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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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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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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FREE Skills Training for North East Charities

Are you a fundraiser looking to develop skills outside of your role?  Are you a manager who’s interviewed the most wonderful relationship builder, but they’re not Microsoft savvy? Or perhaps you’d like to keep your learning sharp but your organisation doesn’t have the budget to support this?

Then I have good news!  My pals at Gateshead College have £7.5m of funding to provide local organisations with skills training & courses such as:

yoda

  • Events Management
  • Digital Marketing
  • Data Analytics
  • Project Management
  • Team Leadership
  • ICT skills
  • plus much more!

Visit their website to find a course that’s right for you and register your interest.  Classes can be scheduled for your charity if you have more than 10 people you’d like to send along.

There’s no catch; Gateshead College provide the venue, training and trainer so we’d be ackas* to miss it!

Funding is available until July 2018 so act today.

Be sure to sign up to the North East Institute of Fundraising newsletter to be kept up to date with regional fundraising training, and North East Fundraising Conference news!

 

*ackas – daft