Giving Circles

Not something I have come across in New Zealand, although perhaps Rotary Clubs, Churches could almost be seen as a form of Giving Circle.

For those unfamiliar with what a Giving Circles is, this from an artiles on Nonprofit Quarterly sums what they are quite well.

Giving circles are voluntary groups that enable individuals to pool their money (and sometimes their time as volunteers) to support organizations of mutual interest. They also provide opportunities for education and engagement among participants about philanthropy and social change, connecting them to charities, their communities, and each other.

Have a read of the full article, Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up?

I feel there’s room for organisations to look at how they could help people to understand Giving Circles and use them to help build awareness of the work done of their organisation and, yes gain support.

Do you know of any Giving Circles in your area?

Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

We know we feel better when we give, we know our gift will help make life better for those receiving support through our giving. But what we probably didn’t know is that giving, as neuroscientists have found is that the decision to give activates the brain’s pleasure centers similar way to what eating chocolate or having sex does.

Ok, you probably shouldn’t start a campaign with ”Help us to help … It’s just like sex”, but knowing the effect of giving on peoples brains should give you insight into how to capture an audience.

Have a full read of what Freddie Pattisson says on his post on nfpSynergy

Losing a Friend

You clear your post office box, and among the mail is a letter and cheque from a long standing donor, someone who has supported your work for a number of years; someone you see as a friend. The letter is a shock.

Your donor has just told you that this will be their last gift, that they have decided that they need to cut back as they are supporting other organisations and can’t support everyone.

What do you do?

File the letter and bank the cheque, make a note on your system that the donor won’t be supporting any more; then carry on with your daily work.

If this is what you are doing, you could be missing out on maintaining the relationship you have with this donor.

The first thing you should do is take a breath, then pick up the phone and call the donor.

Why? You’re losing a friend, and you should be calling to say thank you for the support they have given over their time with your organisation.

When calling ensure you’re not making the call as a plea for them to stay on as a supporter, your reason for the call is to thank them, and nothing more.

You may end the call with a big surprise; in some cases the donor makes the decision to stay with you. It won’t always happen and most often won’t happen if you go into the call begging them to stay.

The call should be about how valuable their support has been, what it has meant to have them as a supporter and what they have helped you achieve. Any decision for them to stay is theirs and theirs alone.

I’ve made a number of these calls and know how well they have gone down with the donor, you could almost hear them smile knowing they you have valued their support. And, yes, some donors have changed their mind and stayed with the organisation.

So, the next time you get a letter saying that this will be the last donation, take a breath and pick up the phone and thank the person for their support. You have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Do you make these types of calls already, how do you handle them, do you find some donors stay?

Text Messaging in Non-Profits

With the wide use of mobile phones in New Zealand, something like 90% of us have them, it would make sense for charities to be tapping more into the use of mobiles to communicate with donors; but this has to be done gently or it could backfire.

Backfire? Yes, I subscribed to an online poll a while back and could select certain charities I wanted to learn more about; within days I was being inundated with calls and messages thanking me for my support (I hadn’t given any, I’d only shown an interest), these calls and text messages turned me off so much that I requested being removed from their databases.

Where mobile can work tremendously is with Text to Donate campaigns, we see these almost weekly in some shape or form, they are a quick and easy way for people to make a donation, they can do it anywhere at any time.

When people do a text-to-donate they can expect to get a call from the organisation thanking them for their support and asking if they would like to become a regular giver. Nothing wrong with this, unless the people doing the calling are from an agency and don’t know all the ins and outs of what the charity is doing.

So, if you are doing text-to-donate campaigns and using an agency, ensure they know the key information, brief them on it and don’t expect them to have the time or possibly the inclination to search for the information themselves. Some key information I would suggest they know is what your campaign dates generally are, when you are holding a special event etc; I’ve seen first hand where an agency didn’t know that they were calling people on the annual appeal day – this, in my mind was a wasted opportunity; how many donors were lost because of this lack of information?

If you do text-to-donate campaigns, remember that this opens up another opportunity for you to stay in contact with your donors/supporters; you can quickly send a broadcast text to your database with an urgent call to action, or you can use texting to send brief updates about your campaign, about a planned event and more; but do respect that recipients have the right (and you the obligation) to be removed from your system. Don’t delay with removal requests, failure to do them in a timely manner could result in damage to your organisation by disgruntled supporters talking about you in a negative way on their social media platforms.

If you want to know others are saying about texting supporters etc, this article from Nonprofit Quarterly is well worth a read.

Are you ready to change?

To see 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 methods.

If you keep doing the same thing and getting the same results, why bother repeating the action, it’s pointless, a waste of time and resources.

Organisations need to adapt.

If your direct mail campaign isn’t working as well as expected, adapt it, hopefully you have done a “market test” before launching the campaign and have allowed for tweaks.

If your telephone campaign isn’t working, why? The people making the calls will have market intelligence that they should be encouraged to share. Is it that they’re calling the wrong area, has something happened that’s drawing donors away (a disaster, humanitarian crisis).

Has you email campaign not gained the hits you would have expected? Again, did you test the campaign with a sample of your database before hitting send to your entire database?

It’s important that all campaigns are tested, not just internally, but more so externally. It’s your market that matters, not only what you and your team think.

How much time and effort are you putting into campaigns that could go belly up if you’ve got it wrong?
Be ready to adapt, have something up your sleeve “just in case”.

Be ready to change the subject line of your email campaign if you’re not getting the hits you would expect.

Likewise, be prepared to send the email at different times/days. And, yes, keep records of what does and doesn’t work.

If your phone campaign isn’t hitting the mark, is it the time you’re calling, change your calling times. And, as much as people hate it, don’t forget Saturdays can be a great calling day.

Before you hit go on any campaign, have an alternative plan, be ready, be adaptable and monitor, monitor, monitor.

Be ready to change, to adapt to any situation, perhaps even end your campaign early if need be.

When someone supports give a quick call and ask them why they have supported – yes thank them too.

Perhaps you have a supporter who has donated previously, but not on this occasion; give them a call and ask why.

This type of intelligence gathering is important, and should be done every campaign, no matter what.

So, in the planning sessions you have for your next campaign, allow for people to call delinquent donors and ask why, and call new donors too (you should be doing this anyway), and thank them, but find out why they are supporting.

Good luck out there, remember there’s lots of competition for the charity dollar.

Are you monitoring who you support?

You work hard, spend frugally and want to know that the hard earned money you give to community groups, charities; is being well used. How do you know it’s being wisely used?

Sure, you might get a regular update from the organisation, perhaps an update with any receipt you use, but is this an accurate picture of how your hard earned money is being used?

I’ve seen organisations that raise significant sums from the public, yet have little to show where this money is used.

Yes, they are meeting the terms of their constitution, they are doing the work, yet if asked to provide more services, resources or the like, they are unable to do so as they don’t have the financial resources to do more than they are doing.

There are still organisations working in the sector who have exorbitant overheads, who raise funds from you and me, but with their overheads can’t provide the services they are established to provide.

Who’s at fault, is there a fault, should there be tighter rules around reporting income and expenditure?

Perhaps yes, but what can we, donors, do to ensure we are giving to organisations that will use our support wisely.

I guess it comes down to trust, we have to trust that what they are telling us is kosher, that they are doing the best they can, that they are using our support wisely.

But, we also owe it to ourselves to check that what they are saying can be substantiated.

How can we do this? I guess we would go through the financial statements they file with Charity Services, with a fine tooth comb. We could (and should) be asking friends, family etc what their impression is of the organisation.

As with all community groups, we need to trust that what they are telling us is 100% kosher, if it’s not then we should voice our concerns and perhaps walk away and support an organisation we know we can trust.

Have you any doubts about organisations you have or do support, what have to done about it?

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?

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

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?

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?