Friday, 28 December 2012

New year, new resolutions

For a gift, I was recently given this book. It was a fascinating read because to be honest when I think of Mother Teresa the word CEO is not the first thing that comes to mind. In truth she was a great business woman and in terms of what she achieved - taking a world-wide organisation through every phase of growth over 40 odd years, her accomplishment was quite something. 

Mother Teresa lived and led by several principles and because it will soon be the time of reflection and resolutions - these principles are definitely worth sharing.

1. Dream it simple, Say it strong - create a simple vision, communicate it clearly in words and actions. This could apply to a fundraising proposition or equally apply to how you choose to approach any objective.  More generally it could be your chosen modus operandi - but the idea of living your values is very inspiring.

2. To get to the angels, deal with the devil - this is about being clear on how you make decisions and how you evaluate them them against your own values.  We all have to compromise some times or make difficult decision, so it's about having a framework to deal with those decisions.

3. Choose your moment - I love this one, as it isn't about caution it is just about being ready and prepared, so get all your ducks in a row as the saying goes before you start.

4. Embrace the power of doubt - Again this is actually very positive. A need to apply some rigour in what you do and just constantly question what you are doing and ask if it can be done better.  Undoubtedly it can.

5. Discover the joy of discipline - take your work seriously but never yourself.

6. Communicate in a language people understand - this one really doesn't really need any explanation and applies equally to fundraising messaging as it does to how you interact with people day-to-day.  After all if people don't understand what you want or what you are asking for then how will you ever get it.

7. Pay attention to the janitor  - Obviously an American book by the term janitor but I think this is a really important point and one people can be very blinkered about.  Inspiration and insight can come from anywhere or anyone  and everyone has value so open your mind to it.

8. Use the power of silence - listen!  In a world of a lot of noise and in and industry of opinion and a lot of it, some times it is just wise to watch and listen and take away from all the noise what is useful to you.

I have of course paraphrased these principles and the book - but I found them refreshing and a nice check list going into the new year.  What you take from them is entirely up to you as with all things it is very much about interpretation.  But I hope you have found them interesting at the very least.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanks as ever for stopping by.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Need? Shall I just do it myself?

Recently, I attended the IOFs Fundraising session on unpopular causes and though I think 'unpopular' is possibly the wrong word, there were certainly some causes represented that you could fairly call 'niche'.

For me the session provided some interesting reminders and although directed at the 'unpopular' many were pertinent on a wider level - including the idea of 'keeping it simple'.

This refers to the message and the proposition of your organisation; you can't tell the whole story all at once and neither should you try.  Obvious stuff, as these things usually are, but it is amazing how often we can forget.

 A great example for me of an organisation that is really clear on what it is focusing on: the focus is prevention, the audience is Generation Y who are sick of family and friends dying from what is often a preventable disease and it has the fantastically unconventional if not direct name of Fu@K Cancer.  

Digging a bit more into how Fu@k Cancer came to be, here is this TEDx talk from the charity's inspirational founder, Yael Cohen.

The insight into her as someone affected by cancer and as a member of Generation Y was really fascinating (and warrants another post in its own right) - but what else was really interesting to me is what Yael's motivations to establish the organisation in the first place possibly suggests about how other such causes are relating to and empowering people to support them. 

Why do people feel the need to establish an organisation themselves rather than rely on already established charities to do their job? Are charities failing to show people that they are having an impact in what they were set up to do? Does it all feel too slow? Is this just applicable to Generation Y? Is there a real gap in the market?

This may be a little contentious and moving at a bit of a tangent but as I see more and more organisations set-up to do something that many others say they are already doing ......I can't help but wonder. 

What does this mean for how organisations are motivating the public? Okay so not everyone is like Yael and will establish a charity. But for those people who are affected by an issue your organisation is working on or who is a potential supporter - are we sending the message that we are doing a good job? Are we explicit about what we do and vitally what we are achieving? Are we showing our point of difference? Are we showing any need?

Or has the organisation become so concerned about being PC about their work, the beneficiaries and how they are viewed that the passion as to why the organisation was established in the first place is lost and thus has made them (appear) less effective?
Stephen pigeon recently highlighted some of the impact of this here. 

There is not a jot of science behind this but I asked a few people their views on the matter. One, a generous charitably minded person with a kind heart and a huge social conscience said of charities: 

"Many charities do not differentiate themselves well enough to encourage my specific support. It is oh that's just the same again. And then you have to ask what all of these charities have achieved on the issue.  You don't hear of many causes that have closed their doors because they have done what they have set out to do." - Janine Cusack, great human being.

Then I asked the founder of Awamu why she set-up a charitable enterprise: 

"There was a need which I couldn't afford to help myself. Because I wanted others to see how fantastic the people were, because I wanted to engage my friends in a way that would interest them and because I wanted to do something, more quickly than the slowness of a big organisation." - Emma Scullion, Inspirational founder of Awamu

At the end of the day it all comes down to need.  To see a need  and to feel able to do something about it, a need to know that you are helping that need to be met.  A need to know you are making a difference.  Some of us can act upon that by setting up an organisation - but for most of us we need to know we are making a difference and thus that the organisation is actually achieving its mission - no matter how slow the progress.  And we certainly need to work harder in making sure that message comes across.

Charity sees the need and not the cause - German proverb.

Thanks as ever for stopping by and Merry Christmas :O)

Monday, 24 September 2012

What do you care..?

At the recent Institute of Fundraising Digital Conference 2012, I was struck by what was a totally media neutral thought 'Why should I care?'

What sparked this was an interesting story from Clive Sandle from a small Leeds based charity called Simon on the Streets   who is working hard to help the homeless people of Yorkshire.  They have executed some really interesting and impressive campaigns to raise awareness so do take the time to take a look at their story here.

Clive explained a conversation with a potential donor who asked him to 'tell me why I care' - the inference was of course that the person didn't care or understand why he should - but he was willing to be convinced.  And he was.

Why I liked it, is that it takes the concept of the elevator pitch to a different level. This was about another person asking not what your charity does - but why should they care about what it does and who it helps.  The answer to which relies on:
  • Understanding who is asking - your audience
  • Understanding their motivations for asking and also giving
  • Understanding their value systems - they could have a predetermined view of the cause which in itself could be a barrier that needs to be overcome.
And requires from the charity an authentic, tailored, jargon free response.

So the next time someone asks you what x, y, or z does, instead of launching into your elevator pitch - look at them as an individual and ask yourself 'why should they care?'  And tell them.  I think looking at it in those terms could make what you say even more powerful. 

It could also be a useful point to consider in your creative briefs so as well as 'barriers to giving' maybe include 'why should they care?' as a heading - if it does nothing else, it will definitely focus the mind.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Monday, 27 August 2012

When personalisation is anything but...personal

Last week, I came home to a hand-written card in beautiful bonded paper and hand stamped.  It looked like a wedding invitation.  I was very excited.  When I turned it over though it was branded Jo Malone. Okay, I thought - why is Jo Malone writing to me? I was intrigued....

Now I was going to scan the actual card in here - but as someone wrote the card and personally signed it - I feel it would be unfair to put that much scrutiny in their direction. However, this is what the card read:

Dear Ms A Santer

Thank you for visiting Jo Malone London.
I do hope you enjoyed your recent visit to our Jo Malone boutique.

I look forward to welcoming you back to discover the world of Jo Malone(TM)

Kind regards

Named person

My immediate reaction was 'Why?'  I say that as for me, despite the apparently personal nature of the letter, it actually felt anything but personal in the end.
  1. Though the card consisted of just 7 lines of writing - Jo Malone featured in 3 of them.  On top of having the branded paper as well, it felt like a sales pitch and almost a minor brain washing exercise. 
  2. There was no real reason for the communication.  Don't get me wrong - there was a thank you at the top - but it felt secondary to brand promotion. For me, personalisation would have been better utilised had it asked me whether I was enjoying the cologne that I had recently purchased or had referred to an event or something coming up that may have been of interest.  It seemed pointless and thus not genuine.

Now, as fundraisers, it is vital that we find that personal touch when it comes to communicating to our supporters.  The little nuances that let people who support our cause know that they are valued. That they are more than a unique reference number, that let them know that we know something about them and that we care and value their commitment to us.

As such personalisation is nothing new and is increasingly part of communications plans and creative approaches.  However, a cautionary point. There are times when that personal touch can feel any thing but - and it is wise to remember that the next time you are paying for hand writing or hand stamping because what you are saying and why you are saying it, is still more important than the mode of delivery. So don't do it for the sake of it and don't fake it either.

To me, the best communications deliver ROI - that is Relevance, Originality and Impact. Relevant to the person they are meant for, Original in that they tell the supporter something new, or indeed how they are making a difference and Impact, because if the other two are right then the communication will have stood out amongst some of the more generic, less well thought out pieces they will probably have received that day or week.

I know this may sound harsh.  But in this case, my disappointment is greater because I actually like Jo Malone products.  I often buy their products as gifts and for me personally and as a result I have an impression of them.  This approach goes against this.  To me, they are more than just lovely packaging.  But on this occasion, that was not the case. So beware.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Friday, 10 August 2012

It's not about the difficulty it's about the execution at the end of the day.

The Olympics have been wonderful.  And I am not sure where I will gain my daily 'hit' of euphoria once the Olympics and the Paralympics leave our shores for good. It has truly been a time of memorable moments, outstanding performances and history being made daily.  With that has come many tears and blubbage (even had its own #) if the twitterverse is anything to go by. Oh if we could bottle that!

But to me one of the most memorable moments, for a number of reasons was this. Heartbreaking due to the injustice almost of the decision and inspiring due to the absolute professionalism and true gentleman like behaviour of Louis Smith in the face of such a cruel application of the rule book.

But the reason why it was memorable was how the 'winner' was decided - the decision came down to the marks on execution.  The difficulty rating of Smith's spectacular pommel routine was higher - and the overall score was equal with Krisztian Berki's but he executed his routine better according to the judges and the gold medal was lost in that moment.

Is it fair? Who can say. But despite my odd soggy eye in response to the amazing Olympic achievements of TeamGB, up to that point I had not really shed tears - for Louis Smith I did - it was a cruel way to lose a gold medal and I was gutted for him.

My reason for raising it here is as a simple reminder.  That though there is much debate over who invented or first used what fundraising technique in the sector (though I appreciate for the people who know they did - this isn't a debate), or who even 'copied' an idea - the fact is that those that executed the techniques and ideas the best and continue to, are the ones remembered or associated with them the most positively - not those that necessarily faced the difficulty of trying something new and different but who may have let themselves down on the final delivery.

And though it is hopefully stating the bleeding obvious, when it comes to your next fundraising project or idea - just bear this in mind. Allow ample time to implement and execute it properly and ensure that the materials, systems and processes required to support it internally and externally are there.  If you don't have to compromise the quality to achieve the deadline - then you are half way there. If you don't, someone could swoop in, take your idea and then do the whole thing better than you.

After all often it will be your supporters or potential supporters that will be judging what you do - and they could well be your harshest critics.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Are you investing in emotional engagement?

I read last week in one of those in flight magazines that the longer you have been in a relationship with someone the less time you are likely to invest in giving a massage. Essentially effort and time put in diminishes. 

Okay, so I appreciate that this is a little bit of an odd introduction but it made me think as fundraisers  how much thought and effort we put into looking after our longer-term supporters compared to the newly recruited, possibly fragile and attrition prone new ones?  

A couple of things though:  I am not saying that the focus on new recruits is not required - it is. And depending on the mix of channels, the retention strategy at point of recruitment is critical.  Also, regards the longer-term supporter.  It could be inferred that as they are still with you after 5, 10, 15 years - that you aren't doing too badly.

However, my point really is about keeping your eye on the overall. The longer-term supporters may be doing OK thank you very much - but could you be doing more to build a greater, more meaningful relationship with them?  And likewise do you understand what is actually being lost when a longer-term supporter decides to leave you?  That's why I am a big advocate of looking at attrition in actual numbers of donors leaving not just the percentage.

From experience, I know that though a retention rate amongst a group of supporters may be solid and strong and they may well keep giving month on month when it comes to recommending the cause to others or doing more they are less likely to and possibly as easily will be able to find a reason to stop supporting you.

You could ask that with a solid and seemingly solid base of income - do we need to worry.  I would say, potentially yes.  If the answer to the question 'Are you investing in building emotional loyalty?' is NO.

Other than reviewing people's immediate response to our communications - and I am sure many a (rash?) culling of house files have taken place because of it - we have little way of determining what supporters think unless we ask them.  Engage with them. Connect with them and that requires time and effort and a focus in your communications and on-going narrative.

There is a lovely piece on fundraising advice from Snoopy - and a lovely point about an appeal being "nothing but a love letter to the prospect". But the challenge is that a love letter is only effective if the recipient can be bothered to read it or wants to, or has a spark of interest in starting or continuing a relationship with you.  
Someone asking you out who you don't fancy in return is actually quite a turn-off.  Or someone being impertinent  enough to assume you want the sonnets of Shakespeare quoted to you when you would rather be watching the Olympics again will not necessarily help the cause.  The work must go into ensuring that those supporter relationships don't get to that point where the romance has gone.

In short - we can't take our long standing supporters for granted. They may require little 'massaging' or may not want it at all - but ask them, speak to them along the way, acknowledge their support and make sure you put in the effort that they deserve and want.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Nice organisation shame about the personality

After the highs and lows of Wimbledon my take away, other than that Andy Murray is a great player and will one day win a Grand Slam final - is the value and importance of revealing your personality, revealing a little more of yourself.  It certainly did Andy Murray no harm and I think as a consequence he will go on to attract a legion of fans that he might not have had. And I think personally, maybe showing a bit more personality could be just as useful for an organisation.   

Some of you may say that I am talking about brand.  And I'd say no, that is not what I am talking about.  No number of descriptors or secondary fonts and colours can replicate what I am talking about and that is the human side of what you do and the why you do it. 

The reason why I say this, is that before Andy Murray's emotional speech on Sunday - he was merely a British sportsman who the nation had pinned their hopes on yet again, to do something that no other British sports man had done in so many years.  I am not sure he was loved as a personality, or even liked.  He was perceived as a little surly and a little distant.  His speech changed that and it made people see Andy Murray in a different light. 

So for a charity what does that mean? Well two of the charities I can think off that are often referenced for their great communications are charity: water and Childs i Foundation however, as well as the great cause and the great work being undertaken the organisational personality is very visible or rather the personality of the founders are out there for all to admire.

Most of us know the story behind the two charities.  Many of us have been on that journey from the beginning and that is a crucial thing. We have been able to be  on that journey - because we have been there from the beginning. Because  the passion and perseverance of Lucy Buck and Scott Harrison has in some way been as important as whether the supporter journey is right or whether there is a retention strategy in place.

Both of them feature on their websites and indeed on Charity Water there is a section on the founder and a lovely, heartfelt summary of what lead Scott Harrison to where he is now.  Interestingly, in many other charity websites I found the passion and raison d'etre of the organisation consigned to history - quite literally.  Interesting stuff sure thing, but in no way is it presented in a way that is something to latch on to or be propelled along by.

To many members of the public, charitable organisations are blurring into one, it is the provenance of your cause that could help make that distinction - so tell your story as if it is a continuing fight - things may have changed in how you work and the founders may have long gone - but it is about imparting that passion and single mindedness, the personality in a way that grabs people today and to them feels as though they have just joined something exciting, relevant and that will change the world.

Thanks as ever for dropping by.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Honesty is the best policy

The other day I texted £3 in response to an SMS ad for an animal welfare charity that I know relatively little about but a cause very close to my heart. It was easy, straight forward and I knew I would get called within a matter of days if not hours. And I did.

It was a perfectly fine call - a little obviously scripted for my liking - but then I asked a question about the charity that stumped the telephone fundraiser - and I found that interesting.

I have to caveat this by saying that It wasn't intentional - but when I texted in response to the ad I did so as someone who genuinely could be in the market to support them, therefore, the answer to my question was a 'deal breaker' as far as whether I would become a regular giver or not.   Not to mention that I have briefed and listened to tens if not hundreds of telemarketing campaigns in my career and I have rarely heard a caller slightly lost for a thread.  

In all fairness to Mathew (as I will refer to him here) - he did a good job. His response was honest - he said that he recalled something on this issue in his training and that he put me on hold to get some more information.  His supervisor was searching on the website as I waited.  Eventually he came back with a response - which for me raised even more questions.

At that point, I thought Mathew would close the call and cut his losses (in a nice way of course), but rather impressively he said that he was going to go away and find out even more about it and call me back... and you know what he did!  Yep - the following morning I received a call and though the news wasn't good from my perspective or his - he wanted to be honest and share the reality with me.

As I said upfront the response to the question was a deal breaker for me - and he knew that.  But he still took the time to call back to tell me the 'truth'.  So though he knew that the organisation was not going to get my £10 a month that day - I have to say both Mathew and the organisation definitely earned my respect.

And the lessons are:  1. Relationships are about going above and beyond the standard even when you know the result won't go your way. 2. Always prepare for the unexpected particularly in pre-empting what supporters and potential supporters may ask questions about.  Your Supporter care team is crucial to this as are your agencies as they are an extension of your organisation. How they behave and respond reflects on you. 3. Be honest with the response.  All information can be dressed up to look a certain way or to look better - but if you have a strong rationale for doing something then the honest facts can well be enough. Even if the answer doesn't please everyone. 4. Well done to all the Mathew's out there - you are a credit to your profession.

Thanks as ever for stopping by

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Yes, but...No, but

I made an observation the other day (based on my own behaviour), that most people prefer saying 'yes' to something over 'no'. Placing this within the fundraising context, it means that probably a little more work should be put in to finding out why people would say no to us in the first place. 

So as well as giving people what they want and rightfully addressing and meeting their supporter needs. Would it hurt to ensure that at the same time we look at it from the other perspective, and actively think about and thus address the barriers to giving. Such as:
  • It will cost too much money 
  • It's too complicated 
  • It will take too much time 
  • I support other charities 
  • I don't know your organisation 
  • You've asked me too many times  (this is not an exhaustive list, it will also vary, and you'll know your supporters or potential supporters better than me, but you get my point)
Now, I know that in theory if we work on why people would say yes, i.e. by meeting supporter needs then why would we need to actively look at it from the other perspective? The short answer is because it can't hurt surely?

Covering off both sides of the coin and adding an extra section to your creative brief and just giving some extra thought to why they could say no to what you are asking them to do, will just go further in ensuring that people say yes to what you are asking.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The red paper clip and supporter development

I stumbled across this the other day and it was a great reminder that certain ambitions and aspirations cannot be achieved over night.
In this case the guy took one step at a time to achieve his objective - 14 in fact to trade-up from a paperclip to a house! And I think that is a useful realisation when it comes to fundraising and developing supporter relationships.  In fact it is probably helpful logic to apply to most ambitions.  
Obviously, as a fundraiser the aim is to build supporter engagement and where possible to move supporters up the giving pyramid.  I think it is also fair to say that this pyramid and the stages will vary depending on a number of factors: recruitment method, the profile of the supporter, their reasons for supporting in the first place and so on.  For some it could take two stages for others 14 and I think it is useful to remember that when assessing your fundraising programmes or when implementing new strategies.  So some things to think about before you commence your journey... 
  • Where are your supporters now? 
  • What activities are driving growth in your programme?
  • What are the gaps in the programme and what are the priorities to fill? Is it Middle Value or Legacy for example?
It's important to know where you are starting from to then decide where you are going to.
  • What are the steps or new elements that will try to fill these gaps? 
  • Will they make sense to the donor? i.e. if the next ask is a middle donor one?
  • Is it worth the investment from your perspective (at this particular time)?
  • How are you going to measure the success or impact of the new strategy, programme or approach? What are you going to put in place to determine whether taking approach A - would have been better than continuing with B?
  • What are you going to do differently if these approaches don't work?
All rather obvious stuff - but some times in the heat of communications plans we are probably not as critical as we could be.

Just as importantly though - we need to ensure that we take time to celebrate success - no matter how small - and if you are measuring that against your overall aim then you'll know you are on the right track - and you are taking the logical next step.  Here's to the successes.  I hope there will be many!

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Friday, 13 April 2012

No apology necessary..really.

To some extent I may be a little old fashioned - but I believe a thank you like an apology should never be caveatted with but....and should also be genuine.

Now it is sometimes difficult to say whether an apology is genuine but then you have to look at what the apology is for. However, as a fundraiser I don't personally think you should ever apologise for asking for money. Mainly because, the need for the support should be genuine, and in most cases is constant. That is why I was intrigued to see this land on my door mat.

Now when I first saw it, I must confess I thought it was an apology for some banking or admin error so I opened the envelope. However, it was essentially an ask for me to upgrade my support or rather a letter apologising for asking me to upgrade.

Please don't get me wrong, This is not a criticism of the teaser outer that actually got me to open the letter, neither is it a criticism for asking me to increase my support. My discomfort is actually with the tone of the letter itself because it was so apologetic that it detracted from the reason for asking for an increase and thus the letter was not more effective for it. In fact probably the opposite.

It was a very nice letter. It was warm, said thank you several times for my support and seemed to be genuinely appreciative of what I already do. But I am struggling to get over the apologising because I can't actually recall why they wanted more funding.

I have not ruled out increasing my support because I like Sightsavers and their work, but in my opinion there is a balance between acknowledging the current climate and its potential impact on your supporters i.e. 'I know these are difficult times and you are already doing so much, so thank you' versus a rather explicit apology for 1. possibly causing offence (should I be offended?) and 2. for asking for more to do more.

I appreciate this is a personal view point and would be interested in what you think. I also appreciate that I may not be their key audience and you can't please or appeal to everyone. But coming back to me with my fundraising hat on I just don't think there is any room for a sorry in an ask for support or even an additional ask for support.

If the case for support and/or the imperative to support is clear, focused and relevant then it should not be necessary. After all an apology would not be a reason for me to give, it would be the the WHY and the WHAT FOR that would.

As for the letter - if they removed the lines about causing offence and the explicit I'm sorry - the letter would have been no less polite or understanding of the possible situation I may be in because of the economy or the additional asks from other causes. In fact it would have been fine - and I may have been able to recall why they needed more support. As it is, I can't. I am sorry to say.

So when thinking about copy and messaging for supporters - though it is a challenging time and good to acknowledge that fact, my recommendation would be to not go over board with the apologies and focus more on the case for support, the timing and the relevance for the people you are writing to because from my experience you could go an apology too far and it can hijack the overall message of your communication. Save the apologies for when you mess up.

Many thanks as ever for stopping by.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

When fundraising is child's play

Since giving birth to my son, children's media is a whole new world. A world of odd characters, gentle moralising, Yogo and Mr Tumble! Oh and Charlie and Lola of course.

Recently I was given a book for Noah - a lovely introduction to animal protection and sponsorship fundraising (yep, I am starting him young) and as I read through it I thought there is some useful reminders for fundraisers here.

1. We need to be clear on our message. Charlie (Lola's saintly older brother), does a fantastic job in explaining what extinct means - when Lola asks 'What's a stinkt?' Charlie replies 'It means no more of that animal in the entire world.' A very straight forward definition but one that has a sense of emotion. That is in contrast to the dictionary definition 'of a species, family or large group having no living member.' Or this . So, it may be worth asking yourself whether you could summarise your key messages or explain what you do as well as a nine year-old? Instead of looking at it as an elevator pitch may be look at it as a 'Charlie and Lola test'. Would a five year-old understand it and could a nine year-old explain it?

2. Sponsorship is a growing way to support. In the book. Charlie explains to Lola how sponsorship works. '...They'll give us money for doing difficult things like swimming five laps..' All very straight forward. But I think Sponsoring is increasingly becoming a mainstream way of supporting causes and I wouldn't be surprised if this is now almost as defining for some supporters as giving a regular gift via direct debit for example. Just to be clear, I am not talking about the people doing the run or the trek I am actually talking about the people offering their support for the person doing it.

Next time you do your supporter research it could be worth including a question on 'how have you supported charity over the last year?' Among the list there is usually via a regular gift (dd), appeals, taking part in running events etc - but it may be worth adding to the list explicitly 'Sponsoring friends and colleagues' or even celebrities.

With the increase of media, showcasing the wonderful achievements of people like David Walliams and John Bishop for Sport Relief - even the people texting their £5 could think they are doing it as sponsorship. As more people want to become part of a cause and the experiential side of fundraising - it is clear that they will be seeking more sponsors and in all likelihood will start with their family and friends first.

So your supporters and potential supporters will already be being asked for money but from people they already know. I think that is a useful piece of information and it may well go towards explaining changing trends in your responses, product take up, and also provide some useful insight in developing new ways for your supporters to support. I certainly think it is worth thinking about.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

PS. I am not sure of Charlie and Lola's actual ages - I am guessing based on extensive study of the materials available.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Just some feedback..

I received a piece of feedback recently and though it ticked a lot of boxes: apparently inside track, lovely photograph, personalised, acknowledging my role in its success - I still didn't feel inspired and I asked myself, why not?

An obvious assertion could be that I am a jaded fundraiser who has seen so many pieces of feedback that nothing could inspire me? Nope - that's not it. Quite the contrary.

Or may be it was because it was made to look 'inside track', had a lovely photograph, it was personalised - in short - it looked and felt like every other piece of feedback I have received in recent times because every one is now doing the same thing to the point where the execution has become generic rather than special. That indeed could be it.

Or It could also be that no matter how great the production values, the story, the enclosures, the photographs - if you have no real connection with the people being featured then at the end of the day it is merely a broadcast - possibly a very good broadcast - but a broadcast none-the-less and we need to get beyond broadcasting and get connecting with the people who support us.

Our on-going communications are a key to the relationships we are looking to forge - as good as your stories may be, or that internally they are seen as a shining example of your work in practice - if there is no connection established very early on - no on-going narrative then there is a good chance your feedback will not get beyond the recycling bin.

There it is, just some honest feedback.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mistakes are human and so should the response be

I had cause recently to raise a concern with a nappy recycling company that I have subscribed to since Noah was born because they had not arrived to collect the nappies. I knew what the problem was in all likelihood mainly because of technology. Some sat nav systems take you to the same address in the next village and that was the most likely reason.

I completed an on-line form and true to their word I heard back well within 48 hours - they explained that the usual driver who knew the route was off on holiday and the replacement driver was unaware of the sat nav issue. The email contained profuse apologies and reassurances that the problem would not happen again.

All fine and good - but the response also told me that the usual driver had gone to Florida - had a great time and had even been into the office on his return to share his lovely holiday experience. And it was that detail that well, actually made me smile.

Don't get me wrong - my 'complaint' was not a serious one - and I had always received good service so was not aggravated or annoyed in any way. Their basic response would have been fine - but the fact that this had been freshly drafted with probably irrelevant but interesting information and no standard paragraphs just made it feel human and real - even if it was in an email form.

So when handling complaints and queries may be it's time to think about your processes. Review your letters. How many standard paragraphs do they contain? And ask yourself do the responses to supporter queries and complaints sound as though they were written by a person for another person in response to that specific enquiry or complaint?

If not, then may be it's time to have a re-think to ensure that your supporters know there are real people on the end of the pen and paper or email and allow your character to come through. After all, as we all know people give to people so therefore it stands to reason that people respond better to people, real people whether complaining or congratulating. And don't forgot what an opportunity there is if complaints are dealt with well.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Friday, 6 January 2012

How to dish up Green Eggs and Ham

I love Dr Seuss's Green Eggs and ham and rereading it the other day made me think about (albeit simply) the job we have as fundraisers.

Like poor 'Sam the man' our challenge is to try and 'serve' up our cause and offer in a way that will get people to stop, listen and to take the desired action.

If we follow Sam's example then we should ensure we are:
  • looking at various, but appropriate and relevant channels and more importantly going to where the people are, not waiting for them to just come to us

  • using new and exciting ways to deliver our messages that will achieve cut through

  • persevering - mainly because sometimes people don't know they are in the market for something until they are in the market for something

Of course the tale ends with Sam being thanked for his attempts to get his ham and eggs eaten by the nameless character - who loved what was on offer, and of course that is what we strive for too. After all, once someone has finally experienced our organisation we want them to feel that they are so very glad they did, feel that they made the right decision in choosing to support us, and to stay with us.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.