Friday, 28 December 2012
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
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 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.
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
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)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Thanks as ever for stopping by.
Friday, 10 August 2012
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
- 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)
Thanks as ever for stopping by.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
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?
- 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?
Friday, 13 April 2012
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
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.
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Friday, 6 January 2012
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.