Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How (not) to make a donor feel super special

I saw a tweet this morning from Simon Scriver, who's head of fundraising at One in Four. I felt compelled to share it with you all on here.

It will make most fundraisers out there recoil in horror. Brace yourselves.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Donate now: Telling stories with donation boxes

I was recently visiting the St Ives School of Painting and spotted their unusual donation box. The school of painting is a beautiful art school with an inspiring history rooted in St Ives.

The donation box caught my eye. I liked the way its materials were rooted in the cause. You can’t tell terribly well from the photo, but the box itself is an old drawing case, and it’s filled with art paraphernalia. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Great timing: How to improve your charity comms

I think Kids Co are a super charity doing important and inspiring work. You may remember they sent me an  impressive thank you letter a couple of years ago.

Well, since then I've received email communications from them, and one recent email was particularly powerful and timely.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Witch pricking: a salutory lesson for fundraising directors

It's August and in Edinburgh that means Fringe time. The Royal Mile is one seething mass of leafleters, dexterously flicking through reviews on their smart phone whilst juggling, playing the bagpipes and standing on their heads. Or something like that. It's busy, anyway. So the better thing to do is escape the streets. Better still, go under them.

Also, it was raining.

So we went underground. To Edinburgh's vaults to be precise, damp, dark and full of pagan temples and torture devices and that's where I learned about witch pricking.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Fundraisers in action

Today I walked past a fundraiser in action. A crowd of people were watching her and queuing up to donate. I wondered what we, as professional fundraisers, could learn from her.

Inspiring the people of St Ives

Go to where the people are

This fundraiser is smart. She has picked a sunny day in the summer holidays on a very busy street in a seaside town. The footfall is high and she knows she'll have an audience.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

What can Jack Bauer teach us about leadership?

I’ve recently had a bit of an obsession with the series ‘24’. As I pound through the pounds on the cross trainer (yeah, right), I've found the excitement has kept me going. That, and the fact that there are A LOT of episodes. With 25 minutes left to watch of the final episode of season 8, I have realised that Jack Bauer, the lead character, shows some great leadership qualities.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Show and tell: How to improve your charity communications in one step

You may remember I’d been off at CASE enjoying a seminar on Trusts and Foundations Funding. I’d presented a short session on writing applications, and one of  things we talked about was Showing Not Telling.

Why show, not tell?

'Showing not telling' is so important in fundraising. It is easy to tell – it’s our default setting really – and we do it in proposals, in meetings and in donor reports. But showing is much more powerful, compelling and authentic.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Making The Ask: unlock your prospects

I may have mentioned previously that my own personal motto is 'You don't ask you don’t get'. As a result, I ask for gifts regularly (and successfully) and am often questioned by my peers about the best way in which to go about this crucial area of fundraising.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Capital Campaigns - the final frontier

Getting into campaign planning?

I recently read (in a definition of "campaign planning" by Joanne Fritz): "Capital campaigns require extraordinary preparation and skillful execution." As my husband would say: nae half.

I've worked on a capital campaign or two in my time, and I've watched and learned from a lot more. Like superheroes, capital campaigns have their own origin story and they go a little bit like this...

1. The Super Aspirational Big Vision Campaign 
(but shhhh don't let's look too hard at the data) 

"Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on" - James T. Kirk

The Super Aspirational Big Vision campaign is born of VISION. It's about your organisation stretching out and reaching for the stars. It's splashy. It's bold. It makes strong statements like "Build it and they will come" and "Where there's a will there's a way." It's about challenging your organisation to make a leap forward in seven league boots. It's about belief and confidence. It believes fundraising is an art, not a science. And it often doesn't take into account the mundanities of life like, you know, data. And resources. This capital campaign asks "What could we be?" but not "Where are we coming from?" 

Strengths: it's quick to act and comfortable with risk. It takes advantage of opportunities - and it's super inspiring. This is a campaign built on windfalls and taking chances. It can flex with the wind.
Weaknesses: it's super-stressful. It reels from opportunity to opportunity instead of trudging steadily forward. It's reliant on big gifts but its infrastructure and planning is weak. Income is unpredictable.

2. The Data Crunching Planned Campaign 

The Data Crunching Planned Campaign is born of well... DATA. It's about your organisation working out what it has and where it might be able to get to. It's planned. It's thorough. It's about incremental growth over a specific period. It's about working out the resources needed to achieve that growth. It's about careful monitoring and evidence-based decision making.  It makes statements like: "The analysis shows that..." and "Based on existing trends..." It asks "Where are we now?"  and "What is the next step?" 

Strengths: it's relatively safe and its targets are based on solid evidence. Well resourced, it's highly likely to achieve its goals, to consolidate and to grow. 
Weaknesses: this campaign won't work miracles. There are no magic beans that will jump up to the land of the giants. That will make for a strong programme, but it can also make for an inflexible one: will you notice opportunity when it rears its head? Will you dare to take a risk? 

So if YOU'RE a university (or a school, or a voluntary sector organisation) which type of Capital Campaign do you want at your back? 

The answer is - BOTH of course. Really great capital campaigns incorporate aspiration and vision - and solid planning. 

They are transformational. They scan the horizons and consider where you could be. They raise the sights of your organisation and push you on to see and realise outstanding opportunities. They set stretch targets and ambitious timeframes - the parameters you need to galvanise your organisation to action. 

But they do it based on sound evidence

That means knowing where your pipeline of prospects will come from. It means putting together an integreated fundraising operation that has all its component parts pulling in the same direction. It means constantly monitoring progress, testing and trialling, and learning from the results. It means proper resourcing, based on real numbers. That means enough operational staff, as well as fundraisers. It means sound data, and the systems to manage it. 

As Confucius said: "Show me a bad prospect management system, and I will see a bad fundraising campaign."  Okay, so he didn't say that, but it's a sound principle none the less. 

So over the next few months we're going to be doing some thinking about campaign planning and how to blend art with science to achieve success. And if you're ever in doubt, look no further than... 

Spock: Jim... the statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than 4.3%
Kirk: It'll work.
Spock: In the event that I do not return, please tell Lietuenant Uhura...
Kirk: Spock. IT'LL WORK. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Trusts and Foundations have feelings too: Lessons from Case

This week I had the chance to attend a Case Europe session on Trusts and Foundation fundraising.  I was running a short session on writing applications so will be penning a couple of follow up posts about my session in the coming weeks.

But for now I thought I'd share some of the key messages that I brought back to the office from my fellow speakers, which I'm going to put to use right away.

Trusts have feelings too

Thursday, 5 June 2014

How NOT to plan a fundraising campaign (keeping up with the Jones)

Today saw me playing host at Gordon White's fantastic Institute of Fundraising training day on Social Media for Fundraisers. Prepare for the understatement of the year:

Mummy! I want a campaign like Jenny Jones' campaign! 
I learned a lot.

19 pages of notes a lot. I think that - in many years of secondary education, higher education, further education and continuing professional development - that may be an all time record. The man behind FatBuzz sure knows his oats. I could probably write six dozen fundraising blog posts on each one of his points, but I'll leave that for another day. 

Today it's all about how not to plan a fundraising campaign.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Common characteristics of a fantastic face to face fundraiser

I was recently asked to sit on an interview panel as an external representative.  The distance I had from the appointment afforded me the opportunity to consider what attributes make a great fundraiser.

Top of the list: TENACITY. It takes a lot of time and effort to get that meeting. Prospects and leads can be elusive but if a fundraiser keeps trying, there is every chance they will get there eventually. I’ve lost count of the number of first, or discovery, meetings that I have finally managed to secure 5 or more years after my original contact by repeatedly contacting said individual. Have they just suddenly found the time, or have they just been worn down by my perseverance? You’d have to ask them.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Making the Most of Corporate Support

There’s been a lot of talk on this blog about working with corporates lately, and you may remember back when I started life as a one-(wo)man shop, I was finding my way with this area of fundraising.

But what do you do when you finally land that allusive corporate partnership, especially when you’re a small team with limited resource.

Here’s my three step guide to making the most of a corporate deal.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Corporate Fundraising on a Shoestring

For the next in our Fundraising on a Shoestring series, I'm taking a look at the world of business. 

For those working in a small office and with a skeleton staff, corporate fundraising can seem like a glamorous red herring.

Building relationships with companies is a time consuming business. It doesn't necessarily cost the earth. However, without dedicated staff time, you'll need think strategically about what is the best use of your time and effort, so let’s go back to basics.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Major Gifts on a Shoestring

It's budget week this week. With George Osborne waving the red briefcase and talking about austerity, beer and bingo, it seems like a good time to focus on our very own Collectivist Austerity Measures.

Welcome to the Fundraising on a Shoe String series. 

First up, Major Gifts. The fancy pants glitzy posh cousin of the fundraising world. 

Can Major Gifts really ever be a budget exercise?  

Friday, 7 March 2014

March Digital Campaign of the Month

This week, Collectivist Marg has once again been pondering the wild and wonderful world of digital. Last time I blogged about this, I asked if you were ready. Because digital, my friend, is here. 

I'm seeing digital as a game changer. Not an income generator in its own right, but the piece of the jigsaw which will help our community fundraising take a stratospheric leap forward. That will help us to be super smart in developing corporate partnerships. That will give us donor insight beyond our wildest dreams. Oh, and let's not forget personalisation. Digital will help us to reach out to our donors with highly personalised, highly targeted engagement. 

Is digital a silver bullet?
Alright, it's not a silver bullet, but it can let you do some pretty cool stuff.  Let's take Thunderclap for example. Thunderclap is a campaigning platform. The premise is simple, but effective. Get a minimum of 100 sign ups from willing participants, and Thunderclap will fire out a thunderclap e.g. a timed tweet / facebook status update / tumblr blog across your participants social media platforms simultaneously, creating a great disruption in the force stir on t'interweb. That's a Thunderclap.

So how does that work for fundraising? 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Knowledgeable networking: 10 top tips for creating connections

Love it or loathe it, networking is an essential part of face to face work across all sectors. Making contacts will open doors and create opportunities. Despite its importance, networking is not rocket science. Having said that, there are a few pointers that can help you on your way to becoming the king, or queen, of successful schmoozing.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

What can we learn from the Brit Awards?

Watching the Brits, it's impossible to miss the in your face MasterCard/Brits partnership. It brings together my two loves - not Bruno Mars and debt, but music and relationship building. This high profile relationship has however come under unwanted scrutiny for the terribly handled PR - and by the company employed to make the most out of this partnership.

If you've not followed this particular storm, it involved the PR agency offering journalists tickets to the Brits in exchange for following a few simple tweeting the hashtag #PricelessSurprises and mentioning the sponsor in any coverage. Unsurprisingly, the journos were not impressed and #PricelessSurprises has been used in a different way than the agency had anticipated.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Corporate relationship building - brick by brick

Hannah (@hannahbrodie) here again, following up from last week's blog: Corporate fundraising: tilling the ground 

This time, I'm looking at how to begin to build a relationship with a new corporate contact. 

What makes one company more likely to give to a project than another? Always be on the look-out for common values and a mutually beneficial opportunity. You won’t necessarily be aware of the exact synergy until you’ve met. Maybe the company wants to promote their brand to a group that you are engaged with. Perhaps your aims fit in with their own corporate social responsibility strategy.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Corporate fundraising: tilling the ground

Hello, I’m Hannah. I have over 12 years of corporate relationship building under my belt and as this is my first blog post, I thought I’d start with how to prepare for seeking out a corporate supporter.

A new project appears on the horizon. Someone (not a fundraiser) proudly presents a list of companies to you that they think might have an interest in funding the project. You take a look at the list and... *sigh*. It’s the same list of companies that comes up every time: a couple of huge global corporations; a few large local operations, then there’s that business with a CEO who’s got a 'connection' to your charity. Time to think out of the box.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

11 ways to tell your story in your appeal letter

If your appeal letter isn’t pulling in enough money in the last few years, it might be the downturn. It might also be because your appeal letter reads like a grant proposal.

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” -Oscar Wilde

So how can you come right out and be more original with your appeal letters? How can you be brave and stand up and write something different than has been tried before? Follow these 11 tips. I found them at James Altrucher’s blog, then rewrote them for a nonprofit fundraising perspective.

1. Be Honest. Tell people the stuff they all think but nobody ever says. So, what is the big thing that people think but never say about your cause? Maybe they’re thinking, “I don’t really know what you do” or “I don’t know why I should care about this” or “this problem is hopeless. Why don’t you just give up?” So say, “Should we give up?” that’s honesty.

2. Take out the first three paragraphs you write. See if it makes your story more immediate, more clear. Recently I did this for a nonprofit client and it INSTANTLY improved the story. Often your first three paragraphs are just a warm-up to the story. Your reader doesn’t need a warm-up. They need to be thrown into that story.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Social Media. Dos and Don'ts for Being a Social Animal.

Social. Let's think about that word for a moment.  

What does it mean?

1. relating to society or its organisation
2. needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities

1. an informal social gathering, especially one organised by members of a particular club or group

Fundraisers. Come on, sit down. Can I get you a cup of tea? Coffee? Beer?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Be a friend, not a vulture

Let me share with you a conversation that took place between two friends on a wet and windy New Year’s Day walk. The Scottish scenery is rugged and beautiful. The ground is damp and slushy and it is threatening to rain.

Friends A and B lead the way, their partners (and your Collectivist) following close behind. Friend A suddenly remembers she hasn’t checked her Mega Big Bucks lottery tickets. She might in fact be a millionaire without realising. In which case, she would stuff the Scottish weather and head straight for the Maldives.

Friend B, who doesn’t have a ticket, reminds Friend A that it would be so much nicer to share the win and take all her friends along on this exotic holiday. Friend A agrees wholeheartedly.

Both friends plod on along the muddy path. It is now well and truly pouring down.

A conversation then follows about what happens to people who win big. The Friends imagine the initial euphoria and the media spotlight. Then, according to Friend A, ‘the vultures’ descend. People who ask for money for themselves, or for their causes. Both Friends agree that ‘the vultures’ are very, very bad creatures indeed.

Seamlessly, Friend B then quotes research* which suggests that a big lottery pay out does not make winners happier in the longer term. Except, she says (selflessly), when they share their win with their family and their friends. Sharing out their win would make them very, very happy indeed. Friend A concurs.

Friday, 3 January 2014

How not to do it: A lesson in Direct Mail

I've been on the receiving end of a charity's efforts, and it hasn't ended well. In fact, a charity with which I have a great deal of affection has upset me. Not only have they written to me with a string of appalling DMs (for which there is surely no excuse) but this must mean that there is no way they are raising the amounts they should be for their great work.

I will keep this all anonymous, and I tell this story only so others learn from how not to do it.

  1. Send me an appeal, asking me to make a gift as I did last year. Include a bullet point list of what my money has been spent on. Make it as dull as dishwater. Include no stories of the people I have helped. Make me feel like my money has gone into a big black hole.

  1. Two weeks later send me another letter, not referencing the last and asking me to support a different area of your work. Do not reference that I have ever supported your charity. Give absolutely no case for support. Tell me I will be ‘helping change the world’ but give zero specifics.