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

caroline

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 Great as it was, it is now hideously out of date and (for small / medium sized charities at least) there has been no follow up study since.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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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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