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.

What Are You Expecting?

I’ve been hearing from some organisations that they are expecting a lower level of donations from the public this year.

A scarey thought considering many organisations rely on the kindness and generosity of Mr & Mrs Public to ensure they’re able to deliver the services their organisation is established for.

Sure, organisations do have the ability to apply for funding through lottery, other charity organisations and of course their current support base. But, if there’s a downturn in support from the general public this can have a big impact on the organisations ability to carry out what it is there for.

More often than not when income falls below expectation it means cuts have to be made, sure there are overheads that could possibly be trimmed back, but when it comes to cutting back on service delivery this has a wider reaching impact.

How many organisations have a contingency plan should something go haywire with annual funding projections? I’ve worked with a number that at one point looked as though they were flying by the seat of their pants and had no contingency plans in place. They’d just do what they could with what they had, and didn’t seem at all concerned about the clients they were they for missing out. Now they know the importance of a backup plan.

When you are doing your annual planning, do you look at what you would do should you find yourself with a drop off in regular giving? Any drop in regular giving can make a huge difference, so organisations should be factorying this into their annual budget planning – do you?

How Do You Say Thank You

Donors want, nay, deserve to be thanked for their support. How you thank them can result in future decisions to support your organisation.

A stock standard thank you letter will be received, read and most likely binned, with only the receipt being retained for tax purposes.

But a thank you letter that makes a donor feel that they are important, an individual (not just a number), can make a donor stay longer and has the potential to gain additional, higher value support at a future date. It could also result in the acquisition of new donors through the letter being shown to others.

Donors don’t expect, and you can’t sit and write a personalised letter for each donor, but you can make it ”personal”.
Your donor database should be able to capture key information, the basics we know (name, address, email), but are you also capturing other information that can assist you in communicating with donors?

If you receive a donation, or communication from a donor and there’s something that could help you with future communication, are you keeping this on your system?

Maybe a donor mentioned something in a communication about their family, why the support you, perhaps they mentioned a milestone in their life, or that they had recently moved.

All of this should be ”captured” and where approriate used in future communications. Yes, it seems a little bit big brother-ish, and some people may not like it, you can always delete the information (in fact you have to if requested).

But imagine a donor receiving a personalised thank you, yes, your form letter, but with reference to something they have said previously, perhaps you refer to their recent move.

Supporter letters, whether a thank you or an update of work being done; needn’t be all corporate, there’s no reason why you can’t be a little more casual, conversational in them. How about adding some wit to them.

We all tend to end a thank you letter or other communication with ”we look forward to your continued support” – yes, we do look forward to it, but what if we ended with something more casual, like; ”give us a call or send us a note if you need an update on what we’ve been doing”.

I’ve used a similar ending to a donor letter and have had donors contact saying thank you and, yes asking if the organisation had done anything since their last donation was received, how their money had been used. The donors felt that they were part of the organisation, that they had a relationship beyond bank accounts.

One important thing, your thank you letter comes from you, not the CEO, not the Board, but you an individual.

And lastly, do you know why your donor is supporting you? If you don’t ask in the thank you letter, only ask the once tho, but do ask. This is valuable information and again helps build the relationship.

Do your Board Members Fundraise?

It’s not my job, we have fundraisers, why should I have to fundraise?

I wouldn’t know where to start, I’d be a burden on fundraising.

I don’t know enough to help with donations.

When board members see, have the attitude that fundraising isn’t part of their role, something needs to be said and done; sadly grabbing them by the shoulder and give them a good hard shake is frowned upon. But something needs doing to get them to see it’s as much their job as it is anyone else in the organisation.

Board members should be encouraged to, where possible spend time with the fundraising team to learn what it takes to get a campaign going, how individuals, businesses and funders are approached. The effort this takes, the skills needed and to see what the results (negative and positive) have on those doing the fundraising.

I’ve seen organisations where the Board are only interested in the income, they’re not interested in how it’s done. But, should income levels not meet targets they dive in and suggest that the fundraising team aren’t doing all the could, they their appriach is wrong.

Say what, if these Board members know so much, why aren’t they roling their sleeves up and help? Ah that’s right, it’s not their job. What a load of hogwash.

Board members, infact (in my opinion) everyone in an organisation should have some involvement in fundraising.
Board members are likely to have business or community connections they could tap into. Sure, there are some situations where this may not be possible; but the least they could do in situations where a direct approach my not be in order, is to at minimum is to give introductions, open the door for others to make the approach.

If written previoulsy, Is your Board on Board, have a read if you haven’t.

Board members aren’t only there because of the need in the Trust Deed or legal requirements, they are their because of skills they have. And, they should also be schooled in all areas of the organisation. (Read) Learn Fundraising.

The next time your board is together, ask ”what can you help with?”. It may scare some, but too bad, it will open discussion on roles, repsonsibilities and opportunities.

We can all help make a difference

On Sunday I spotted a post on Facebook asking people of the could help make Christmas brighter for people in need, by helping the Auckland City Mission.

As we all know not everyine has it easy at this time of year, the rent, phone, power still needs to he paid. Add to this the added needs of having children home from school, an expectation of Christmas presents, and families struggle.

In comes the Mission to offer what they can to help alleviate some of the added burden, but they can’t do it on their own, we need to help them.

And this is where the post I saw was aiming to help make it easier for the Mission and thier clients.

A simple request, essentially asking people to give what they could and a trip would be made to the supermarket to get items the Mission needed for their food parcels.

Well, it was a huge success, a read of how it unfolded, and while reading imagine if we all did something like this to help make the lives of others that little bit easier.

One Facebook Post Helps Over Thirty Families in Need

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m doing what many others are: Making a coffee, and browsing through Facebook.

In sharp contrast to the usual mundane nature of such things, a very special post appeared in my feed… An example of what one person putting the word out can achieve.

Earlier in the week, Reporter Megan Schoultz (NZ Herald) had written about The Auckland City Mission, and it’s challenges in coping with the demand from struggling kiwis, Nathan Elder saw for himself the shocking queues  made by the families in need, as he passed the Hobson St. drop-in centre last Thursday.

Read the full story here

Next time you see people asking if you can help, will you?

End of Year Giving

Hard to believe that there’s less than 100 days to go until the end of the year; have you finished your end of year fundraising planning?

As we know people do give at Christmas time and, often they will plan who they will give to rather than make ad-hoc donations.

There’s been numerous stories over the years where families have sat down and talked about what they’d like to do in the way of charitable giving, rather than buying presents for each other.

So, if you plan your end of year campaign right and let your current supporters know (and encourage them to share your message with their family and friends) that they can make a Christmas gift to your organisation, you have the potential to gain additional support.

If you are in the habit (which I hope you are) of regularly communicating with your supporters (not just asking for money every time), but letting them know about the work you have been doing since the last update, your successes etc, you should use your next communication to let them know about your end of year plans and how they can be part of it.

Take the time now to finalise your end of year campaign, perhaps double check any plan you have and see that it encompasses everything you need to ensure a good outcome.

What are you doing for your end of year campaign, have you changed the way you are doing this on other years?

If you give to charity, what do you want to see in an end of year message from those you support?

Do you make planned gift giving at the end of the year?

See also

Charities and Christmas

Donors Women v Men

Are High Dollar Donors More Loyal ?

Have been wondering recently whether high dollar donors are more loyal than low dollar donors, and while pondering this, an email popped up with a link to an article on this very subject from from Gregory Warner of Marketsmart.

Although it doesn’t show New Zealand examples, it’s worth a read and hopefully I’ll soon be able to share some local examples.

Here’s Gregory’s article …

PROOF THAT HIGH-DOLLAR DONORS ARE MORE LOYAL THAN LOW-DOLLAR SUPPORTERS

Recently I made some new friends at The Fundraising Effectiveness Project and they shared some awesome research findings with me.  You can see the first one below proving that high-dollar donors are actually more loyal (stickier) than low-dollar supporters.

I think what this chart implies is this: The fundraising pyramid is dead

The idea that nonprofits should first seek to gain low dollar donors and move them up the pyramid is just not a wise strategy. Low dollar donors are clearly less loyal and don’t repeat at nearly the same rate as high dollar donors $1,000 – $4,999 (at 87%). Plus, low dollar donors are very expensive to acquire yet they are much more fickle. Therefore, they clearly can’t deliver enough returns for the long haul compared to the other givers.

4 things you should do today:

1- Develop a strategy that emphasizes efforts to gain more high-dollar donors instead of low-level supporters.

2- Focus on customer service and retention by providing value everywhere (especially in your engagement offers).

3- Search for ways to move mid-level donors up (again by providing value especially in your engagement offers).

4- Aim for referrals. Encourage your current high-dollar donors to introduce you to other high-dollar donors. This will be the lowest cost marketing you can implement and it will deliver the greatest return for your investment. The ice bucket challenge did this for low-level donors. But most of them never gave again. What can you do to get referrals from major and mid-level donors? Figure that out and you’ll be a fundraising rockstar!

Read the full article here