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  • Writer's pictureAndy at Fireside Fundraising

What can fundraisers learn from The Traitors?

I don't know about you, but the last three weeks I've been obsessed with The Traitors season 2.

Season 1 was excellent, but it really feels like they've stepped up their game for season 2. When I say that I've been obsessed, I mean obsessed. I mean reading clickbait articles such as "Why Claudia Winkleman always wears fingerless gloves on The Traitors" level obsessed.

(If you're interested, it's because in her stylist's words, she "just really likes them". I read a 300-word article for that nugget so... you're welcome). 

Through conversation with our new research lead, Lucy Mitchell, I've been talking about the things fundraisers can learn from The Traitors, and I'm really excited to bring that to you now.


These lessons are based are based on the first 9 episodes of UK season 2, so if you're not yet up to date on The Traitors, look away!

Emotion often clouds judgement 

You can see in the round table how much people want to go on 'the facts' or 'the evidence', but you can also see how quickly they go on their gut feeling.

This hasn't been clearer than in the episode where Brian causes the others to doubt him. The logical thing to do would have been to stay quiet, but his emotional reaction was to burst out: 'can I ask who thinks I am or amn't a traitor?' Whilst it makes iconic TV, it's also a great example of how emotions can get the better of you.

A second example of this comes from Anthony's banishment, where you pinpoint the exact moment the room turns on him. Half way through the round table, he snaps: "are you finished?" at a fellow player. It's nothing to do with 'traitor-like behaviour', but just plain being rude. The emotional investment turns against him in that moment, and can see that even though everyone says when they go into the round table that they're going to act on evidence and logic, their emotions tell them to banish Anthony - so they do.

As fundraisers, a lot of what we're doing is trading on emotional investment - getting people to see the difference they can make, or the life they can turnaround through the decisions that they're making. So, learn from The Traitors that emotion can cloud logic, and lean into it. 

Decisions are made outside of the boardroom. 

In The Traitors, it's often said that people will make their decisions at the round table, but it's also really clear how often people are making those decisions before.

In the funeral march episode, you can actively see Paul making up his mind to go for Miles, and even planting the seeds through the conversation with Diane and Evie. Very commonly, we go into a corporate meeting or pitch with a major donor thinking they're going to make up their mind there and then. We need to bear in mind they may be entering that meeting having already decided.

As such, we need to think about the touch points between meetings: texts, emails or phone calls. These give you a chance to keep people onside so you get the yeses you need.

It's not in the bag until it's in the bag.

Often as fundraisers, you'll receive a donation pledge - and it feels like you've reached the finish-line. The plan has been agreed. But it's worth noting that a pledged donation isn't a donation until it's in the bank... and a hare brained scheme isn't genius until it's come off. 

We're waiting to see if Harry's elaborate 'shield scheme' will work this evening, and many fundraisers are waiting to see if they're pledged donations will come in. This shows us it's worth having a backup plan. It's really easy to think that something is in the bag at pledge stage. It only takes one time of getting your fingers burnt to realise it's not in the bag until it's in the bag. 

To hear about the time I got my fingers burnt, offer to buy me a pint and I'll tell you in the pub sometime. Until then, I'll be in the Scottish castle.

If, like Lucy and I, you're glued to the screen, we'd love to hear who your favourite traitor and favourite faithful is. Or if there's a lesson fundraisers can learn that we've missed, let us know.

As Claudia says... Enormous luck and see you by the Fireside!

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