How Social Media Can Help Fundraising Relationships: A Guest Post on lightful.com

This month I had the opportunity to share my fundraising social media advice with Lightful readers, thank you to Kirsty Marrins for the opportunity.  Read on to learn how to use social media platforms to have a big fundraising impact, and access the full article for free on lightful.com.

During my time at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), I’ve utilised social media as a relationship finding and building tool because – as the only fundraiser looking after a large corner of the UK – I need to be smart with how I work! It’s helped me find the doers in my community who are keen to support us, to communicate easily with volunteers (on a platform they’re already engaging with), and most importantly, it’s added an extra layer of supporter appreciation.

If you want to use social media to build fundraising relationships, here are three tips to consider:

  1. Think about where your supporters are and increase your online activity on those platforms; it’s better to be amazing at a few things than mediocre at everything.
  2. Do your supporters want to be contacted or celebrated in this way? Not everyone is comfortable with online relationships; supporter first every time.
  3. The magic happens when you personally connect. Anything you start online, be sure to take offline (safely) to find the spark that leads to long-lasting relationships.

If you’re keen to crack on and learn how social media can help you build relationships, here are the platforms I’ve been working with over the last few years and how they’ve boosted fundraising at the BHF… Access the full article on Lightful here.

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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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The Time I Got it Wrong; Getting the Right Work Balance

I got a text late one Saturday night from one of my closest friends.  It said, ‘…I haven’t seen you in ages and I’m worried we’ll drift apart.’

I felt two things; I was so sad that one of my best friends was feeling this way, and secondly I was ashamed.  I was a fundraiser; relationships are what I do, what I’m brilliant at…so how did I get this wrong?

Fundraising is a tough game.  There is no ‘9-5’, you need to remember hundreds of names, stories and appointments, and you have a rolling target that starts again the moment it’s reached.  Add to that a desire to absorb as much learning as we can, volunteering to support other fundraisers or charities, the habit of always saying, ‘yes!’ – oh, and a life outside of fundraising, and you’ve got about ten minutes left in the day.

My mind was so full of work that I wasn’t nurturing my personal relationships with the same attentiveness as I do with supporters.

I’m not alone.  I know fundraisers who work through their lunch because they have loads to do in very little time, the belief that working late is the only proof of working hard, and a fear of saying ‘no’ resulting in a weekend of doing laps around Scotland.

Fundraising is a wonderful profession and I adore every minute I get to work with the supporters and colleagues who make it so.  But it’s so important to have a balance.

We need to chill.  Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and re-approach our fundraising with a vibe of calm and mindfulness.  Not only that but we need to carve out time for ourselves in the day to appreciate the goals we’ve already achieved and take time to do things that we love.

If we’re good to ourselves we can be better in our work; we’ll feel less pressure, get to appreciate the smaller accomplishments that lead to bigger goals and we’ll be better fundraisers – imagine how well we’ll build relationships if we’re always fully present in the moment.

How can we give 100% to supporters when our cup is half full?

As well at that, we’ll be looking after our mental health, personal relationships and be able to focus on what matters when it matters.

So how do we manage it?

  • Take your lunch break.  Already eaten?  Go for a walk, and take someone with you.
  • Block out your lunch break in your calendar.
  • Social media curfew; if you use social media for work, log off when your day is done and turn off your notifications.
  • Use ‘airplane mode’ for a total digital detox.
  • Block out ‘you time’ throughout your week.  Go to the gym, read a book or get some air.
  • To-do list done? Log off, go home.
  • Learn to say ‘no’ and turn it into an opportunity.  Would having volunteers make it doable?
  • Be strategic; always saying ‘yes’ to extra opportunities?  Think of your end goal and the path you need to take to get there.  If this won’t add value, let it go.
  • Work from home; less distraction, more comfort and increased productivity.
  • Turn off your email notifications.  Choose set times each day to check and respond – add this to your ‘out of office’ and manage expectations.
  • 3 minute rule; if a task takes less than three minutes to do, do it straight away. You use more energy putting it off and remembering it.
  • Speak up.  Don’t be afraid to say when things are getting too much or you need help.
  • Help someone out you think might be struggling
me and max

By having a healthier approach to my work time balance, I’ve been able to pursue my rock star dreams

 

I’ve been doing this a lot more recently and have felt a MASSIVE change.  I have more time for the people I love, freed up time in my day to devote to improving myself, and have felt more in control at work with the goals I’m aiming for; and been able to dedicate time to achieve them.

Today marks the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018.  Try it now; log off, go home, switch off and take some time for you – because you matter too.

what tips can you share that help you have a healthy approach to your working day?  Tweet me @CharityNikki.

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Fundraiser Love; You Matter Too

I wrote an article for my BHF colleagues about community fundraising and it ended up being nothing about fundraising, and more about how absolutely wonderful fundraisers are.  I’m big on #donorlove but it’s important to send out a little fundraiser love too – I wanted to send some your way today.

Fundraising is a wonderful profession and I LOVE that our job makes a difference for others.  It allows us to put supporters first, gives us vibrance and variety, and I get to drink tea and have meaningful conversations with inspirational people – win!

It’s a fast-paced, ever changing job.  There is always so much going on; you’re out there finding and building relationships, networking, taking on the mega responsibility of caring for and sharing a supporter story, campaigning and being a passionate voice for something you care so much about…there’s a reason there’s the saying, ‘community never sleeps’.

And that’s why today I wanted to remind you that you are important in all of this.  You matter, and I applaud and admire everything that you do.

I see you online and in your communities constantly putting yourself out there for others, learning as much as you can so you can do more for the people you work with, and sometimes sacrificing because you want to give someone the best possible experience for choosing your charity – and you just blow me away.

And it ain’t always easy.  Please be kind to yourself; celebrate the little things, take time when you need it and always look at the bigger picture; day not gone your way?  No worries, you’re still going to nail it this month.

I am proud to be a fundraiser and to work alongside such kind, big-hearted and talented people who are doing amazing things.

Big love to all of you today.

Keep the fundraiser love going on Twitter using #fundraiserlove; tag your fundraiser pals and tell us why you think they’re absolutely mint to brighten up their day.

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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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