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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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 

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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

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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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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 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.”

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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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