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November 2012

Three legacy packs to take inspiration from and an insincere p.s.

I was doing some research on legacy fundraising packs last week at Royal Mail's Market Reach in Soho. Here were three ideas and concepts that I really liked.

Macmillan Cancer Support - asking donors for their feedback and opinion

The first pack was for Macmillan. It wasn't a direct legacy ask, but instead asked supporters for their opinion on three legacy ads that they were thinking of running later in the year.

Each ad had a handwritten question for people to consider. Here's one of them:

  Macmillan Legacy Ad

I thought it was a very clever way to get people thinking about legacies without actually asking for legacies. The pack also had a response form where people could give their feedback and also ask for more feedback on how they could leave a gift in their Will. Simple, but clever and I'd love to know how it was received.

The Brooke - using nostalgia and a vision for the future

I also really liked the pack from the Brooke. It was written from the granddaughter of the founder of the charity. It was a very personal story about her grandmother and the values that inspired the founding of the charity.

As well as using nostalgia to look back (see the picture below), it also sold a vision for the future and clearly demonstrated how the donor could play a part in that by leaving a legacy. Here's a couple of sample paragraphs that demonstrate this:

"As you are one of our most caring supporters, I'm wondering whether you too might be moved and inspired by the possibility of making a lasting difference for animals, like the one my grandmother has made. By leaving the Brooke a gift in your Will, you could transform the lives of countless working animals, and all the people who depend on them to earn even the most basic living.

"Just for a moment, I wonder if you could think of the world as you'd like it to be, perhaps in a few generations time. Perhaps you think of it as a place where every foal can grow up free from fear and suffering."

The Brooke

Alzheimer's Society - linking an everyday activity with leaving a legacy

Although I didn't think the copy was as donor centred on this pack, I liked they way they linked the gimmick/incentive of a teabag with the issue of caring for someone with Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's Society

An insincere p.s.

One thing that stood out in all best packs I found was that they focused on the donor and how they could change the world. They also seemed like a letter from one person to another and were very believable.

Unfortunately, one pack that asked for donor feedback and comments (not one of the above packs) let itself down by then saying this in the comments:

"I value your opinion and it is always great to hear about the thoughts of someone who cares about the work we do. I hope you will understand that unfortunately we cannot respond to every comment."

What a way to blow the goodwill you've spent four pages building!

Basically this p.s. says "Give us your money, we don't really care what you think, you're one of thousands of supporters and we're hoping enough of you will give. The survey was just a gimmick we've been told to include as it boosts response."

Such a caveat surely can't be good for your long term legacy engagement plan?


Fundraising Reading Round-Up

Thanks again to everyone who commented and e-mailed me about my recent posts on good and bad fundraising. The SANE story got the most nominations, so I have now made a donation to them. 

Enjoy this weeks reading round-up.

Aline on complaints.

The Good Agency on negative fundraising.

Katya reports on two donor motivation surveys.

Nancy shares the winners of her 2012 Tagline Awards.

Jen Love on loving donors.

Lucy explains the dragonfly effect.

Open Fundraising on novelty in fundraising.

No vision - no gift.

Jeff on the dead zone in direct mail.

Beth on year end appeals.

When donor journeys go bad. Rosie shares an impactful appeal that lacks follow up.

The Agitator with 16 reasons why your prospecting is running out of gas.

Reasons to be cheerful - examples of good fundraising!

I was delighted to receive the most e-mails and comments to a post ever after asking for good examples of fundraising (there were a few more bad examples too, but I'll save them for another day).

So, in order of receipt, here are some of the stories and experiences that people sent me:

Alison Martin nominated Sane for their great stewardship when she did a run for them:

I recently took part in the Great South Run for SANE, the mental health charity.  From the first point of contact they were quick and friendly with email responses and in sending promised resources.  They offered me a range of publicity materials, but sent only what I'd asked for (so no wastage in terms of postage or resources).

I was mainly raising funds via Just Giving on Facebook and when I 'tagged' SANE they kindly shared the post and thanked me for fundraising.  After the event I received a (prompt!) thank you letter which included the amount raised on my JG site (at the time), including mention of the offline amount and the Gift Aid.  I'm sure it was a standard TQ letter, but it was personalised to a level I was more than happy with.

A week or so after the event (and after me harassing more friends/family for donations!) I was thrilled to be pictured on SANE's FB page, with a gold star around my picture, being named as 'Fundraiser of the Week'!  It didn't cost SANE much to use/edit my photo, but it's bought them an awful lot of supporter loyalty from me, and I've been singing their praises to anyone who'll listen so it's also got them a fair bit of word-of-mouth promotion...

Pamela Grow nominated Hope Cottage Pregnancy and Adoption Centre for dedicating 2012 the "Year of the individual donor":

You can read all about their approach on Pamela's blog, but the results speak for themselves. They doubled their individual giving by following Pamela's guidance in her books and on her blog. I particularly liked this quote:

There is a saying in dentistry that you should only pay attention to the teeth you want to keep.  Conversely stated “if you ignore your teeth, they will go away”.  That can apply to donor relations too – “if you ignore them, they will go away.”

Pamela also shares other examples of expressing gratitude to donors in this post.

Becky Dodd shared this example from her own work of engaging with a donor and making them feel special:

I had a fabulous email recently which made my day, and showed what great people there are in the world. I was so delighted with the story I asked for the ladies permission to use it in my next blog, which she was delighted about. 

I promised to send her link once it was the website, which I did. I had this response from her…

 “Thank you so much for your lovely blog.  It really was lovely to read and I am so pleased that you wanted to put it on the website.  I can now contact my friends and relatives and ask them to take a look.

 "Many thanks and I hope to support the Trust again in the future.”

Margaux Smith explains why she has fallen for The Brooke:

You may have seen me post about it on Twitter when it first happened, but I signed up to be a DD donor with The Brooke last month after meeting some of their staff at IFC (and watching a very emotional DRTV ad). A few days after I signed up, I realised that in my haste and excitement, I'd not signed up with the postal address where I wanted to receive my mail (work). I replied to the info@ email thank you in my inbox and someone politely answered that they were sorry, but they needed to keep my home address the way it was for Gift Aid reasons.

Being the stubborn fundraiser that I am, I responded that I actually was pretty sure Gift Aid would be fine with my work address, because my bank has it on file and all my other DD's use that address.

10 minutes later, I got an email back thanking me for letting them know this was possible, and telling me they'd spoken to their data department and have changed their database to accommodate me and others like me! Needless to say, I was impressed. It showed me they were flexible to change, could easily admit when they were wrong, and cared enough to adapt to donor needs. It may seem like a little thing, but it made me very proud of my decision to be a supporter :)

Peter Gorbert shared a practical example from York Mind:

We use tweetdeck with a number of searches set up for things like "York Mind" "Mental Health" etc. this means that if anyone mentions us (regardless of if it's positive or negative) we can respond to them. It's allowed us turn a speculative supporter into a person who completed a 10k run for us, as well as fielding numerous general enquirers about services in York and turned a couple of "who ran this event?" into people who now connect a good event more closely with the charity.

Aline Reed nominates Leeds University:

The lovely news I hear most often comes from our University clients, so perhaps we should take a look at what they’re doing. 

Adrian Salmon (from Leeds University) has just been on the phone telling me about a 102 year old donor, who rang him this morning, delighted to see his old friends on the front of the calendar we did for alumni.

You may have also followed this response to the Bentham mailing for UCL.  

I think what’s interesting about these campaigns is they are not about showing the greatest need to motivate a donor. That’s not possible for a university, so instead they try and engage the donor and connect them with their university. Could it be that charities could learn a lesson here?

Because it’s not just about creative (just to emphasise I’m not blowing BF’s trumpet!), it’s that the donor can call up and speak to the person who sent them the pack. In Leeds’ case, Adrian and in UCL’s Hamish. And they’re encouraged to! They’re encouraged to connect via Twitter, Facebook and even visit in person. The Universities are trying to befriend their donors. It’s not to say they don’t have administrative errors. I’m guess I’m just trying to find reasons for why our university work is where I hear the lovely stories about happy donors.

John Lepp explains while he'll be giving to Redwood for the foreseeable future:

A few months ago, on the Friday of a long weekend, I saw a tweet go out from one of my fav charities, The Redwood in Toronto about their summer e-campaign to send some special moms and their kids to a waterpark or have an amazing bbq or a number of other things… Great idea. The timing was perfect, summer was just getting underway, the ask was specific and compelling and the thought of sending a mom and her kids off for a day of fun, laughter and memories was something I wanted to play a role in! HELL YES! Where do I sign up?

So, off I went after making my gift, feeling good, to go get my own kids to start our long weekend.

That evening, after the house got quiet, I checked my home phone to see there was a flashing light… a message. Usually it is telemarketing, or not for me, so I usually don’t bother checking. But I did this time.

New Message: 4:45pm

Hello John, this is Anthea Windsor, president of the board at The Redwood...” (You can listen to her call here if you want… antheacall)

And I listened for 35 seconds and I felt a massive smile spread across my face and instantly knew at the close of her call that I had ABSOLUTELY made an awesome decision to give earlier in the day. Unscripted, honest, heartfelt and real and 15 minutes before the start of a long weekend… her call touched my heart.

Simple. Remarkable. Memorable. 35 seconds.

You can read the full story over at Agents for Good.

Rosie Blanning explains why she loves the Retired Greyhound Trust:

I can honestly say that the best experiences I have had have been from small charities. The Retired Greyhound Trust are an absolute pleasure to donate to.

I received a letter from them a few months back just telling me what they had been doing and thanking me for their support. There was (thank goodness) a donation form included but the letter wasn't asking for further support, it was just saying thank you. Great stuff.

Thanks to everyone for sharing. Let me know you favourite story/example (via Twitter, e-mail or in the comments) and I'll donate the money to them on Friday.

This post is my contribution to November's Non-Profit Blog Carnival on gratitude in giving. Find out more here.


Five bad fundraising examples - can anyone please share some good ones?!

I've had nothing but bad experiences from the charities I support this year and it's really irritating me.

First of all I've been mailed at least six times (without response) after I sponsored two friends in an event. The latest appeal calls me a "long and generous" donor, which is just a downright lie.

Secondly, I tried to double my direct debit to a charity in August. Three months later it still hasn't been done.

I'd put it down to bad luck, but I've heard similar stories from other friends and colleagues. Here are threeexamples of bad fundraising that I've heard about in the last month alone:

  • A colleague set up a direct debit to a charity and received no confirmation or thank you letter. The first communication they received was a cash appeal. The direct debit was quickly cancelled.
  • A friend ran a half marathon and raised over £500 for a charity. Not one word of thanks or acknowledgement has been forthcoming.
  • On Twitter, someone mentioned the automatic e-mail reply they received from a charity donor support team saying they'd try and respond in five to seven days. Twelve days later - still no response.

It's not good enough.

I keep hearing people saying they want to improve donor relations, extolling the importance of the donor journey and the need to increase lifetime value, but I'm seeing little evidence of this happening in the real world.

I've got a lot of things I can improve on in my own work (so feel a bit pot calling the kettle black), but I'd like to think that none of the above would happen and I know I have a plan to raise our standards.

I'd love to hear some positive stories from you about how your charity (or one you support) is really looking after donors and bucking the trends I describe above.

I'll donate the £30 I would have given to the charity my direct debit is with to the best story. Please e-mail me or leave your story or experience in the comments. I'll look forward to reading them and having my faith in fundraisers restored.

P.S. I'm also a sucker for a horror story, so if you've got any more examples like the ones above, then include them as well. I'd love to hear yuor experiences.

Fundraising Reading Round-Up

Here's my latest round-up of interesting posts. Enjoy.

Alison McCants on failure.

An excellent post on the importance of emotion at 101 Fundraising.

Jeff explains why simple fundraising works.

The Agitator on direct mail acquisition.

Steve Thomas loves direct mail. Find out why.

Passionate Giving on what great major gift management looks like.

The 11 principles of likeable business

Vicky reeves at UK Fundraising looks at how personalised your audience segmentation can get.

Reuben stops some direct debits. Wonder if any of the charities involved got in touch with him?

Richard shares a great peer to peer fundraising example from Solar Aid.

Eaon looks at bias and consumer choice.

What makes a 'super' fundraising team?

I attended a talk at the RSA* today on 'Superteams' by Khoi Tu - author of Superteams:The Secrets of Stellar Performance From Seven Legendary Teams.

It was a fascinating talk and I wanted to share some of the key learnings about what makes a superteam:

  • Great teams start with great individuals. Ignore the myth of the sole hero (something even Steve Jobs rejected) - the best teams amplify the individual's talent.
  • All superteams have a common purpose that acts as 'a north star to navigate to'.
  • The best teams practice and rehearse to ensure top performance. Think of a Formula One team and the pitstop. They don't do it in under five seconds by accident!
  • Trust is the lifeblood of teams. Knowing your colleagues have got your back and will muck in is crucial.
  • All great teams need abrasion and occasional (healthy) conflict. Too much consensus can lead to group think.
  • Having rules of engagement and interesting conflict helps build trust. Ultimately you want to encourage a 'democracy of ideas, but a dictatorship of decisions' to ensure things get actioned. 

Interestingly, the book looks beyond the normal corporate landscape and examines what makes the Rolling Stones, the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the European Ryder Cup team, Pixar, the SAS, the Ferrari Formula One team and the Red Cross such great teams. 

I can recognise lots of the above qualities in teams I've been part of, but consensus, group think and committees would be the one area that has been the greatest weakness I've observed in teams I've worked in.

What qualities do you think make a great fundraising team? Do let me know...

*audio and video from the talk should be available on the RSA website in a few days.