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January 2011

Monday Reading Round-Up

Another reading round-up for you to enjoy.  It's a few days later than usual, as I was away in Rome at the weekend - I may have mentioned this a few times to people!!

Alison McCants with some interesting thoughts on working with agencies. As I used to work with Alison I know exactly where she is coming from!

Jeff on How older donors think and problems with focus groups.

Aline looks at how various charities have updated donors on their work after the Haiti disaster.   Bryan Miller has also posted a study into what he received through the post from 10 charities he donated to online after the disaster.

Some great analysis by the Agitator of problems with Recency, Frequency, Value (or RFV / RFM) models of segmentation for appeals.  They also look at how to judge a fundraising letter.

The always excellent Katya's blog has really excelled itself recently and I've highlighted these stories on branding, what makes us want to give back and a warning not to post crap or be boring on social media (applies everywhere though).

Really pleased to see Kimberly blogging again and this in-depth piece on legacy fundraising is excellent.

Lori on keeping things fresh.

Lots of comments on Action Aid's new campaign.  Here is Ken Burnett's view and also an article from Agents of Good on the picture of donors Action Aid have on the wall in their office.

The Direct Mail Man explains about QR codes on Katya's blog.

25 Rules of Journalism (that equally apply to fundraising writers).  HT Open Fundraising.

Seth with three ways to get things done.

5 Things That Make a Good Donor Welcome Pack

I love the concept of donor 'Welcome Packs' and think they should be an essential part of any fundraising/stewardship strategy, but often they are badly implemented or just dull.

As I'm currently trying to put together a pack of my own, here are some of essentials I think they should include...

  1. Make it about the donor.  Use 'you' frequently and headlines like '5 problems your donation will help solve'.
  2. Tell stories and anecdotes (backed up with strong images) that make the donor feel good about giving and reinforce the fact that they have made a good choice by donating to you.
  3. Use interesting and relevant stats or graphs to back up your case. Though don't go overboard on these.
  4. Express your gratitude and thanks.  Make the donor feel good about giving.  Use welcoming language.
  5. Give your contact details and make it easy for donors to get in touch.

Finally, if you are feeling really brave - take the Botton Village approach and give the donor choice.

Am I missing anything?  Who produces your favourite welcome packs?

How breaking rules and conventions can create magic....

A fascinating demographic study of Professional Footballer's in Europe was published this week and one thing stood out for me that I wanted to share.

FC Barcelona, the best team in Europe (and arguably the greatest team of all time in terms of quality of football) are also the smallest team across 36 professional european leagues and over 500 teams.

This seems to defy logic and common sense as conventional wisdom would say a small team would be kicked off the park by bigger, more physical teams and unable to compete at the highest level.

However, Barcelona have been able to overcome this apparent disadvantage by being more skillful, quicker and intelligent than their opponents.

So my message and learning point? 

Don't be afraid to challenge conventions, to break a few rules now and again and go against the norm. Make the most of your advantages, don't be afraid of your faults and have the courage of your convictions and beliefs.

By doing so you might just go and create something beautiful and amazing...

I'll leave you with this video of Barcelona destroying their greatest rivals Real Madrid 5-0.  As the video says, this is truly football as art:







Will a pledge card help reduce attrition?

I've been looking into ways to reduce attrition, welcome donors and generally make people feel good about giving to us and wanted to share a few thoughts and ideas with you over the next week or two.

One of the first things is based on ideas I've picked up from books on behavioural economics such as Influence, Quirkology and the Upside of Irrationality.

Whenever we recruit a new door-to-door donor I want the donor and the fundraiser to sign and verbally agree to the pledge below:

Donor Pledge

By making this regular gift to GLFB I acknowledge that I’m doing my bit to help blind and partially sighted people in my community.

I’m delighted that my donation is going to help solve some of the problems faced by visually impaired people and I pledge to continue my regular gift to the GLFB for as long as I can afford it.

Signed:                                                            Date:

GLFB Pledge

We promise to spend your gift in the best possible way and to fund projects and services that help blind people across London.

We pledge to keep you up to date with how your donation is making a difference.

We will respect your wishes and will only contact you in the ways you ask.

Signed:                                                            Date:

My thinking is that this will provide a bond between the donor and fundraiser and so they will think twice before breaking this agreement and stopping their donation.  Although it does assume that we keep our end of the bargain!

On the front of the card will be a selection of inspiring quotes (see bottom of article) that will hopefully make donors feel good about giving and that they will want to display on their fridge/office desk etc to remind them what a great thing they are doing by donating to us...

Anyway, what do you think? Good idea or flawed thinking? Have you tested something similar? How did you get on?

Like a good boy scout, I will of course be testing this and the effect it has on our attrition!

Quotes for Pledge Card

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead, anthropologist

"As the purse is emptied the heart is filled."
Victor Hugo, author

“Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven."
Henry Ward Beecher, social reformer

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.” 

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” 
Betty Reese, officer and pilot


First reading round up of the year

I made a decision not to look at my google reader for three weeks over the Christmas period and came back to over 2000 items in my reader!  I decided to start the New Year from scratch, so all the items here are from 2011.  If I missed anything important in the last two weeks of the year then please do let me know!

Aline talks us through a great, integrated campaign to save a piece of art.

Kev with some useful thoughts on saying thank you.  A theme continued by Jen at Agents of Good together with a lovely Venn diagram!

Katya's 'Science of Giving' series continues with a look at collection boxes.

Jeff commends Save the Children for trying something new.

Wild Woman Fundraising questions Facebook usefullness for fundraising.

The Agitator turns nasty!

Damian goes inside donors minds...

Mark with some thoughts on A/B testing (I need to do more of this in 2011)

Copyblogger with some excellent Facebook tips.

Chris Brogan with 11 free resouces about creativty.

Kivi's 2011 Nonprofit Communications Report.


'Smile & Move' your way to success

I've been a big fan of 'Smile & Move' and their philosophy for a long time.  I've used their resources in a number of talks and absolutely love the video at the bottom of the page (even though it's a couple of years old and has ads in it now!)

They just sent me an e-mail that I wanted to share with you, as I think it's a good reminder of what's important in leadership, fundraising and life...

"I want to encourage you to Love Your People.

"Who are your people? Everyone who’s important to you… your family… your friends… your colleagues… your customers, patients, team, students. These are your people (and you’re theirs).

"And love? It’s care.

"And care? It’s attention and contribution (what you give, what you do). It’s kindness, patience, generosity, and truth. It’s encouraging, apologetic, forgiving, and thankful.

"We’ve let too much get between us (each other) and the reasons we’re here. We’ve allowed ourselves to slip into a state of busy distraction – seeking the complex instead of embracing the simple. It’s time to stop going through the motions with our days (hours, minutes). We need to give more and enjoy more."

The e-mail was to promote their new "Love your people" booklet and if you're looking for some inspiration or something to give to your staff, volunteers or clients then it could be just the ticket.

Enjoy the video...



Don't be a fundraising magpie in 2011!

As is typical in January there are a slew of posts on New Year's resolutions, predictions for the year ahead and suggestions on new ideas and developments in fundraising.

This is all well and good, but I had two timely reminders yesterday that if you don't get your bread and butter right then you end up no better than a magpie chasing the next shiny thing it sees.

First up was dealing with a justified donor complaint, where, frankly, we let him down.  I won't go into the specifics (e-mail me if you want to know) but we caused upset and I've had to write a very humble and grovelling apology.

Secondly, was a printing cock-up which has resulted in me sending a survey out with no donor's details lasered in.  The result of which is we are getting lots of lovely replies, but don't know who they are from.

I can easily pass point the finger of blame for both of these errors, but ultimately the buck stops with me and it's my responsibility to get these things right. 

Looking at the bigger picture and trying to develop your next big idea is important, but if you don't get the basics right then your fundraising is built on foundations of sand.

So, learn from my mistakes and keep looking for the next new, exciting idea but don't forget the fundraising fundamentals in 2011...