GUEST BLOG: How Do We Know If We’re Nailing It? Updated Fundraising Ratios COMING SOON

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Caroline Danks

I’m ending November and a temporary return to non-#donorlove celebration updates with a guest blog from Caroline Danks; fabulous fundraiser and owner of the most dazzling jumpsuits I’ve ever known; and she has an exciting request.  I met Caroline at #IoFFC and I’ve been fan-girling ever since; a delightfully talented fundraiser and big believer in self-care, how could you not admire what she does?  Caroline’s launched a research project looking at up-to-date fundratios for the UK’s charities, but we need more participants.  Can you help?

 

As a fundraising consultant, the first question I get asked by a potential client (the direct ones, at least) is ‘how much money can you make me?’

My response is usually rooted in my own achievements; my own hit rate and a little about the organisational contexts relevant to those with whom I’ve been working.
I may also quote from the Fundratios 2013 survey, a study which looked at the return on investment of various types of fundraising for 17 different charities.

For obvious reasons, I am more and more hesitant to quote from this study. Great as it was, it is now hideously out of date and (for small / medium sized charities at least) there has been no follow up study since. This year, I have been working with colleagues in the sector to remedy this (thank you Tobin at AAW Partnership and Nick and Symon from the IOF Insights SIG).

Fundraising is changing rapidly. The competition for funds is greater than it has even cookiebeen before. Philanthropists, foundations, communities and companies are feeling the pressure to fill the gap following a reduction in statutory contributions.  Rather like the world of ‘Pinterest fails’, it’s messy out there and I for one am not 100% sure I know what ‘good looks like’ any more.

The excellent news is that a new study is live. We just need a few more participants to enable a big enough (and therefore meaningful) sample.

Getting involved is easy, simply email me fundraising@carolinedanks.co.uk and I’ll send you the link to the questionnaire along with instructions on how to interpret each question. You’ll need to know how much your charity spent on each area of fundraising and how much you raised.

I’m not interested in perfection. I understand that people may interpret the questions in slightly different ways and I agree that three years’ worth of data would be better than just one but everyone’s busy and in order to fill this void of information, I’m willing to work on the principle that something is better than nothing.   The final report will include case studies from different charities and will give context and meaning to the figures to help fundraisers and sector leaders set their own benchmarks within their own contexts. What’s not to love?

All participating charities will receive a copy of the report for free. Results will be anonymised.

I’m pretty confident I’m nailing it (most days!) and I’m sure you are too. Now’s our chance to prove it.

Caroline Danks is a fundraising consultant, bullet journalist, aspiring yogi and fairweather mermaid. Her website is www.carolinedanks.co.uk and you can tweet her @cdfundraising

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#DonorLove Celebration part VI: Sue Ryder’s ‘Thank You Thursday’

sr certificateIt’s getting to the end of the donor love celebration in partnership with John Lepp at Agents of Good (and the part where I have to start Googling Roman Numerals).  In the final days I’m thrilled to include my wonderful ex-boss’ new place of work, Sue Ryder.

During Hospice Care Week 2018, the fundraising team at Thorpe Hall’s Sue Ryder Hospice decided to use this week not to promote and ask, but to thank and show appreciation.  One full day of dedicated donor love with the WHOLE team involved – YES!

What did they do?  What didn’t they do, more like!  With everything from personal visits to posted certificates, these fundraising folks had it covered with:

  • over 100 certificates posted to supporters celebrating fundraising milestones
  • 23 personal phone calls made to nominated supporters from Head of Hospice
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    Donna Young

    Fundraising, Donna Young

  • Personalised videos for corporate and DIY supporters
  • Unannounced visits to corporate partners and collection tin businesses to deliver cakes and certificates
  • Social media coverage across all Sue Ryder platforms
  • Radio interview explaining the ‘thank you Thursday’ aim and to publically thank the local community

Why we love this:

  • Top reason: they didn’t have to do this, but they wanted to
  • Personal touches were used throughout, no mass thank you taking away the shine of a well-thought thank you
  • Through thanking they achieved some of their highest online engagement rates. From the posts included in their submission there was almost 16.5k people reached in one day!
  • Supporters got it and even got involved themselves, with one corporate partner sending back their own thank you video

sr visits

In addition to the relationship benefits, Sue Ryder told us the impact on teamwork and morale was positive too,

” …this also helped a new team bond. Engaging with supporters who have lost loved ones can be challenging, to ensure a sensitive tone is struck. This helped our fundraisers become more confident in that thanking and asking more of our supporters who have lost loved ones at our Hospice…By working together on Thank You Thursday, it helped instil a sense of pride in being able to offer that opportunity to support the Hospice in memory, and bring something good out of difficult and sad situation.”

A big well done to the team at Thorpe Hall’s Sue Ryder Hospice for their dedication to ‘thank you Thursday’, to all the staff for getting involved and to Dan McNally for the submission.  We look forward to hearing how you carry that on throughout 2019 and the long-term response from supporters.

We’d love to hear your examples of showing donor love.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes or personal interactions like these, let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!) – you have until tomorrow!

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#DonorLove Celebration part V: Tibet Relief Fund’s Non-Stop Thanking

We’re halfway through the final week of the #donorlove celebration in partnership with John Lepp; and in true fundraising fashion we’ve got plenty of submissions squeaking in their entries with days to spare as they juggle supporters, #GivingTuesday and the day job.

Today we celebrate Sam Butler and his team at the Tibet Relief Fund.  I’m a huge fan of the submissions that allow us to copy and paste, so in his own words here’s Sam to share how they’re showing a little donor love at TBR:

All donors receive a thank you. No matter how big or small their donation. Those below £20 get a bespoke email/letter for their first donation. Those giving for a second time receive a unique handwritten TRF thank you card – we change this design quarterly, so that with each appeal, supporters receive a separate card, with a small set of prayer flags.

Supporters giving £50 or more receive a handwritten letter on recycled paper made by a project we support (Cleaning Upper Dharamshala). Depending on their historic interaction, this is written from me or the CEO. This connects the supporters directly with one element of our charitable work, bringing them closer to our beneficiaries by having a tangible letter of thanks on a product that they have helped to support come to fruition. We also sell these products through our Enlightened Gifts shop, which means many supporters come to us at Christmas to purchase stocking fillers made by this project, so it allows us to softly cross sell the products made by our beneficiaries, and improve the funds we have to help supply more micro finance loans for Tibetans to set-up more businesses’ in India and Nepal.”

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TBR’s thank yous: second donation (left), £50+ donation (right)

Not only did the team use the power of the handwritten thank you, they’re keen to use the phone to its full potential too…

“On Black Friday each year (we have just completed our second one), all staff spend the day calling anyone that has donated in the previous 18 months, and have a conversation with those that answer, gaining insight as to why they support TRF. If we don’t get through, we leave a message on their answering machine if they are out, and send a short email of thanks where we can. These insights gathered and recorded in our database. We push out updates on the previous 18 months achievements across social media one week before we make the calls. This year, due to the #YouMadeThisHappen we used that day to do this, and it lead to some really lovely chats with everyone!”

Why we love this:

  • All supporters are thanked proving it is possible, and necessary
  • Thank yous are changed regularly so they never lose their sparkle; the team don’t have to do this, but they want to
  • The thank yous link supporters with the charity in a tangible way that is relevant to their impact
  • Updates! We know how important it is to do this; we should be thanking and reporting back more than we ask and it seems TBR are nailing this quota

A massive thank you to Sam and the team for not only sending through today’s submission but for consistently showing supporter appreciation in a way that’s connected to your organisation’s goals.

We’d love to hear your examples of showing #donorlove.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes or personal interactions like these, let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!); you have until Friday November 30th!

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#DonorLove Celebration Part IV:Turning Annual Reports into Annual Delighters, the Agents of Good Way

John doesn’t know I’m doing this because if he did, he’d probably tell me not to because he’s wonderfully modest like that.  But how can we co-host a donor love celebration and not include the heartwarming ways that Agents of Good help charities engage with their supporters?

Today’s celebration is a simple one as the document below speaks for itself.  In John’s words,

“This GR (gratitude report) was the result of some great work by our client – the amazing Sarah Lyon of ALZ Ns.

She wanted us to do it but was open to the direction we suggested.

Our objective was simple:

  • Create a gratitude report that is filled with donor love, thanking donors for their incredible support!
  • Share a story that demonstrates donor impact—how donors make the ALZ NS programs possible
  • Help donors feel inspired by the crucial role ALZ plays in the community, and how donors are at the heart of that.

From the start, I knew I wanted this to feel like a part of a person’s life. A sticky, tactile, vibrant, curated photo album. Something created JUST for the donor who was holding it in their hands. The ultimate expression of UN-DESIGN… the best examples of #donorlove ALWAYS look like it was created with someone’s hands and heart…and this is an expression of that.”

Click the image below to read it yourself.

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Why I love this:

  • Just because you “have to do it”, doesn’t mean it has to be bland
  • Notice it’s called a ‘gratitude report’?…
  • Every communication is an opportunity to surprise & delight
  • You want to read it again and again; how often have you had that with charity letters?

We’d love to hear your examples of showing donor love.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes or personal interactions like these, let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!).  Closing date November 30th 2018.

Thank you to Pamela Grow for the original content on this blog.

And this isn’t an elaborate way to fix the prize money; John isn’t eligible to win, but I wanted to make sure he knew how awesome he is!

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#DonorLove Celebration part III: How Rory Green Does It – A Lesson From a Pro

Imagine our excitement when guru of donor love, Rory Green, pinged into our inbox with not just one example, but FOUR of many ways she’s shown supporter appreciation for the #donorlove celebration in partnership with John Lepp of Agents of Good.  You might have seen the excited GIFs John & I shared on Twitter…

We’ve decided to include two of these here, giving you an insight into how your approach can differ depending on who you’re thanking, and how much resource you have.

In her own words, Rory shares her experience:

Mr Big

“When I worked at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, we got word that a major donor/volunteer (I’ll call him Philip) was retiring. My VP asked me to come up with a retirement gift for him. He was a wealthy man who truly “had everything” so I knew I needed to try and find something money couldn’t buy.

Philip was an alumni from BCIT, he was on our board and on the foundation board. So I decided to put together a book that told the story of his time with us:

It started with photos from his days as a student from the archives. I reached out to all the students from his program and asked them to share memories and well wished – which they did. One of his classmates wrote that “we all knew Phillip would be the most successful of all of us!”. The photos of Philip and his friends, and the campus in the 60s were a hoot to look at!

Then I tracked down BCIT leaders from his time on the board. It detailed all the amazing things that happened while he served – giving him credit for his leadership. Former presidents, VPs, Deans and board members shared letters of how much they valued working with him and how that period was a transformational one for the university. Lots of archive photos rounded out this section.

Then we focused on his time on the Foundation Board and all the money he helped to raise: specifically a beautiful new campus. Messages of congratulations from fundraisers he worked with were shared, as well as messages of thanks from the faculty and staff who use the building he raised the funds for.

Then we talked about his personal giving, with messages of thanks from 15 years of student recipient, most of whom were now alumni – sharing what they’d accomplished and how they’d given back to BCIT since graduating.

The last letter was the most recent student recipient of his award, who shared “My biggest wish is that when I graduate I will be even able to help future BCIT students the way Philip helped me”.

It was a lot of work tracking so many people down, and going through all the archive photos – but in the end it was worth it. He announced a $200,000 donation to BCIT that night.”

Small, But Mighty

“This is an e-mail I sent to a planned gift donor (let’s call her Mary). I stumbled across a hand-written note in our printer room; one of our program staff had printed it off to hang on her desk. I saw it and LOVED it and asked if I could send it to our donors. I sent this e-mail to Mary because I knew she had a planned gift and an interest in women in engineering. Mary and her daughter were so touched by the e-mail that her daughter has since made her own planned gift! And Mary has become an engaged volunteer and increased her annual giving.”

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What both of these donor love examples have in common is the supporter and their personal experiences have shaped the ways they’ve been thanked; details Rory wouldn’t have known if she didn’t have a strong relationship with them.  Other things we loved were:

  • Rory knows her supporters well so seeing something that reminds her of them prompts a response, just as you would a friend.
  • Going it alone can have a great impact, but using connections and relationships around you a can change a simple thank you into a grand gesture; and no doubt those asked to contribute will know BCIT is an organisation that cares!
  • Thank you’s don’t have to take masses of time or money, simply being thought of and knowing the difference you have made is enough to want to do more; and it’s doable and scalable by all.

It really wouldn’t have been a donor love celebration without Rory Green included, and we want to thank Rory for her marvellous examples.

We’d love to hear your examples of showing #donorlove.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes or personal interactions like these, let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!).

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#DonorLove Celebration Part II: Farm Africa and Their Forward Thinking Thank Yous

Following on from our recent donor love celebration debut, today we’re celebrating Sarah Goddard and the work done during her time at Farm Africa in the #donorlove celebration, in partnership with John Lepp at Agents of Good.

In light of this week’s #YouMadeItHappen campaign, we’ve seen the impact a good thank you can have with supporters, especially when you share the difference they’ve made.  And that’s exactly what the team at Farm Africa did.

A photographer was due to visit Africa to capture the impact of the charity’s work and Sarah used this opportunity to bring supporter and beneficiary together in a thanking project for a recently won RAG partnership.

That project included taking photos of the African community saying ‘thank you’ to the people making the work possible; a nice touch, but the wonderful part is the photographer was armed with photos of the supporters as well as their stories on how they had been fundraising, and the work that had gone into making it possible.

Sarah said, ‘I insisted this was done with the groups understanding of what they were doing and we’ve found that our communities are always really keen to say thank you to those that make the work possible’. The communities loved asking questions about the people fundraising for them and found it hilarious that you could raise money out of wearing wellies!

The photos were kept a secret until the right moment which came at the RAG Conference farmwhen the outgoing and incoming chair were recognised for their efforts.  Sarah wrote, ‘I’ve never seen two university students so speechless, and one nearly cried. Which of course made me cry!’.

Whilst it wasn’t possible to remain partnered with RAG, the personal touch and strong connections to the people they were fundraising for has meant students are still involved with Farm Africa to this day, often speaking and promoting the brilliant experience they had working with the charity and encouraging others to get involved themselves.

What we like about this show of #donorlove:

  • Using an existing opportunity and capturing content for later use.
  • The wonderful touch of taking supporter pictures and stories to Africa to show the people behind the charity work.
  • The connection between the African community and RAG; meaning a stronger fundraising relationship and continuing student engagement.

Thank you to Sarah and the team at Farm Africa for allowing us to share this story in the #donorlove celebration!

We’d love to hear your examples of showing donor love.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes, or thoughtful touches like these; let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!).

 

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#donorlove celebration: Yorkshire Cancer Research (UK) & The £8k Marathon Runner

It’s the first in a hopefully many-part series of the #donorlove celebration which is running until the end of November 2018 in collaboration with John Lepp from Agents of Good.

Today we celebrate Adrian Greenwood and the wonderful souls at Yorkshire Cancer Research who showed a little #donorlove and increased an event participant’s fundraising from £750 to £8,000 as a result.

Here’s what Adrian submitted:

“We recently had two supporters take part in Marathon des Sables, one of them struggled slightly with fundraising. We decided to change our stewardship approach, making sure everything was personal to them, which lifted pressure from them just by knowing we’re going to help and not pressurise them into the raising the money. Over the following weeks, with a change in stewardship, they managed to boost their fundraising by £1000’s.

After they took part in the event, we invited them into the office to give a short talk on their experiences. They gave to the talk to all of our staff, who then took the time to talk to them and personally thank them for the hard work and effort. We presented them with a glass award for everything that they had gone through to raise the money; these awards were given out by our CEO.”

And how did they change their stewardship?

Adrian explained that they invited in the supporter to chat through their involvement face to face.  During the conversation they uncovered a struggle with turning ideas into action and a confidence bashing from fundraising not being as easy as they thought when signing up (who knew?!…).

The team discussed the supporters’ existing idea, providing tailored support to get them on the right path to fundraising success, and switched their digital based stewardship to personal interactions specific to this runner and their reasons for being involved.  Chuck in a collaboration with the social media team to shout about her work and they were onto a winner.  Within a week she’d increased her fundraising by 50%.

Until the event the team regularly caught up with their runner and near the big day sent a hand-written card from everyone at the organisation.  By then she’d raised £8,000.

And the best thing?  During our chat Adrian told me, ‘we realised the hands-on approach for fundraisers raising this type of money was the right thing to do, rather than the digital contact every few months or so that event participants would usually get.  We’re definitely going to do this for everyone going forward’ adding a human, personal interaction to an otherwise standard process you’d get everywhere else.

There’s a few things I love about this, besides the fact it once again proves that personal interactions boost fundraising by huge amounts; not only did Yorkshire Cancer Research not write this supporter off as an unfortunate low ROI participant, they identified her as another human being who was obviously struggling a little bit and treated her as you would anyone else in that position, with compassion.  AND they’ve learned and adapted to improve the experience for other supporters.

In summary they showed #donorlove by:

  • treating her like a person
  • personalising her supporter experience
  • engaged in a dialogue, rather than digital monologue
  • thanking and made her feel special

Well done to Adrian and the team on a wonderful result and for sharing their #donorlove example in the #donorlove celebration.

We’d love to hear your examples of showing #donorlove.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes or personal interactions like these, let’s celebrate the ongoing work of amazing fundraisers and charities delighting donors on a daily basis.  Read how to enter here (there’s a cash prize for the best!).

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Get in touch and let’s talk about how I can help your charity raise more money.