I have loved the Vicar for as long as I can remember. When I was little my best friend and I would always rent a Vicar of Dibley video from the video shop whenever we had a sleepover. Our catchphrase was ‘Such Larks’ and I still say ‘To be perfectly frank, Frank’ even when the person I’m expressing sincerity to isn’t actually called Frank.
Last week, I was re-watching the episode where a storm smashes a tree through the Dibley church window, totally destroying it. Now, I’ve watched this episode MANY  times before, but not until this most recent time did I realise, that in her attempt to replace the window, Geraldine becomes a damn good major donor fundraiser. So here’s 6 things all fundraisers can learn from Geraldine Granger:
1. Use your networks
Geraldine realises that to replace the window, the church is going to need some serious money. But this is a village church in rural Oxfordshire and fundraising from Dibley’s people for the full cost of the window will be impossible. Instead, Geraldine uses the networks of village aristocrats David and Hugo Horton to locate potential major donors who can support a good cause. As fundraisers, our networks and introductions are going to become even more important as GDPR kicks in and cold approaches become more difficult.
2. Pick up the phone
Sure, this episode was made before it was commonplace for everyone to have a home computer and so phone was the contact medium of choice; however, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of a phone call to a potential donor. Things can often get lost in translation via email and in our increasingly faceless, digital world, something as simple as a phone call to introduce yourself and set up a meeting can make all the difference.
3. Be bold and use your charm
Geraldine gets a substantial donation from her donor in a pretty unusual way. Every time he uses bad language she charges him per word and within minutes has the £13,000 she needs for a new window. Not exactly a conventional way to encourage a donor to give, but it teaches us to be bold, creative and use our personalities to secure a donation!
4. Fundraising is a team effort
While the Vicar is off securing large funds from major donors, Hugo and Owen go around the village selling raffle tickets. While their methods are unconventional (offering the main prize as whatever the ticket buyer wants and then ripping up their ticket to ensure they don’t win) the lesson here is clear. Fundraising is a joint venture and whether you’re the guy that brings in the big bucks or the smaller gifts, everyone is important.
5. Sometimes the need changes
When the new window is unveiled instead of an elaborate stained glass as planned, they reveal a plain glass window that looks out onto the rolling hills of the Oxfordshire countryside. At this point Geraldine admits that the window cost far less than expected and the rest of the money, with the permission of the donor, was donated to an earthquake relief fund. While I’m not advocating spending your donors money on a completely different cause, it is important to consider if a donation would be better placed elsewhere or where the need is more urgent. You should always gain permission from the donor, but if you put a good case forward they are likely to agree and will appreciate your honesty.
6. Keep your donors engaged
The major donor, Daniel Frobisher, who made the new window possible is invited to the reveal of the new window and then when he uses more bad language Geraldine charges him another £1,000 and tells the gang that their trip is back on! Again, an unusual approach but the message is don’t forget to keep your donors engaged. Whether that is inviting them along to events, visiting projects they have supported or asking them for a further donation to support another area of your work.