Beyond the Font – How to Use Your Brand Refresh for Fundraising; Simple Tips from the British Heart Foundation

In July the ‘Great Fundraising and Brands’ report, conducted by Harriet Day and Adrian Sargeant, was released through ACA Philanthropy & Fundraising. In it, they say that there is ‘surprisingly little evidence of the impact of branding on fundraising success.’ The brand refresh possibly a strategic decision made by a board that believes the attention and clarity that a new logo creates will be enough to boost fundraising and save the world.

The truth is there has to be a lot of graft from the teams within the charity itself to actually use a brand refresh (if you insist on having one) to raise more money. But hey, that’s fundraising. There is no quick fix.

If managed right, a brand refresh can present more engagement opportunities, chances to refresh fundraising relationships or discover new ones, and raise you more money.

If managed right a brand refresh can present more engagement opportunities, chances to refresh fundraising relationships or discover new ones, and raise you more money. Macmillan increased their fundraising income from £97m to £141m within five years, Blind Veterans saw a 700% increase in subscribers to their mailing list from the refresh launch alone, and Teach First saw a 12% increase in brand awareness in under one year of their refresh (source: Narrative).

Yet many, often smaller, charities adopt a new palette, spruce up the logo, and update their supporters in a newsletter or worse – don’t update them at all (two Pizza for Losers stories were from fundraisers who did just this and ended up with complaints that took a year to fix…)

A brand refresh is more than just how it looks, it’s about you as an organisation – who you are, your identity, and who is alongside you in your mission to save the world. That way you’ll attract supporters because they’ll identify with you. You can’t expect do that from just a font change.

During my time at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) I was seconded to a role to roll-out the 2018 brand refresh to the entire fundraising team and use it as a fundraising opportunity; not just for the long-term, but in the immediate moment to reinvigorate the team and make the most out of the refresh launch itself.

I’m a community fundraiser at heart so for me the key to getting this right was through prioritising; using our existing networks and relationships to the most of their potential, and connecting with actual people. Essentially taking it off the paper and into the hearts and minds of the people we were talking to.

So what did I learn from my time as ‘Fundraising Brand Campaign Project Manager’ to help fundraising teams get the most out of their brand refresh launch*?

  1. Choose Your Priorities

Don’t just go with what’s ‘cost-effective’, I’m talking about what can actually help you reach more people and be able to connect with them.

At the BHF a major part of the refresh was communicating more about our other areas of research; stroke, vascular dementia, and diabetes. This meant we had more ‘hooks’ to connect with people, and this meant more opportunities on the doorstep for face-to-face fundraisers, for corporate fundraisers in pitches, and for any fundraiser out in the community meeting people with their own story.

Priorities could also include events or activity where a lot of supporters and potential supporters could engage with your new brand; mass participation events, direct mail, or social media.

2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Yes, it’s exciting to come up with something new and flashy for launch-day to grab people’s attention, but…isn’t that what the brand refresh was supposed to do?

Instead of spending time and resource creating something new, think about what you’ve got happening already that you could utilise as an awareness and fundraising opportunity.

Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Meet with key supporters and let them know of the upcoming changes, ideally take something rebranded with you so they can ‘get it’. Let them know why you’re doing this and what you aim to achieve. Make them feel part of this new journey and get them excited – then ask if they could arrange their own local celebrations to mark the launch
  • Engage with old, existing, and potential corporates; could they be your refresh partner? Can the refresh revive any existing partnership that’s gone a bit flat, essentially starting again? Do they want to extend the partnership to stay with you on this new part of your journey? Does your new brand open up a new audience that aligns with your values? Revisit your pipeline and get inspired.
  • Commandeer upcoming events and activities that give you an audience; face-to-face fundraisers speak to hundreds of people a week, social media can reach millions of people a day, that dinner for your major donors gives you a chance to make key people feel privy to exclusive informationl making them feel special AND giving more reasons to ask for a donation
  • Anything that’s cheap/free to update or was due a new order anyway – refresh it!

Basically, think of the refresh as an excuse to pick up the phone, talk to people, and meet supporters.

Other ways you can connect with people are:

  • Digital: get your CEO to host a private live-stream with supporters to learn more about the motives behind the refresh and be able to answer questions directly
  • Existing communications: use your next planned newsletter to update on the refresh through supporter’s own stories
  • Pick a key event close to the brand refresh launch and make sure that not only is the brand visible, but all of your charity’s teams are there (not just fundraising) to have conversations with the public. This not only gets supporters inspired but does wonders for your own team too
  • Use your local presence: if you’re fortunate enough to have a location in the local community like a building, office, or landmark – use it! Invite people along for a talk and the special unveiling moment of your new brand.

3. Collaborate

As soon as I began my secondment I knew the quickest route to getting this job done properly was through working with others. I’m confident in most fundraising methods but no one knows these campaigns better than the folk who do it day in, day out.

So the first step was pulling together a working group with a rep from each of the teams to gain insight, campaign data, and news from (and be able to feed back updates and progress efficiently).

Not only did it mean the campaigns chosen to be refreshed for launch day were updated on time, but by regularly getting these people together or communicating updates to them, it meant other opportunities were spotted to work together across the whole fundraising team (the holy grail!).

We had in-house and third-party events teams agreeing on one t-shirt design, community and retail teams sharing designs for public collateral, and corporate and major donor teams aligning their messaging for upcoming pitches.

This meant we saved time and money on ordering marketing materials (not to mention the time of the creative team who were working flat out), increased our awareness with the public with a united approach of one message, and utilised upcoming opportunities by using networks and insight across multiple teams; instead of just using what we already know doing what we’ve always done.

Not only that but by communicating and collaborating the teams got a better understanding and appreciation for what each other were doing, and by the end of my secondment were off making plans and talking to each other without my involvement – and hopefully are still doing so to this day!

4. It’s More Than a Logo

That was a big part of it at the BHF, and I absolutely LOVED the font, but the big thing behind bhfthe refresh was the stories.

Being able to have more ways to connect with a potential supporter was liberating, and being able to share something with them that they didn’t already know about the BHF did wonders for keeping a conversation going. And having a renewed, refreshed vibe about the charity got teams out there, seeking the people who were connected with us in this new way; potential partnerships, heart story contributors, members of the community we could bring together to create a group, major donors who had been devastated by stroke but didn’t know a ‘heart charity’ were the largest funders of stroke research.

 

The change from ‘Fight For Every Heartbeat’ to ‘Beat Heartbreak Forever’, changed something for me too. Feeling the welcoming, empowering messaging flow through our campaigns created a shift where people understood more about our charity and the difference that we wanted to see happen in the world – the tagline became a fundraising message.

But make sure your team are trained in the new messaging and understand this feeling before being expected to roll it out in their own campaigns – how can you expect supporters to understand it if your own team don’t?

It certainly wasn’t smooth sailing all of the time but that’s OK, because that’s where the learnings come from and I hope these have been useful for you as you consider, or begin, a brand refresh of your own.

I’ve created a FREE handy infographic to help you with the logistics of project managing a brand refresh and as ever I’m happy to support with you with your fundraising to help you change the world.

*This article looks at the refresh once the branding decisions have been made. If you’d like more information from day one, request the ‘Great Fundraising and Brands’ report for insight from charities who have recently undertaken their own refresh.

Enter your details below to claim your free brand refresh infographic.

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IoFFC 2019; Session Skipping, Mental Health & Good Humans

How was IoFFC for you?

It was a different vibe for me this year. I don’t know if it’s because it was my first year on the Convention Board so I’ve been involved in the planning, or because I finally succumbed to the flu my three-year-old has been kindly offering to share for the past week, but it was definitely a calmer and more mindful IoFFC than I’ve ever been to.

This year I skipped the Tweeting and need to be in a session AT ALL TIMES and focussed my (ever decreasing) energy on people; meeting with them, listening to them and really connecting. I listened to my body when it was struggling to keep up and was able to find a quiet spot or a comfy beanbag to chill out before I could re-join (if anyone saw me getting up off one of those bags you better not tell anyone how ungraceful that looked…).

The theme of connection, vulnerability, and self-care ran through a lot of IoFFC this year even though the subject made up only a handful of the session content. In my catch-ups with fundraisers, we discussed burnout, being treated badly in jobs and the impact on mental health and the ever-increasing pressure to nail it when the odds are stacked against us. This openness led to my own vulnerability and I surprised myself with being honest in conversations about my own thoughts and failures and reflecting on how that shaped my relationships with peers and what was to come next in my career journey. This self-reflection actually made me feel empowered to cut out the fluff and just be direct about what I need and expect to be able to succeed, which is especially helpful as I head out solo with my own freelance work!

The topic of wellbeing was definitely highlighted in Neil and Jonny’s Tuesday plenary

neilandjonny
Jonny & Neil share their story

when the subject of mental health and suicide was in the spotlight for the most-packed out IoFFC plenary that I’ve ever been to. The online response was phenomenal, but how do we keep that conversation going in our teams and with each other when the shine of the hashtag has faded?

The open conversations helped set the stage for the final Wednesday session when Pizza for Losers made a brief, one hour return with Danyial Gilani, Lizzi Hollis, Emily Petty and Ben Swart sharing their personal experiences of failure and how that’s shaped their current-day success. Two of those talks were super personal, and I could sense that appreciation and connection in the room as the speaker let go of their story and the audience took it on and heard they weren’t alone. It’s easy to feel like you’re failing if you’re not coping but needing to reset, recharge and sometimes even quit is definitely not failing. Looking after yourself is NOT a failure. It’s not easy standing up in front of a room of over 60 people and say, ‘this didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but it’s ok’; but I think the speakers took more from that than the attendees did, proving that talking and opening up is the first step to moving forward to be in a better place.

20190703_161924
Pizza for Losers takeover at IoFFC 2019

Joe Jenkins asked me in an interview for IoF something along the lines of ‘are organisations doing enough to look after the wellbeing of staff?’, my answer was ‘no’ (it was actually a lot longer than that but Monday feels like it was a lifetime ago). We talk about it a lot with each other, but there lacks a proper understanding and “process” where employees can actually get support. I wonder if organisations are reluctant to open up too much about this for fear of a mass-staff sickness, or if it’s a genuine ‘we have no idea where to start’ kind of thing.

As a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA), and someone who experiences related issues, mental health is massively misunderstood. There’s the idea that if you’re not in bed alone in a dark room then you’re not struggling, but poor mental health and wellbeing looks and feels different in different people. This can then be hard to spot when someone’s struggling, but also some people are pretty awful in talking with people about mental health and knowing how to support them – and it’s easy to quickly retreat again if you’ve finally opened up and it’s going terribly, terribly wrong. And whilst MHFA training is important, my worry is that once again it puts the emphasis and responsibility on peers supporting peers when the guidance has to come from the top down; and to be honest the MHFA trained people I know aren’t really the people I would go to for help, and they may say the same about me, so what good does it really do apart from tick a box?

I’d like to see more discussions around this on a more prominent platform next year and some sessions from charities and companies who have managed to put good support networks in place that we can learn from. I’m in a fortunate place on the Board that I can make that known, but I need to know what good things are happening out there so I can bring it into the picture (and also learn from it). I don’t want this to just be a, ‘Wow, that was an amazing experience!’, flash in the line-up so please let me know what’s happening out there so we can do more to help people who are trying to change the world.

So my biggest takeaway from IoFFC this year wasn’t a big ‘EUREKA’ moment in a session or a soundbite from a speaker that made me realise what I need to do to succeed, it was the individual conversations and connections with other fundraisers that made me feel supported, reinvigorated and part of a crew of caring and wonderful people who are all human, just like me. I’ll be trying to package this into something more for the IOFNW conference in September where I’ll be delivering the opening plenary and a session on learning from failure – hopefully I’ll see you there to tell you more and we can continue the conversation.

What was your experience of IoFFC like this year? Tell me at hello@charitynikki.com or on Twitter, @CharityNikki.

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#IWITOT; Mermaids & the Marathon Gamer

In February 2019 I spoke at SOFII’s #IWITOT (I Wish I’d Thought of That) event, a fundraising learning forum where fundraisers get seven minutes to talk about a fundraising campaign or idea they wish they’d thought up themselves.  It’s brilliant.  Lots of fresh ideas, new ideas and plenty of sparks flying for innovation.

I spoke about the January 2019 supporter-led fundraiser for Mermaids where a gamer, Harry Brewis, used his skills and online audience for good to raise £250,000 for Mermaids.

I’ve been watching gaming as a fundraiser for a while now and just an hour after my talk JustGiving launched their gaming fundraising tool; so I know there’s more exciting things to come!

Check out the video here and Simon summed up the gist of the talk with this quote graphic.  Cheers @ToastFundraiser!

 

iwitot quote

The Future Of Community Fundraising

I want to reshape the way we approach community fundraising.

I want to develop community fundraising from a separate entity within a fundraising team to an interwoven strategy. To add value and insight across the fundraising mix, whilst driving mass engagement with the key people who will stay with us long-term.

Think about it…

You’re developing a new fundraising product and need to know what your supporters want and will engage with. Who talks to them on a daily basis? Community fundraisers.

You’re researching a corporate partner and want to know how to win the next big vote. Who has worked with their regional offices, engaging directly with the staff who will be voting? Community fundraisers.

Who has regular, direct contact with lifelong supporters of your charity; people who give their time, skills and money to help you succeed? People who would be PERFECT for engaging in legacy conversations. Community fundraisers.

You get the picture.

So how can we do this? 

Reduce the pressure
Give community fundraisers the support and space, and teach them the skills, to build strong, long-lasting relationships within their communities; to find the influencers aligned with your cause to increase your reach and impact.
The future of community is strategic partnerships; faith and investment in the few, rather than chasing the many. Create your next strategy around this approach but most importantly teach fundraisers how to do it.
Choose loyalty over transactions.
Involvement
Make sure your community fundraisers are involved in discussions to provide insight as to what’s happening out in the real world. We hear the inspiring stories, but we’re also the first to hear the grumbles that could spark the next innovation within your fundraising team.
Be better at communicating plans and campaigns to allow community fundraisers to recruit local leaders and influencers to increase your reach. Share your corporate pipelines with community fundraisers so they can build personal relationships and grow a following before the social media ‘vote for us!’ push.
And you, the manager. If you’re responsible for the community fundraising strategy at your charity, make sure you’re in contact with the fundraisers and most involved supporters who are doing the fundraising.
Data is cool, but words don’t paint the bigger picture.
Share
Responsible for an event and spotted a supporter with a strong personal connection and an even higher fundraising target? Don’t just put them on the usual stewardship journey, contact your community fundraiser and ask if they’ve heard about them and if not, arrange to make it happen.
Invite community fundraisers to discuss their experience with your other campaigns when working with supporters and write community fundraising involvement into your strategy plans throughout all fundraising activity. Take advantage of the impact that having a human to human interaction can have on fundraising income. Read about Yorkshire Cancer Research’s £8,000 fundraiser from one participant by doing just this.
And don’t keep this to just fundraising; do your supporter communications reference their complete support of you? We LOVE that they give regularly and run a marathon for us each year, so why don’t they know this?
Review your expectations
Are your measuring tools pressuring supporters into ways of giving that are right for them, or is it for you?
Are you spending too much time and money on creating products instead of looking at a supporter’s overall potential and how you can reach it?
As communities become increasingly time poor, are groups still the way to go for local engagement, or should you be focusing on stewarding your donor to host their one event better each time, rather than asking them to host more?
Are your unachievable conversation targets encouraging fundraisers to spend their time with people who aren’t engaged with your cause, and harming your opportunities to spend time with the people who are?
Experience over targets
Individual team targets, geographical boundaries, focusing completely on the cash, job titles…all of these things create a sense of protectiveness within a fundraising team and dictates what is, or isn’t, part of your job.
We’re losing sight of the supporter that doesn’t care who looks after what area or what product, they just want to know they’re going to make a difference and that they’re going to feel good doing it.
Instead of creating processes that work well for you but complicate delivery, think about what works best from a fundraising support viewpoint; if someone wanted to give to you, is it as easy and enjoyable as possible?
Don’t just think of support in monetary terms. Who do your supporters know, what skills can they share with you, are they a passionate campaigner with big reach?
Invest
Once you acknowledge that community fundraisers are event recruiters, legacy fundraisers, storytelling extraordinaires, relationship and engagement masters, digital users, corporate managers, and so much more, invest in their learning in these areas to better their professional approach and watch your engagement and income soar.

Community, regional and engagement teams are on the rise, and for good reason. 87% of teams have seen growth in this area in the last three years with 71% ready to invest more in the next twelve months (Source: THINK benchmarking).

So let’s go beyond the bake sales, groups and (as one professional fundraiser referred to community) the “gopher role” reputation of community fundraising, and really use these human to human, local representation opportunities to their full potential.

If you’re already working on community engagement within other fundraising methods I’d love to chat with you to learn more. If you’re sold on the idea and want to learn more, then I want to talk to you.Let’s show what community can really do.

I elaborate more on what’s discussed here on Jason Lewis’ ‘Fundraising Talent’ podcast.

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NEW VOICES: “New To Fundraising? Seven Tips To Nail It From Day One” – Jill O’Herlihy, Mental Health Ireland

In January 2018 a fundraising friend gave me the chance to host my first blog on their site, and a phenomenal year of opportunities followed.  I wanted to do the same for fundraisers looking to take the next step in their career and asked fundraisers to submit their first ever blogs to be featured in a month-long celebration of new voices. Today’s blog comes from Jill O’Herlihy who went from new fundraiser to income queen in a little over two years, even being invited into Facebook to tell them how it works.  Here she shares her advice.

Over to Jill…

“I kind of fell into Fundraising! I was and still am Head of Communications with Mental Health Ireland and I found aspects of fundraising were creeping into my work load on a daily basis. We never had anyone looking after fundraising with a small number of people taking part in event in aid of our charity, so this was a new role for me and for the organisation.

After being in this role for two years now, here are my top seven tips to anyone starting out…

  1. Get a kick ass mentor!

The very first thing I did was reach out to an organisation called Ask Direct in Ireland. I needed a mentor to guide and support me…. And boy did I land on my feet. I’ve been working with the fab Simon Scriver for the past two years, meeting every month, to thrash out ideas and strategies, complain that nobody understands, chat about the world of fundraising and drink lots of tea.

His support and guidance has been critical to the success I have had in my role and we have had such fun along the way too. As a lone fundraiser in an organisation it’s really important to have someone who understands the fundraising landscape and lingo and also understands the frustrations and struggles we often face!

  1. Get organised

I’m not a terribly organised person by nature but being a fundraising manager/ officer demands this. Your supporters are taking time out of their lives and money out of their pockets in aid of your charity so the least they deserve in return is an organised response to their queries.

This doesn’t have to mean an amazing CRM with all the bells and whistles, up til now I’ve been using a gigantic spreadsheet to keep tabs on everyone; when they contacted, what events they’ve done, how much they’ve raised and when we’ve been in touch.

As I mentioned, I’m not terribly organised, so I didn’t always keep this in perfect order but after nearly two years and finally a new CRM I’m training myself to input the data after every contact I have. Yes, it slows me down a bit but I know it will save me time in the long run and also help me with my #DonorLove!

  1. Thank, Thank, Thank

One of the main lessons I learnt from Simon was about saying Thank You… and I say it A 2935LOT! I love that much of my job is taken up with thanking people and I haven’t written so much with a pen since my school days!

Everyone who supports our organisation gets a handwritten card from me. I always hand-write my cards, notes and envelopes. I use a stamp rather than franking when I can. I personalise every response and sign everything with my own name and a little smiley face too!

The supporters love it and many come back as a result of the personal touch.

Remember to keep track of the thank-yous in that big spreadsheet too… a few of our supporters have received two cards on occasion!

 

  1. You’re a storyteller

I love hearing stories about people’s lives and telling your supporters stories is no different. Not everyone wants to share but there are so many people out there who do. I decided to ask our supporters via email why they supported Mental Health Ireland and I got loads of great and useable stories back and so much love too!

It was a lovely way to connect with them and to learn why people are interested in aligning themselves to our charity.

  1. Pick Up the Phone

So, I’m not very good at this one. I feel like I’m intruding on our supporter’s time and feel a little bit weird about calling them. I’m great reactively and can chat for ages so the talking isn’t the issue. This is something I’m going to change for 2019 starting with one call a week to a supporter to see how they’re getting on and I’ll grow this as my confidence grows!

I’m also going to schedule some time to meet with them face to face when every I can… I know it will make all the difference to their experience and will enrich mine too!

  1. Facebook Fundraising

If your organisation hasn’t set up Facebook Fundraising, then what are you waiting for! I was an early adopter to this when it first opened up to Irish Charities and it has been an overwhelming success for us.

jill in fb
Facebook Fundraising talk at Facebook

When we first started in Jan 2018 I was a bit stumped by how I might contact these people setting up fundraisers in aid of Mental Health Ireland on Facebook. So I devised a plan to thank them on their fundraising page with a note, which their donating friends could also read, inviting them to email me so I could send them a thank you.

This resulted in me getting name, address and email address for each person. I posted them out a lovely little thank you and in that process invited them to join our newsletter.

It has taken a lot of hours to keep on top of this but I feel it’s worth it. Our conversion rate to our newsletter is growing every month and it is beginning to come full circle with a small but growing percentage donating and community fundraising in aid of Mental Health Ireland.

There have been a few issues but I feel Facebook have ironed most of them out at this stage however overall it has been a very positive experience.

  1. Network

There are so so many lovely and wonderful fundraisers out there and the very best thing I did and do is to get out amongst them. Some are in the same position as me but most have a vast amount of experience that I learn from.

Log onto your country/ towns charity institute and forums and find out what’s going on in your city and further afield that you can attend. Get onto Fundraising Forums on Facebook to learn about what everyone is up to and maybe you can help someone with an issue they are having. Start snooping on social media and follow the Kings and Queens of fundraising for their tips, content and great banter!

So two years in and I can happily say that I love fundraising. I never ever thought of it as a career and now I honestly don’t ever want to do anything else.

  • Twitter @mentalhealthirl
  • Instagram @mentalhealthireland
  • Facebook MentalHealthIreland”

You can find Jill on twitter and Instagram @jilloherlihy.  Jill will also be speaking at this year’s IoF National Convention alongside Simon Simon about the fundraising strategy developed for Mental Health Ireland’s amazing success.

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NEW VOICES: ‘Lights, Camera, Capital Appeal!’ – Emma Leiper Finlayson, Sue Ryder

In January 2018 a fundraising friend gave me the chance to host my first blog on their site, and a phenomenal year of opportunities followed.  I wanted to do the same for fundraisers looking to take the next step in their career and asked fundraisers to submit their first ever blogs to be featured in a month-long celebration of new voices. Today’s blog from Emma Leiper Finlayson focuses on Sue Ryder’s launch of their capital appeal; from nothing, to £3.9m with limited resource and support. Emma is a phenomenal fundraiser with masses of talent, drive and enthusiasm and I know she’s going to make big waves in the sector.

Over to Emma…

“One neurological care centre expansion, £3.9m to raise, zero prospects and no database, and little or no awareness of the charity and the centre in the city.  This was a job for a PR specialist.

When I started my role with Sue Ryder to lead on the £3.9m expansion of their Aberdeen based neurological care centre, Dee View Court, there was certainly much to do, not least with PR and marketing.  It was a daunting task. I was a fundraiser, not a PR person. I’d only dabbled in PR in my previous roles, writing some press releases, organising social media feeds; I’d never created or implemented a concerted PR strategy. Initially it felt like two very different roles, but what the capital appeal has taught me changed the way I think about fundraising:  And my epiphany was this:  Fundraising is PR and PR is fundraising.  They are one and the same. You can’t do one without the other.  Perhaps obvious to many, but it was a game changer for me.

The need to raise awareness  of our appeal– and fast – precipitated my foray into the strategic world of PR, and it’s this that I’ll outline below: What we’ve done PR-wise to drive forward the appeal, and lessons learned along the way.

Read all about it – getting press support 

press.jpg

A media partnership with a local, well read newspaper was essential for us to get the word out. We were fortunate to have a contact within the local newspaper, and so we formally approached for a media partnership. A proposal was prepared which outlined that we would provide them with ongoing exclusives, such as when we reached fundraising and building milestones, or when someone important came to visit, like the Queen!  Our proposal was accepted (right time, right place) and we worked with the newspaper to prepare an ongoing programme stories, aiming for two or so features a month. I quickly learned three things:

  1. Not all stories will be run: Because of our partnership, for a while we weren’t sending press releases to any other newspapers, and it began to feel like we were missing out on PR opportunities.  And so we changed tactics.  We discussed it with the editor and came to an agreement that if they couldn’t print a story for whatever reason, then we could release it to other publications. It means we remain loyal to our media partnership by offering them exclusives, but don’t miss out on opportunities to put out news if they can’t run it.
  2. Target your press releases: Every paper has a certain culture and we need to angle our stories as such.  Our media partner is a business paper and to appeal more to the audience (and for more of our stories to be picked up) we have to emphasise the wider impact that our expansion appeal will have on the local economy – such as the creation of new jobs in the area or the benefits to healthcare provision in the area.  Likewise for more family orientated newspapers, we send stories about individuals doing fundraising events – warm and engaging stories that aren’t always suitable for a business focussed paper. The result – we have more stories running about our appeal than ever before.
  3. Direct Calls for Actions are hard to get published: News stories will be published, sure, but with overt call for support to the appeal? Trickier. Newspapers want stories, not requests.  So we balanced up our media partnership by securing sponsorship from a local company to cover the cost of paid-for features directly conveying the fundraising need and ask.  It has balanced up well with the news stories and we always receive donations off the back of that specific ask feature.

 Choose your Social Media Weapons

dee

At the beginning of the appeal we set up the usual social media platforms, but as Aberdeen is a tight knit business city, we quickly realised LinkedIn was our best weapon for securing corporate support.  As we built up our supporter base, our contacts would share our posts, and in turn others would see it and we have literally received donations from companies just seeing us on LinkedIn. No relation to the cause – they’ve just seen others supporting it and decided to do so too.

And so we’ve ramped up our LinkedIn presence; we post about meetings with contacts and tag them in (thus ensuring their contacts also see the post), and we’ve started posting videos taken on our phone showcasing the building work and updating on the appeal. And it works.  Video content is so hugely popular –people tend to scroll past a post but not a video.  Our videos routinely receive thousands of viewings and consequently we’ve managed to secure a great amount of earned PR – I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met that have said they’d heard about me and the appeal by having seen a video that we’ve made.  Our appeal is in the middle of a lot of noise – and a number of other capital appeals – but videos are making us be heard.

A quick note on Facebook.  We initially used it to recruit for challenge events, but with a limited audience base and many other charities promoting the same running / walking / cycling event, it just wasn’t working for us. Again we needed to stand above the noise, so we organised something a bit different – a Fire walk, which no one else was doing in the area.  At the same time we realised that Facebook Events were blossoming and we, the fundraising team, were personally seeing so many new events in the city because of it, through people liking, sharing, or posting that they were attending. And so we created our own FB event for our Fire Walk – we had two sign ups within 24 hours and more coming through later.

Network like a Boss

Networking is face to face PR. Because we had minimal awareness of Dee View Court, least of all our appeal, we had to literally get out there and tell people about it. Likewise, because we had little (read: zero) contacts we had to get out there and make them.  We needed more corporate prospects, more potential major donors, and more community challenge event participants. And so for the first year of the appeal the fundraising team went to the opening of an envelope.  And I learned this: big level events like the Chamber or SCDI are just as important for corporate/ MG prospecting and cultivation as are your smaller SME or one person business.  Why? Because you never know what might come from that one person or who they might know. At a BNI meeting I met a self-employed person who wanted to take part in a challenge event for us. Turns out they were also on the board for a Foundation and through their influence, we were invited to submit an application for over £100K (note: we’re awaiting the outcome!). Never think that a smaller networking event won’t have the high level supporters that you’re looking for.   And even if they don’t, you’ve made a new contact on LinkedIn, and they’re another person to like, share and spread your appeal messages (and not forgetting the videos!). Their audience is now your audience too.

A Pause, not a Conclusion

I won’t say ‘in conclusion’, because our appeal is still ongoing and our story isn’t over yet. There is still so much to learn, but my newfound PR knowledge can be summed up in a nutshell.  Whether it’s traditional press, social media, or face to face PR – figure out the culture of your town, your audience, and your local press and tailor your PR accordingly.  What might work for one area of the country might not work for yours.  Be noisy with your PR, but make the right noise!”

To follow Emma and see PR and fundraising in action, catch her on LinkedIn (to see those fab videos mentioned above), and Twitter, @EmmaLeipFin.  Emma is also delivering a session about this appeal at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention in July 2019.

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NEW VOICES: ‘What Failing Has Taught Me About Fundraising’ – Andy King, East African Playgrounds

In January 2018 a fundraising friend gave me the chance to host my first blog on their site, and a phenomenal year of opportunities followed. I wanted to do the same for fundraisers looking to take the next step in their career and asked fundraisers to submit their first ever blogs to be featured in a month-long celebration of new voices. In the first of these guest blogs, Andy King shares an honest look at fundraising failures. Andy is a bright star in the fundraising world and there’s big things to come; as Institute of Fundraising’s ‘Fundraiser of the Year 2018’, Vision Africa trustee and self-confessed bad dancer, he’s going to do amazing things in the sector.

Over to Andy…

“In the three years I’ve worked at East African Playgrounds, the team have delivered constant innovation, experimental approaches and an openness to new ideas. This has led to significant success – two new fundraising streams and a huge increase in income. But it’s also led to some notable failures. An abandoned marathon project, rejected ideas, and much more.

On recent reflection, I realised that the projects we left behind have taught me as much as the projects we’ve taken forwards. As a sector, we’re so focused on sharing our success that we often don’t mention our failures. As such, I thought I’d share the 3 key things I learnt from failing in 2018.

  1. Keep it simple

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If you look like this explaining your new product, it’s better to start again.

This year, we attempted a project called ‘Festival Hitch’ – a combination of an existing hitchhike project and an existing festival volunteering product. We thought combining the best elements of both would allow us to create a truly unique product that would allow us to appeal to a wider range of students than either pre-existing programme. To be blunt, we were wrong.

What we failed to realise was that the best element of these products is their relative simplicity. Combining them created a complicated product that appealed only to the crossover in the Venn Diagram of the existing markets, leaving a very small selection of our database.

In our post event review, the over-complication seemed suddenly obvious. Even as I explain this now, I don’t know how we didn’t see it at the time. But it’s important to constantly ask yourself if the person on the street would understand what you’re asking of them.

It’s a similar concept to the fundraising advice of speak like an actual person rather than a fundraiser – speak to your ideas like a member of the public and see if you’re wrapped up in a product that excites everyone or just your fundraising team. Your supporters aren’t always like you.

  1. Really consider your capacity

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A fundraiser’s strategic goal for 2019

As I’m sure is the case in all fundraising teams, there’s a huge amount we’re not yet doing – we’ve absolutely nailed certain elements, but there’s a lot we’ve still not scratched the surface on. To use a broad example, our events/community income stream has been steadily growing for the last 9 years, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of recruiting supporters from schools or churches.

In times of strategising and re-focusing, it can be tempting to bite off more than your team can chew – more projects, bigger targets, higher retention – than can be realistically expected. Fundraisers are never satisfied with repeating last year’s performance; the goal is always “more”.

Having attempted for six months to get several new products off the ground all in one go (ranging from a fledgling corporate partnerships programme to the above-mentioned festival hitch), all I’d achieved was burnout. We had several projects looking like they might go somewhere, but nothing to show for the backbreaking effort we’d put in. The old saying is true – less can be more. After shelving the products that were moving particularly slowly, we were able to deliver above and beyond the initial targets of the remaining products by some margin.

The lesson of making incremental changes and introducing new projects slowly in order to give each one the best chance to succeed is one I will carry forwards until I retire.

  1. Some things work better in the background.

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Sometimes a product will surprise you

In the meeting in which we agreed that we were working on too many projects at once, we gave ourselves three options for each product – continue, abandon, and backbench. The products we put on the backbench were the ones we genuinely believed had potential. The ones that weren’t necessarily right for right now, but we weren’t ready to give up on. We kept them live on the website and decided to take a reactive approach with each of them, should we get anyone approach us organically.

To our pleasant surprise, both projects that we put on the shelf – a primary school fundraising pack and a new international event – have received a steady stream of attention since then. We’ve been able to follow up with the warmest of leads for these projects without putting the effort of prospecting in, growing their potential and credibility to be picked back up on in the future. Neither of them will revolutionise our fundraising team anytime soon but having the option there has allowed us to deliver our initial aims.

This is something I will bear in mind moving forwards – sometimes, it’s worth keeping something in the wings rather than binning it entirely. If you’ve already put the work into a project to get it on your website, for example, it may as well stay there. Even if you stop focusing on it entirely, you’ll be surprised what might come to you organically.

Overall, this year of fundraising has taught me a huge amount – how to spot potential, how to prospect and how to dream. But it’s also taught me to communicate doubt, share my failings and be honest about what I want for my team and myself in the future. In this sector it can often feel like you’re the only one struggling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, let’s share: what have you failed in recently?”

Thank you to Andy for To learn more about Andy’s processes mentioned above and to share your failure learnings , catch him on Twitter, @AndrewEKing.

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GUEST BLOG: Charity Websites; Turning Visitors into Supporters

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This month’s blog is from Matt Saunders, founder of Charity Box. Matt is the founder of Charity Box, a social enterprise providing cost-effective web design and online fundraising solutions to charities. With over 10 years professional experience in helping organisations of all sizes, Matt is passionate about helping the UKs third sector achieve its digital aims. Thank you Matt for sharing what you know, and for giving me a holiday from blog writing over the Christmas holidays!…Special thanks also from both of us to James Gadsby-Peet for adding your digital wisdom.

Over to Matt…

In this fast-paced age of information-overload it can be tricky enough just getting visitors onto your website. Provoking a visitor to take positive action is trickier still, but not impossible. In this article I’m going to run through some techniques that you can use to turn passing visitors into brand advocates and long-term supporters of your charity.

Start at the start
Before we delve into how to convert visitors into donors it’s important to point out that you’re sending the right kind of people to your website. You can usually curate a following on social media of like-minded people who are interested in what you do, but it’s also very easy to send the wrong type of traffic. For example, if you advertise on Google Ads it can take a lot of refinement to ensure people are not visiting your website through similar, but ultimately unrelated keywords. Being mindful of your traffic, and having an idea of who your visitors are and what they want helps to increase your chances of conversion.

Creating personas to illustrate your visitors groups can help here. This video on YouTube helps to explain the concept if it’s unclear.

Tell a story
Once you’ve got the right people coming to your website, you need to captivate them. It is an uncomfortable truth that in order to get somebody to support you, you will need to offer something in return. In the third sector, this usually comes in the form of emotional currency.

Take time to explain to your visitor why they should support you. Show them how their donation – whether it is their money or time – will help not just others but also themselves. Try to tell a story interwoven with facts and figures to support your claims, and then ask for them to take action at the right moment.

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Prostate Cancer UK go to great lengths to provide engaging and informative content in their 10 Years to Tame Prostate Cancer campaign.
In this example we see persona use clearly – we’re introduced to Andy, a dad with two sons, Errol, a black man (whose ethnicity is linked to a greater chance of getting prostate cancer) and William, a 13 year old boy who lost his father to prostate cancer.
By utilising storytelling and keeping your intended reader in mind, you help to conjure emotion in your visitors which will increase their likelihood of taking action.

Make it easy

Accepting online donations from website visitors is surprisingly easy to get wrong, and with a myriad of tools and platforms it can be difficult to make the most optimal decision for your charity. Stripe or PayPal? JustGiving or a fully integrated system? How to handle Gift Aid? What about GDPR? The difficulty here – and the key to success – is making it easy! Regardless of which integration style you choose, try and keep the user experience clear and consistent, and keep the following in mind:
● Make donation buttons stand out – experiment with the colour, size, shape and position
of buttons and links so they are highly visible
● Ensure donation forms contain only the fields needed – don’t ask for unnecessary
information and make things complicated
● Remind the visitor how their data will be used in accordance with GDPR and privacy
laws to build trust and confidence in your organisation.

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GoodUI’s example of using contrast to bring attention to specific elements

Follow it up
When you receive a donation from a first-time donor make sure you have a system in place to follow up. This could be through an automated set of rules in a CRM like SalesForce, or a manual process where you contact the donor personally.
Writing for Charity Digital News, Janet Sneddon says “We know that nine per cent of all donors make 66 percent of all donations. Without data, however, you can’t know who those nine percent are. But when you use the data you hold to identify your most valuable supporters, you can target communications more effectively.”
When you interact with a new supporter with whom you are hoping to engage long-term, you can use CRM data to gain important insights over time either of individual donors or segmented groups (i.e. by location, age or some other relevant metric). Janet continues “Your data can tell you who opens what. It can tell you when. It can tell you for how long. Carefully analysed data will show you the recipients who never read a word, but will click on a video link, and it will show you the people who will take the time to digest a story.”
The key takeaway here is to not let a potential long term supporter slip through with a one-off donation, and to ensure processes are in place to nurture that relationship through data-driven touch-points. This is crucial to developing sustainability within your charity’s fundraising efforts.

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#DonorLove Celebration Part IX: New Donor Love (Bungee) Heights from Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home

It’s the final #donorlove celebration in partnership with the wonderful John Lepp at Agents of Good.  We’ve been celebrating the delightful ways that fundraisers have been showing appreciation for supporters that go beyond their standard supporter journeys to not only share the love and give big fundraiser kudos, but to spread ideas amongst us to replicate in our own work.

Today we’re celebrating Kelly Barbour and the team at the Edinburgh Dog & Cat home who took donor love to new heights during their Halloween Blackout Bungee event this year.

In their own words, here’s their submission:

Our aim was to host a Bungee Jump in aid of the lost and abandoned animals at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Supporters signed up online, set up their fundraising pages, and attended the event on 27th October in Killiecrankie, Pitlochry. We engaged with them before, during, and after the event itself. They were also encouraged to dress up – it was Halloween, after all!

The first action we took to engage our fearless bungee participants was a phone call. Since they signed up online, they had already received an automatic confirmation – but speaking to them was an amazing opportunity to find out why they signed up and to get them excited about the event as well as confident about the fundraising!

Speaking to our fabulous supporters also gave me a great insight into how to support them through their donor journey. I used these conversations to help tailor my engagement tactics during the lead-up to the event, which encouraged them to be even more engaged on the night.

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On the day, I took 4 of the supporters on the train to the venue and spoke about the cause on our way there.

At the end of the night, I spent time personally thanking them all. I wanted them to know we’d be in touch to continue our support – there’s nothing worse than feeling ‘discarded’ after you’ve done something lovely for a charity!

Following the event, we sent handwritten thank you cards. They even included a small bungee jumper with their photo on it (my favourite part)!

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On reflection

I think that by using a strong balance of digital (including social media and emails) and classic, personalised chats (phone calls, face-to-face chats, and handwritten thank you cards), we were able to fully engage our supporters and ensure a fun and effective event.”

Why we love it:

  • Another example of human touches creating the magic in event stewardship
  • Using all the communication tools you have available ensures you reach everyone, and adds extra layers of donor love for those you have across them all
  • Did you see the bungee card?!…

Thank you to Kelly and the team for allowing us to share their example and for having such creativity and personality in your supporter thank yous.

John and I will be asking our specially selected judge to pick their favourite example of the #donorlove celebration which will be announced in the new year.  The winning fundraiser will win a £500 donation to a charity of their choice.  Check out the other submissions here.  Follow us at @CharityNikki & @JohnLepp to be the first to know who has won!

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#DonorLove Celebration Part VIII: CLIC Sargent Collette & The Donor Love Calling Card

We had a flurry of #donorlove submissions come through before it ended, and this week we’re covering the last few examples that squeaked in before the deadline.

Today’s example of donor love comes from Collette Brown at CLIC Sargent.  I’d stalked Collette a little to get a submission as I’ve seen her pop up on Twitter regularly asking for and sharing ways to make people feel special; so you know she’s got some cracking examples up her sleeve, and she did not disappoint.  Below are a couple of the examples she provided from both her current fundraising role and from her time at The Air Ambulance Service.

“At CLIC Sargent, I often use “thanks a million.” It’s a little individual way of showing individual donors, volunteers and my colleagues that I really appreciate their support. One way this made an impact was with one of our young service users. Her friends organised her a surprise fundraising ball raising over £2400 to support people just like her, going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. They’d done a brilliant job, how could I possibly say thank you in a way that would mean something to them? I think, like most fundraisers we know that people raise huge amounts for our charities, but we can’t thank them with expensive gifts – so you have to get creative. I often turn to Pinterest for inspiration, but this one was of my own making. I picked up a packet of the millions sweets from the supermarket and whenever someone does something extra special, I send them a packet in the post with a handwritten thank you card that says “thanks a million.” It’s really simple, probably cost me less than 20p for each donor, but it’s always the thought that counts. For our service user and her friends, it certainly made them smile. I often get emails saying, thank you for the little surprises and they’d brightened up their day. How did I know it worked for this donor in particular? Well she’s formed a fundraising group for CLIC Sargent now and it about to complete her first fundraising event for us this weekend. I’m not saying the “thanks a million” caused all of this, but it certainly is the little things that count when it comes to donor love.

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Another example, was with my volunteers  at The Air Ambulance Service. Again, we had so many wonderful, long-standing volunteers. Each year we were always faced with the dilemma of how to thank our volunteers in a cost-effective, but meaningful way. Our volunteers raised so much money for the charity, they certainly didn’t want us to spend it on a gift for them to say thank you. This is where “have a brew, from our crew” came in. Instead of giving them a gift, myself and my manager spent time making them a little card with an individual tea bag in, which read “ have a brew from your crew – thank you for being a tea-riffic volunteer.” All our volunteers loved it. It was simple, certainly cheesy but overall out a smile on their face. Because the gesture was small too, it meant that any volunteers who we didn’t see face to face could have their token gift posted out to them for the price of a postage stamp. In fact one of our corporate sponsors, donated the tea-bags for us, so all it cost was a few stamps and an evening of crafting by their volunteer manager.”

Why we love this:

  • Collette has created a unique “calling card” that links wonderfully with her personality, creating a feeling of authenticity and gratitude.
  • The simple things are sustainable, showing it doesn’t cost or take a lot to say thank you with feeling.
  • The addition of sweets and tea bags creates another layer of “human” to the interactions.  A hand-written card is perfect, but the extra delighter knocks it out of the park.

Thank you to Collette for her submissions (and for not blocking me on Twitter) – keep up the amazing work at CLIC Sargent!

We’ll be asking a special judge to pick their favourite example of the #donorlove celebration once all examples are presented.  Be sure to subscribe to be the first to find out who has won!

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