Can Social Media Lessen the Negative Impact of Telephone Appeals


Those damn telemarketers that call when you’re working on the final draft of an a business proposal, who call when you’re trying to settle the kids for the night, who call when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet night with the family. Love them or hate them, they all have a job to do, and no not it’s not to disturb you; it’s a bit more than that. 

Every telemarketer is doing their job, the same as you do everyday you head off to the office, but what is different is the telemarketer is seen to be intrusive. 

When it comes to charities using the telephone to raise money (and awareness) they’re using one of the most cost effective ways possible. Yes, using the phone can be more cost effective than envelope appeals and even bucket collections – but that’s something for another time; for now let’s focus on the use of the telephone. 

We all know that charities, whether we’re part of one or a supporter need to reach the most people in the shortest time, at the lowest cost, and the phone seems to win hands down on cost per hit. But, how can charities better make use of, and help reduce the angst, the negative impact it’s use can cause? 

Part of the role of telephone appeals is to raise awareness of the charity, the cause, and it’s beneficiaries. So why not use social media to help ease the path for those ‘pesky’ calls. 

If a charity is using social media, why not use it to let people know of there upcoming telephone appeal, as part of their online activity they could ask their connections, followers and fans to let their friends know that a telephone appeal will be starting in their area. 

It may work, it may not, unless charities start trying this approach we won’t know. It’s worth the effort – see it as part of the PR campaign. 

Wouldn’t it be nice for telephone canvassers to be met with a warmer reception? Imagine what it could do, even if it resulted in only a 1 or 2% growth in donations it’s worth it – isn’t it? 

Charities could be using social media to talk about their upcoming appeal, asking people what they’d like to see from the appeal – and ask questions about what causes people give to. 

Dialogue and engagement will get people talking, this talk can and will likely lead to people be more receptive to a call. Sure, some people who see messages on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other site will give, others will also help pass the word, sharing with their friends and family. 

Imagine if charities were to start using YouTube to talk about their appeal, maybe even including a “sample” or the telephone appeal – this would give an insight into what people could expect from a call. 

Will it work? In short, yes it will. How well the use of social media be in supporting telephone appeals we won’t know until someone gives it a real shot. 

Have you considered or used social media to support your telephone appeal? If so, how did it work out?


Impact of the Christchurch Earthquake on fundraising, donor behaviour and charity decision-making

A number of charities have made comment recently about concerns they have about the ability of their donors to give post the Christchurch Earthquake – and in looking to see what could be the possible impact on donor contributions I stumbled across What has the impact of the February Christchurch Earthquake been on fundraising, donor behaviour and charity decision-making? – a report from Xponential Philanthropy.

What was the not for profit fundraising sector’s experience post-earthquake? 

“In the beginning of May, Xponential Philanthropy conducted a simple electronic survey to determine the fundraising behaviour of the not for profit sector post-earthquake and to assess if there had been a significant impact. The survey was sent to members of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand. Fifty four responses were received.

The survey results suggest 71% of the survey respondents made changes to their fundraising plans post-earthquake. The decisions to change fundraising plans were mainly prompted by the Fundraising Department, Board and Management. Donor views were not a major influence; only two responses cite donor feedback as a reason for changing plans.

Direct mail programmes and event based fundraising were the most affected, either by cancellation or postponement. 36.7% postponed their Direct Mail programme to existing donors, whilst 27.8% cancelled the programme altogether. 16.7% cancelled a Direct Mail to non-donors and 13.3% postponed theirs. Event based fundraising was the most affected with 38.9% cancelling and 26.7% postponing a planned event. Based on these changes, it was interesting to note the estimated impact on the annual income of charities. 15% stated that they did not anticipate any loss of income. 33% estimated that they would lose up to 5% of their annual income. 15.4% expect a reduction of 5% – 10% and 20.5% believe that their annual income will reduce by 10% – 20%.” 

An insight from the report is that “Donors don’t stop caring about causes that matter to them, even in the event of a disaster. Organisations are urged to continue to engage and communicate with their donors and supporters, telling them about the urgent needs of those they help and important services they provide in our communities … because donors still care.”

It’s important for charities to communicate with their donors, to let them know how important their support is – it’s also important that charities are transparent, that they show how and where funds are used, all of this will help ensure supporters continue to support.

Download the report “Impact of Christchurch Earthquake on NZ Charities” for more insight.




Are you blogging?


Blogging is a great way to keep in touch with the community, to share thoughts, ideas and tell the stories of the work you’re doing. 

Some look on blogging as something that’s too hard to do, too hard to come up with ideas and too time consuming – it can be, but it needn’t be. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits of blogging for your charity.

Blogs help you to get quick, timely news out to your supporters and wider community

Blog posts need not take hours to prepare, typically I spend about 30 minutes to an hour preparing my posts; whereas newsletters or other forms of communicating with your audience can take a lot longer. 

What you share on your blog needn’t be only about what you’re doing, blogging allows you to share news, information and other titbits about your sector. 

Blogging is the (almost) pain free way to stay in touch. 

Give readers multiple ways of subscribing, email, rss – look at using services like Feedblitz or Feedburner Email to allow subscribing by email.

You can further build trust with your supporters through your blog 

Blogging allows you to be personable with your supporters, more often than not supporters can see any charity as faceless, a blog can help break down barriers. 

It’s good to be ‘human’ and let you’re personality come through the blog.  Being human with your blog will allow conversations through comments … remember to build relationships, you have to have conversations. 

Some charities have a fear of negative comments, Don’t. Any comment gives you the opportunity to ‘talk’, to explain and clear up any misgivings, any misunderstandings and so much more. 

Be seen and heard – Reach more people

How often do you have to see something to remember it? More than once no doubt, the same can be true with blogs, and the best way to reach more people, to be seen and heard is to share your blog though as many channels as you can. 

Some suggestions would be to:

  • Include an excerpt in your e-newsletter, with a click through to the original post
  • Share links to your blog through Twitter, FaceBook,
  • Encourage your readers, supporters and others who receive your blog to forward it to people they feel would be interested 

Note: If you’re sharing your blog on social networks – FaceBook, Twitter, Digg etc, it could pay to post notifications to the new post multiple times. If you do approach if differently each time. When you tweet a link to the post the first time use the title of the post, later share it using an interesting fact or “pull quote” with the link.

Blogs can make life easy

What? I hear you ask. Simple, once you’ve been blogging for a while you will notice that you’ll have content that you can use in other forms of communication; your own newsletters, content for ‘sector’ newsletters. 

Media coverage/interest can be gained

We all do it, we sit and hope, fingers cross that a reporter will be interested and cover a story about the work we do.- blogs can help create your own coverage. 

There’s been plenty of instances where people have used a blog to cover an event, or something happening in the community. If it’s covered well and often enough it can eventually gain attention from media. 

Don’t forget that reporters and journalists use the internet to search out experts, references to subjects – so, if you write on the same topics repeatedly the chances are that when a reporter searches your issue, your posts may appear in search results.

Don’t thing of your blogs as another chore – they can be fun

Don’t think of your blog as another ‘job’ that has to be done, see it as an extension, as a tool in your communications arsenal.Some people decide they want to blob, but then palm the work off to someone who may not have the same passion, understanding or general interest in the sector; don’t fall into this trap. 

Do it yourself, or get someone, or a number of people to do your blogging – most of all have people who can communicate well, enjoy researching and writing.

If you have patrons and ambassadors invite them to be a guest blogger, to talk about why they’re involved. 

There’s also value in having some of the people you help contribute to articles, they can share their stories. 

What are you waiting for? Your blog won’t start itself, start thinking about your blog and how beneficial it can be to your charity. 

If you’re already blogging, how has it been for you, what have the results been?

Charities and Donors at Risk of Con-Artists


Recent news of the Charity Conman “ … who posed as a cancer patient and scammed millions of dollars from a wealthy woman has been jailed for four years and eight months.” 

How he went about swindling his victim should surely raise awareness of the risks and ways in which charities can mitigate it. For donors it sends a clear message that they must make sure they know who they are dealing with; that they should watch for emotive stories, stories that pull at heartstrings. 

I’ve previously written about “Do low lifes damage the credibility of charities? And When Disaster Strikes – Opportunists hoping to raise awareness of what risks charities can face when appealing for funding, what risks too that donors can face when unscrupulous people try and seize an opportunity to play on the emotions of others. 

“Tuba” as some people knew him, played on the emotions of his victim, he played the use that he had lost everything and that his life was in the balance. There’s probably many people reading this who have seen or heard of similar ‘tricks’ being used to con money out of the unsuspecting. 

You’ve no doubt seen letters, or received phone calls asking for your help for some cause or another; often the letter or call is structured in a way as to pull on the heartstrings of the recipient. Using phrases such as “we really need your help, without it little Samantha may miss out …” or, “it’s only with the help of people like you that children like Emma can get a chance to …” 

When a child’s name is used it almost always plants mental image in the mind, when we talk of a serious health issue it does the same, often too bringing to mind a friend or family member who may be or have been in a similar situation. 

For charities some clear lines should be drawn between being factual, putting the case, the need to for support and playing on the emotions of others. Emotion sells, there’s no denying it, but lets not go overboard with it. 

For donors, when you feel you’re being ‘sucked’ in, that your emotions are being played with – perhaps it’s time to take a step back, take a breath and think before pulling out the credit card or cheque book. 

Charities and those working in the sector, must do checks on employees, you can’t afford to have someone with bad intentions who could bring your organisation into disrupt, remember people see one charity as representative of the sector; so your name being tarnished has the potential to tarnish the sector as a whole. 

Donors, remember to ask questions like, who are you? How do I know this is genuine? Where does the money go? But above all don’t let emotive language or spin effect your reason for giving – know why you’re giving.


Prostitutes or Clients – How do you treat your donors?


This post originally appeared on AdageBusiness last November, and since it appears to be an area of discussion again I thought I’d share it here. 


Prostitutes or Clients – How do you treat your donors?


If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet from michaelchatman “Do fundraising professionals treat their donors as clients, or as people waiting to be CULTIVATED like land, or SOLICITED like prostitutes?”    

This raises a really good point, how are organisations treating their donors? Are they just going out cap in hand to them when they need their support, or are they keeping them informed, or inviting them to participate in activities rather than as just money wells?  

The more donors feel as though they are ‘part’ of what you’re doing the more they are likely to remain donors over a longer period. Donors have a lifecycle no different any customer to any business, you need to work with them to increase they’re life-cycle.  

So often charities are only approaching their donor base when needed, this isn’t connecting with them, and it’s not giving them reason to be more a part of the charity, and has the potential to turn them off.  

We know if we want the most from our garden, we have to cultivate it. It’s no different to your donors, the more you’re able to help them to help you (cultivate them just like we do with our land), they will grow and flourish, they’ll stay with you longer, and are likely to want to be more involved than if you were only to contact them when you needed them (“more money please”).   

Donors don’t like being treated as prostitutes either; a quick fix for a cause, approaching people for help here and now, with no thought for future opportunities for both you and them. 

If you want to build our donor base, it’s important that potential, and current donors know that they are valued, that you want them to be ‘part’ of the cause; not just a money well. 

The more interaction with donors the more they are likely to value you and talk to others about what you’re doing, they will become ‘ambassadors’ for your cause. 

Get your donors involved, don’t just hit them up for a quick fix; they’re not prostitutes.

Nonprofit Duplications

We already know that there’s masses of charities and non-profits in the community, no matter where you are, you’ll come across a non-profit of some description doing something close to your heart. 

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of non-profit organisations in the OECD; we have something like 30,000 registered charities, that’s a staggering number for a country of our size. 

What makes things challenging for donors is that there are a number of very similar named organisations doing very similar work. 

When it comes to charities and non-profits it’s difficult enough for donors to filter through messages asking for support and ‘selecting’ who they will support, but when there’s a number doing very similar activities it makes it even harder for them to make a decision. 

Wouldn’t it make sense for some of these ‘duplicated’ organisations to join forces? Surely, they’d be able to consolidate costs, be able to deliver more services and of course be able to potentially secure greater funding than they might currently be as individual competing organisations. 

Sure there can be difficulties in merging, egos will come into play, members may not want to vote for change – but is it the organisations ‘right’ to stand in the way of those they’re established to assist? 

Take a look at Merger Allergies – Redundant Associations Refuse to Wed – even though the majority of both organisations voted to support a merger, the numbers required were not there to pass the ‘resolution’. 

What’s happening in your area? Are you seeing duplication of services and those providing the services struggling to gain the support the need? 

As donors we perhaps owe it to those being served by the organisation to ask questions about the apparent duplication of services and ask why they’re not negotiating some form of merger with the other organisation/s.

It would be good to get some indication of what you’re seeing in your area; for example here in New Zealand I’ve seen up to three organisations providing help and assistance to youth with autism. There’s also a number working in the area of breast cancer (research, education and support), would it make sense for them to have a ‘round table’ and look at how they could possibly work better as one?

Can we continue to have so many organisation competing? I’d say no, we as supporters can’t and the sector as a whole can’t it’s duplicating while at the same time possibly diluting effectiveness.


What do people think when …


When we walk down the street and see someone sleeping in a doorway, what do we think? Do have a thought of disgust that someone is ‘messing up’ the area? Do we wonder if they’re ok? Do we wonder how the ended up sleeping rough? 

When we see someone with a young child in a wheelchair, drip and oxygen close by – what do we think? Do we look at the child with pity? Do we wonder about the illness the child has? Do we think about what the parent is going through? 

We all have thoughts – questions about what we see, but do we think about what how we could help them? 

How often do people see someone who appears “less fortunate” than themselves, that their own situation pales in significance to others around them? 

I would say the frequency of people having an ah-huh moment would be quiet high, but the follow through, the action taking place I’d suggest would be significantly less. 

Have we become cold, heartless, self-centred, only thinking about ourselves? Perhaps at some levels, but in the main I’m wondering if people are overwhelmed by the needs in the community. 

Look at the calls being made for help with natural disasters, famine – the BIGGIES, and see how much help is needed; it’s no wonder some people are “donated out”. 

How can we help donors to see they’re help is still very much needed at a local level? 

We can’t get down and beg (although there’s some I’m sure feel as though they need to), pulling at heartstrings isn’t always good and can come across insincere. 

The “normal” appeal messages may not be getting through as well as they once were – envelopes, door-knocks, emails, bucket collections are thick and fast, people are feeling inundated. 

There has to be a better way to reach out to the donor.

Social media is what charities must now seriously consider using to connect and engage with their supporters; and can be used for appeals, if done right. 

Over the coming weeks look out for Non-profits and Social Media, a series on how non-profits can make good use of social media tools. If you’ve any tips, case studies of social media and non-profits, I’d be keen to hear what you have to say and to share. 


© Erengoksel |


Risk Management – Mitigating Fraud

It’s staggering to think that since 2009, our courts (New Zealand) have successfully prosecuted cases involving fraud of more than $3 million from charities. That’s a massive amount lost, taken – nah stolen from organisations trying to do good in the community. 

This does not include the recent prosecution of the charity worker who stole millions from an elderly woman, adding another $2.4 million to the sum stolen. 

Grant Thornton’s  NFPs Failing on Risk Management: NZ Report  highlights the lack of formal risk management, surely the sector needs to tighten up, individual organisations need to ensure they have good polices and practices in place. 

It’s time the sector looked at how to improve itself, the more ‘bad news’ the public hears about the sector – frauds, thefts; the more the potential the sector has to lose support it so badly needs from the community.

What are you doing in your organisation? 

Cause Related Marketings Impact on Giving

I’ve often wondered whether charity giving is negatively impacted by people buying products where a portion of the purchase price goes to charity.

It would seem from one report that it is – the report “ Can Supporting a Cause Decrease Donations and Happiness?  :  The Cause Marketing Paradox.


The report suggests: There is a general belief that a cause marketing purchase is “shopping” and hence is independent of other forms of individual “giving”. Buying a cause marketing (CM) product can also be costless to the consumer, in that the consumer may have purchased the product anyway (without its link to the cause); whereas other forms of giving such as direct donations or matching donations have obvious costs. If consumers participate in these latter cases of giving, which are not costless, they could reduce subsequent donations. With a costless CM purchase, what will the effect on direct donation be? Will it still decrease? If consumers have a mental donation budget, then it should not. However, if they think of a CM purchase as a charitable, moral act, then later donation may indeed decrease.” 

I’ve spoken to people who have purchased cause related items and asked other than purchasing the product do they give anything else to the ‘cause’? Typically, the response has been “I already gave through purchasing the product.” 

Sure, they have given; but if the item had not been available, would they have given more to the cause? I would guess that in the main they would, given that in most cases it’s a matter of cents from each purchase that the cause receives. 

The report also points to opaqueness of cause marketing – “Our results raise concerns about the practice of cause marketing, and suggest that consumers and policy making bodies should be more vigilant about what CM can do to “individuals’ direct donations”, to total donations, and to consumer happiness. The results also have implications regarding the opaqueness of cause marketing programs where firm contribution is unclear.” 

I’d suggest that there is some doubt, concern and questions raised when it comes to clarity of what benefits there are to the cause, the real value to the cause and tracking of value of sales. Often a cause will receive a cheque for an amount, often an amount that can’t be substantiated – lets hope unscrupulous cause related marketing scammers aren’t operating out there, duping consumers and diddling causes. 

Cause related marketing can be measured more than on why, how and how much – there’s often a PR campaign that runs alongside it, in-store there’s likely to be information about the cause and the product itself is likely to have the cause ‘brand’ on it. All raising awareness of the cause – often success, or otherwise has to be measured on more than just financial benefit or gain.  

It would be great to start some real discussion on cause related marketing, and I’d welcome any comments you may have. 

Think on these: 

As someone who gives, when you’re in a shop and see a cause related product, are you inclined to buy it? Sure, I understand that it depends on the product too, but it’s something you’d normally buy. 

As a cause – have you benefited from a cause related marketing programme? If so, did you notice any difference to normal giving?