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 Great as it was, it is now hideously out of date and (for small / medium sized charities at least) there has been no follow up study since.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

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas

 

#DonorLove Celebration part III: How Rory Green Does It – A Lesson From a Pro

Imagine our excitement when guru of donor love, Rory Green, pinged into our inbox with not just one example, but FOUR of many ways she’s shown supporter appreciation for the #donorlove celebration in partnership with John Lepp of Agents of Good.  You might have seen the excited GIFs John & I shared on Twitter…

We’ve decided to include two of these here, giving you an insight into how your approach can differ depending on who you’re thanking, and how much resource you have.

In her own words, Rory shares her experience:

Mr Big

“When I worked at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, we got word that a major donor/volunteer (I’ll call him Philip) was retiring. My VP asked me to come up with a retirement gift for him. He was a wealthy man who truly “had everything” so I knew I needed to try and find something money couldn’t buy.

Philip was an alumni from BCIT, he was on our board and on the foundation board. So I decided to put together a book that told the story of his time with us:

It started with photos from his days as a student from the archives. I reached out to all the students from his program and asked them to share memories and well wished – which they did. One of his classmates wrote that “we all knew Phillip would be the most successful of all of us!”. The photos of Philip and his friends, and the campus in the 60s were a hoot to look at!

Then I tracked down BCIT leaders from his time on the board. It detailed all the amazing things that happened while he served – giving him credit for his leadership. Former presidents, VPs, Deans and board members shared letters of how much they valued working with him and how that period was a transformational one for the university. Lots of archive photos rounded out this section.

Then we focused on his time on the Foundation Board and all the money he helped to raise: specifically a beautiful new campus. Messages of congratulations from fundraisers he worked with were shared, as well as messages of thanks from the faculty and staff who use the building he raised the funds for.

Then we talked about his personal giving, with messages of thanks from 15 years of student recipient, most of whom were now alumni – sharing what they’d accomplished and how they’d given back to BCIT since graduating.

The last letter was the most recent student recipient of his award, who shared “My biggest wish is that when I graduate I will be even able to help future BCIT students the way Philip helped me”.

It was a lot of work tracking so many people down, and going through all the archive photos – but in the end it was worth it. He announced a $200,000 donation to BCIT that night.”

Small, But Mighty

“This is an e-mail I sent to a planned gift donor (let’s call her Mary). I stumbled across a hand-written note in our printer room; one of our program staff had printed it off to hang on her desk. I saw it and LOVED it and asked if I could send it to our donors. I sent this e-mail to Mary because I knew she had a planned gift and an interest in women in engineering. Mary and her daughter were so touched by the e-mail that her daughter has since made her own planned gift! And Mary has become an engaged volunteer and increased her annual giving.”

rory.PNG

What both of these donor love examples have in common is the supporter and their personal experiences have shaped the ways they’ve been thanked; details Rory wouldn’t have known if she didn’t have a strong relationship with them.  Other things we loved were:

  • Rory knows her supporters well so seeing something that reminds her of them prompts a response, just as you would a friend.
  • Going it alone can have a great impact, but using connections and relationships around you a can change a simple thank you into a grand gesture; and no doubt those asked to contribute will know BCIT is an organisation that cares!
  • Thank you’s don’t have to take masses of time or money, simply being thought of and knowing the difference you have made is enough to want to do more; and it’s doable and scalable by all.

It really wouldn’t have been a donor love celebration without Rory Green included, and we want to thank Rory for her marvellous examples.

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!).

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas

#DonorLove Celebration Part II: Farm Africa and Their Forward Thinking Thank Yous

Following on from our recent donor love celebration debut, today we’re celebrating Sarah Goddard and the work done during her time at Farm Africa in the #donorlove celebration, in partnership with John Lepp at Agents of Good.

In light of this week’s #YouMadeItHappen campaign, we’ve seen the impact a good thank you can have with supporters, especially when you share the difference they’ve made.  And that’s exactly what the team at Farm Africa did.

A photographer was due to visit Africa to capture the impact of the charity’s work and Sarah used this opportunity to bring supporter and beneficiary together in a thanking project for a recently won RAG partnership.

That project included taking photos of the African community saying ‘thank you’ to the people making the work possible; a nice touch, but the wonderful part is the photographer was armed with photos of the supporters as well as their stories on how they had been fundraising, and the work that had gone into making it possible.

Sarah said, ‘I insisted this was done with the groups understanding of what they were doing and we’ve found that our communities are always really keen to say thank you to those that make the work possible’. The communities loved asking questions about the people fundraising for them and found it hilarious that you could raise money out of wearing wellies!

The photos were kept a secret until the right moment which came at the RAG Conference farmwhen the outgoing and incoming chair were recognised for their efforts.  Sarah wrote, ‘I’ve never seen two university students so speechless, and one nearly cried. Which of course made me cry!’.

Whilst it wasn’t possible to remain partnered with RAG, the personal touch and strong connections to the people they were fundraising for has meant students are still involved with Farm Africa to this day, often speaking and promoting the brilliant experience they had working with the charity and encouraging others to get involved themselves.

What we like about this show of #donorlove:

  • Using an existing opportunity and capturing content for later use.
  • The wonderful touch of taking supporter pictures and stories to Africa to show the people behind the charity work.
  • The connection between the African community and RAG; meaning a stronger fundraising relationship and continuing student engagement.

Thank you to Sarah and the team at Farm Africa for allowing us to share this story in the #donorlove celebration!

We’d love to hear your examples of showing donor love.  Whether it’s hand-written cards, improvements to stewardship and processes, or thoughtful touches 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!).

 

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas.

 

#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!).

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas
Get in touch and let’s talk about how I can help your charity raise more money.

Social Media & Professional Development; Little Digital Steps to Make Big Career Moves

As I sat in the Amsterdam sunshine, recovering from a week of speaking at the CEEFC in Slovakia and enjoying a moment of calm before IFC Holland, I couldn’t help think that without social media I wouldn’t have had these amazing opportunities.

I’ve written recently for Lightful on how to get started with social media for fundraising relationships, but social media has also played a HUGE part in my professional development too.  Without Twitter and LinkedIn I wouldn’t have built a relationship with co-speaker, Viki Hayden-Ward, that led to my first international speaking gig.  And without using social media to share fundraising best practice I wouldn’t have been invited to write and speak about my fundraising experience, which led to my involvement at IFC (and I would have definitely missed the Tweet advertising the opportunity!).

Social media enables you to connect and network with those beyond your immediate fundraising circle, be exposed to the brilliant ways of working from other charities and fundraisers, and gives you a platform to promote your charity and yourself to be noticed amongst those who are making big waves.

Interested?  Read on…

Getting Started

  1. I’ve mentioned this before but think about the social media platforms you can add the most value to and focus your energy here.  I’d rather do a couple of things absolutely mint (that means ‘awesome’ in Geordie) than be mediocre at everything.  Twitter and LinkedIn are the obvious ones for professional development, but with Facebook groups like Fundraising Chat, you may find that Facebook works for you too (I’m back on so be sure to say hi!).
  2. Be you; perhaps THE most important advice on getting started is to not be afraid to twitter2have your personality come out through your posts.  I met the lovely Joelle recently and was delighted when she said the person sitting across the table from her was exactly what she’d expected from my online presence.  Relationships mean human to human connections, get it started on the right foot.
  3. Find your tribe; fundraisers and leaders are increasingly active on social media and through their posts you will learn who is doing amazing things in charity, how they’re managing to do it, and what jobs they’ve got going at their organisation that might be your next big role! (thanks Emily for the tip!).  Search for fundraisers you’ve heard of and check their posts; following the fundraisers you like the sound of, and going on to check their own posts for more people to follow.  To get you started I massively recommend Joe Jenkins and Michael Sheridan (you can follow me too if you aren’t already).
  4. Connect with new connections; met someone at an event? Follow up on LinkedIn and/or Twitter to keep the conversation going. I 100% recommend personalising your LinkedIn invites or getting involved in online discussions with your new connection within the fortnight to keep you front of mind.
  5. Bonus tip: your timeline is getting pretty hefty now.  Use Twitter’s list function to keep your Twitter users in mini categories so you can find them, and their tweets, easily.
  6. Post! Much like a conversation, if you don’t engage, ask and contribute you’re not going to attract any attention or response.  Be sure to keep your timeline filled with relevant content about you, the work you’re doing with your charity, and get involved in conversations to entice people to follow and connect.

Getting Going

  1. Ok, you’re posting regularly and building up a bit of a following; go you!  Now we can step it up a notch.  Photos, and especially videos, are a key to online engagement; they get more preference in the social media platform’s algorithms and statistically users engage with these posts more.  Next time you post ask yourself, ‘can I add more value by adding a photo/video?’.  The answer is probably, ‘YES!’ – so do it.  Not comfortable with video?  I run a training session and/or workshop to help you so get in touch.
  2. As with supporters, the best way to spark a relationship is face to face.  If there is twitter3someone online that you really admire and you’d love to know more about them, ask to meet them for a cuppa the next time you’re near their office or at a work event together.  Show genuine interest, be prepared with the questions you’d love to know the answer to, and be sure to say thank you for their time.
  3. Stay in touch! Once you’ve built that connection, don’t let it fizzle.  Keep in touch with your new fundraising friends through, you guessed it, social media; get involved in conversations, drop them an occasional message when you see something that reminds you of them, and get involved in online conversations when you have something positive to add.
  4. Celebrate and return the favour;  it’s tough sometimes as a fundraiser so a little kindness goes a long way.  I love using social media to celebrate my fellow fundraisers and the amazing work they’re doing. And I’m always keen to repay the support shown to me through my career and pass it on to the newer ones starting their own.  Pay it back when you can.

Expert Level

  1. Wow, you’re a social media superstar now!  What next? After around two years of tweeting best practice I knew the next step to furthering my career was to start blogging but my gosh, was it terrifying. Would it be well received?  Did it make sense?  What if they don’t like Prince?!  Luckily I had some very supportive friends and an exciting idea, so ten drafts and a New Year’s Eve celebration later, my first piece was up!  Blogging is a fantastic way to elaborate on your tweet ideas and reach new audiences.  Get in touch if you’d like to guest post on here to get you going.
  2. Another way to progress and get in front of the right people online is to feature ontwitter1 other fundraisers’ online platforms; sharing relevant content and being retweeted is great, but guest blogs, featuring on podcasts and webinars show that you have something great to say, and that you have the backing of the host.
  3. Don’t be shy!  Once I started working remotely for the BHF I started to use Twitter to shout about my work; partly because I was excited and proud of what I was achieving, but mostly because I knew my bosses were on there and it was a great way to get noticed from so far away.  If you have a great fundraising success, share it!  It helps other fundraisers do better work and promotes you as a brilliant fundraiser that another charity would love to have as part of their team.
  4. Take it offline; since starting to speak for national, and then international, fundraising conferences I’ve noticed a big difference in fundraising opportunities.  It’s a big step but with practice, preparation and confidence it has a huge impact on what you can do professionally.  Couple this with ongoing social media sharing and watch your fundraising networks increase, alongside exposing you to greater and better ways of fundraising to improve the work you’re already doing (and giving you new things to post about!).

Development for fundraisers is a hot topic right now but it can be difficult to get started when looking for added value.  I hope these social media tips have a positive impact on your development but it’s important to use alongside traditional progression methods for the best results (networking, secondments, and putting in the hard graft for your work to speak for itself).

Get signed up, get posting, and get moving on up; see you on Twitter!

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas

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!

‘Fundraising for Introverts’; Tips For When You’re Shy, Anxious or Just Not Feeling Up To It…

I have this podcast/Youtube video that I’d like to share with you which I recorded recently with fundraising friend, Simon Scriver.  We were chatting about how early experiences shape your approach to fundraising, and I shared how being bullied in my teenage years had a big effect on my confidence.

Fundraising actually helped me through it but sometimes, even to this day, it can be quite difficult to muster the energy or mental power to get me through certain tasks.  I’ve had to learn tricks for moments like these and I share some in this recording.

Fundraising for introverts, people who get a little anxious, and even just people who find it a little overwhelming at times…I hope you enjoy the listen.

 

Subscribe to the mailing list to be kept up to date with future posts, fundraising news and plenty of donor appreciation ideas