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 Great as it was, it is now hideously out of date and (for small / medium sized charities at least) there has been no follow up study since.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