Business & Fundraising

What can fundraisers learn from Coca-Cola?

Another great talk at Ted from Melinda French Gates on what nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola (HT to the Donor Power Blog for the link).

Regardless of your view of their ethics (see here for bad Coca-Cola), it is a truly global brand and she argues there are three main reasons for this:

1.  Their use of real time data and how they feed it back into the product

2.  How they tap into local entrepreneurial talent (especially in the developing world)

3.  They do incredible marketing

As fundraisers we can learn from all three points.

Coca-Cola's knowledge and insight team know where their consumers are in real time and when sales drop they can react and do something about it.  Charities and fundraisers tend to evaluate at the end when it is too late to do anything to fix any problems.  Are you evaluating your results as they come in and then doing something about it?

By training local entrepreneurs Coca-Cola were able to sell coke in hard to reach places.  They empowered individual, created brand advocates and set them up as micro-distribution centres. 

This is similar to what Kiva and Lend With Care are doing and as fundraisers we need to find ways to empower our most committed and loyal donors and give them the tools to eulogise about our work.

Coca-Cola use aspirational marketing across the world and adapt it to local traditions and customs.  People equate Coca-Cola with the type of life they want to live and the things that are important to them (which varies around the world).  Coca-Cola speak to the dreams and hopes of people and not about the features of the product. 

The key thing here for fundraisers is to know your audience, adapt your marketing to their hopes and aspirations (the problem they are solving) and don't impose on them your view of the world!




Why nonprofits are so GOOD at social media

Just a couple of days after I reported Joe Saxton asking why charities are so bad at social media, here is an article from the Harvard Business Review claiming the opposite.

So who is right?

Well, I think both make valid points.

Joe is speaking about the UK sector in general (which is pretty dreadful at it) and Alexandra is looking at the best non-profits out there and comparing them to the average business.

Both are valid view points and worth checking out.

What to do when you're the lone dancer in your org!

Thanks to Eaon for posting the below video:

It's a great example of how things spread and get adopted through society - for more commentary on it see here.

It really got me thinking about my efforts to get colleagues in my charity to embrace social media.  At the minute I feel like i'm the one doing the mad dance about it, with everyone looking on thinking i'm a bit crazy.  I'm just starting to see one or two people take a risk and try a few moves with me, but we've still a long way to go before the whole organisation will be up dancing to the 'social media' tune. 

This video has given me the confidence and belief that i'm on the right track and not to give up.  I might have been out on my own at first and looked a bit silly, but sometimes you've got to put yourself out there to be shot at. 

Don't worry, i'll keep dancing my daft dance and we'll get there eventually!

What's your purple cow?

Seth is planning on updating his seminal book "Purple Cow" in the Autumn and is looking for some modern day 'purple cows' to include in it.

In the world of fundraising Purple Cows are few and far between, but I can think of a couple that stand out for me:

  • The Camphill Trust - their unwavering committment to donor choice, feedback and involvement means that they have a phenomenal response to their appeals.  Donors genuinely look forward to receving their warm, touching and engaging communications and they are a great example for any small charity.
  • Race for Life - it's amazing how something so simple has grown so large and raised so much, but who said purple cows had to be complicated?  The simple premise of bringing woman together to celebrate life and remember those no longer with us has inspired woman to raise over £240 million for cancer research.

What can you turn into a purple cow in your organisation and do you have any other examples you'd like to share?

p.s. for a definition of a 'purple cow' see here!

Tweaking your business model

One of the many mailing lists I subscribe to is Denny Hatch's weekly 'Business Common Sense' newsletter. Denny has a great writing style and even if the topic isn't always my cup of tea, I always find his articles interesting. Anyway, this week Denny writes about how the impact of the recession and how old business models have changed. Denny thinks too much is given away free and people are becoming too reliant on advertising revenue (mainly via Google) for revenue. He gives 7 examples of what he calls 'Nutsy-Fagen' business models. I wrote earlier this week about what I see the future of fundraising being and not sure I completely agree with Denny, but still well worth a read.

Experiments in Business

Freakonomics author, Steven Levitt, reports on an article in the FT about a recent class on experimentation he taught to a group of Chicago M.B.A. students. Steven and his colleague, Prof John List, were critical of the level of experimentation within companies and their inability to react to feedback. They warn 'not to take data at face value' and to over simplify causality. Are you measuring the right things in your fundraising team? How can you better use data to inform decisions? How do you crunch your numbers? Where would you start?