Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Not Goodbye, but when will we see you again?

Having recently come back from a lovely holiday, at a lovely resort where we received a lovely welcome and recognition that we had been before what on earth could my gripe be I hear you ask?!

Well  it is essentially this.  We often put so much more thought and effort into the welcome, that we forget about the goodbye. A goodbye which if you want people coming back to use your service or in our context make a gift, run an event etc. should in fact be a continuation of that wonderful welcome. Instead it has often become transactional and administrative with little thought to when we might see them again or expressing in no uncertain terms that we'd like to.

Now in the context of fundraising and supporter engagement, is there really an end point - not really, we want to build meaningful on-going relationships with people who want to have relationships but if you look at each engagement a supporter has with you, there is frequently a process that will operationally conclude a certain stage of that engagement i.e. a thank you letter thanking someone for their gift. Is this the fundraising equivalent of checking out of a hotel and paying the bill? Where you pay for the lovely experience and hand over the credit card and receive the reams of paper, and a thank you from the reception staff... and then ....you leave. Mulling over the experience and them hoping you'll return at some point or not?

Of course, my experience isn't a terrible one  by any stretch. People were nice, appreciative, asked if we had had a lovely holiday and wished us a safe flight and all that. All fine and appreciated. But I guess my point is that I think it could be better and I think at those critical stages of engagement - whatever they might be, I think more thought is required to ensure that the supporter's experience is a positive one laying the foundations for the next step.

So, what I am suggesting is that we look at all of those points, whether it be a thank you letter or a communication to a regular giver that has stopped their gift and ensure that we aren't saying 'goodbye' or 'goodbye forever' but instead asking 'when will we see you again? or at least demonstrating at that point that we'd love to see them again soon.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.


Friday, 20 July 2018

Fundraisers - we are human after all

As I sat in the National Gallery looking at the fantastic art - impressed by the skill and trying to decide which Van Gogh I preferred, I then caught sight of a self portrait of a young artist.  He wasn't known to me (but I am in no way an art connoisseur), but as I looked at this young man who had been a pupil of a great master of the 18th century, I realised my mind was thinking about this person, their life, their motivation, how they may have felt being tutored by someone of brilliance and I realised that this was much more interesting and personal than me admiring the mere work on show.

As fundraisers, stories are our most valuable asset - we all know that. Obviously there is much more to fundraising than that but the stories we tell are what helps ensure what we do has a human face (or animal) and that in turns drives emotional connection and action.

Unfortunately, we are in a period where we are often judged on the techniques we employ to do our job - rather than the importance of what we do and the impact it makes. More so, when people have strong views on those techniques or indeed when they are wilfully misunderstood - but my point is that I think we need to tell our own stories a bit more.

There are clearly signatories on our communications and people at the heart of what we do, but the reality is we don't share our stories as fundraisers; of how we got here, why we are doing what we do, or why we are working for the charities we do. We don't necessarily put forward a human face of fundraising - that it is people ultimately working hard to build engagement with supporters and prospective supporters - not lots of machine's churning out letters.

On the odd occasion that we do, we tell those stories in the bubble of the charity world, not to our donors and supporter, the people who to my mind would benefit from knowing a bit more about the people working behind the scenes. My reason for this is because ultimately if our supporters understand why we do what we do and believe in it and see the impact of that, they may well start seeing us as people wanting to make a better world for people and animals, rather than sales people or amoral people that would do anything to get some money out of them.

So the next time you send a newsletter or letter for example, maybe test including a picture of a fundraiser involved in creating it, with a little blurb about why they do what they do, why they care.. why they are at the organisation. Allow your organisation to tell its fundraisers' stories or at least try it.

My short story ... and it doesn't have to be long

I grew up with a mum who was passionate about animal rights, and I remember the charity letters she received and the petitions she signed all through my childhood. My mum was a proud charity supporter. Later, I remember being moved to tears and anger by Ceausescu's orphans and still, to this day I can recall the horror and despair in the news footage.  Those are the things I remember most that motivated me to want to make a difference in some small way.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.