Charity and the language we use…

Just came across this piece from RSM – and thought it a good piece to share, it’s worth the read.

What’s in a word or a phrase?  Well sometimes a lot.  Whether we appreciate it or not much of the language we use carries considerable extra weight and meaning due to history, perceptions, and baggage connected with it.

I was fortunate a while back to attend a seminar by Vicki Sykes on the topic of Business acquisition in the community sector in New Zealand.  Vicki is an interesting speaker and after 17 years as a CEO of a South Auckland charity she followed her passion to step back and do a University thesis on the topic of her presentation.

One of the quotes that Vicki used (and forgive me for not knowing to whom this should be attributed) was:

“Remember that being a charity is a tax status; not a business model.”

That line struck me as powerful.  One because of its simplicity.  But perhaps more so due to it making me question my use of the word charity.  There are so many assumptions we attach to a word.  These are built up over time and become unquestioned.  But when we sit back and consider them, sometimes we see that maybe these assumptions and perceptions we attach to a word can hold us back.

When I ask others, especially businesspeople, about the word charity as it relates to organisations, there seems to be a common understanding that this is an organisation that does good.  People understand that they exist to serve some social or community benefit.  The word charity is also associated with giving without expecting anything in return.  A very noble attribute.

Yet these understandings or assumptions about the word charity when considering a charitable organisation also seem to blinker some people in their attitudes towards the organisation and how it operates.

Keep reading here

What are your thoughts?

QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

On my way back from Christchurch to Auckland recently I got to talking to a couple seated next to me on the plane. They were intrigued by the book I was reading – Chapter One – we ended up have a good conversation about charity giving and the orgnisations they support.

So, seeing this from Greg Warner at Market Smart, is timely, and it covers exactly what the couple and I were talking about.

3 QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

  1. “What did they do with my money?”
  2. “Would my money yield more impact if I gave it to another organization?”
  3. “Do they make me feel good or bad?”

 

They said that they often feel some level of concern after making a contribution, mainly around whether the money they have given is going to the right organisation and that it will be used wisely and for the purposes the organisation said they needed support.

Do your donors have confidence in how you are using the support they are giving you, how do you allay any concerns they may have?

More Reason for Transperancy

​Seeing the item in the NZ Herald about the Halberg Trust  just reinforces that even more transperancy is needing in the charity sector.

There’s no denying that the amount of money raised, versus amounts distrubuted, used, will be different – there will be operational costs. 

But when people see high operational costs versus distributions they will be concerned, ask questions and want answers; real answers not just some lip service.

It’s time, nah, it’s long overdue for organisations to be more open about their income v expenditures, they can’t simply leave it until people ask questions; all this does is raise more quesions, not only of the organisation concerned, but of the sector as a whole.

Email Marketing, Be on Point

We all get them, emails, email updates, simple to the point outlining what an organisation has been doing; then we get the solicitation emails – love them or hate them, they’re a fact of life and we have to accept that when we subscribe we will get them.

As an organisation, you’re relient more and more on emails as a means of communication, simply as it is cheaper than postal updates and appeals.

What is important is that you address them correctly, do you know how your subscribers/donors like to be addressed? Mrs/Ms/Mr, or is it ok to simply use their first name?

But, first off – The Subject Line is an all important part of an email – get this wrong and more will be sent direct to the bin – deleted, with all your hardwork wasted.

Have a read of what Michael Rosen says, yes, it’s in American speak, but he makes sense and has good points and, pointers on how you might get a better readership and response if you take time to plan what you want to send your subscribers and donors.

Click here and read

What are you doing with your email and DM campaigns, are you targetting everyone on your database or are you segmenting it to those who want updates and donors as two separate categories?

Are you further segmenting it to send something different to those who have given recently?

Who’s in Your Advertising

We’ve seen it recently, and no doubt we’ll see it again, a community group using images that portray the peeople they support – yet, doesn’t actually use their images in promotional material, instead opting to use either stock photos or models.

Is it right or is it wrong?

We don’t see models being used for breast cancer campaigns, we see the real people. We don’t see models being used for promotional material of children suffering in far flung places, we see the real children.

So why, in the latest case models used in adverts for homeless charity a ‘kick in the guts’ has this organisation chosen not to use the real faces, the real people they are there to assist? Was it too hard, was it perhaps seen as possibly demeaning to use the real people; who knows. I’m sure they will have some spin out soon as to why, but for now all we can do is specualte as to their reasoning.

On the day the article appeared I heard homeless people talking about it, saying they felt cheated, that they are the real face of homelessness yet were being sidestepped, and they want answers.

I’m picking Lifewise will being getting a few visits from their clients asking why.
When you run your next campaign, will you use people representative of, from your organisation or will you get online and secure stock images, or call an agency for some models to portray the work you do?

If you opt to use people other than those you actually work with, be prepared for some flack, and possibly egg on your face when people start talking about it. And, sadly some of this talk will potentially end with your supporters voting with their wallets, taking their support elsewhere. Can you afford the gamble?

Donor’s Stories

I’ve often said it’s not all about you, that your donors matter, the reason they support you, what makes them tick. So, coming accross ”The best way to tell your donors stories” on www.empowernonprofits.com hit a note with me.

Click and read, you won’t regret it; who knows you may even come away with gems.

Are you telling your donor’s stories?

Not an ATM

I’ve used the phrase quite a bit … your donor is not an ATM, or similar. To receive a link to an article by Marc Pitman ”I’m not your ATM” was timely.

Have a read of what Marc says:

I’m not your ATM

As the economy continues to falter (or barely grow), we need people’s donations more than ever. But if we operate from a place of “need,” we can start sounding like we think we’re entitled to people’s money.

We never are.

So it’s more important than ever that you have your donor relations system in hand.

Here are some things to be thinking about as you review your plan.

Send acknowledgements quickly

Time after time, bloggers report making 10 donations at the end of the year and only getting 3 acknowledgements.

Don’t let this be you.

Best practice is to get those out within 24 to 48 hours. Some nonprofits aim for a week, allowing them to dedicate one day for receipting.

Just get them out.

Have a stewardship system decided in advance

Acknowledgements are expected. Stewardship is much more. Here are some things I help clients consider:

What level gifts get a handwritten note from the development director? The ED? The board chair?What level gifts get a phone call from the development director? The ED? The board chair?Do you have board members or staff do a thankathon?

These should all be spelled out so that, for instance, the ED can have a list of $1000 donors to call each week.

Continue reading here

New Donors Need to be Welcomed

What do you do when a new donor joins the ranks?
Nothing?

If you’re not acknowledging and welcoming new donors, you’re doing it wrong.

Donors, as I’ve said many times, are not ATMs. They deserve to be treated better than that, and the best time to start doing that is when the join the ranks.

You can’t just use a first receipt as a way to acknowledge a new donor, you should be doing a receipt then the Welcome Package.

You need to give them more information; you should be using a Welcome Pack. These are a great way to new donors feel welcome and to provide more information about the organisation, more information on ways they can be part of the donor family.

The idea behind a Welcome Pack is to begin a relationship between the donor and your organisation.

If you say you don’t then you are missing out.

You should be sending out your Welcome Package soon after the reciept for the first donation, not with the receipt.

Your Welcome Pack could contain more indepth information about your organisation, the people, the work, the beneficiaries. It and offer other ways the donor can get involved and, it should reinforce the benefits to the donor of supporting you.

Perhaps adding a couple of brochures outlining the work and benecificaries of your organisation, if you do a regular newsletter, include a couple of the most recent issues. Perhaps somethingon payroll giving or bequests could be included to.

But do make sure what you offer in the Welcome Pack doesn’t come across as though you’re trying to be pushy. These people have just joined, you don’t want to lose them.

Have a few people from your organisation sit down and work through what would be good to include in your Welcome Pack, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t ask a couple of donors to also have some input.

Lastly, do not, do not, use or see your Welcome Pack as another fundraising appeal. It is a thank you, a way for you to show your appreciation for having the donor on board and to give some added information.

What do you do when a new donor joins your family?

Donor Loyalty … You not Them

Donor loyalty is important, not the donor being loyal, but you, the organisation.

Often donors feel as they’re simply being treated as an ATM, they feel that organisations aren’t loyal to them.

This article, Keep Your Donors by Building Profitable Relationships That Last; on Nonprofit Quartely is a must read.

There’s some good pointers in it, many I’ve raised before; being donor centric, building relationships and more.

Take some time out and read this now

A Look Back

After chatting with some people over the weekend about ideas for my blog posts this week, it was suggested to do a recap a ”Look Back” at some of the posts I have shared previsously.

Sounded good to me, so here’s Look Back at some earlier posts that I’m sure you will enjoy and gain something from.

When Something Goes Wrong
Negative feedback about staff interaction with donors can impact on the reputation of your organisation, how do you deal with it?

Every now and then someone doing work for your organisation may say or do something that causes donors to be left with a sour taste in their mouth.

How this is dealt with by you is important, you need to retain supporters and the best way to do this when someone upsets them, is to let the supporter know that you hear what they are saying, that you will talk to the staff member about their actions and that you will let the supporter know what action you have taken.

It doesn’t matter how long or the value of support you receive from a supporter, they are all equal and should be treated as such, respect is universal.

Keep reading here

Reigniting the Flame in Delinquent Donors
Before you start planning how to get delinquent donors back on board, have you made the phone call to ask why people have stopped supporting you?

Without some level of research any plan to reignite the flame in donors who have stopped giving for some reason, you have no idea the why, what and how of putting something in place to win them back.

Reigniting the flame in a delinquent donor in many cases is quicker and more cost effective than gainer a new donor.

The donor who has stopped supporting you did so for a reason, was the amount they were giving too high, they had a change in personal circumstances, or something else has caused them to stop giving.

Continue reading here

Business Support
It’s estimated that business donations account for six percent of the donations some non-profits receive.

If this is the case then the question must be asked “how much time and energy is being used to reach and nurture this group?”

Is the time you’re putting into gaining business support being used wisely?

If residential – general support if the main income source for non-profits, wouldn’t it pay to spend more time gaining and nurturing this sector?

Continue reading here

Pick up the Phone and Say Thank You
Don’t lose donors, respect them, acknowledge them.

An organization recently lost a major donor because they felt their support wasn’t really being appreciated.

Why, simple after sending in a substantial cheque on a regular basis all they’d hear back from the organization would be in the form a standard receipt, no acknowledgment of the impact the donation would have on the work that the organization carries out.

Result – support withdrawn. All the organization had to do was pick up the phone and call the donor, thank them and tell them how important they were to the work being carried out.

Continue reading here

As always, leave comments or suggestions on what you would like to see shared on my blog

You can email me charitymattersnz@gmail.com