Is the Bucket Dead?

That rattling sound we often hear as we walk along the street, the jingle of coins in a bucket as charities strive to gain support could be gone in a few years.

A recent article on Radio NZ shows that people aren’t carrying as much cash as they used to, well, we know that ourselves we’re moving to cashless transactions more and more; but what will this mean for the street collector.

There have been those who have trialled mobile eftpos, but as this can be costly and slow for people giving organisations appear to by shying away from this. But, perhaps with pay n wave techonolgy this could we might see others trialling it.

Mobile apps have been around to help gather immediate donations, but again these have been seen to be cumbersome.

I don’t think we have seen the end of the street collector, what we will likely see if more booth like collection points (Para Olympics use a booth in some places), these will give people the chance to stop, talk and learn while also subscribing to regular giving.

But, there will always be a place for the bucket, and it’s only a matter of time before we see the technology that will enable quick donations being made either with eftpos or account-to-account transactions.

If your organisation is currently doing bucket collections, have you seen a drop off in donations and, have you looked at adapting, changing the way you will do street collections?

Give to charity, have you stopped giving on the street?

A Few Things to Consider

We all want to know that the organisation we are supporting, or wanting to support is doing good, that it is meeting it’s goals, reaching the people it is there to help. But, it’s not always the case, some organisations aren’t meeting targets and are only scratching the surface.

How can we check if the one we are looking at supporting is worth sending money to?

There’s a few things to look at, sure there’s a search of the Charity Register, but this is only a superficial look at their income, expenses and a check that they’re complying with what they are set up to do. In essence the report you will find on the Register is simply a declaration, it doesn’t show what the organisation has actually done.

An organisations website will give you the ”fluff” about who they support, what they do, but does it really give you an insight into who it really helps? Sure, there may be some testimonials from people it has helped, but in reality these are often hand picked to give the best picture of the work done.

If you are considering giving support, and particularly so if you are looking at a major contribution, a lifetime contribution or as a key sponsor to look deeper.

It is suggested that you find clients of the organisation and have a chat to them, don’t only talk to the people the organisation has suggested you talk to, but some how find others who have used the organisation. These are more likely to be more open about the support, service that they received.

When talking with previous, or current clients of an organisation you will soon see whether the support they received was beneficial, did it change their situation, are they better off. All of this will help you work out if this is the right organisation for you to support.

Another thing to look at, is the organisation meeting its goals? This can be a hard one to judge, but you should be able to find out by the chats you have with previous clients, by viewing the organisations annual report (not the one on the Charity Register but the main one that most publish these days.) Even a search on Google will likely give you insights into the impact the organisation is having, don’t forget too, that a search through their social media activity will likely also give some good insights.

Something I have seen people do when looking at supporting an organisation, is to look at what other organisations are working in the same space, and seeing if these have or intend to work together at some point. Remember, there’s many organisations doing the same or very similar things, could collaboration, merger be more beneficial to everyone. It’s something worth considering when making a decision to support.

Another thing I suggest people look at, is who is put first; the client, staff or donor? If it’s the staff then you need to ask why? If it’s the donor, same questions; in my opinion the client of an organisation should be the one who is put first, if they are not, then is it an organisation you want to support?

The physical and psychological benefits of generosity

Have had several discussions with people over the years about how giving, either time or money can make you feel good; now it seems that there is some truth to the thought.

This article which appeared on recently shows that there is some correlation between giving and feeling good.

The physical and psychological benefits of generosity


“If there’s a magic pill for happiness and longevity, we may have found it.

Countless studies have found that generosity, both volunteering and charitable donations, benefits young and old physically and psychologically.

The benefits of giving are significant, according to those studies: lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia, less anxiety and depression, reduced cardiovascular risk and overall greater happiness.

“Volunteering moves people into the present and distracts the mind from the stresses and problems of the self,” said Stephen G. Post, from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. “Many studies show that one of the best ways to deal with the hardships in life is not to just centre on yourself but to take the opportunity to engage in simple acts of kindness.”

Studies show that when people think about helping others, they activate a part of the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, which is responsible for feelings of gratification. Helping others doles out happiness chemicals, including dopamine, endorphins that block pain signals and oxytocin, known as the tranquillity hormone.

Even just the thought of giving money to a specific charity has this effect on the brain, research shows.

Intuition tells us that giving more to oneself is the best way to be happy. But that’s not the case, according to Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics and psychology at Duke University.

“If you are a recipient of a good deed, you may have momentary happiness, but your long-term happiness is higher if you are the giver,” Ariely said. For example, if you give people a gift card for a Starbucks cappuccino and call them that evening and ask how happy they are, people say they are not happier than if you hadn’t given it to them. If you give another group a gift card and ask them to give it to a random person, when you call them at night, those people are happier.

“People are happier when they give, even if they’re just following instructions,” Ariely said. “They take credit for the giving and therefore are happier at the end of the day.”

Read full article here

What Constitutes a “No” and when does “No” mean “Never”?

Great article well worth reading …

“I Won’t Give You Anything – Ever!” by Brian Saber on Asking Matters

What constitutes a “no” and when does “no” mean “never”?

After the great enigma of determining what to ask for, figuring out when to stop asking must be the next greatest enigma. Do we stop if our donors don’t call us back? If they tell us they won’t give this year? If they say they are supporting other causes? What constitutes a flat-out, permanent “no”?!

My golden rule is to never assume I know what the donor is thinking. We know the old adage about assuming, and while it won’t necessarily make us asses in this case, it will keep us from getting at the truth and maximizing giving.

I start from the premise we’re all adults here, and we understand the rules of engagement; open communication, honesty, and mutual respect. Within that context, I believe donors have a moral obligation to respond openly and honestly. And we have to take what they say at face value.

Read full article here

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

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.

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.

Automated Charity Calls – Good or Bad?

When you receive an automated call from a charity, how does it make you feel? Some may say it’s ok, that it’s good use of technology, others may say it’s icky.

Having missed several calls from the same charity using an automated system, I listened carefully to the message that was left “You have previously shown interested in XYZ, if you no longer wish to receive calls from us, please press 1.”

Ok, that seems like a fair thing for an automated message system; but, how many people are “unsubscribing” who would otherwise continue to support, simply because the only options are to either ignore the message and do nothing or, take the easy way and press 1?

I’m sure there is a high risk that this, and any other charities using this system will find that they are losing valued donors.

I didn’t notice anything in the call that said how I could press an alternative number to make a donation; an option I think would make sense to have.

When this charity phoned the next time, the person wasn’t aware of the automated system, which I felt sure they would. The callers for any charity are typically on the front line, they are the people who donors have the most contact with; so surely it would make sense for them to have knowledge of what systems were being used.

Are you a charity who uses this type of system, is it beneficial or are you noticing that you’re losing donors though its use?

If you donate to charities, what reaction would you have to automated calls?

Public Perception of Charities

Often we hear (still) about people having concerns about charities, especially around whether an organisation is genuine, that it’s being managed appropriately and that funds are being used for what they’re intended.

Even if a single person has concerns about an organisation and raises this in a public way, either just with friends or on their social media pages it can have an impact on the sector as a whole, but more importantly on that one individual charity they are “speaking” about.

One of the often cited issues people have is the level of remuneration of those running an organisation, as well as the costs associated with running the organisation in general.

People don’t always appreciate that having the right people at the helm can require a higher than expected remuneration package; with people thinking why should I give to an organisation where the CEO etc. are earning more than them.

Organisations are constantly looking for ways to keep their costs down, using volunteers and networks to source resources and funds that can be used to help generate additional income at little or no cost to the organisation.

Listen to what donors and potential supporters ask when being approached for donations; often they’ll ask “how much of my donation will get to where it’s needed?” or, “what percentage of my donation is absorbed in operational costs?”

We all know it takes money to run an organisation, what needs to happen is for organisations to simply show how money is being used, this could be included in updates to supporters and, on organisations websites.

Supporters (in New Zealand) are able to readily access financial information about any registered charity through the Charity Services website. The information available shows (in most cases) the cost of fundraising, total salaries and a myriad of other information. Organisations need to not expect supporters to go searching, they need to be more open and make this information readily available, either in its entirety or in graph form to demonstrate that funds are being used appropriately and in doing so make it easier for people to make the decision to support.

Supporters in New Zealand have a wide choice of organisations they can support, with in excess of 27,000 registered charities, that’s about one registered charity for every 162 per person. By making information more readily available your organisation could see new supporters coming on board with little effort needed on your part; all you need to do is be transparent.

With reports such as Public trust and confidence in charities being published it’s time for organisations to spend time to look at themselves and see if they are meeting the expectations of the public.

So, before you start your next fundraising drive, make information your supporters (current and potential) need to make the decision to support easily accessible, demonstrate that you are using funds prudently.

Are you sharing the information people want, or just showing them what you want them to see?

As a supporter, do you want to know your money is being used appropriately before supporting or continuing support?

See also
Fundraising Costs

Being an Open Book

Increase Your Revenue from Your Donors

To Incentivise or Not

When is a charity a charity

Money isn’t Everything

Public trust and Confidence in Charities (Survey Results)

Increase Your Revenue From Your Donors

Came across this great article by Wayne Elsey and thought I’d share it. Wayne raises some important points about donors and, donor retention.

Increase Your Revenue From Your Donors

According to an article in Network for Good, here is the reality for donor giving to nonprofits:

  • Commercial business customer retention is 94 percent. It is 41 percent for nonprofits.
  • New donor retention is 27 percent.
  • Repeat donor retention in the sector is 70 percent.

If you are a development director or executive director, you need to know what your donor retention rate is and then you want to know how to increase it. There are several strategic and immediate steps you can take to improve retention, which will ultimately increase your donation revenue.

Say Thank You

A basic fundraising practice is to thank your donors. This is fundamental. However, organizations sometimes focus on thanking their major donors, cut costs by not thanking donors under a certain donation amount or are not creative enough in their appreciation of donors.

If you have a newsletter that goes out regularly or an annual report that gets disseminated, take the opportunity to acknowledge your donors. Of course, always ask them if you have permission to publish their names in any of your collateral material.

Take the time to make a call. If a donor has given you a significant gift, it deserves a phone call. Make it a point to have your organization, including board members and staff outside of the development office, spend a few days during the holidays each year calling a broader list of donors simply to say “thank you”. Thanking people will increase retention and their subsequent gifts.

Make It Easy

Donors today have more choices and opportunity to support their favorite organizations. Smart nonprofits are not only providing multiple ways for donors to donate by being on social media and using social media donation tools, for example, but they are also providing donors with easy and plentiful ways for donors to support the cause.

Read full article here

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