The week in Review (Jan 30)

Have decided that at the end of each week I will do a review of some of the posts I written; just so as those who may have missed something get a chance to read and an opportunity for others to have a second read.

So this week I have touched on:

Are you Prepared to Collaborate?

There’s an abundance of non  profits in New Zealand, something on the lines of 26,000 registered charities, organisations could face support, funding and delivery issues unless there’s more collaboration.

Unless organisations collaborate there is a risk some organisations will cease to exist. There’s only so much people can give, both individuals, business and funding bodies; so just on a funding basis collaboration is needed.

Read more

Are You Singing from the same song sheet

The management, more than anyone in an organisation knows, or should know, what the goals, vision, mission of the organisation are; but is this being shared with all staff, particularly those on the frontline?

It seems that some organisations have a diconnect when it comes to sharing key information with staff, leaving staff to wonder what is happening, where they are in the organisation and how they can confidently do their work.

Read more

Handing over the Reins

It’s interesting to see organisations grow from being something started at a kitchen table, to something substantial.
In growing though there is always a need to bring in others with more expertise, more experience; but in doing so there is fear of the loss of control.

I recall reading about a charity, I think in the States, where the founder who took on a manger; but with the charity operating in an adjacent building to where the founder lived, he would turn up everyday and staff were unsure as to who they should be listening to the new manager or the founder.

Read more


Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

Read more

Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Read more

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Read more

They’re peeved off, now what

Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who maybe annoyed with you, donors who may feel you’re not deliverying on what you say you will do.

It’s not rocket science, dealing with disgruntled donors is and should be treated in the same was as businesses would deal with disgrutled customers. Simple, customer service skills are needed.

Read more

Something I would be keen to hear is – what would you like to see me blog about; what issues, challenges or general areas of discussion would you like to see me cover on www.charitymattersnz.com

You can email me with any thoughts, ideas … charitymattersnz@gmail.com

They’re peeved off, now what

Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who may be annoyed with you, donors who may feel you’re not deliverying on what you say you will do.

It’s not rocket science, dealing with disgruntled donors is and should be treated in the same was as businesses would deal with disgrutled customers. Simple, customer service skills are needed.

We all know the importance of having, and maintaining donors and that if donors aren’t happy how this can impact on the work of the organisation; so knowing what to do is important, as is acting in a timely manner.

As with dealing with a grumpy customer, dealing with disatisfied donor means listening to what the donor has to say, not forming judgement, and doing things to placate them whilst sticking with your organisation’s mission and policies.

The key to dealing with donor complaints is to listen, you can’t handle anything if you’re not listening. And by listening, I don’t mean hearing; you need to be able to isolate what the real issue is that the donor has.

Donors don’t just have the choice to call and complain these days, they will (and do) take to email and will share their experiences online; sometimes on your social media platforms, sometimes not. Where ever and however they complain, you need to know and acknowledge their complaint (which may not even be a complaint as such).

It’s important when dealing with any complaint to be patient, to not respond rashly and to show the donor you care about the issue they have raised.
You don’t want to just be answering their immediate concern, you should be referring to other things your organisation is doing to improve donor relations. Remember, people, donors or shoppers simply want to be treated courteously and to be listened to – AND – they want their problems resolved.

If the ”complaint” is online, make sure you repsond, even if you simply say ”thanks for raising your concern, let me look into and I’ll get back to you.” Anything is better than nothing. But, make sure you look into it, and make sure you follow up with the person.

Having said respond to online comments, one thing you should be doing, which many organisations don’t seem to be doing is monitor their social media accounts.

If someone says something on one of your accounts, it’s not just to vent, they do expect a response, so make sure you are getting notified when someone posts on your FaceBook or Twitter, or other site you use. Be timely with any reponse, it shows you care, not only care about the person raising an issue, but it also shows you’re aware and professional to others who seethe post – current and potential supporters.

Not all complaints or concerns will be by letter, phone or online, some people will send an email Most often the email they will send it to will be the info@blahblah.com, but does this ensure the person who can respond gets the email? Probably not, so make sure whoever receives emails to info@ knows what they are expected to do when they receive a complaint or other emails raising concerns.

Whatever way you handle complaints, remember never take it personally, the person complaining isn’t complaining about you, they are complaining about a situation. If you take things personally you will react in ways that won’t do you, the donor or your organisation any favours.

Remember too, that in the main donors are nice, kind and understanding, there are only ever a few occasions when things can go sour, so don’t dwell on the negatives, this won’t do you any good.

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Millennials want to know who you are helping, they want to hear the stories from the people being helped. Little Casandra needing surgery so she can continue in school is more likely to get support than some airy fairy long winded explanation and meaningless raft of stats about kids missing out on schooling due to health issues.

They always want to know how you are helping, what you’re doing to make things better. And, yes, they want to know why they should help.

When tapping into millennials it’s important to be a storyteller, tell the stories of who/what is going to benefit. Better still, where possible have those benefiting tell their own stories.

When talking about your work, when telling stories use images, videos and infographics, 1000 words will likely turn millennials off, a 2-3 minute video will capture their attention.

We all know there’s duplication in the charity sector, and the group I talked with said it was important to show how you’re different, show how you handle your cause differenlty, what makes you stand out from others doing the same or similar thing.

They also want to know how the money is being used, they want organisations to be fully open. They also said they want to know what the campaign total was.

And, you have to be clear about what action you want millennials to take, don’t assume they can read your mind. Be transparent, if you want money – ask, if you want them to share your information – ask. Plain and simple really.

One thing that I hadn’t considered that this group said was important, is they want to know who is supporting your cause now, and what is their story, what makes them motivated to support.

We can’t assume all supporters, current or ones we’re trying to attract will respond to the same message, the same plea. Charity appeals are no different really to other marketing forms, different people speak and hear differently, some people want scant information, others want the most indepth information you can give them. The trick is knowing who your supporters are and adapting to them.

Have you run a campaign specifically targetted at millennials, how did you go, what tips and tricks do you have you can share?

Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Making sure you have a strong event planner is a must, don’t start anything until you have sat and brainstormed the event, what will be needed, possible partners and the outcomes you want from the event. If you don’t do this you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

I’ve seen organisations plan an event, when I say plan, I mean they dream up the idea of an event, contact a few supporters then send out emails inviting people to come along. There’s been little or no planning, then after the event (or maybe days before) the organisation panics, it hasn’t met the ”goals” of the event, income has been lower than expected and costs have soared. All of this could have been avoided, if proper planning had been undertaken.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of planning, but more about some areas that should be taken into consideration:

Venue, is this easily accesible, have you considered where guests will be able to park?

Catering, know your supplier and don’t just accept the first price they quote, can the sharpen the pencil and offer you a better deal if ”billed” as a sponsor?

Invitees, who are you going to invite, when was the last time these people supported your work? Don’t forget to get your Board involved in the invitation process, they may be able to tap into their business networks to help with sales to the event.

Auction, will you be holding one, will it be a live or silent auction? Gaining items to sell can be a massive task in itself, have someone dedicated to doing this; don’t dump this onto someone who already has a lot to do.

Pull the Plug, have something in your plan to monitor ticket sales and know when you will be to pull the plug. There’s nothing worse than having too few people attend and have the even run at a loss.

Timing, when will you hold the event, weekends don’t always work, nor do times leading up to holidays or other major activities in the community. As part of your planning do some research into what is already being planned in your area before setting your date.

So, before you mark on the calendar when your event will be, before you name your event; sit down with your colleagues, and perhaps a supporter or two and brainstorm your event. You need to plan the planning of any event if you want it to be a success.

Happy planning.

Engaging your Board in Fundraising

I’ve talked before about the importance of having those on the Board actively participating in all areas of the work of an organisation, including fundraising.

This post from the Sponsorship Collective covers it again, and is worth reading. In it, as I have said before, Board members usually have good business or friend contacts that can be tapped into to help an organisation raise funds and grow.

The post also talks about trust, ”Lack of trust has got to be one of the main reasons why Boards don’t donate and do not bring you their networks. 

Boards, understandably want to protect their friends, associates and other contacts from being treated badly. They may even have been burned before, having taken the chance to make an introduction to a contact and then find that the contact has not been treated well by the charity.  So help them to feel that they can trust you, but also in the charity, by demonstrating that you understand the process, that you won’t mistreat their friends and business associates and that you have impact in a cause that they care about.”

This is something I have had to deal with, I have introduced organisations to contacts, only to have the people call and tell me not to do it again as they felt pressured to support and also felt that the organisation wasn’t being upfront, they said in referring people I should know more about how they would present themselves. Since then I am more cautious, but I do use my connections where I feel there is a good fit.

Have a read of the full article and take on board some of the points it raises.

Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

We know we feel better when we give, we know our gift will help make life better for those receiving support through our giving. But what we probably didn’t know is that giving, as neuroscientists have found is that the decision to give activates the brain’s pleasure centers similar way to what eating chocolate or having sex does.

Ok, you probably shouldn’t start a campaign with ”Help us to help … It’s just like sex”, but knowing the effect of giving on peoples brains should give you insight into how to capture an audience.

Have a full read of what Freddie Pattisson says on his post on nfpSynergy

Handing over the Reins

It’s interesting to see organisations grow from being something started at a kitchen table, to something substantial.

In growing though there is always a need to bring in others with more expertise, more experience; but in doing so there is fear of the loss of control.

I recall reading about a charity, I think in the States, where the founder who took on a manger; but with the charity operating in an adjacent building to where the founder lived, he would turn up everyday and staff were unsure as to who they should be listening to the new manager or the founder.

I’ve seen similar happen closer to home, and unless those passing on the reins make an effort to stand back and let the new guard run the organisation, chaos is likely to ensue.

If you are running an organisation and the time has come for you to stand aside, do it. This should all be part of your succession planning; and all staff when the new people at the helm arrive should feel confident that the organisation is in safe hands.

If the old guard remains it is likely to only case confusion, weakened trust in the new guard and, the focus of what the organisation is there for will be lost, opportunities could be missed and the beneficiaries of the organisation will ultimately suffer.

The new manager needs to know they can get on with what they have been appointed to do, this won’t happen quickly or smoothly if the old guard is always ‘hovering’ around, staff will remain confused and if allocated new tasks, if systems change they may feel as though they are betraying their former ”boss”.

Change isn’t always easy, it’s not easy on those standing aside and it’s not easy on the new people. But change sometimes has to happen and the more planning for it the better.

Are You Singing from the same song sheet

The management, more than anyone in an organisation knows, or should know, what the goals, vision, mission of the organisation are; but is this being shared with all staff, particularly those on the frontline?

It seems that some organisations have a diconnect when it comes to sharing key information with staff, leaving staff to wonder what is happening, where they are in the organisation and how they can confidently do their work.

If management aren’t sharing key information how can they expect staff to do their job.

Staff who are on the frontline, especially those in fundraising roles need all the information, they can’t be expected to do their job without all the facts.

If management have one story and others another, it does nothing but cause confusion. Everyone in the organisation needs to be singing from the same song sheet.

Are you Prepared to Collaborate?

There’s an abundance of non  profits in New Zealand, something on the lines of 26,000 registered charities, organisations could face support, funding and delivery issues unless there’s more collaboration.

Unless organisations collaborate there is a risk some organisations will cease to exist. There’s only so much people can give, both individuals, business and funding bodies; so just on a funding basis collaboration is needed.

I recall somewhere seeing a stat that there’s something like 170 or so people for every charity in the country (New Zealand). This would suggest that they way charities operate as standalone entities probably isn’t sustainable indefinitely.

If organisations with similar missions, clients, beneficiaries worked alongside one another, looked at merging or simply worked collaborately there would be shared resources, reduced costs, taking some of the financial risks away.

But, collaboration would also allow for people of like minds to share experiences, offer guidance and perhaps become mentors for others less experienced in the non profit space; all of which would help with the sustainability of non profits.

As anyone in the non profit sector knows funding is one of the biggest challenges beng faced by many organisations and, with collaboration, rationalisation of organisations their is likely to be organisations looking to either downsize or close.

I’ve talked before about the struggle for funding, the Mr and Mrs Public are looking at their giving, grants and other funding is competitive, so organisations are needing to look at other income sources.

If organisations collaborated, shared space it would allow for funds to be directed to the services being provided, instead of being abosorbed in running costs. The more money that can be saved from adminstrative, operational costs means more can be done to help those that organisations are established to help.

Would your organisation benefit from working closer with others doing the same or similar activities as you?

Imagine a win-win, where resources were shared, ideas shared, where you could learn from one another, and at the same time have reduced overheads. Wouldn’t this benefit everyone, you and those you’re established to help?

What would have to happen for your organisation to collaborate and look at merging with another?

Donor Newsletters

How often are you communicating with your donors no, asking for money isn’t part of the communications I mean. How often do you update your donors about the work you are doing, and how are you doing this?

Some organisations are only communicating with donors when they want something, but donors want, deserve to know what you have been doing and how they (the donor) has helped you achive what you have done.

When it comes to communicating with donors it seems organisations are moving away from posted (mailed) updates to e-letters.

No matter what method you are communicating with donors, it’s important that the message you are sharing isn’t all about you, it shouldn’t be a ra ra about the CEO, it should be about the work you are doing and how without the support of donors you wouldn’t have got to where you are.

If it wasn’t for the support of donors you likely wouldn’t be where you are, you likely wouldn’t haven’t achieved much. So, the righly deserve to be seen as the ”heroes” of your organisation.

I’ve often thought that sharing donor stories is important, and have seen only a few organisations do this; and the response they get, from what I’m also hearing is brilliant.

When talking with donors about your work, it’s not a time to brag. It’s a time to give thanks, to share the ups and yes, the downs.

Recently I saw a newsletter from one organisation that shared several donor stories, it was a great read and made me want to support the organisation.

I asked the organisation what sort of feedback they get when they do their newsletters, and they said that generally they get good feedback and requests for information on ways people can do more to support them. This to me is a win.

Something I’m noticing too, is that organisations are moving away from posted updates to e-letters, but forgetting that not all supporters use email. So, some are missing out, this needs to be sorted.

Using the argument that mail is too expensive doesn’t cut it with me, donors whether they have email or not deserve to know what you are doing. Why is it ok to post out an appeal for money but not something about your work successes?

Sure, with an e-letter you can have a link to ask for support, but don’t make it the main purpose of the communication, same with a posted newsletter, include a portion for people to return a donation.

Also, think about the frequency of your communications, I’ve seen some organisations send an e-letter monthly, to me that’s a turn off and could soon be seen as simply spam, and result in donors switching off.

What are you finding with your donor communications, less is more? Are donor stories working for you?