Sunday, 30 May 2010

It's what you leave behind that counts..

Now, I know the title of this post could sound a bit like a (poor) legacy campaign message - but actually it's not. It is essentially the key message of an organisation that I stumbled across this morning called stuff your rucksack. And I have to say I was really taken with it.

Basically it is a small charity offering a meaningful role for people who love to travel and who care about the countries, communities and people they meet.

As someone who works for ActionAid who often has the privilege to visit communities in the countries where we work overseas - I have frequently known that feeling of wanting to make a tangible difference there and then - and often, as the work of ActionAid demonstrates, it can be the simplest thing that can make the most difference.

What really stands out for me though is the fact that stuff your rucksack is giving people an opportunity to support projects and work as part of their own life plans, not an add-on or an interruption. It is offering something that can be integrated as part of the planning and thus someone's actual travel journey. With the benefits for everyone involved being profound and lasting far beyond the duration of the trip.

Obviously this is the raison d'etre for this organisation - but I think it is what every charity should be striving for. As the site states, 'One day I want people to say: ‘Have I got my visa? Have I got my passport? Have I checked the Stuff Your Rucksack site?'

Now, that is a supporter journey I do like the sound of.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Can I have a bath of beans with that welcome pack..?

I have recently been reading about the new breed of extreme adventurers for whom the traditional is not just too easy but apparently not exciting enough.

You just have to read about Dan Martin and his 18 month round the world triathalon plan that will see him swimming the Atlantic just as a starter. What used to be a challenge for many is now seen as old hat. An ascent of Everest or a trek to the South Pole? Nah! Been there done that or rather too many have been there and done that! And I guess the point is that we need to make fundraising more exciting and relevant too.

In Jeff Brooks - The curse of unremarkable fundraising post he quite rightly laments at the lack of imagination in some fundraising and indeed the apparent desire of many organisations to remain attached to fundraising models that in some cases aren't even yielding growth.

For me, though a great start, it isn't good enough to just give people a choice in what they support but we should also be looking at giving supporters a choice in how they choose to support that work, cause or project.

So why for example can't someone sit in a bath of beans if they want to and raise money for their monthly committed giving? I am sure if asked, many organisations would accept the income but is it actively promoted and encouraged and more importantly supported?

Now that isn't to say that our supporters aren't doing this kind of thing all the time but such fundraising is usually confined to incremental support of events that require thousands of pounds of sponsorship such as a marathon place or an overseas trek.

Now whether or not an approach like this is or isn't suitable for smaller products and offers would need to be tested - but broadening the horizon to how we enable supporters to give to your cause could and should be explored.

The benefits for example of an approach like this could include:

  • Inherent multiplier effects - friends of friends of friends all getting exposure to your cause
  • Positive ways to engage supporters in an active way
  • Different and varied ways to acknowledge what the supporter has done and to share this with other supporters (I can imagine the great content being generated)
  • To offer an opportunity to engage supporters who may feel they can't afford a regular gift the standard way - but could be inspired to be creative to fundraise in other ways and have some fun in doing so

This is just one example of what I am talking about i.e. giving people choices and support to raise and give money their way - and of course there are downsides. My point is we need to just be a little more adventurous about what we offer that will appeal to the fundraising adventurers out there - and possibly attract a new breed of supporters entirely.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

When ten minus three equals thirteen!

Just caught up on a fascinating article in the Times Eureka Supplement last week - the cultural context of maths and the different ways the world counts. Despite a sense that counting is a universally agreed method - tell that to the Suyá people of the Amazon.

If you had ten fish and gave three away - how many would you have left? Most people in the western world would say 7. To the Suyá tribesman asked that question the answer is in fact 13. To him if he gave 3 fish away to his brother, his brother would have to pay double back in return - so to him it isn`t a loss but actually a gain.

“Why is it that ‘giving’ is always seen as ‘minus’ for white people?” another Suyá asked the researcher in the article.

A good question. And In relation to charitable giving probably one of the biggest in terms of how our supporters see their support and indeed what we as fundraisers are doing day-to-day to ensure they feel they are getting more in return than they are giving.

One day it would be great to see a charitable donation actually appear as a credit on the bank statement...instigated by our own supporters perhaps? But until that point it certainly made me think that if giving was seen in the same way as the people of the Amazon saw it - even more of the world would be happy to 'give' to charity. The fact that as fundraisers we have some control of this is a very positive thought indeed.