arise as the public does not understand how the investment ultimately impacts the cause. It can be challenging for donors to perceive the impact of their donation and there may be a disconnect between donors’ perception of the purpose of a fundraiser. Mark suggests that some donors may believe that investing in a professional fundraiser may take away their feeling of altruism. Ultimately donors do want to effect change but this misunderstanding can prevent the sector from initiating the most effective impact.

Therefore, perhaps fundraisers should be seen as custodians of donor support and as a sector we must facilitate an improved understanding of value and impact. Mark suggests that if we “get the metrics right” then we could enable civil society to better understand organisations’ true impact in society. We can achieve this by talking directly to donors and asking what’s important to them. These conversations will not only give the donors a greater sense of value, they will also be more inclined to increase their donation.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

This episode is brought to you by our platinum sponsor Charity People.

For more about the influence of public perception on charity policy, check out:

E119 - The Next Charity Commission Chair with Andrew Purkis OBE -


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