Tele-Fundraising, Big Oops

You may have read the recent news item about how people being called to support an organisation were treated less than would have been “proper”.

I’ve managed several tele-fundraising teams, and as soon as I’ve heard a conversation that was less than ideal, I would pull the person off the phone and have a chat with them about their manner – after all they are representing the organisation, they’re essentially an ambassador for the organisation and every call should leave the recipient feeling good about it.

What’s more, why weren’t the calls referred to in the article picked up by someone who would likely have been doing random call monitoring?

Call monitoring is an important part of tele-fundraising, it helps ensure the right message is being delivered, that the agent is up to date with any new “stories” that can be used, and, yes, it would definitely pick up any agent who was misrepresenting the organisation or being rude to a person they were calling.

As soon as something is picked up, the agent should be pulled off the phone and the issues discussed, perhaps they need some additional training, maybe they have personal issues outside of the workplace they are dealing with; whatever, there should never be any instance where an agent is rude.

I don’t know why this issue wasn’t picked up sooner, it should have been and the organisation has let itself down.

2016 Fraud Survey – BDO

I’ve talked about fraud in the charity sector before, and my personal take on it is that it under reported, because charities don’t want their donors to know that there are people committing fraud (no matter the level.)

Yes, there is a risk to funding if general donors (mums and dads) learn that there has been fraud committed at a charity they support, but in reality isn’t honesty the best policy, shouldn’t donors be told what’s been happening?

It seems that the majority of charities have systems in place, especially given the new reporting standards required of them, and know they can get help and support from Charity Services; so maybe the message is getting across, especially with smaller organisations, that there is help available to them and that there’s no shame in asking .

Read the summary of the BDO Not-for-Profit 2016 Fraud Survey here.

If your organisation detected fraud, what would you do, would you take action, would you let your supporters know? Either leave a comment below or email me charitymattersnz@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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.

It’s important to remember that any sour taste left in the mouth of a supporter will soon spread, they will talk with family, friends and colleagues about the treatment they received. This could put others off supporting your cause.

It’s hard enough as it is gaining and maintaining support, you can’t afford to lose supporters.

Perhaps the errant staff member needs some time out, retraining in communicating with supporters, whatever cause of action you take ensure it is followed up on, that the staff member is monitored.

Have you had a bad experience where a staff member has caused issues for your organisation – how did you handle it?

If you’ve had a bad experience with someone from an organisation you support, did you tell the organisation about it, or did you walk away from the organisation?

Who holds the keys to change?

Getting change to occur in any organisation is difficult. Often it seems even more so in the NFP/charity sector. We explore some of the reasons why and seek to answer the question; “Who holds the most effective keys to facilitating change.”

If you’re involved in the charity/non-profit sector, this piece by Craig Fisher of RSM Hayes Audit is worth a read.

Background

We all know the truism that “change is constant”.  And it is.  However in many organisations, being able to instigate change, or effectively respond to change, is often very difficult.  Generally the barrier to change is not the nature of the changes needed, but rather the emotional or human barriers to accepting the need and then moving to doing something about it.

Interestingly this situation is usually more pronounced in NFP organisations than it is in For-Profit organisations.   This is understandable when you consider some of the key differences between the two types of organisations.  This includes that most For-Profit organisations are generally more command and control in operational style, and more binary in their decision making, i.e. the driver for most decisions are: Will this make us more money – yes or no?

NFPs by contrast are commonly much softer in governance and management style because they often involve elements of volunteering and social motivation, as well as being driven more by service delivery rather than a single minded financial profit driver like the majority of For-Profit businesses.

Sadly however this can translate into NFPs being much more inefficient in how they do what they do, and much more resistant to change.  By not being forced to innovate as much as many For-Profit entities they can become flabby and inefficient.  Conversely, some NFPs are too lean, such that innovation is unable to flourish through lack of skills, time and resources.

Ironically though given the above, in times of financial crises or stress it is usually NFPs that will survive, or survive longer than many For-Profits.  Even though they don’t have the same single minded focus on their financial bottom line and financial sustainability, when times get tough their key stakeholders will generally support them “just enough” so they can struggle on.  Whereas by contrast, the situation for companies is much more binary; they either make enough money to stay in business or they go out of business.

Related to the above is the concept that; starvation often forces innovation.  And those that don’t innovate generally decline.

Continue Reading here

To Incentivise or Not?

Fundraising isn’t an easy job, ask anyone who has been doing it for some time; they’ll say they enjoy the work, the challenge and like the fact that what they are doing is helping someone else.

But, are fundraisers missing out. People in sales and marketing roles in the private sector receive not only their salary but also performance bonuses; often in the non-profit sector this doesn’t happen.

The reason why there’s no performance incentive is often because of perception that money given for charitable purposes is being redirected to pay over inflated wages; as anyone in the non-profit sector knows, wages, pay are not over inflated; actually often the pay scale in the non-profit sector is below what someone would earn in the private sector.

Staff turnover in the fundraising area of charities can be high, and it could be that those who are performing well are feeling frustrated and feel that their efforts aren’t being recognised (or rewarded).

It’s recognised that organsations have some hesitation in giving rewards, or paying any form of commission due to either public perception of charity money being “misused” or due to other restrictions (such as sector organisations not permitting such payments); that’s understandable. However, there are ways that fundraisers can be recognised, as said early, an extra day off or similar.

What we need to ask is, is it wrong for people to be rewarded for doing well in ensuring funds are available for the beneficiaries of an organisation?

If fundraisers can’t be recognised or rewarded for doing well, organisations could run the risk of having empty desks and empty bank accounts; that would be more harmful to the organisation and its beneficiaries than some small acknowledgement of a job well done.

I have seen some fundraisers being rewarded through special gifts from major supporters; supporters who acknowledge the hard (and stressful) job of fundraising; such as a hotel that would make a room available once a year for an extended weekend to be used by the fundraiser who brought in the most new donor support.

There are ways fundraisers can be rewarded, often it only needs some lateral thinking to come up with a method.

Do you incentivise your fundraisers?

Should fundraisers be rewarded?

Background Checks

Background checks are a necessity for many organisations but, when the cost of checks starts to eat away at finances needed for the core functions of an organisation things need to change. Either charities could be given an exemption from having to pay a proposed fee or the fee could be reduced to a token amount.

It would appear from article in the NZHerald that many organisations (and the people they assist) will suffer …

Charities and volunteer groups are warning the Government they will have to cut back on their services if a proposed charge on criminal checks goes ahead.

Non-profit organisations such as the Cancer Society, Age Concern, the Blind Foundation and others have asked to be exempted from a proposed $5 to $7 charge for police vetting, which is currently provided at no cost.

They say organisations which provide a public good, depend solely on donations and have a large proportion of volunteer staff should not have to cough up for the service.

A parliamentary select committee began hearing submissions last week on the law change which would allow the Government to charge for police services. Ministers have promised that vetting will be the only service to incur a charge.

Some cash-strapped groups estimated new costs of $5000 to $10,000 a year if they needed to pay for criminal checks.

The Blind Foundation said it looked after a large number of children, and under a law change last year it was required to vet all its staff. It estimated a new bill of at least $2500 a year.

The Police Association agreed with the groups. Its members supported moves to reduce the strain on the frozen police budget but believed cost recovery should be limited to private commercial interests.

The bill would give powers to the minister to make exemptions but it’s not yet clear how these will be used.

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse could not be reached yesterday, but his predecessor, Anne Tolley, emphasised that the proposed charge was much lower than the $50 to $60 paid for criminal checks in parts of Australia.

The Teachers Council, which is legally required to vet teachers and makes 40,000 checks a year, also opposed the bill.

Acting director Rob McIntosh said vetting was one of the police’s core functions and it should not be considered an additional service such as dealing with lost and found property or running the Police Museum.

He said police vetting of teachers was one of the key tools for protecting children and young people.

Criminal checks

• Between 450,000 and 500,000 criminal checks a year

• Estimated cost to police of $2.2 million

• Some organisations, such as those that work with children, legally required to vet staff

• Government wants to charge $5 to $7 for checks.

From NZHerald Monday 16 Feb 2015

Does your organisation do police background checks, what impact will a proposed fee have on your organisation?

Will You be Around in Five Years?

Now’s a good time to be thinking about the year in review, and as part of that, think about if you will be still be here in five years. Some won’t but that is possibly because they have done what they set out to do, others will be struggling.

Although almost a year old, “3 REASONS WHY YOUR NONPROFIT WON’T EXIST IN FIVE YEARS & WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT” from Strategy Lab is well worth a read.

As you read it, think about you and your organisation.

See also:

Are You Stale – Have you Stagnated?

Do you feel your organisation is struggling to grow support as a result of stagnation?

You’re still striving to grow your supporter base, you’re segmenting your database to make the most of what you have already; yet nothing changes, no growth in support either by the number of supporters or amounts able to be raised?  … continue reading

Charity Rip-offs

Charities have a hard enough time making ends meet to enable them to deliver their services.

When we hear about frauds and thefts in the sector, either carried out by people in organisations or by others using charity as a means to make a quick dollar, or the blatant theft of collection boxes; it makes you wonder what type of people would rip of others in need.

Not only do the scumbags who fleece charities harm them directly, but they’re tarnishing the entire sector. When stories of what some have done break – people become concerned and wonder if the money they are giving is getting to where it’s meant to be.

In 2012, BDO released a report on Not-For-Profit Fraud Survey, with these among the results:

  • 12% of organisations suffered fraud in the past two years
  • Specifically, 75 organisations suffered 330 frauds in the past two years
  • Fraud totalling $2,916,616 was reported, with the average fraud being $8,838
  • Of the respondents who experienced fraud, 49% had suffered fraud previously
  • Almost one in three organisations with turnover exceeding $10 million suffered a fraud
  • 25% of respondents who experienced fraud believe the full value of the fraud was not discovered
  • Main factors contributing to fraud occurring were breaches of trust and overriding of internal controls
  • The most common type of fraud reported was cash theft (40%)
  • The average online payment fraud was $370,000
  • The average duration of each fraud was 14.5 months.

But fraud, or misrepresentations by people outside of the sector is harder to monitor.

The recent case of the woman who used an online giving tool to raise funds for non-existent cancer treatment, again highlights risks the sector faces with reputation management.

This case again will make it harder for people to make the decision to give; they will be thinking twice about whether the campaign, individual or organisation is genuine.

We all must do our bit to keep our eyes and ears open to anything that may seem odd, that may not be kosher and, if we’re concerned we should be checking with organisations to ensure everything is above board.

See also:

Not-for-profit Fraud Survey

Non-profit groups need to be vigilant about fraud – survey

Risk Management – Mitigating Fraud

Quiet … There’s People Working

You know the situation, it’s happened to you numerous times; you’re nose to the grindstone focussed on a task – then someone comes through where you’re working with a voice that wouldn’t be lost at a rugby game.

There’s nothing worse than having your concentration interrupted, or being on a phone call when the person you’re speaking with asks what the noise is in the background.

No doubt, like me, you’ve spoken a tad too loud in the office … there are ways to deal with other people who seem to try and reach the highest decibel possible.

This article on stuff.co.nz is a great read, if you’re battling a loud voice in the workplace.

Silencing loud talkers at work

UNAVOIDABLE: Loud talkers share the most intimate details of their lives while taking personal calls and enjoy broadcasting a running commentary on unfolding situations.

The office loud talker can infuriate and distract even the most conscientious workers. So what is the best way to deal with these walking megaphones?

Natalia Perera is well acquainted with the difficulties of working with a loud talker. The innovative director of Syneka Marketing sits directly opposite the company’s managing director who, she says, has a booming, baritone voice.

“Sometimes people I’m talking to on the phone ask what that noise in the background is,” she says.

“This office also has a bit of an echo, so it makes his voice even louder.”

Unlike many loud talkers, Perera’s boss is aware of the problem and is happy to pipe down when asked.

“It can be a bit distracting especially when I’m on deadline and it’s the last thing you need when you’re feeling under pressure,” she says.

“I just put my headphones in my ears or sometimes I let him know he needs to be quiet.”

Loud talkers are a common annoyance on public transport, flights and cinemas. But in the workplace there is no escape from their daily noise pollution.

Loud talkers share the most intimate details of their lives while taking personal calls, think out loud and enjoy broadcasting a running commentary on unfolding situations.

read full article here