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June 2009

Donor Magic: The NSPCC

Over the next few weeks i'm going to be writing about what many people call stewardship or donor care, but which I prefer to call 'donor magic'.  I'll be talking through the concept, the critical success factors, the barriers you need to overcome and my personal thoughts on the concept.


Image by Geofana.

However, I thought i'd start with a story illustrating what I mean.

The story comes from a presentation I attended by the NSPCC's stewardship team.

The had quite a high profile committee who organised an annual fundraising event.  They wanted to do something extra to thank them for all their hard work that went beyond the normal flowers or wine.

What they came up with was simple and low cost, but also individual and unique and strengthened the relationship with the charity.  They gave each member of the committee a special gift box that contained photos from past events, along with hand written thank you cards from some of the children who would benefit from the project the event was raising money for.

The committee members were delighted with this thoughtful and relevant gift and no doubt they told all their friends and family about it, creating some great word of mouth for the NSPCC.

What you should be reading this week!

Here's a selection of my favourite stories from the last seven days. 

There's some really good general fundraising stories this week.  I really enjoyed the "Benefits of long term fundraising efforts" and the "Sad Child" story is closely linked to the using sex for fundraising article from last week.

General Fundraising

Do we need a "Don't stop giving" campaign to battle the recession?

Using 'sad' child images to boost fundraising - is it ethical? 

Why there is still plenty of life left in direct mail

Some volunteers are better than others (but do you dare say it?)

Great example of relevant cause related marketing 

The benefits of long term fundraising efforts over short-termism

Technology & Fundraising

How to use Twitter to alienate people (applies to all comms)

Using online experiences to enhance the offline relationship

How Mashable can improve their "Summer of Social Good"


How to go viral with remarkable service

Why confidence is more important than expertise

Tips on how to be authentic

9 Formula's for writing successful headlines


After reviewing the Justgiving site yesterday, I thought it only fair that I give a mention to Bmycharity, who are one of Justgiving’s main rivals and compare the two.


In the interests of transparency, I want to make clear I have no personal connection with either site and these reviews are just based on my impressions of using them.


Bmycharity front page


Bmycharity more than just giving


The Bmycharity front page is quite busy with boxes promoting their own challenges, individuals sponsor pages and how to set up a page.  There is also quite a lot of info on how Bmycharity is ‘more than just giving’ which I thought was quite a clever strap line and clearly demonstrates Bmycharity’s main two advantages: it’s cheaper than Justgiving and there is more opportunity for charities to brand their own pages.


One let down is that nowhere on the front page promotes people who are already raising money.  There is no inspiration and examples to other people raising money.  This is definitely one area where Justgiving does better.


Bmycharity sponsor page top



Moving on to the sponsor pages themselves then it was noticeable that Bmycharity’s pages were much more about the charity, whereas Justgiving is much more about the individual fundraiser.


The ‘Moonwalk’ pages were a great example of this.  There is only limited info about the person raising the money, although you can easily share via social media (though again there are a huge number of options) and frustratingly you have to click through to see a list of donations.


Bmycharity sponsor page bottom



However, where Bmycharity is clearly ahead of Justgiving is the information on the charity.  There is some fantastic information about “Walk the Walk”, including video, good branding at the top of the page, buttons to find out more about volunteering, joining in, following on Twitter and being added to the mailing list. I thought this was really impressive, thought it is reliant on the individual charity making the most of this opportunity.


In conclusion, Bmycharity is another good fundraising site and I’d have no problem using it. 


Overall, I’d say that if I was a charity I’d prefer Bmycharity as it’s cheaper, has more prominent branding for the charity and allows the charity to promote itself in more ways.  As an individual I’d go for Justgiving as it’s more about ‘me’ and allows me to tell my own individual story in a clear way and shows how other people have raised money.


Do you agree or do you know another online donation site you’d recommend?  Please let me know…

Justgiving - front end review

You may have heard that online giving site Justgiving has had a complete makeover and re-launched over the weekend.  I thought I’d have quick look round and share some initial thoughts.

 Justgiving Front Page

First up, the front page is much cleaner and has a fresher feel.  They’ve got some fantastic photos of people raising money and seemed to have made a big effort to promote the virtues of Justgiving to both individuals and charities.  Navigation is clear and it’s a good start.

 Justgiving Individual Target


Justgiving Sponsor Messages


The sponsor pages also have new look and feel and although they do look cleaner than they old version, for me they’ve lost some of the charm and warmth.  I did like the thermometer at the top of the page, which showed progress against target and the opportunities to share the page via social media were impressive  - 45 options! However, this could be off putting if you don’t have much knowledge of social media.  I like to think of myself of fairly savvy, but I hadn’t heard of half the options – may be it’s a case of less is more?


The first 5 donations on each page has a funny looking windmill next to them that I don’t understand and you only get 10 donations per page displayed, which means it can be quite time consuming if you wanted to scroll through and look at people’s comments.  One possible improvement would be to have a widget that scrolled through these or even a frame within the page that listed all the donations and could be easily scrolled through.  Another slight annoyance was having to click on the read more button as well to find out more about the charity.  There’s plenty of room on the page so why not display it all?


One great new feature is the ability to add photos and video to the site, which added to the social media functionality allows people to tell a much better story about their fundraising, which should, in theory, lead to more money being raised.

Justgiving Setting Up A Page


I started to set up a page and found the explanation screen easy to follow.  The process for setting up a page was also easy and worked smoothly.


The site is still running a bit slow and returning a few error messages, but my first impressions are quite good.  It's a case of evolution rather than revolution and they've resisted the urge to over complicate things, which is great.


I’m going to have a look at the back end and will also review the site from a charity view point later in the week.

This week's 'Best of Fundraising'

Here's this weeks collection of interesting stories and articles on fundraising and business.

General Fundraising:

How to use sex to improve your fundraising (this was also reported in Third Sector a few weeks ago)

How to stop charity junk mail (I'll be posting my own views on this soon...)

Social Media:

Social relationship models and strategies

This how to tell a story

What comes first?  Your website and e-mail or your Facebook and Twitter accounts?

Online donations: usability study


How Hyundai use behavioural economics (much more interesting than it sounds!)

The importance of experimentation

What's really important?

Measuring the social value of products

How does purpose create an innovation advantage?

Understanding body language and its impact on public speaking

Be irreplacable

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.

Fundraising & "Nudge" - how to get people to give more tomorrow...

Following on from my review of 'Nudge' by Thaler & Sunstein, here is one way the ideas in the book can improve your fundraising. This example uses a nudge to encourage people to increase the value of their regular giving to a charity.

It was based on a fascinating bit of research by Anna Breman at the Stockholm School of Economics. You can read the full paper here.

She discovered that when people were asked to 'Give more tomorrow' i.e. increase their regular donation in the future, they were far more likely to do so than when they were asked to do it now. In fact, the people asked to increase their donations in the future gave 32% more than those asked to do it straight away.

This experiment shows what behavioural economists call 'present-bias preferences'. In simple terms this means we often tend to procrastinate on doing things that have an immediate cost but only produce longer term benefits.

I'm certainly going to experiment with this within my own charity and include a box on our regular giving forms asking people to opt in to increase their direct debit by £1 per month every 3/6/12 months (their choice).

It would only need a small percentage of donors to opt in to doing this to make a significant increase to our regular giving and would dramatically reduce the costs of upgrade mailings, phone calls etc, which can only be a good thing.

The book also has a number of other good ideas that can be applied to fundraising and I'd highly recommend it.

Why are charities so bad at social media?

So asks Joe Saxton over at the Institute of Fundraising website.

It's a good question and it still amazes me how little understanding many UK charities have of social media and it's potential.  I know within my own charity there is a complete lack of social media strategy and not much will to change this (but that doesn't mean i'm not going to try!) We seem unable to even listen and engage in the conversations that are already happening about us.

A great example of how lacking of understanding many charities are about social media came from @howardlake on Twitter today.  He was tweeting from Digital Leap in London and was surprised (as was I) about how few charities had even heard of Kiva and what they've achieved in online giving.

Joe identifies the following 5 trends that are influencing online income generation:

  • Charities are using the power of their stories online.
  • Charities are engaging first and fundraising second.
  • Social networks are forcing charities to make friends.
  • Integration and internal comms are the key to success.
  • Multiple income-generating partners are key.

Take a look and pass the article on to those people at the top of your organisation who don't get social media.

Weekly Round Up

This week's number 1 must read:

Lisa Simpson and the Mr Bergstrom effect

The best of the rest...


5 tips to engage online activists

Guide to good e-mail

How to use Facebook for nonprofits

General fundraising:

What people say and do can be different things!

Are your stories 'snoozers'?

What vegetable are your donors?

Best of non-fundraising:

Leadership lessons from the U.S. navy

The keys to great public speaking (make sure you download the manifesto)

Great customer service story from Crete

More on customer service

Challenging conventional wisdom

Don't forget to ask: "Why am I here?"

Book review: "Nudge" by Thaler & Sunstein

This book is by two U.S. academics with an interest in behavioural economics, which is much more interesting than the plain old economics I did at uni!

It's a fascinating book that looks at ways you can influence choice architecture so that you can 'nudge' human behaviour in a positive way.  They call this libertarian paternalism and put up a passionate case for why it should be used more to help us make better decisions.

If you have ever read any books on heuristics and biases, then the first few chapters may feel like you are covering old ground, but stick with it: you won't be disappointed.

The authors have a great, easy to read style and the book is full of interesting examples and anecdotes of how 'nudges' can "improve decisions about health, wealth and happiness".

They cover everything from increasing pension contributions and organ donations to saving the planet and making use of default options.

There are a lot of implications for fundraising and tomorrow I'll give two specific examples from the book that I found quite exciting and which could easily be implemented at most nonprofits.

Overall I'd highly recommend the book if you have an interest in human nature and influence.  The only chapter I found slightly disappointing was the one on marriage, which I thought was a bit out of place and not really a 'nudge' at all.

Their blog is well worth checking out and gives some more examples. 

If you'd like to buy the book, then click on the link below - if you do, but don't enjoy it then i'll give you a full refund!