Obituary: Iain More, swimmer and fundraising pioneer

Iain More helped set up Scotland's first sports research think-tank, the Observatory for Sport in ScotlandIain More helped set up Scotland's first sports research think-tank, the Observatory for Sport in Scotland
Iain More helped set up Scotland's first sports research think-tank, the Observatory for Sport in Scotland
Iain More, GB swimmer and fundraising pioneer. Born: April 27 1941 in Glasgow. Died: November 12 2020 in Edinburgh, aged 79

Iain More was known across the UK and further afield as the man who professionalised the art of fundraising, but he lived a life rich in so many facets.

A business which began in the spare bedroom of his flat in Dundee grew into the More Partnership, now with 20 fundraising experts working across five continents. Tributes from fellow fundraisers working in education, the arts, healthcare, science and charities are a testimony to his legacy in professionalising the occupation. In addition to building a successful business, More was also a mentor to a wide group of individuals at the beginning of their fundraising careers, and this will live on with CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) recognising the outstanding achievements of an emerging development professional each year through the Iain More award.

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Iain was born in Glasgow in 1941. He spent his primary school years at Glasgow Academy before boarding at Merchiston Castle School for his secondary education.

After leaving school Iain went on to St Andrews University where he excelled on the swimming team. It was the beginning of what was to become an international career, swimming for both Scotland and Great Britain. His love for swimming and sport in general led him to change his academic direction, leaving St Andrews without a degree but subsequently gaining one from Loughborough University in Physical Education and History.

Oregon, on the west coast of the United States was to be home for the next 11 years of Iain’s life. It was here that he developed a keen interest in politics and also where his instinct for raising funds emerged. While earning a Master’s degree in Physical Education from the University of Oregon, he entered student politics being duly elected student body president. Upon leaving the University he became the Oregon youth organiser for the 1972 Presidential Campaign of George McGovern, developing a successful mail-drop fundraising base for the Democrats. In a subsequent political job as Director of the Oregon Legislative Research Office he attracted a Ford Foundation grant to investigate educational inequalities in the state.

It was at this time that Iain met Pam, whom he subsequently married in Scotland in 1980. They remained happily married for 40 years.

There was another venture, however, which was also to make Iain very proud prior to returning to his native Scotland. With great enthusiasm he and a university friend renovated the historic Oregon State Treasury building, turning it into a popular tavern and jazz venue, underlining further Iain’s entrepreneurial skills.

Upon returning to Scotland Iain found work in a variety of areas. He first took an administrative job at Edinburgh College of Art. While this led to a lifelong interest in the visual arts, his interest in politics was reignited and he took up posts first as research officer and then as headquarters director of the Scottish National Party. It was in fundraising however that he was to make his greatest professional contribution.

It all began when he was hired by the University of Edinburgh in 1982 to take charge of the University’s 400thAnniversary appeal. He was very much a pioneer and amongst the first fundraisers in higher education in the UK. At the time he had to overcome the view within some sectors of the higher education community that fundraising was rather undignified. However with the support of like-minded individuals at the University, he succeeded in introducing philanthropic concepts already tried and tested in the US. Telephone fundraising for example, was then a novelty in Europe, but has since become common practice.

Iain expanded his fundraising expertise in positions at INSEAD based in Fontainebleau and Imperial College London. However, when Pam took an academic post in Dundee, he decided to become an independent fundraising consultant and went on to become one of Europe’s firsts. In his long and rewarding career Iain worked with a wide range of educational institutions, charities and other non-profit organisations to which he provided advice on all aspects of development work. His clients in the UK ranged from Kings College London to the Theatre Royal Plymouth but also included institutions in Poland, Italy and the US.

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With a burgeoning business Iain realised that he needed to recruit high quality consultants and support staff. In 1989 he formed Iain More Consultants (now More Partnership) bringing in individuals who had worked for former clients and who are still part of the present-day team.

Iain was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2008, just as he was planning retirement. While the disease imposed its limitations, Iain was able to enjoy a high quality of life for over 12 years. In fact retirement brought a flurry of voluntary activity. Due to his fundraising background he was happy to contribute his time and expertise to a variety of organisations including the Observatory for Sport in Scotland – Scotland’s first sport think-tank he helped friend Charlie Raeburn to launch in 2016 - George Watson’s College and his Alma Mater the University of Oregon.

Fittingly, in the last stage of his life he became involved with and committed to the Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group. In all, he was an incredible enthusiastic provider of support, guidance, expertise and inspiration, and all who worked with Iain will miss him hugely. Iain is survived by his wife, Pam.