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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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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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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