#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.

The #donorlove Celebration; Showcasing the Little Ways You Make a Huge Difference – Cash Prize for Your Charity!

#donorlove, supporter care, delighters, or just doing your job; whatever you call it, there’s no mistaking that donor love is a core cog in the fundraising wheel – and one of the best parts of the job! (and also the one your senior teams are probably asking, ‘why are you spending time on this?).

John Lepp (of Agents of Good fame in partnership with the equally wonderful Jen Love) & I share your amazing examples of going the extra mile for supporters in conferences all over the world, but now we want to celebrate you LOUDER.

Introducing….the #donorlove celebration!

What

The #donorlove celebration is an annual celebration of the very best of #donorlove.  In a joint collaboration between Nikki Bell and John Lepp of Agents of Good; we will share some amazing examples, submitted by you, of #donorlove from around the world on our blog, facebook and twitter feeds – and one lucky submission will receive a £100 – £500 gift to an organisation of their choosing.

Who

You. You are in the trenches and showing your bosses how #donorlove can be an effective tool in your fundraising. It can be low tech, it can be simple, it can be thematic, or it can be strategic – maybe all of these things. But we need you to bring it out into the light of day so the rest of the world can see it too.

When

Nominations/shares start immediately until November 30.

Where

Submissions via email to john@agentsofgood.org and nikki@charitynikki.blog.

How

In 500 words tell and show us about how you and your organisation (or someone else’s) is showing big #donorlove with little touches, what impact it’s had for the organisation, and why it deserves to be included in the #donorlove celebration.

Now is not the time for modesty! Good luck!

Turning Fundraisers into Filmmakers; Getting Started With Smartphone Video

I began using my phone to record community fundraising stories two years ago and, whilst it was fun and got me started on an exciting fundraising journey, they weren’t exactly nice to look at (big shoutout and thank you to Rob at Flotilla Video who taught me swish filming techniques).

Last month I wrote about why fundraisers should be capturing their own content on their mobile phones; this month I’m going to share with you how.

 

Getting Started

1. buy a mic

Imagine recording a never to be repeated moment in time and finding there’s no sound on the playback?  Smartphone mics are unreliable and when they do work, you probably have your finger over it…  Smartphone clip on mics can be bought on Amazon for a few quid and the difference is HUGE; clear, crisp sound that picks up the little details.

2. while you’re at it, buy a tripod

If you have an unsteady hand or (like me), get nervous when you’re filming the CEO, buy a smartphone tripod.  They’re perfect for recording yourself when you want to shoot a thank you message, and they’re especially awesome for keeping your footage steady when your hands aren’t.

3. download an editing app

You want to be able to record footage freely without worrying about the end result.  Download apps like iMovie (free) or LumaFusion (£20) to edit your videos within minutes and cut dud clips, edit pieces together; even adding voice overs and text!

On The Shoot

1. film in landscape

Portrait mode gives you awful black bars when you watch it back on a screen.  It doesn’t look great and it makes it harder for people to engage with what they’re watching.  Turn your phone around and make it easier for your supporter to become absorbed by the scene.

Always+film+in+landscape+1

2. don’t ‘spray & pray’

High impact video will feel like you’re witnessing the event first-hand, and this is the way we should be capturing and sharing our videos to have the biggest impact with supporters.  Too often you see one continuous film of numerous scenes as the camera swishes from one view to the next. It gets messy and I feel travel sick.

Film multiple scenes separately and edit together using your app.

3. increase your quality content

Top tip from the storytelling pros; film each of your scenes for 10 seconds and during your editing, take the best 3 seconds of each and edit together.  Ta-da!  Instant selective storytelling to highlight the best bits.

4. get a good light

You don’t want supporters to think you’re working from a basement; good light lifts your video quality making it look swish, professional and engaging.selfie light

If you’re the cameraperson, make sure light is behind you and your subject is illuminated fully from the front.  You can do this easily with natural light and keeping the window behind, but if you really want to go pro you can buy a ring light.

5. pre-plan, but be spontaneous!

If you’re heading to a fundraising event and know you’re going to do some filming, think about what and where you’ll use it for after to make sure you capture the footage that you need.  Avoid something like this; rope in some video stars in advance and take along your kit to make sure you don’t miss out on the good stuff.

But, it’s also important to keep filming in mind and film as often as possible to make it a habit.  Fundraising is so random and fast-paced, things will pop up you hadn’t even dreamed of capturing!  If the thought, ‘I’d love our supporters to see this’ crosses your mind, get your camera out.  I always carry my mic in my bag to make sure I never miss an opportunity.

6. think ‘supporter first’

Sure this table of merch looks great to you, but are your Twitter followers going to want to see it?  Nope.  Quality video means ‘content’ so much more than ‘quality’; capture the best bits like stories, reunions, celebration and thank yous so people will not only want to watch, but will keep coming back for more.

 

These are just a few of the ways I’ve improved my self-shot, smartphone video over the past couple years, and with regular practice you’ll discover more ways to make your own look great.  Next time you’re out and about, have your camera charged and keep your eye out for wonderful things to share with your supporters…and hit record.

If you’d like to learn more, get in touch at nikki@charitynikki.blog.

 

Psst…I’ll be filming a training session with the legend that is Rob Woods to teach you how to fundraise and engage with self-shot video.  Subscribe today so you’ll be amongst the first to see it!

 

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Low Budget Video for Big Impact; How to Build Relationships (& Raise More Money!) with your Smartphone

This month’s Fundraising Magazine features an article with myself and canny lad, Stephen Noble, writing about why community fundraisers should be generating their own video content on their phones.

It’s mad that fundraisers are only starting to use their mobiles for recording their own video; but it’s not surprising.  When you contend with GDPR and fundraising/communications/who does what battles conversations, it’s easier to shove the thing back in your pocket and say, ‘nah, that’s not my job’.why self-shot video_ (2)

But isn’t capturing, telling and sharing stories our job?  Video adds depth way beyond just words and photos, and can become a powerful tool for sharing the raw, and often breathtaking, story direct from the storyteller.

Not only that, but it increases engagement.  Did you know that you’re 95% more likely to remember a message from a video compared to just 10% from text?  Oh, you like those numbers?  How about the fact Twitter users are 120% more likely to share a video than images and text posts combined?! Mhmm, it’s that good.

But briefing, booking and reviewing professional video can be timely, costly and has the potential to miss the mark…that’s why community fundraisers need to feel empowered and supported to capture the magic as it happens with their smartphone for day to day activity.  Advice on how to make this happen is included in the main article.

For now though, here’s a few ways I’ve used self-shot video in my fundraising relationships. More tips given in the main article. Perhaps you could try one and unleash your inner Spielberg?

1. Engage beyond your corporate contact

You’ve spent so long building that important relationship with your corporate contact; you may have won the pitch already (go you!), but how do you make sure the rest of the staff are as engaged so they know why they’re raising money? Or it’s over to the staff to vote, will your message have made an impact beyond that person you’ve worked with?

Video gives us a chance to reach out and personally connect with supporters when company size and/or location makes it difficult to do it in person.

When joining the BHF I inherited a partnership with a Newcastle HQ and offices scattered across the UK.  To introduce myself and say thank you, I recorded a short video explaining how I was excited to work with them myself, who I was and how I could help, and what their fundraising had achieved so far.

Little tip: if you run your own social media channels for work, direct them to this in your video to keep the contact going.

Sent before an event or fundraising ask works wonders for your success rate.  And if there’s nothing planned, just to let them know they’ve been noticed and appreciated has a huge impact on their experience with you (which raises more money in future).

Which leads me on to…

2. Layer your pitch

Everyone knows about “the pitch”; the chance to show your potential supporters just why you need their support, and how they’re the ones to solve the problem.  You have your meetings, do your pitch and then you wait…or do you?

The corporate mentioned above were coming to the end of their partnership after three amazing years.  After a few meetings and a written proposal the CEO decided that staff would have the final say on whether we extended the partnership by an extra year.  I recorded a second video in a BHF lab featuring a BHF funded researcher saying, direct to camera, ‘my research is funded by people like you.  Without your support I can’t continue to research.  Please vote to extend our partnership and join me in saving lives’.  Guess what? They did.

Because using your phone to film is so accessible and cheap, it’s easy to capture footage like this when you’re out and about to use at crucial moments.  Follow up your pitch with a video reinforcing your message, saying thank you for their time or better yet, from a person their support will directly impact.

3. Show some donor love

Ok, so this is my top favourite reason for using self-shot video with supporters.  Not only can I record their stories to show their voice is important and needs to be shared, but I can record myself and others from the organisation sharing enthusiastic gratitude.

They’ve heard me say thank you a hundred times (& there’ll be a million more!), but self-shot video means when I’m with researchers, our CEO, colleagues or people whose lives they’ve positively impacted, I can record their thoughts and appreciation and show supporters that we’re loving what they’re doing.  What a feeling!

Ok this is a bit cringe, but here’s a thank you I recorded early in my smartphone video adventures following a pitch for a deaf-led organisation’s support.  At least I hope I’m saying thank you, my BSL is very rusty (and apparently a bit ‘street’.  Thanks Dan for dubbing Snoop Dogg over this…). I mustn’t have said anything bad because, they chose the BHF!

4. Show your impact

It isn’t possible to give everyone a tour, take a survivor to every meeting or in some cases, easily show where a supporter’s money will go without flying them somewhere.  So how about we take the experience to them?

Self-shot video means we can easily record an interview with someone you’ve helped, the building of a new facility or the moment a puppy is rehomed (send this last one directly to me please).  As community fundraisers we’re constantly in the field experiencing these moments, and to take a snippet to a supporter or share a clip online means you can bring them into your day and help them see where their donations are making a difference.  Also, I need more puppy content on my timeline.

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself..png

I’m very fortunate to work for an organisation that encourages its fundraisers to record their own content, and I never hesitate to capture a moment that makes me think, ‘I want our supporters to see this’.

It’s key that community fundraisers are encouraged and supported to capture and share their own video.  This may mean additional training in making sure everything has the same ‘voice’ or follows the right rules, but it’s definitely worth the investment.  Community fundraisers are the on-the-ground relationship builders who are meeting people, attending events and quickly become tuned in to spotting an opportunity.  If they need to come back to the office, send an email, find the budget and set up the filming, you might have missed out big time.

For the full article and Stephen’s advice on when the professionals can help you out with strategy and long term goals, subscribe to Civil Society today and have a read!

Shooting your own video is fun and has a big impact but if it looks terrible, is anyone watching?  Next month’s blog will feature learnings I’ve picked up along the way to make your videos POP.  Subscribe and make sure you don’t miss out on the advice!

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Are You An ‘Extra’ Fundraiser?

Unless you’ve been offline for two years, you’re going to know what a meme is.

But if you’re like me, you sometimes need to search what the ‘young ‘uns’ are talking about because ya know…getting older.  And when my little sister called me ‘extra’, I was straight onto Google to find out if I should be offended or not.

Turns out she was right, kind of.

‘Being extra’ means trying too hard or going over the top.  And as a fundraiser I’m always going to be a little ‘extra’, and I think you should be too.

If you’re one of six charities pitching for a partnership or you land an interview for the job of your dreams, being extra is the only way you’re going to stand out.

And it works.  During an interview I had to convince my interviewers to share my love for hiking.  Instead of describing the beauty of being surrounded by the forest, I gave them jars filled with lavender, fir tree, pine cones and moss so they could experience it for themselves.  I got the job and my interviewers got a canny air freshener for their mantlepiece.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of knowing a potential supporter would say yes if ‘we could just get them to (insert service centre here) to see it for themselves’…then why don’t we just take the experience to them?

When used correctly, a physical item appeals to your audience’s imagination and goes beyond the impact of a 2D photo.  If they can see, touch or even better, keep, something connected to your message, you’ve piqued their interest and made it easier for them to understand.  Why describe something when you can show them?

And being an extra fundraiser goes beyond props and pitching.  You want to be remembered after that meeting; think of ways you can ignite a spark with supporters to leave them feeling warm and glowy after you’ve gone.  Handwritten cards, a note to say the meeting was the highlight of your day, or even a gift that shows you’ve thought of them will have them feeling nothing but positive about you, and your organisation.

The interviewers still talk about those jars and I think about how I almost didn’t do it; like it was over the top, too much…

Now my motto is, ‘If I think it’s too much, it’s probably just right’ – and I’m proud of being an extra fundraiser.

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Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘Thank You’

You’re livid aren’t you?  You’ve come here to skip the blog and leave a comment about how I’m a terrible fundraiser.  But hear me out…

I want you to imagine a colleague has just put a £50 donation from me on your desk.  Now, stop reading this and write me a little thank you.  Come back when you’re done.

Finished?  Excellent.

I’ll bet you that £50 donation your thank you started with those exact two words, ‘Thank you…’.  If it didn’t, you’ve probably been listening to the same people I do – you belta! (but please don’t hold me to the £50 bet thing, I’m skint).

Saying thank you to our supporters is one of the most wonderful, and important, jobs to do as a fundraiser and we should be thanking everyone as sincerely, quickly and as personally as possible.  Shouldn’t we then assume that supporters are going to receive a lot of these letters and notes all starting with the same thing; ‘Thank you for this…’ and ‘Thank you for that…’?

We need to STAND OUT.  But most importantly we need the supporter to really feel that we mean it when we say ‘thank you’.  That we LOVE they’ve chosen our organisation out of the countless others they could have given to.  That we are EXCITED to get to know them and share this journey with them.  That we APPRECIATE them and the wonderful thing they’ve done today.

I’ve been learning from the masters on this one and here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way;

  1. Don’t open with ‘Thank you for…’: make your opening sentence something personal about the supporter or your relationship with them before you say thank you.  Stephen Pidgeon teaches this and crafts emails and letters that make you smile, and want to re-read. Imagine having that effect on supporters?
  2. Be authentic: you want the supporter to know their gift has been seen and appreciated, and that this isn’t just an automated response.  Beyond a handwritten note, how do we do this? John Lepp at Agents of Good encourages us to stop trying to perfect everything! Leave the ink smudges where they are and embrace the coffee mark.  All of this shows the supporter an actual human has written the message; the imperfections on your note are proof of the handmade gesture of one person wanting to connect with another.
  3. Add a little something extra: and to really show the supporter you’ve taken the time to think about and do something for them, actually attach a photo, link or news story to your thank you about what will be done because of their wonderful gift.  Simon Scriver refers to these as our ‘paperclip moments’.  Simon says, “It makes it stand out and sparkle, and people can feel it in the envelope”.
  4. Pick up the phone: my favourite way to thank is with a phone call.  With a background in telefundraising it’s hard to kick the habit – and I absolutely love it.  It gives me a chance to get to know the supporter better and it usually leads to a meeting over a cuppa where more great things can happen.  And then I write my thank you.
  5. Be you: I absolutely ADORE these ‘before’ and ‘after’ letters from the exceptionally talented copywriter, Lisa Sargent.  Let’s add a little passion, personality, fun and masses of creativity into our thank yous and let the supporter get to know you, so you can start to know them.  With an opening line like, ‘Robots whir. Comets streak…’, you can guarantee they’ll want to read more and look forward to anything else you send their way.

So the next time you pick up your pen to say thanks (which I hope is very soon!), really think about what you’re thanking them for, the way you want them to feel when they read it and how you can get across that this is one person connecting with another.

It’s not about not saying ‘thank you’, it’s about saying it in the same personal way you treat your relationships.  The actual words, ‘thank you’, should be nestled amongst a glowing show of gratitude, which will leave the supporter with no doubt you really mean it.

I’d love to hear about the canny little things you do to make your thank yous stand out.  Tweet me @CharityNikki or get in touch at nikki@charitynikki.blog

opening

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Frasier Fundraising; Seattle’s Finest Teaches us the Basics

Last week we lost the brilliant actor, John Mahoney.  Best known for his role as Frasier’s father, Martin (Marty) Crane, in the 90’s sitcom; he delivered some of the best one-liners in TV history and gave a gruff, loveable edge which won the hearts of millions of viewers.

I’ve never needed an excuse, but the news inspired another series re-watch from episode 1.  And like many of you who write about your work, I couldn’t help but notice some links to fundraising to give me a reason to write about my love for Frasier –  and be able to share my nerdiness with you.

So what can Frasier teach us about fundraising?

* spoiler & very tenuous link alert *

You are not your audience138381612

Let’s start at the beginning.  Did you know the Frasier series was created around the often rocky relationship between Frasier and his father?  The show was meant to be based on the contrast of characters; rough and wise vs sophisticated and exasperated.  But after the pilot episode, producers noticed the audience responded better to the interactions between Frasier and his brother, Niles; and the whole concept was overhauled.  Thanks to the change, what resulted was eleven amazing series of character chemistry and quick-witted exchanges, winning audiences and awards for over eleven years.  Pretty impressive.

No matter what YOU think or hope will work, if you’re audience isn’t digging it then you’re going to have to change it.  Find out what they love and go there.

If you’re wasting time, you’re missing out daphne

Who can forget the moment Niles falls in love with Daphne in Season 1? (“you’re Daphne?!”).  What came next was seven seasons (that’s seven YEARS) of Niles hopelessly adoring from afar and watching her fall in love with other men before finally asking her to be with him instead.  It drew in audiences and provided plenty of laughs but if this were real life, it’s actually pretty sad.  Because of his fear of rejection, Niles and Daphne missed out on seven years of building their relationship and creating wonderful memories.  Sound familiar?

Getting to know supporters is a wonderful part of our job but if you’re not asking them to give, you’re wasting time and losing out on income.  You need to ASK or they’ll run off with your ‘Donny Douglas’ of charities.  Which leads me on to…

Timing is important 

He was never nominated for an Emmy, but Frasier wouldn’t have been the same without Marty’s dog, Eddie.  His timing was impeccable and his scenes with Frasier was what got me hooked on the series in the first place (that, and the “I am WOUNDED” delivery).  During one of my favourite episodes, ‘Eddie the Wet-Nosed Reindeer’, he rushes in at just the right moment dressed as a reindeer for the Crane family Christmas card, adding extra hilarity to the ridiculousness of Christmas in October.

Get your timing wrong and you risk fluffing it.  Learn from Eddie and listen for the cues that your supporter is open to be asked and go for it.  It might be your third meeting, it might take even longer, but leave it too long and you’ve lost that magic moment where everything has fallen into place.

Don’t be afraid to take risks

If I mention the 1980’s sitcom Cheers, who would be the first character that comes to mind?  Norm?  Carla? Maybe even Sam?  Chances are it wasn’t Frasier.  Yet following the show’s end in 1993, Frasier was the one that got his own spin-off show.  Initially cast as a temporary character, producers thought they might be onto something and took a gamble basing the spin-off show on a character originally intended for just six episodes.  And it paid off; Frasier is the most successful spin-off TV show created and has over 100 awards nominations and over 40 wins.

Don’t be afraid to take risks; failing is only a bad thing if you keep doing it.  Fundraisers should feel supported and brave to try new things and not be afraid of it not working out the way they’d planned.  Wonderful things will happen if we try, learn, and better ourselves in the work we do.

I’m listening listening

How could I write about Frasier and fundraising without referencing this iconic, and relevant, catchphrase?!  In the series, Frasier utters this infamous line to every caller on his KACL radio talk show (voiced by famous actors!).  It told the caller he’s listening, he’s ready to support them and wants them to do the talking; and then he actually listens.  I don’t need to say much more on this one really.

Too often we listen to reply.  Next time you’re meeting a supporter, truly hear what they’re telling you; why they’ve come to you, how they want to support and what matters to them.  I love this TedTalk that teaches us how to be better conversationalists, take 10 minutes out of your day to watch it.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge in my Frasier addiction.  If you’ve made it to the end without smirking at my attempt to pass watching TV off as work, you’ve done canny well!

There’s one final thing from the show that I’d like to share with you.  Watching the series, you watch the characters evolve and get to share some of their best and difficult moments in their lives.  Through it all Frasier is at the centre; driving the stories forward and, despite the moments when it doesn’t work out, brings a smile to the millions of viewers who are huge fans of the show…that sounds a lot like the wonderful job that you have.

So on that note…

Goodnight fundraisers, we love you!

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