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.

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