Previous month:
December 2012
Next month:
February 2013

January 2013

My aspirations for 2013: Putting relationship fundraising into action and measuring emotions

This post is my submission for the January 2013 Non-profit blog carnival. The theme is vision and bringing it to life in 2013 and is hosted by Nancy Schwartz.

I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking and reading about customer experience, relationship fundraising and lifetime value. Part of this has been a fascinating discussion on the IoF  group on Linked In (well worth a read if you have the time - sadly I can't link directly) about the faults of relationship fundraising.

One of the outcomes of this is that I'm rethinking how we should structure fundraising departments and categorise donors if we are to reduce the appalling attrition rates in the sector. This is particularly important at a small/medium sized charity, where it is increasingly hard to ape big charity techniques and get acceptable short and long term results.

I'm coming to the conclusion that we need to move beyond traditional recency, value and frequency measures and reorganise our fundraising around donor needs, taking into account how we measure their commitment, loyalty and life time value.

What does this mean in practice?

Well, in 2013 I want to continue to experiment with a new,  (for RLSB) more personal approach to communications to our top donors and see if it pays off. The early indications are positive.

Ultimately, I see a two tier approach to fundraising:

A fully engaged top tier, with personal account managers who cross sell and promote other forms of engagement and fundraising. These donors will receive tailored communication based on their past giving and preferences (based on their actual behaviour). In simple terms, every donor receives major donor treatment.

A second tier of more transactional and transient donors, who give one off donations to specific appeals and types of fundraising (such as raffles) and who don't want a 'relationship' as such.

In between will be a sort of fundraising purgatory, whilst we try and figure out which donors will be in tier one and those in tier two!

Underpinning this is a determination to try and measure the emotional impact of fundraising messages before sending them out.  I'm looking beyond focus groups to facial coding and recognition, which records the actual emotional impact of a video, direct mail pack etc.

The cost of this technology is coming down and should soon be accessible to most charities - see the video below for a very crude example of how it works. I think it could revolutionise fundraising and especially donor recruitment.


Fundraising Reading Round Up

It's been over a month since my last round up, so I've decided to only include articles from 2013 and even then it's a bumper list! Unsurprisingly there's a number on New Year's resolutions and aspirations for the coming year, as well as an eclectic mix of other articles.

Thanks for reading.

Ken Burnett on making rice and revisiting fundraising fundamentals at the start of the year.

The Agitator on why fundraising is in desperation and chaos in 2013.

Passionate Giving share five resolutions to make 2013 a great fundraising year.

Pamela Grow gets the opinion of various experts on their 2013 resolutions.

Andy shares the best word of mouth campaigns from 2012.

Kent Philanthropy on the secrets of fundraising success.

Wild Woman Fundraisinsg wants to know if you want to master fundraising?

Kivi on donor retention versus acquisition in 2013.

5 ways to validate giving decisions and drive retention.

5 inexpensive (and better) ways to thank you donors.

Turning lame letters into donor delight.

Agents of Good share the spirit of philanthropy.

Using gaming to promote charitable causes.

Donor Dreams blog on woman and philanthropy.

Katya on being a salesmen.

Lucy asks how do you get ideas?

The Fundraising Collective on making the ask.

Some really interesting articles on Africa and giving:

Could giving direct alleviate poverty?

Bluefrog Creative on rebranding Africa.

Do you consider yourself a fundraising artist?

Is great fundraising art? If it is, then are the best fundraisers artists?

Your first instinct is probably to say "of course not", but before you jump to conclusions, I'd like you to take a second to think again.

According to Seth Godin's new book The Icarus Deception, we're all (potentially) artists and it's up to us to embrace the opportunities this mindset presents to us. According to Godin,

"Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn't something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Most painters, it turns out, aren't artists at all - they are safety-seeking copycats.

"Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map - these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.

"Speaking up when there's no obvious right answer, making yourself vulnerable when it's possible to put up shields, and caring about both the process and the outcome - these are works of art that our society embraces and the economy demands."

When I think about the best fundraisers I've met, about the most inspiring leaders I've worked with and the amazing campaigns that I've seen, then there is no doubt in my mind that great fundraising is art.

The challenge for us all is to embrace the idea that we're artists. To take risks, to push boundaries, to challenge the status quo and make things happening. Sure, we'll make mistakes along the way, but if we don't embrace the idea of great fundraising as art then we risk disappearing into a vacuum of mediocrity. Our donors and beneficiaries deserve better than this.

I'd love to know your opinion on this. Is fundraising art? If the ideas I've talked about chime with you, then I've got five copies of The Icarus Deception to give away.

Simply leave a comment, e-mail or tweet me and I'll randomly pick five people to send the book to. At the same time, do let me know you're opinion and I'll collate them into a follow-up post.