Are you adapting ?

Often seeing organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising activities.

For instance; if you used to only communicate with donors through mail and change to email, have you taken into consideration how you will communicate with those who do not have, or don’t want to be contacted through, email?

Will you be prepared to split your database so those without email are updated on your activities, achievements through information supplied with receipts? Or, do you, will you be like others and “forget” about this group and suffer through a drop in donations?

It used to be that organizations would only be known by those it supports and, by those who supported it. Simply due to lack of resources, skills and money; now though any organization, no matter its size can with the right skills can communicate with anyone, anywhere and virtually at anytime.

If your organization hasn’t or isn’t looking to adapt you can’t expect to keep growing. It’s that simple.

There’s more “competition” for the charity dollar than there was 10, 5, even two years ago.

No that organizations and, individuals have the ability to set up online fundraising campaigns, those not doing so need to at the very least look at how these platforms can work for them. If they don’t they will run the serious risk of being left behind.

Online fundraising will only continue to grow, either through organizations making use of the various tools, or by individuals doing it themselves.

Can your organisation afford to be left behind?

If you don’t want to be left behind, what will you do to change?

Have you changed the way you give charitable donations, are you giving more directly, or are you giving to organizations who have a higher presence in your social channels?

See also:

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Does Profile Matter?

What’s Happening – are You Watching?

Who holds the keys to change?

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Has, and can, online fundraising have impact on other, more traditional fundraising?

From my perspective, yes it can have an impact; I’ve seen first-hand organisations who have had to change their fundraising methods, dates and more because people are giving in other ways to different causes.

It’s interesting that I started thinking about this late last night and, this morning I wake to see this subject in an article in the NZHeraldIs it safe to give a little?

“Kiwis give millions of dollars to causes on the fundraising website Givealittle. But money handed back by the charity platform from one controversial appeal has raised concerns over whether the online model is open to abuse. Phil Taylor reports ..

Some areas Phil has touched on are the same as I had started penning, so instead of rehashing what he’s said, here’s some excerpts from his article.

“Internet crowdsourcing is changing the face of philanthropy. Platforms such as US-based GoFundMe and New Zealand’s Givealittle super-charge the amount that can be raised, no more so than for causes that pull heartstrings. If mainstream media picks up a cause, a zero or so might be added.”

“Causes that top the lists for dollars donated and number of donors are all from the past 12 months and reflect the sector’s exponential growth worldwide. More than half of the $32 million given to Givealittle causes in its lifetime was donated in the past year. When teleco giant Spark bought it in late 2012, it was doing about $55,000 a month. Last month it did $2 million.”

Read Phil’s full article here

See also 6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever

See also Digging deep for Kiwi generosity

It’s not Horses for Courses

Donor communications, is it horses for courses? Does the same message, the same language work for all donors?

I’ve talked about donor communication before, but I’m still seeing and hearing from people about the quality, content and language being used in donor communications.

If you haven’t previously seen some of what I’ve said, here’s a few links that may be of interest:

Supporter Communications
Who’s Centre of Attention – You or Your Donor

Often regular donors only want to know that what they are doing is making a difference, whereas business donors want to see their return on investment; it’s much the same, but businesses may use more “business speak” to justify support.

General donors are typically happy to know they are making a difference, so talking to them about the successes they have helped you achieve may suffice. Businesses on the other hand may want to see this as investment versus return.

Do you split the information you share, are you using the same “speak” for each, what is the reaction?

Are you even monitoring and adapting based on the feedback from those receiving your updates?

If you are monitoring and adapting, if not, why not?

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?

There are non-profits who are spending at least one third of their time concentrating on gaining business support, time they would be better off spending maintaining and growing the other support they already have.

If a stationary store knew that they were spending too much time growing one section of their product range, with little or no tangible result; they would stop and instead grow the area/s that they know they are making a profit from.

Non-profits should be doing the same.

When was the last time you reviewed where your support was coming from and what adjustments did you make in your focus in maintaining and gaining support?

I’d be keen to hear your views on this … leave a comment below.

Stop the Emails

I’ve said before that an email doesn’t always cut it, and I stand by this, what some don’t understand is that an email at the wrong time, with the wrong message can have a truly negative response.

Not only could the acceptance, click through rate be low, but it could also result in lower giving by those who take “action”.

It is important to truly understand how your donors want to be communicated with.

For some, a personal phone call may be what works, for others an email may suffice, however, it’s important that you understand what works for who.

If you communicate with the one group in the wrong manner you could do more harm than good, you could alienate donors.

Ask donors how they like to be communicated with, acknowledge and respect; it could mean a make or break with a campaign.

See also

Email v Direct Mail

An email Doesn’t Always Cut It

Email, Direct or Social Media

Communication – Email Management

Do You Know the Numbers

All fundraising is a numbers game, whether it’s tele-fundraising, email, direct mail, face-to-face; it’s all a matter of numbers.

When we look at tele-fundraising, it could be that one in fifty called may give; face-to-face maybe higher, and direct approaches through other means may differ again.

What is important is an understanding of how many, and what type, of approaches is working for you.

To know what your pipeline is, you need to have some knowledge of:

  • How much you’re needing to raise – a finite figure is better than “what ever we can get”
  • What your current “hit rate” is … approaches v donations = hit rate
  • How many approaches to reach hit rate

If you have no idea of what this is, how can you successfully plan a fundraising campaign?

In the business world if you ask most salespeople about the quality of contacts others make for them; you’d likely probably that they are only suspects, probables.

It’s no different when it comes to fundraising:

  • Suspect – anyone on your database
  • Prospect – people know to support
  • Lead – someone ready to consider giving
  • Opportunity – someone wanting give – here and now

It’s important to understand each “category” and to also understand and monitor what it is taking you to reach a favourable outcome, a commitment.

Success shouldn’t be measured solely on the level of funding received, measure it on all outcomes; how many approaches against level of support received.

Watch and observe that the more refined your approaches let lower the number of approaches needed.

This doesn’t mean you need to reduce the number of contacts you have, it’s all about the right approach to the right people at the right time.

How well can you define your contact list – if you don’t have the ability to segment to capture the right people at the right time; you could be missing out.

How to Get Your Board Engaged in Fundraising

I’ve previously talked about how the Board of any organisation needs to be not only attending meetings, signing papers they need to sign; and that they need to also be doing their share of engaging with the community.

Marc A. Pitman’s piece “21 Ways For Board Members to Engage with their Nonprofit’s Fundraising” is a great read and is likely to give you some ideas on how you can ignite the flame in your board members to do that “little bit” more.

What are your expectations of your board members?

Is your Board engaged, how did they become engaged?

See also

Your board and trustees should be working

Are you supported by your board and staff?

Use focus groups to move forward

A Disengaged Public

Having recently read “Charities Struggle with Disengaged Public” – it stood out that maybe we’re not understanding our donors … take for example “Do charity campaigns inspire people to act and are men better at ‘giving’? Well apparently not, according to two new research reports from the UK.”

Sure, this is the UK, but what’s the situation here?

I know from experience that engaging with men is different to engaging with women, more often than not organisations use the same words no matter if it’s a male or female audience they’re trying to engage with.

If we know who donors are, male or female, we can adapt our language to ensure that each is receiving our communication in the “language” they understand and will react to.

Have you segmented your database and do you communicate with each segment in a way that they will understand and, that will cause them to take action?

Chuggers, Call to Rein Them In

Again, chuggers are in the headlines, with a call from Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett making comment that they “profit from a form of mild harassment.

Chuggers, charity muggers, can be seen as aggressive in the way they approach people – the hands out to almost block your path, the hand out to shake yours … actions that could be seen as intimidating to some.

I’ve discussed chuggers before, Chuggers Charity Muggers, We’ll keep the lot – thank you, Charity Muggers – Skills Shortage.

What’s your view of “chuggers” – are they too aggressive, too pushy?

See also Chuggers: The truth behind the clipboard people.

Don’t just answer the immediate question

How often do you get asked, or how often have you made an enquiry to an organisation or business about the services they provide and how you can help them or they help you – only to get a stock answer, nothing specific and nothing that actually invites you to want to ‘do business’.

By only answering the immediate query there’s a chance that an opportunity for more dialogue to be lost; there’s often something deeper to why people ask questions, it could be that they want to do business, that they need your help or that they want to help you.

Unless all communications include the opportunity for further discussion – the door is closed, don’t be the one closing the door.

If you have a potential supporter contact you about the work you do, don’t just answer that question – answer it, then add additional information that may not be immediately available, perhaps you’ve recently done something that you could share – if so do it.

You should also be giving the person more reason as to why their support is important – do you have a new project that you could tell them about?

Before hitting send and signing off the response – STOP – have you asked them if there’s anything you can do to help them make the decision, the commitment to support you?

Don’t leave it for them to have to do all the work, you have to put your thinking cap on and find a way to keep engaging with them, to build the environment for them to decide you’re the right fit for the support they would like to give an organisation.

Do you answer only the immediate questions, if so why – and will you look at changing how you handle all enquiries?