GUEST BLOG SWAP: Employee Engagement – Work It!

HeatherLeaning

Heather Nelson and I are hosting a blog swap to share our corporate fundraising ideas with our audiences across the pond (although Heather has been WAY more efficient at getting her article together so you get to read hers first).

Heather is an experienced and passionate fundraising consultant specialising in non-profit and corporate partnerships and sponsorship. Building great relationships that meet shared goals is her playground.  

Over to Heather…

Are you one of those fundraisers who gets the call from a company and then, when they ask about employee volunteering, you run screaming from the room?

I mean, I don’t blame you. Most fundraisers I know who receive this kind of request suffer a mild panic attack before finding a nice-ish way to shut down the company representative or trying to redirect their enthusiasm.

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “Heather, you worked for food banks, employee volunteerism has always been easy for you!” Well, it’s true. I’m the first to admit that food banks do have it easier. They have a clear, tangible offering that is ready-made for groups of volunteers. There’s a host of charities that have this advantage. It’s just not fair!

All valid points … but, are we done whining yet?

Here’s the thing: A) Just because certain charities have a clear offering doesn’t mean designing employment volunteer programs is easy. And B) What these organizations don’t want you to know is that anyone can do it, including you. Keep reading.

All fundraisers know that hosting an employee volunteer group requires time and effort (and a lot of it). If you want to raise some funds, your program has to be thoughtful, impactful and have a mind-blowing follow up. The truth is, if you want to grow corporate support, having the ability to support employee volunteers is not just important – it’s a must. And despite the seemingly obscene amount of effort that goes into it – it’s worth it.

3 Reasons to Engage Corporate Volunteers

  1. Employee engagement is important to companies because of (at least!) three factors: it increases their staff retention rates, improves their reputation internally and builds a positive workplace culture. There is tons of research on this, you can trust me! Or email me and I can send you proof. The bottom line here is, if it’s important to companies, and you want money from companies, it needs to be important to you.

 

  1. Corporate support can be fickle. We have all been in a situation where you work so hard to solidify corporate support only to have a staff member leave, and with it, the money you worked so hard to get. Engaging employees is a great way to build additional relationships within a corporation! I call this having a “sticky” corporate partnership.  Sticky partnerships have multiple connection points between the charity and the company, meaning that while you never depend entirely on one advocate, you’re constantly building a rolodex of champions, corporate representatives who are involved with your charity in a deep and meaningful way.

 

  1. People LOVE a good story. There is nothing stronger than the ability to weave together a story that illustrates links between employees, the cause, your charity and the company. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and basically results in one big powerful pile of (very marketable) awesomeness. Send newsletters, share on social, tag your partners and keep the message moving.

 

Now that we all recognize the need to engage employees, the question becomes not why – but how?  Of course, if you’re a food bank, an environmental clean-up organization, or an organization that requires bodies to build homes, the how is pretty obvious. But what about the rest of us?

Ten Heads are Better Than One

This is not a job for one person. First things first – gather the troops. Host a meeting comprising of program staff, current volunteers and whoever else is pretty much available into a room and start brainstorming! Come up with an offering or two that you have available, so when you DO get that call about employee volunteer opportunities, you have an answer. Remember, the answer doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to not be NO!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Volunteer placements on event committees
  • Support roles at your annual gala, run, walk
  • Participating in a quarterly focus group on different topics
  • Writing thank you cards
  • Decorating for your beneficiary holiday party
  • Providing homework support for beneficiaries
  • Mentorship program for staff, volunteers or beneficiaries
  • Building a joint workshop for other volunteers
  • Building a joint social media, awareness raising campaign

 

You get the idea. Be ready with something that you can offer up at a moment’s notice. Next, figure out what you’re asking for from them and think of ways to continue the conversation. Remember, they called you! They wanted to engage with you! So, engage. Have a conversation and start building a relationship.

And, when you do get those employees into your organization, treat them right! I mean REALLY thank them, make them feel awesome. Do not let them know how much work it was for them to be there. Let them know that you APPRECIATE them! In the end, that feeling is what will have them eager to move forward and continue to grow the partnership. And that, is what matters most.

Want to talk more, I love talking to fundraisers, especially those tackle the corporate fundraising challenge. Drop me a note heather@bridgeraise.com or tweet with me @heathernelson12

Heather Nelson is a Canadian corporate fundraising consultant, who loves cheer leading fundraisers on, cuddling her puppy and dreaming about her next vacation.

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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#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!).

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#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!).

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Get in touch and let’s talk about how I can help your charity raise more money.

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.

 

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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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