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September 2011

Two Relationship Fundraising Research Projects To Take Part In

As I've posted previously, I am a big fan of Relationship Fundraising, so I'm delighted to share with you these two projects, which are taking a closer look at the role of Relationship Fundraising in UK charities.

Relationship Fundraising Study

First up, is a 5-10 minute survey for a research project for John Wallbank from Bluefrog

He is looking at the role of relationship fundraising in UK charities and wants fundraisers to give their honest opinion on the state of relationship fundraising in their organisation.

He will be sharing his findings (in conjunction with the IoF) and I'll be interested to read the results.

Donor Voice Research Study - UK Version

I've loved reading the DonorVoice research results from a study of donor commitment to charities.  It's a fantastic bit of work and there are some great takeaways from the Exec summary and Powerpoint presentation (links on the right hand side - registration required).  Especially interesting for me are the key drivers of donor commitment.

However, the study is US based and I was thinking that its a shame that there isn't a UK equivalent.

Well, I pleased to say that Donor Voice have now decided to do a UK version of the survey.

Sadly, my charity doesn't have enough donors to take part, but if you have 10,000 e-mail addresses of donors and the corresponding transaction history for them then get in touch with Kevin at Donor Voice (kschulmanATthedonorvoiceDOTcom) to take part.

It should give you a fascinating insight into donor commitment to your charity and give you loads of ideas for strengthening that commitment.

They are only looking for 10 charities to begin with and the £1,000 fee to take part should be money well spent.

Again, I look forward to hearing more and reading the results.

p.s. Just to clarify - I am not affiliated in any way to either of the studies.  I'm just all for any research that helps fundraisers do their job better and think both studies are worthy of support.


#NFPTweetUp 12: Notes and Takeaways

I was attended the latest NFP Tweet Up at Amnesty last night and wanted to share some of the most interesting takeaways from the evening.

First up was Simon Painter talking about, a site he's developed to encourage donations via Twitter.  It uses the Justgiving API and sends you a link to donate via Justgiving when you enter a charity Twitter handle, the #giv2  hashtag and a donation amount.


  1. It is simple to tweet and re-tweet a donation message, which means your ask could spread quickly (if you have a compelling offer) and attract new support.
  2. However, you're still reliant on the person having a Justgiving account to make the final donation and as @skipinder points out, doesn't it add in an extra step to just texting a donation or going direct ot Justgiving?

I wish Simon well with the venture, as I'm all for anything that makes it easier for donors to show support and give.

Greenpeace Star Wars Campaign

Next up was @halfiranian from Greenpeace, who gave a fascinating run through their recent Star Wars anti-VW Darkside campaign.  It's probably worth downloading/listening to the presentation when it comes out, but here were some of my favourite points.


  1. Greenpeace organised brainstorming for two days across the organisation. Everyone (across all departments) were invited for ten minute sessions to discuss ideas.
  2. 'Bouncy-chair' moment - when you're so excited at an idea that you are bouncing in your chair!  Greenpeace got this when they thought of the Star Wars parody.
  3. Attention to detail is key.  They didn't need to do the Star Wars style Twitter Feed  or Yoda FQA's - yet it was these small touches and homages to the original film that made it stand out.
  4. A purely online campaign is not enough.  You also need to do real-world activity to back it up.
  5. Before drafting in external agencies- scope out the whole of your organisation for creative input.  Some ofthe best ideas come from within.
  6. Just because something happens on the internet once, doesn't mean you should teach it in Socialmedia workshops.  An important point Greenpeace discovered, when the 'Nestle effect' of banning a video didn't occur in this campaign.


The final speaker was @RosaBirch from Facebook, who talked through recent changes to Facebook and what they might mean for charities.

  1. Check out Facebook Studio for ideas and resources on best practice for pages.
  2. Try to focus on better quality of Pages. Rosa recommends organisations post 3 times a week, not 3 times a day and focus on quality rather than quantity.  This of course is not absolute and different charities will have different needs, but it is a good observation.
  3. Charities need to think about the user journey on Facebook and how to make it more social. Not just about the Page

Overall, it was another enjoyable event and a big thanks must go to Rachel Beer and all the Beautiful World team for continuing to organise the event.

Friday Reading Round-Up

Well, September is nearly over, so of course that means that Christmas appeals have already been signed off and the planning starts for 2012! 

Here's another round up of reading for you to enjoy this week.

Tom Ahern on avoiding infatuation with younger donors.

Aline gives us a 'nudge'.

Amanda asks if you can have too much of a good thing?

Paul with some comments on regular giving cancellations.

Rachel discusses the importance of instinct and improving what you already do (rather than constantly trying to innovate) in fundraising.

Media tart friend Beth Breeze talks about how donors choose charities in the Guardian.

Happy donors on the number one way to improve retention.

Beth on failure.

Katya on giving people a reason to join.

Jeff on the right way to integrate marketing and fundraising.

Lucy on why she loves Boden and what we can learn from their marketing.

Dan on leaving your mark as a fundraiser.



What emotion should you use in your fundraising?


Provoking emotion is key to fundraising success. 

As much as we'd like to think that rational arguments and logic are important, the simple facts are that if you don't provoke an emotional response then you are likely to fail.

That's why I loved this simple graphical representation of Plutchik's wheel of emotions. 

Next time your planning a campaign or appeal, take a look at the wheel and ask what type of emotional response are you trying to get from your donor and then making sure your creative achieves this.

All of the above could be used in fundraising in the right circumstances, but whatever you do, make sure there is some emotion in it.  The consequences of leaving it out will be a failed campaign.

HT The Drayton Bird blog.

10 Things To Do When Your Fundraising Goes Bad

Keep calm
I'm having a bad month.

Everything that can go wrong, is going wrong.  Mailings aren't going as planned, campaigns are below target and everything I seem to do just isn't coming off as I intend.

I've had periods like this before and I know I'll turn the corner soon, but I wanted to share some of my coping mechanisms and strategies I use for when this happens, as I'm sure everyone has periods like this - at least I hope they do!

What Not To Do

It is very easy to get stuck in a rut, shirk decisions and lose heart when things aren't going your way.

Your 'lizard brain' encourages procrastination, stalling tactics and compromise, yet this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing for long-term fundraising success.

How to get through a difficult patch

So what should you do to get through the difficult time?

Here are some of my (sometimes contradictory) suggestions:

  1. Don't panic!  Continue to believe in what you are doing and keep following your plans and strategy.  Keep moving forward and shipping good work.
  2. Check you've got the basics right.  Review and analyse what you've done, learn any lessons and implement them quickly.
  3. Don't be afraid to pull the plug on something that isn't working.  There's no point flogging a dead horse.  Killing off your pet project can be cathartic and lets you move on.
  4. Start on something new.
  5. Take a break.  Get out the office. Have a change of scenery. 
  6. Do something you know will work.
  7. Keep smiling.  Things can't always go your way, so as long as your confident in your abilities, then remember that better results will here sooner rather than later.
  8. Get a fresh pair of eyes to look over what you've done.  Have you missed something obvious?
  9. Be honest.  Ask for help.  Admit you're struggling.  People (generally) don't want you to fail and will want to help out.
  10. Go and visit a project or chat to a beneficary.  Remind yourself why you are raising money and seek inspiration from the people you'll be helping.

How do you cope when things aren't going right?  Do you have any tips to share?  Do let me know...

Weekend Reading Round-Up

It's time for another round-up of articles I've read recently.  Enjoy.

Direct debit cancellations seem to be going through the roof again in the UK, which is extremely worrying.  Mark looks at some ways to combat the problem.

Aline looks at how Charles Dickens used statistics in an appeal.

Four steps to secure a second direct mail gift.

Kivi with a great list of links to blog posts on quirky, kooky and off-beat charity marketing and fundraising.

Katya reports on a fascinating study on using bonuses (for yourself or others) to motivate people.

Peter Maple on legacies.

Agents of Good with ten ways to keep your donor at the heart of it all.

Jonathon with some interesting thoughts on using webinars and teleconferencing for donors.

Pamela with twelve tips for e-mail marketing.

Brock says charities need to get out the way of their stories.

Jeff on how branding can make your fundraising worse.

Beth shares the brilliant Charity:Water thank you videos, which they've produced for their fifth anniversary.

Why we desire but reject creative ideas.

This goes well with a post by Jeff on creativity.

101 Fundraising on corporate fundraising.

I liked this mind map for managing distraction.

Finally, I must get round to ordering Seth's new book/project, which is raising funds for the End Malaria project.  Seth shares his thoughts on premiums and the Agitator has some good points about how useful they really are.

Why Knowing the Difference Between HM and HRH Matters to Donors

I received an important reminder the other day that small details matter and wanted to share the experience.

We've recently sent a mailing looking back over our past 90 years and celebrating the achievements our donors have made possible.  Unfortunately, the leaflet we enclosed (after sending personalised cover letters) contained a mistake.

I called Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Her Royal Highness (based on her original title of HRH The Duchess of York) by mistake.  A small detail and something no donor would pick up on surely?


I received a strongly worded, two sided, handwritten letter from a donor pointing out the mistake, lamenting the standard of education and bemoaning the lack of respect for the Royal Family.

An over-reaction? 

Possibly, but to this particular donor getting the correct title was really important and they were disappointed to see a charity that they have supported for a long time getting a basic detail wrong.

As Alison points out in a recent post, it's so easy to spend time getting the big picture stuff right, but if you get the basics wrong then the donor is not going to appreciate the other efforts.

I've written a contrite apology to the donor, asking forgiveness and offering to visit and show them some of the photos and letters we have in our archive from the Royal Family over the years.  Hopefully they will be in a forgiving mood and I won't be sent to the Tower!


Would your donors want to hear from you given a choice?

I recently read about a new South African company called TrustFabric Connect, which is trying to take permission marketing and CRM to a new level by creating 'vendor relationship' management.

It offers a one-stop shop for you to manage your communications preferences with businesses.  It lets you choose which companies you have a relationship with, how they can contact you, the method you prefer and the time of day which is best.

It's an interesting concept and if it can gain enough members then it could provide a strong incentive for companies to improve their customer service practices and give more power to the consumer to manage business relationships.

It got me thinking - if this became mainstream, how would your charity cope? 

Would enough donors want to hear from you? 

Would enough donors be willing to recommend you to their friends and family?

It will be interesting to see how developments in this field progress and it might be worth keeping an eye on the ProjectVRM website and for the forthcoming book on the subject by Doc Searls (he of the Cluetrain Manifesto fame).