Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The People Vs. Angela Kerins


Angela Kerins is getting a rough time, isn't she?

Every once in a while certain newspapers and social media kick off condemning the Rehab CEO's salary. The criticisms are based on her salary being deemed too high for a charity, and out of control for an organisation that is partly funded by the State.

I always take great interest in this recycled story because I think it highlights some of the hypocrisy the charity sector experiences every day and it reaffirms for me that charities are in trouble.

Now, Angela Kerins is an impressive person. She started her career as a midwife and worked her way in to the position of CEO at the multinational Rehab, as well as sitting on boards such as the Equality Authority, the National Learning Network, the National Disability Authority, and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. She commands an impressive fee, she works hard and she is powerful. Whatever you think about her policies and politics I hope you will agree that it is positive to see an Irish female hold these positions. Remember, Ireland is still a country where women's earnings are not yet comparable to men's, and the level of women in managerial positions still pales in comparison to many countries.


But let's look at some of the figures being thrown around:

Ms Kerins is primarily criticised for earning €234,000 from her role as CEO of Rehab. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that isn't a whole lot of money. Remember Rehab employs over 3,300 people internationally[1] - this is a seriously big organisation with Ms Kerins shouldering a lot of responsibility. Compare this to the 'private' sector: A simple search for similar size companies brought me to XL Group, a private company employing a similar number of people. The CEOs pay? Approximately €7.5 million annually. That is some difference. But because Rehab is a 'charity' a salary at even a fraction of this is considered too high.

But what should she be on then? The people who usually pipe up to complain about charity wages usually cite €100,000 as the cut-off - anything beyond that is unnecessarily high. This doesn't make sense to me for a number of reasons, but even on a practical level you have to acknowledge that a manager needs to earn more than her subordinates. An organisation of the size of Rehab is probably going to have at least 8 levels...that doesn't leave much room to go down. Or maybe it does? What's your suggestion?

Now, let me be clear here...I do not condone a €200k salary or a €7.5 million salary. Frankly, the sooner we get rid of money altogether the better. I'm fine with that, but it's not going to happen anytime soon. My point is that if we're going to allow something in the private sector we need to allow it in the charity sector or we're just going to end of strangling and destroying it.

The most recent media coverage on the subject was lead by Cormac McQuinn who ran four articles on the subject over two days.[2][3][4][5] These were pure entertainment.

Audi Q5

The article derided Ms Kerins for driving an Audi. I can't really argue this - if someone cuts me up in traffic they're generally driving an Audi. But if you're implying that she is doing something wrong by spending money on this car, which starts at €40,395, then I'm going to take exception to that. For a start I bought a brand new Kia Sportage last year - pricey enough, and potentially frowned upon since I work in the charity sector. But hey, I bought it with the inheritance I got when my Dad died. Incidentally, he was a banker.

I know what you're thinking - the organisation pays for this car. But remember Ms Kerins pays BIK on it. And it's part of her package, so if you're not going to give her a car you're just going to end up paying her more cash.

So let's not be so quick to judge. In addition, I don't spend my money on drink or drugs or cigarettes or clothes or jewellery or any of the other vices that I think are pointless. I spend my money on signed first edition books and ridiculous Kickstarter projects and getting an extension and all sorts of other stuff that you probably think is pointless. Each to their own.


The other flippant remark was that Ms Kerins lives in a leafy suburb. I live in a leafy suburb too: East Wall. Cleaning up leaves wrecks my head. Someone got shot there a few years ago.


The other laughable element was the sub-headline 'Disaster' dropped casually in to the article as if to give a real sinister undertone. The full quote, which they plucked this word from, was "More than 12 causes benefited in areas such as disaster relief, disability and suicide prevention." A bit misleading, isn't it?


As I write this the 'scandal' is beginning to get picked up and piggybacked by politicians. Senator Fidelma Healy Eames issued a press release[6] suggesting Ms Kerins and the Board of Rehab be summoned before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to justify this salary. Given what we know about the salary compared to other organisations of a comparable size I think this would be an embarrassing exercise. But sure, yeh let's get them in and see what happens.

The good Senator goes on to point out that "20 disabled people" were made redundant this year and that the State gives Rehab €36 million per year.

What the press release omits is that Rehab also announced they're creating 400 jobs in Ireland over the next 3 years.[7][8] It also fails to mention that Rehab's turnover is nearly €200 million, the majority of which came from private fundraising and commercial ventures. The State contribute to the organisation because they provide such massive employment and amazing services to the community - services the government are unable to provide. In the process of this they, and Ms Kerins, pay huge amounts of tax which go towards paying for my healthcare, my roads, my community centre and more. If you cut this funding then Rehab cuts it services and the government are forced to step in and replace their services - probably less efficiently.

This all just strikes me as another case where a politicians 'outrage' is dealt with by issuing press releases and calling radio stations as opposed to attempting to engage with the people involved to understand and address the situation. It's easy to criticise and lash out at something without investigating the facts. Senator Healy Eames was a victim of this recently with the 'train fare scandal'. It's not fair. It's lazy churnalism. Let's stop doing that.

On a side note, here's details of what Irish Senators and other policiticans are entitled to: http://namawinelake.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/how-much-do-irish-politicians-get-paid-part-1-of-2/


I was engaged with another charity who expressed their sadness at her salary as their own overall income was less than this. But let's remember that this is a much smaller charity who employ 4 people, compared to 3300 people in Rehab.

I wanted to compare the two organisations' finances further, but the smaller charity doesn't make their numbers public and there are no finances or accounts published on their website. And it struck me that Rehab are being penalised for being more transparent[9], which is a sad, sad thing. This is the problem, and this is why I hate the concept of admin costs and why more charities need to be more transparent.


When you weigh this all up I find it hard to find fault with Rehab or Angela Kerins. The truth is that the argument simply falls back on the perception that charities should not pay their staff a comparable amount to the private sector. But I don't buy that. Instead, it all boils down to this word 'charity' which holds back an amazing organisation like Rehab. We find ourselves wasting newspaper space, our politicians' time and our own time writing and reading stupid blogs.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again: Charity is the fairest tax there is. You choose whether you donate or not, you choose how much and you choose who benefits. If you don't agree with how an organisation is run then don't contribute or stipulate exactly what area your donation is spent on. But we need to spend money on salaries. We need to invest in the people who run these amazing organisations. We have to invest in these charities.

If I told you Rehab was a Social Enterprise and not a Charity would that change things? Yes, I think it would.

You would have a successful Social Enterprise that employs 3,300+ people (many with disabilities), that is profitable even in times of recession, that is growing and providing more jobs in Ireland at a time when we badly need it. You would have Angela Kerins, a successful Irish business woman who is willing to work well for a salary well below the industry standard because what she is doing is good. She offers her time to many boards and bodies and donates her fees back to worthwhile causes. She would be applauded.

And the charities of the world?

Well, they would be extinct.

[1] http://www.rehab.ie/about/index.aspx
[2] http://www.independent.ie/national-news/audidriving-charity-chief-executive-on-a-salary-of-234000-3282210.html
[3] http://www.independent.ie/national-news/charity-boss-paid-220000-in-fees-for-sitting-on-state-quangos-3282190.html
[4] http://www.independent.ie/national-news/fees-angela-kerins-got-from-boards-3282217.html
[5] http://www.independent.ie/national-news/call-for-dail-to-quiz-boss-of-charity-on-234000-pay-3285219.html
[6] http://fidelmahealyeames.ie/2012/11/05/healy-eames-calls-for-rehab-to-appear-before-pac-to-discuss-ceo-salary/
[7] http://www.rte.ie/news/2012/0516/400-jobs-promised-in-rehab-group-recruitment-drive.html
[8] http://www.independent.ie/national-news/rehab-to-take-on-400-staff-in-expansion-of-disability-services-3110833.html
[9] http://www.rehab.ie/about/annualreport.aspx

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Predictions for Irish Fundraising in 2013

2013 is going to be great. Here are some of the changes I think we're going to see:

Mobile Donations Become More Accessible
Mobile donations are not growing in Ireland because they are expensive to set up and only 40%-60% is getting to the charity. There are other problems, such as donor data not being passed on to the charities (which could then be used to greatly increase return).

We've tried to change this by reducing the upfront costs to charities and by eliminating monthly fees, but the real problem is still the amount the mobile providers are taking. This will be reduced massively in 2013 and more and more charities will begin to accept SMS donations. It will be slow, but 2013 will pave the way to huge growth in 2014.

Charity Review Websites
Websites which allow the public to review charities in the style of TripAdvisor and Yelp will begin to appear internationally, with someone launching an Irish one in 2013. Who launches the first one will make a huge difference to how this affects Irish charities.

If it is launched by a random member of the public it will be terrible, with a focus on what percentage of donations goes on 'admin'. (Read this blog post for why that's useless). Here's another reason why they will suck: http://youtu.be/QEdXhH97Z7E

If it is launched by an individual or organisation within the sector it will give useful information on where they get their income, what results they deliver, if they are signed up to Governance Codes and Codes of Practice, as well as public reviews. If you want to have a chat about how we can set this up then please e-mail me.

Changes in Tax Relief Rules
The proposed changes in tax relief will come in to effect for donors giving more than €250 in the calendar year. This won't have any impact on relief claimed next year as none of the pre-2012 donations will be eligible.

However, the changes will have a negative impact on charity income. Because self-assessed donors will no longer be able to claim back tax relief themselves it means the amount they donate will decrease. This should be more than compensated for in 2014 and beyond (as we begin to claim the relief) but I'm afraid in 2013 it means a decline in income.

Competiveness of On-Line Fundraising Sites Benefits Everyone
The introduction of our public fundraising website Sponsor.ie changed on-line donations in Ireland.

Firstly, it removed all financial barriers for charities to begin taking donations on-line. With no registration or annual fee it meant that the smallest charities could now accept credit card donations with no investment, and their supporters could now fundraise for them on-line.

Secondly, it increased competitiveness. More sites followed the model and now charities and fundraisers have a choice of which on-line giving site they use. It means everyone had to decrease their prices and up their game, benefiting both the public and the charities. Sponsor.ie and the other sites will roll out more and more features while continuing to decrease cost in an effort to gain market share.

Growth of Telephone Fundraising
The Wheel recently reported only 2% of charities fundraise in Ireland using Telephone. This is embarrassingly low, especially since telephone campaigns provide some of the best returns. This has begun to change in the second half of this year and telephone fundraising will continue to grow faster than other forms in 2013, including cold-calling.

Negative Media Coverage
Fundraising/chugging/salaries will receive huge negative, misinformed, one-sided media coverage in February, June and November.

Slow Regulation Adoption
Let's face it - there's going to be very little implementation of the Charities Act 2009. In 2013 a number of TDs will excalim that "There is no regulation!" and they will mistakenly blame the charities. However, hopefully, we'll see the IFFDR see a bit more action and the sector will make a concerted effort to try and build upon this. Paid staff actually implementing it is a good bit away...maybe 2014 or even 2015?

What else do you think we're going to see in 2013?

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Death of Pie

I have grown to dislike and distrust these pie charts. Charities often display them prominently and they're often the first thing potential donors look for. But I'd like them - in their current form - banished.

Firstly, they completely oversimplify what we do. They are all about input with no mention of output. Why should we care if you spend 90% on services? What does that get you? What does it mean?

Secondly, what are you putting in those little slices of pie? Donors are drawing conclusions and making comparisons based on these percentages, but look at the pie charts. They are all different. They are not all equal. What's a support cost? What's admin? Why do some charities have governance and some don't? [Also see this blog post]

If we keep providing this information in such a lazy format then potential donors will continue to judge us lazily.

For the time being donors will continue to look for it, so for the time being let's keep providing it but with a massive disclaimer explaining why more questions need to be asked. Let's get a unified disclaimer all charities can use. Let's get a shared microsite: www.makepiechartshistory.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trying To Donate Through Twitter

I recently cancelled one of my €21 per month charity direct debits as I had been doing it for about 6 years and fancied a change. I decided to run an experiment on Twitter, telling my followers that I wanted to set up four €5 per month direct debits to four different charities. I asked who they should be and why.

This was from my company Twitter account with nearly 700 followers, primarily made up of charities and people working in the sector. Easy money. But surprisingly...

Nobody replied.

I understand Twitter's a busy place and so over the next few weeks I kept asking and reposting the question. Slowly but surely I found my four charities. I don't think it would be fair to criticise the charities that didn't see the offer or didn't respond, but it's interesting to see how the four charities each responded differently and the lessons we can learn...

Day 6: Charity working with vulnerable young people
I was tweeted at by an employee of this charity, rather than the official account, and it was someone that I already knew through work. It was a very clear and very concise summary of what they do. Fantastic.

I e-mailed her saying I'd be delighted to set up a direct debit, and when I mentioned that I hadn't received any other replies she said, "I thought you would've been inundated with tweets." The other interesting thing was that the link on their website to their direct debit form didn't work. It was a broken link, and at the time of writing this it still is.

Lessons learned: Never assume someone won't donate to you and make sure your donation links work.

Day 8: Health-related Charity
Again I was tweeted at by an employee, rather than the official account (maybe you guys should start paying commission?). She sent me a picture of a thank-you letter one of their young service users had written them - really sweet.

Unfortunately, the charity didn't have a direct debit facility so they needed to post me out a standing order form. I hate standing orders and I know that results suffer if you're relying on someone to physically fill out a form and post it back.

They also took the opportunity to send me posters for the office, a magazine and a sponsorship card for a run I had mentioned I was going to be taking part in just case I "haven't chosen a charity to fundraise for..." Brilliant.

Lessons learned: Get a Direct Debit facility. Or outsource it. It's important that people can become regular donors without having to physically fill in and return a form.

Day 11: Guide dog charity
This was an interesting one: I received a lovely hand-written card responding to my post along with a DD form. I received details of a great case-study and I received a standard 'ask' letter (Addressed "Dear Friend"...nooooooo!!!).

Overall, it was a great pack...but there was no interaction at all on Twitter. It seemed strange to me that the charity had chosen to change the medium with which I had chosen to communicate. I'm not necessarily saying the pack shouldn't have been posted, but I felt there should have also been some sort of engagement on Twitter.

Lessons learned: Engage your audience through the medium they choose (where possible). And if you have DD Plus facility...use it. Don't risk a potential donor not getting round to signing and returning a form when you don't have to.

Day 12: Animal Sanctuary
Gaining a good bit of momentum by now!

The fourth and final charity was one that I have a bit of a Twitter relationship with! They're one of my favourites because they post interesting, sometimes controversial, tweets. We sometimes get in to little twonversations and I've met the person who runs the account once in real life. I like them a lot, but I've never been asked for a donation and actually never seen them publicly ask for money (beyond one-off donations).

The interesting thing was that they responded to my original Day 1 tweet. Anyone on Twitter knows that a post that old should be well lost in your timeline. This leads me to believe that as a result of the banter we were having they actually went in to my own list of tweets and looked over everything I had posted in the last couple of weeks.

Also, as a result of our banter and the e-relationship we have I was delighted to become a donor...when they finally got round to asking! If they had of asked me a few weeks ago I probably would have said sorry, no, but sometimes you catch people at just the right time. That's fundraising.

Lessons learned: Ask. Ask everyone. Ask often.

I'd look to run a similar experiment again some time in the future. Until next time...

Update 16th August:
I got a call today from someone at one of my new charities. They wanted to check if my €5 was for anything in particular? I informed them no, it was a donation. 

They asked if it was a once off. I said no, it's a standing order so it's monthly.

They very nicely explained that it didn't say anything about monthly on the form so they weren't sure (Remember, this was their own donation form that they had sent me). I very nicely responded that I was pretty sure it said monthly on it, to which they replied, "Oh yes, you're right. There it is."

Still, nice to get a phone call.

Update 7th September:
I got a letter from my bank today:

The same charity that had called me to check if it was a one-off donation had sent the form to my bank to process without including their own account details. Obviously my bank couldn't process it and are now relying on me getting back to them with the charity's details.

Bear in mind this is the monthly standing order form that the charity sent me. It was all glossy and pretty. But it's not functional.

The timing is bad. We're getting work done on the house and this week we had to pack up everything we own and move out for 8 - 10 weeks. I have no idea where this letter has gone. It's safe to say the majority of the public would not keep working this hard to make a donation. Most would have given up by this point.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Magic 100,000

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a charity CEO shouldn't earn more than €100,000 a year, despite their skills or how well the organisation performs because of them, and despite the fact that we have made this totally acceptable in the private sector and we all aspire to earn that much.

I'm not very smart. Let's assume you're right. Charity CEOs should earn less than €100k.

There's just a few questions I need to ask. A few things I'm not 100% sure of:
  • What was acceptable in Punts? Anything less than £78,756? Or was the standard back then £100,000?
  • How much should they earn? Is €99,999 ok? €80k? €50k? €40k? What's the cut-off? 
  • CEOs should earn more than their staff, right? But some of their staff might be doctors...who earn good money. This is awkward. Should CEOs earn less than some staff? Or should the high-skilled staff also earn less than the real world because it's a charity? 
  • Does the size of the charity make a difference? Some employ thousands of people. Their CEOs should still earn less than 100k, right?
  • If we call it a 'Social Enterprise' can the CEO earn more than €100k? 
  • If we call it a 'Business' can the CEO earn more than €100k?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Charity News Article Comments Bingo

I've developed a fascination recently with the public comments you find on-line below, or attached to, news articles about charities.

The articles themselves are sometimes quite interesting, but very often bland with no real information. But the comments that come in afterwards give a good insight to the [on-line] public's perception of the charity sector.

They're depressing to read, so I've tried to brighten things up by creating "Charity News Article Comments Bingo":

Friday, July 27, 2012

"I'll Never Donate To You Again"

It's a powerful threat, isn't it?

The thoughts of an individual telling you, a charity, that you'll never receive another cent from them is scary and one that is usually taken seriously.

But the threat has become bandied about with members of the public conveniently threatening charities with a boycott because they use chuggers, spend too much on admin, travel business class, said something wrong on Twitter, or just because of something someone said they once heard.

I call the rumours the Captain Pugwash Syndrome. Someone once claimed that the cartoon Captain Pugwash contained characters such as Master Bates, Seaman Staines and Roger The Cabin Boy. It didn't, but the people who heard the rumour passed it on as fact and the next set of people in the chain absorbed the information as absolute fact. Charities fall victim to these kind of rumours all the time.

"I'll never donate to you again."

Charities I deal with hear this threat all the time. Individuals claim they will never donate again because the charity is using the most-cost effective form of fundraising available and generating hundreds of thousands of Euro each year. The individual just happens to dislike it and the biggest defence they have at their disposal is this threat.

Personally I think they weren't going to donate again anyway. It's a convenient excuse. On more than one occassion we've discovered that the person who "will never donate again" had never donated in the first place.

But it's still scary for the charity. It's scary because most of the time they can't or won't defend themselves. It's not like the private sector where the threat to "never buy your product again" usually falls on deaf ears. Charities take it seriously...because they're nice...and genuinely consider eliminating their most cost-effective form of fundraising because one or two people said they would never donate again. It's amazing.

But you don't hear it as much in the private sector.


Well, because it's inconvenient to boycott a product or a service.

Whereas a donor won't really notice if they 'give up' a charity, they'll notice if they give up their IBM computer (because of that whole Holocaust thing), give up their iPhone (because of that whole mass-suicide thing), give up driving to work (because of that whole killing the planet thing), boycott blood diamonds (because they're blood diamonds), change their mobile phone battery (doublecheck yours...there might be traces of blood on it), give up cows' milk (but soy milk tastes funny!), etc.

No, that's too much of a hassle.

But never donating to you again? So easy. And the truth is for the majority of the public charities are interchangeable. This year's charity will be replaced next year. "I'll never donate to you again" is the petty threat that's thrown from the lifeboat back to the sinking ship. It's the recently dumped girlfriend that tells you she cheated on you anyway.

So what are you going to say to the next person that tells you they will never donate to you again?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How Much of My Donation Is Spent On Overheads (Or Why Admin Costs Are Bull***t)

How much of my donation is spent/wasted on admin/wages/overheads?

First of all I'll answer your question, and then I'll tell you why you're asking the wrong question.

For the sake of convenience I'll use the word admin to cover all wages, overheads...all that boring stuff that nobody likes to fund.

The amount of your donation that goes on admin depends on the organisation. It's usually on their website or available if you ask and it's usually about 10% or maybe 15%-20%. Some organisations will tell you 100% of your donation goes to 'the cause' and none goes on admin. What they do here is secure funding elsewhere, make out like that covers the boring stuff, and then make this pointless claim to you. Every charity has overheads. All money received is income and everything they spend on is expenditure. It's futile to say that the 20 Euro note you just gave is going to go here or there. It goes in to a bank account with all the other money.

And these figures, these percentages, are meaningless. What is admin? Whose wages are admin and whose are the cause?

The doctor performing surgery to give people their sight back...that's the cause, right? Or is it admin and wages? The person who co-ordinates these surgeries, schedules them and makes them happen...that's pure admin, right? But the cause wouldn't happen if this person didn't arrange it, so let's file it elsewhere.

The cost of transport - essential to making things happen - admin or cause? When the water charges come in...what do you want hospices to classify these as? Nurses need to wash their hands, people need to drink water. Cause or admin?

Amnesty International does the amazing work it does by raising awareness, campaigning, sending letters. Lots of printing. Lots of photocopying. It's probably all admin. But it's also probably all the cause.

All these charities have different definitions and they dress up their figures differently, fuelled by the public's demand to hear a percentage that they can judge their work by. It's meaningless and it's lazy. 100% of your donation goes to the cause every time. Whether it's spent on rehydration packs, surgery, wages, advertising or fundraising it is all the cause.

So can we stop asking it? And can charities either stop providing it or, when they do, issue a massive disclaimer on why admin costs are bullshit and start educating people on what question they should be asking.

You should be asking, "What will my donation do?"

Imagine two charities, both of which give people their sight back. One has 10% admin and one has 20% admin. Which do you donate to?

Well what if I told you the second one spends that extra admin on better doctors, which allows them to cure the blindness of more people each year. They spend more money on recruitment which allows a better calibre of staff - less quacks and less botched surgeries. Which do you donate to?

Instead of asking how much of my donation goes where, what about what is this organisation going to do? How many lives are you going to save?

I don't care how Apple or Google or Pepsi spend my money as long as I get a fantastic end product that meets or exceeds my expectations. I demand the same from my charities.

So let's change it.

If you're a charity let's start by educating the public and standing up for yourself in the media.

If you're a donor be proud of funding the wages, the admin, the overheads. They're part of the package.

To all the charities I donate to: I believe in you. I want you to spend my donation on your wages, on your toilet paper, the spatula on the new Rainbow Warrior, on your Xmas party. Whatever you feel it takes to change the world. I trust you. I know you will run your organisation to the best of your ability. Just keep me updated, and hopefully you won't have to waste any more time justifying yourself to the press and the rest of the people that don't trust you anyway.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What I Learned At The IOFNC 2012

Just unwinding after the Institute of Fundraising National Convention and I decided to key some notes up on my public blog so that not only will I always have them available, but so that you - if you were unable to attend - can get something from the IOFNC.
Why not read these while pretending you're at a conference? Why not write your name on a piece of paper and attach it to a lanyard around your neck? Say the word 'lanyard' out loud, and then lose that piece of paper briefly. Why not drink some really shitty tea and put a bunch of business cards in all of your pockets? Just start talking to a stranger. Network with your cat. Don't go outside for three days. Forget about your real life.

There were lots of iPads floating about this year and this was the first year I took notes on my mobile rather than pen and paper. Sometimes I drift in to a special place where I write down stuff that has nothing to do with what the speaker is saying.  So here we go...some of it may be nonsense...stream of consciousness...

Start Qualifying Everything
Every cost - how many donors is it worth? You're spending €150 on attending a conference? That's this month's donation from ten donors...make it worth it.
On the flip side, every fundraising campaign - what will it do? This month's door-to-door recruitment will give sight back to 750 people around the world.

Sort out Mobile
Need to speed up the accessibility of mobile giving in Ireland. JustGiving doubled conversion rates by adding a mobile donation site.
SMS 'Skip' instead of 'Stop' - UNICEF using successfully.
Send an SMS ask to cancelled DDs.

"Your Board of Directors will not approve"
True words from the one-and-only AJ Leon.
Irish boards are holding back Irish charities.

"Why aren't we protecting voice?"
A beautiful, beautiful (possibly paraphrased) quote from Adrian Salmon.
Telephone fundraising and face-to-face fundraising are so, so powerful. There will always be a place for them and anyone who is investing in on-line and digital before they are investing in telephone is crazy. Ireland is full of that negligence. I can't believe how slow the uptake in telephone fundraising is in Ireland.
It works. Ask me how. (www.totalfundraising.ie)

On-line/Off-line Preference
People don't know what they want...stop asking them.
Prostate cancer mailing - the guy who said mail is dead and then goes on to fall in love with a talking walnut that got posted to him.

Updates to Staff
Weekly charity highlight, videos, messages from donors and staff and more.

It was an amazing Institute of Fundraising National Convention. As always, it was brilliant and I think I saw the best session I have ever seen at any conference. (Interestingly, I also think I saw the worst session I have ever seen). Thank you to everyone involved. (Except the worst session people).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Top-Level Domains - What Do They Mean For The Charity Sector?

A top-level domain is the last part of a web address, eg. .com or .org. These are generic ones that any organisation or individual can register. You also have country specific TLDs, such as .ie and .co.uk. And then you have a handful of other sponsored TLDs that represent a specific community, such as .mil for the U.S. military and .xxx for porn sites.

ICANN (the organisation that assigns these domains) recently opened applications for any TLDs and this week they released the list of first-wave applicants they have received. They included things like .google and .youtube from you-know-who, .catholic from the Vatican, and a bunch of people applying for common words like .home and .music.

Domain names have become like land and, because they are finite, are becoming more and more difficult to get your hands on. There are no 3-letter .com addresses available anymore. Any of you that have tried to register a domain for a specific campaign have probably found it's taken. By opening up these TLDs you are essentially creating more 'land' and it's potentially a massive money spinner. I don't know enough about it to say whether it's a good or bad thing, but at first glance it reminds me of the Celtic Tiger when everyone started building and buying apartments. That worked out fine, didn't it?

It wasn't cheap to apply, with the initial application alone costing applicants US$185,000, which is probably the main reason why there was no application
for .oxfam and .amnesty, and why I decided against applying for any.

But there are a number of applications in there that are related to or may have an impact on the charity sector and I think these are worth looking at:

A private U.S. company named Donuts applied for this. Under various names they also applied for .fund, .gifts and around 300 other TLDs. Donuts are essentially a re-seller and, if they successfully register .charity then you will need to go through them to secure your new web address of www.oxfam.charity or www.concern.charity.
Donuts "
intends to increase competition and consumer choice at the top level". In their own words, "The .CHARITY TLD will be of interest to the millions of persons and organizations worldwide involved in philanthropy, humanitarian outreach, and the benevolent care of those in need. This broad and diverse set includes organizations that collect and distribute funds and materials for charities, provide for individuals and groups with medical or other special needs, and raise awareness for issues and conditions that would benefit from additional resources. In addition, the term CHARITY, which connotes kindness toward others, is a means for expression for those devoted to compassion and good will. We would operate the .CHARITY TLD in the best interest of registrants who use the TLD in varied ways, and in a legitimate and secure manner."
But interestingly, on the application where it asks, "Is the application for a community-based TLD?" Donuts said 'No'.
Famous Four Media also applied for .charity and it is now up to ICANN to decide which company (if any) gets it. .ngo
The Public Internet Registry (the people that administer .org domains) applied for this. They are a not-for-profit corporation and this instills confidence in me. Maybe I'm being naive.
The American Heart Association applied for this TLD. I find this incredible that a charitable organisation can justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost to secure and maintain. I can not see any marketing benefit - people will still Google them. Their existing domain is www.heart.org. Do they really need .heart?

The only justifiable reason I can think of is as a fundraiser. If the AHA intends to re-sell .heart domains and they think they can make money from it then great.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation applied for this. Again, I don't see the point but I hope they'll show me.

The only thing I would say about this is why would you apply for .cancerresearch rather than .cancer? Nobody applied for .cancer. It seems like .cancer would be a far more awesome TLD to own.

JustGiving applied for .giving. Now I think JustGiving are incredible and rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong...but why do they need .giving? Is the cost justifiable?

My gut feeling is that this will be an add-on service for charities - charities will pay to secure the web address of oxfam.giving or barnardos.giving for their fundraising pages. By charging for this it might be worth it.

Presumably they would also look at giving fundraisers their own domain names. e.g. I could get simonscriver.giving (perhaps for a price?), but I just don't feel that's worthwhile. My own personal feeling is that people donate through these on-line portals via a link or a search from the homepage. They don't type in www.sponsor.ie/siscri - they either click that link or go to www.sponsor.ie and search for me.

Or perhaps they're looking to bring their international sites to one space. But wouldn't their existing justgiving.com be the logical place to do this?

I'm really interested to see what they're going to do with this if their application is successful.

Missing Domains
Nobody applied for .give, .sponsor or .donate.

These applications will be processed over the next year with interested parties invited to contact ICANN with their thoughts.

From a charity point of view we have to hope that an influx of possible domains will drive down the cost of registering new sites. But if you're a charity and you're reading this I'm willing to bet you already have a domain name that you've been working on publicising and you're not about to go and change your main website.

Where it will come in handy is for micro-sites - dedicated sites for specific campaigns. Suddenly there will be a lot more choice for you.

So what does the opening of Top-Level Domains mean for the charity sector?

Not much.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why We're Switching to iPads

What you might notice over the coming weeks and months on the street, at your door step and in shopping centres are more and more fundraisers carrying iPads. We are moving away from paper Direct Debit forms and, in stages, kitting out every one of our chuggers with a brand spanking new iPad.

Now presumably it's only a matter of time before someone with a platform vocalises their objections to this 'waste of charity money' and so I thought it would be a good idea to explain the thinking behind this move in advance so as to reduce these opinion pieces and so that we can all mock anyone that makes this claim, knowing that they haven't done their research and they certainly haven't asked us why we switched.

We would not be doing this unless it made financial sense to Total Fundraising and to the charities we represent.

There are many, many advantages to using iPads and electronic sign-ups over paper sign-ups. These include:

While there is an up-front cost (huge up-front cost) in purchasing 80+ iPads and developing the sign-up and back-end software, there are long-term savings made to both Total Fundraising and the charities involved (just to be clear the iPad campaigns aren't going to cost charities anything extra - it will only save them money).

  • Most obviously, we no longer need to pay to print triplicate carbon copy mandate forms, a number of which are cancelled, voided and 'soiled' during each campaign. These cost us about €1 per mandate and when signing up 30-50,000 mandates a year this is a substantial saving.
  • We save on printing and laminating the 'presenters' that our fundraisers carry, as well as the A4 folders themselves. Instead, the photos and statistics our chuggers refer to are now displayed on the iPads themselves.
  • We save on postage. With postage costs rising it is especially pleasing to eliminate the registered posts costs that our roaming teams incur every day.
  • We no longer have to pay a staff member to log these paper batches, to key the donor data and to key the hours and results for wages. It will reduce the workload for our payroll staff, our Donor Care staff (welcome callers) and our data entry staff. Fortunately, the increase in size of the business is compensating for this so we don't need to downsize our workforce.

  • About 12% of the account numbers we receive from new donors are invalid. We validate all account numbers when they reach the office to ensure that we do not provide any invalid accounts to our charity partners and they do not waste any time or money presenting them for direct debit.
    When we discover these 12% of invalids in our offices we then have to put the time and money in to contacting the donor to correct the details. Very often the donors are not contactable.
    By validating the details at the time of sign-up through the iPad we eliminate these invalid accounts. It gives the potential donor the opportunity to doublecheck their account details or to change their mind, and we no longer need to process.
  • The iPads also improve our data capture - we can ensure e-mail addresses and telephone numbers are captured and are captured in the correct format. Fundraisers are prompted to ask for contact preferences and other details that they may have otherwise forgotten about. We can quickly and easily make certain fields compulsory. And we can put automated restrictions on certain donors, such as minimum age limits.

  • We take a huge amount of care with the transport and storage of our paper mandates. Nevertheless, in terms of security it's not ideal. The iPads allow new donor details to be securely sent and stored electronically, instantly, and no personal data is stored on the iPads. If an iPad is lost or stolen there is no issue with data security.
  • Another interesting point to note is that if an iPad does get stolen or lost we can track it through GPS and determine exactly where it is. We can also remotely lock it and remotely wipe it. Very cool.

  • Tracking where the iPad is in real-time is just one level of control this new technology gives us. We can also track sign-ups in real-time and track quality in real-time.
  • We can feed information to the iPad immediately. We can update information and forms on the iPad remotely. For example, if a charity releases new stats today we can update the fundraisers presenters immediately. If we find that not enough e-mail addresses are being captured we can remotely make it a compulsory field, or highlight it so it's not being overlooked.


  • One of my favourite things about the iPads is that the fundraisers and managers can see their stats in real-time. They can see the average age of the donors they sign up, the average gift, how much they have generated for charity between all their donors, and much more. They can see how they compare with their co-workers. This is a highly motivational tool.

Technological Innovation

  • The iPads are going to allow us to do some really awesome stuff: with the donors' permission we can capture photos and video, we can use the GPS to do some cool location stuff, we can link in to websites and social media to update live. There are a lot of possibilities and we plan on exploring all of these with the innovative charities that we work with...

This is going to be really cool. Feel free to chat to the fundraisers to see how it works. While you're at it, why don't you sign up and make the world a better place?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Volunteering Week

It's National Volunteering Week, which is great. Volunteering is a beautiful thing where everyone benefits.

But did you ever stop to consider that it might be more productive to use those volunteering hours to instead work extra hours in a paid job that you're qualified in, excel in, and probably already work in?

You might not feel as if that's as worthwhile, but you could then take the money you earn from those extra hours and donate them to a cause or a charity you believe in.

With this income the charity could hire someone to do the work you were about to volunteer to do. Realistically, for the amount you've donated, they could probably hire someone to do more hours then you were going to give. They can probably get someone that's better at it than you are. Someone who's qualified. Someone who is going to turn up reliably because, let's face it, you were probably going to flake out after a couple of weeks. Instead they can hire someone who needs the work. You'd be lifting someone out of unemployment. You'd be helping our economy.

It doesn't feel as warm and fuzzy, does it? But economically and financially it probably makes sense.

You should feel good about that. And you should get back to work.

Here's Bill Clinton planting a tree as a volunteer:

But Bill Clinton earns around $181,000 for a paid speaking engagement. Instead of using this time to plant a tree would he have been better off using the time to speak and donating that money to employ some professional gardeners? $181,000 would get you about 18,100 hours of gardening time if you're paying 10 bucks an hour. You could get 10 people in to full-time employment for a year for that.

Of course, I'm just being facetious. I get it that there is a lot more to it than that. It's about what you gain from the experience as a volunteer. It's about donating your own unique skills. It's about making amazing connections you wouldn't normally make. And I genuinely believe we can make a difference by volunteering. Check out http://www.volunteer.ie/ to find an opportunity now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Non-profit, non-sense

I made a ridiculous statement in a meeting this week where I claimed there was no such thing as a non-profit organisation. More specifically, profit making companies and non-profits are essentially the same thing but just perceived differently.

Yes, it doesn't really make sense and is easily disputed and dismissed. Legally there are non-profits. But I think where my statement stemmed from was a frustration in the assumption that non-profits are good and profit making is bad.

More than that, I think I can trace the seed of this thought back to statements two different charity employees made recently.

The first one was earlier this year when a charity employee said he disagreed with fundraising agencies, as opposed to in-house, because they were 'commercial'.

I don't see the difference. He cares about the cause he fundraises for, I care about the causes I fundraise for. He gets paid, I get paid. How am I any more commercial? Being a longterm employee in a fantastic role there is every chance he earns more than me.

The second statement was from a charity employee who used to work for an agency. He criticised agencies for making their shareholders rich. This is from someone who earns bonuses from his charity employer for hitting fundraising targets.

I get bonuses too. They're called dividends. When my company hits targets and makes profit I get this bonus. I didn't receive any bonus this year because we put all our profits back in to the company to develop two new fundraising products.

So how different are agency fundraisers and in-house fundraisers?

And what does this have to do with the term 'non-profit'?

Well I could run a charity, pay myself whatever I want - even millions - and still be commended for being a not-for-profit.

Alternatively I could run my business, pay myself nothing, but take a tiny shareholder dividend if I have a really good year. I'd be a profit making company.

This is not the way to measure effectiveness.

The truth is every organisation, both profit making and not-for-profit, is somewhere inbetween these two extreme examples. Financial reports are dressed up to appear the way organisations want to be perceived. And these shed very little light on how effective an organisation is in changing the world.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How We Can Make The Irish Charities Expo Work

I nearly called this post "Why The Irish Charities Expo Sucked". But that would be harsh, wouldn't it? And so negative. The truth is there were a lot of positives about today's first ever Irish Charities Expo: the charity turnout was good with a lot of effort put in, some fantastic speakers for free, and [initially] a really lovely, positive vibe.

It was especially good for us as a supplier as we got to talk to the charities about our free services Sponsor.ie and GiftCall.

But alot sucked: It seemed to have an identity crisis...who was this targeted at? It was expensive for exhibitors and the footfall of visitors was virtually zero. The general consensus was disappointment, and even  some anger.

Charities found themselves paying to exhibit because everyone was afraid it would be a huge success and they would be missing out on easy money. The Expo had said that 5,000 company representatives were invited...it might have been amazing. It wasn't. It was sad - for some charities they had paid a huge chunk of budget on this and put a lot of time and effort in to it, and it didn't pay off.

So what went wrong? A few things:

No Corporates
5,000 company representatives didn't appear. A couple of charities said they counted 4 company representatives. Not 4,000. Just 4.

And why would they come? Why would they subject themselves to a room full of charities asking them for money? Why would they throw themselves to the lions?

A company making the decision to donate to charity is relatively easy. They can do it from their office. They can respond to charities they want to respond to. They can meet who they want to meet. They can support who they want to support.

No Public
Similarly, the public wouldn't want to expose themselves to what someone described as "a room full of chuggers", but not to the same extent as the corporates. People love charities. And I really believe that a good chunk of the public would be interested in seeing all of these charities in one place, learning what they've been doing, hearing the excellent speakers, discussing volunteering opportunities, showing their support, and yes even donating to them.

But the public didn't show. Why? Probably because it wasn't marketed very well.

There was very little advertising, very little PR. Social media was not harnessed (the only Facebook presence was an event page that I set up a few days ago). Twitter was used incorrectly. Nobody knew about it.

And that's not necessarily just the Expo's fault - maybe charities didn't advertise it enough, maybe us exhibitors didn't push it enough.

The cost of exhibiting excluded a lot of charities. And almost certainly it was never going to be worthwhile. It needed to be cheap...or free...for charities. Easier said than done. But perhaps us profit-making exhibitors should have paid more. Or maybe the public (if there were any) needed to make a 'suggested contribution' on entry that was divided among all the charities involved. Or maybe they needed more sponsors. They didn't approach us for sponsorship (That always amazes me! Like the ICTR Tax Back Campaign - they are struggling for funding and they've never asked us to sponsor!)

The Charities
Maybe the charities could have done more? I spoke to a really nice print agency guy that I see from time to time. He was doing the rounds at the conference and pitching for business. He spoke to almost every charity there and then he spoke to me, at which point I asked if his company would make a donation to one of our charity partners. He said I was the first person there to ask him for money.

So What Is The Solution?
I believe this can work. I want this to work. I think it's a beautiful idea and can be a great thing for the charities, the corporates, and the general public. So how do we make it work?

Well, it needs to be better advertised. It needs an attraction: a celebrity, an amazing keynote speaker, free shit.

It needs to be cheap, or free, for charities. More of them will exhibit (perhaps with smaller stands) and this will allow the organisers to get more company exhibitors to pay. Make companies like mine pay double, half of which sponsors a charity of our choice to attend and exhibit.

It needs to be better integrated with the charity sector. What about partnering with Fundraising Ireland and running in conjunction with their annual conference. Day 1 is the annual fundraising conference, Day 2 is open to the public with the charities exhibiting and speaking. Maybe at a more appropriate venue.

But I'm writing this on the day of the conference. Let me sleep on it. Maybe I'm being too critical. It's easy to criticise. Maybe there's a lot more to it. We all want this to work, and I hope this will be read as constructive criticism.

On a final note, the other thing that pissed me off was one of the organisers walked by me a few times and blanked me when I smiled, nodded or said hello. I paid for four stands at this thing and the guy wouldn't even acknowledge me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Phil Mickelson and The Case of The Ridiculous Retweets

An interesting thing just happened on Twitter: an account claiming to be the golfer Phil Mickelson (unverified) just promised to donate $1,000 to the Exxon Mobil Foundation for every retweet.

A retweet is easy. It's what they call slacktivism. And the result is that tweet was instantly retweeted by 50+ people. That's when Twitter stops counting...I would assume it will be retweeted thousands of times. Without question.

But think for even a fraction of a second and you'll realise this is too good to be true. This is either an extremely awkward typo or a pointless prank. Or perhaps it is the real Phil Mickelson and he just hasn't got a clue how Twitter works (would the real Phil Mickelson have two underscores in his username?). Or...hopefully...it's true.

Regardless of the truth I'm willing to bet the Exxon Mobil Foundation isn't going to see any money off the back of this...


Let's look at this totally cynically...

The first thing I did when I saw this was Google the 'Exxon Mobil Foundation'. I'd never heard of it. When I think of Exxon I think tragic oil spill. So as a result of this tweet I now know about their foundation and the level of their generosity.

So could this be a truly underhanded marketing ploy? I genuinely don't think it is, but what if it was?

All it takes is an employee of an unknown charity organisation to set up a fake celebrity Twitter account, get a few followers and then make this outrageous claim. You deny all knowledge of it and publicly question why anyone would do such a thing. Watch the traffic increase. Just look at the mentions of this Twitter account and the Exxon Mobil Foundation. Let's keep an eye on the search trends and see what kind of spike this causes.

Totally unethical? Yes.

Would it work? Probably?

Did Exxon Mobil do this? I doubt it...if it was a marketing person they would have put in a link.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tick To Give...or not

Argos run a great fundraising campaign called 'Tick to Give'.

If you're familiar with Argos you'll know that you find the product you want in their catalogue, fill out an 'order slip' in-store, and take it to the cashier to pay for before collecting your purchase at a different counter.

On each order slip they have an additional 'product' added which is the option to donate 20 cent, added by the cashier to your order which is then passed on to Argos' charity of the year. This year it's the Teenage Cancer Trust. All you have to do to make this donation is tick a little box on the form.

Gratuitous use of Instagram

I like the campaign because it's a tiny amount, it's added on to your method of payment regardless of what it is, and it's reasonably prominent on the order slip. I assumed it would be a succesful campaign.

As a fundraiser, whenever I come across these sort of things I will always 'opt-in' because I'm curious to see how the process works. When I first ticked the box and took it to the cashier I was surprised to find afterwards that the donation hadn't been taken.

The next time I was shopping in Argos I tried again and, once again, it was overlooked by the cashier. And again. And again.

My donation has not been taken on SIX different occasions.

That's every single time I've tried. It's happened in Argos in Stephens Green, Blanchardstown and Santry. Different stores. Different cashiers. All overlooked.

What this tells me (besides the fact that I'm possibly buying too much stuff in Argos) is that something is wrong. This fundraising campaign isn't working.

Now I can't imagine a huge amount of people are ticking this box. But some must be. And if even one of these people's donations are being overlooked it is a painful, tragic waste. As a fundraiser it pisses me off. As someone whose family has been directly affected by cancer it pisses me off.

After attempt three I contacted the charity and Argos by e-mail with my solution to the problem, and it's this:

The cashiers need to be incentivised.

These cashiers are presumably on (near) minimum wage, extremely busy and probably not 100% committed to the job. Because the number of customers ticking to give is presumably a rarity the cashiers can be probably forgiven for overlooking it...I'm sure it's not the most important aspect of their day.

But what if each store ran a competition for the cashier that processed the most 'Tick to Gives'? What if the cashier that put through the most each month won a free dinner, or voucher, or pint? And what if Argos put up a leaderboard with all the cashiers names in the staff room or out in the main shop floor so the customers could see it?

I bet then they'd start to notice.

And what if Head Office also set up a competition between the different stores where the winner over a year got a dinner or night out for their employees?

Argos could pay for these prizes as part of their CSR, or the charity could pay for these as part of their fundraising budget. I'm convinced it would easily pay for itself.

Imagine that level of incentivisation. Cashiers might start asking customers to tick to give! And I bet nearly every customer would say yes...it's only 20 cent. I don't foresee any customer complaints as it's only 20 cent. And Argos would have raised huge amounts compared to what they are currently raising...something that they could make an absolutely huge deal of.

But so far nothing has changed. As it is the campaign sucks.

Something needs to change. Currently it is just such a waste of huge fundraising potential.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Imagine Two Organisations

Imagine two organisations - a Charity and a Business.

The Business gives 50% of its income to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. For this they are heralded as one of the most generous, benevolent and ethical companies in the world.

The Charity spends 50% of its income on overheads, wages, marketing, etc. - way above the 'acceptable level' for a charity. For this they are criticised as a scam, inefficient and unethical.

The two organisations are the same, except one is called a Charity and one is called a Business.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Session at the Fundraising Ireland National Conference 2012

The slides from my presentation don't give the full picture of what I discussed at my Fundraising Ireland session, but here they are regardless:

In addition, I thought it would be useful to highlight what I feel were the most important points I hope attendees took away from the session.
The overall theme of the session was knowing your donors' trends, analysing your data and adapting what you do accordingly. I mentioned this article which discusses how a U.S. supermarket analysed their customer data and figured out who was pregnant, even if they didn't want anyone to know. They could then market to these customers accordingly.

I don't know if that's ethical but what it showed me was that the private sector is so far ahead of us in terms of analysing data that it's embarrassing. There is a whole lot more we could be learning from our data so as to give our donors and supporters what they want, when they want it (even if they don't realise it).

Open Your Direct Debit Date
There are significant differences in failed payments and cancellations depending on what day of the month you debit your donors. So what is the 'best date'? The answer is 'it depends'.

Rather than choosing the best date to process your Direct Debits you need to instead allow your donors to make their monthly donation on any day of the month. The majority of Irish charities only offer the choice of 1 or 2 possible debit dates and there doesn't seem to be any logic to how this date was chosen historically. No organisation in my session allowed the donor to choose any day of the month.

Charities will claim that they do not have the resources to process direct debits every day of the month but I would absolutely challenge that. It takes a few minutes to process each day and your finance department should be doing this. If they won't then consider paying them from your fundraising budget and see if that changes their mind. Rather than spending your budget on retention and recruitment the simple act of paying your Finance Manager to process Direct Debits every day will improve your retention conveniently and cost-effectively.

In addition, instead of asking your potential donors what day of the month they wish to give, consider asking them what day of the month they get paid, and then process their donation shortly afterwards.

Consider The January Spike
We all know your failed Direct Debit payments peak in January. And if you don't know that then let me tell you...your failed Direct Debit payments peak in January. The biggest risk is that donors see a single failed payment, panic, and cancel. You know it's going to happen, so what are you going to do about it?

The easiest thing you can do is offer your donors (by mail or by phone) a payment holiday in January. Your donors will respect you for treating them like human adults and very few will take you up on the offer. They might even be so flattered with your offer that they make an additional donation (assuming you allow them to).

Any donations you lose out on through the payment holiday will be easily compensated for by additional donations, better donor retention and a stronger relationship.

Work With More 'Challenging' Donors
Attrition of students, unemployed and younger donors is bad. You'll also notice donors that live in certain locations are more likely to cancel.

But don't write them off and don't stop recruiting them.

Instead consider putting more work in to these donors. Change the language you use to communicate with them. Offer them a lower gift amount...even the lowest gift amount. Ask them to volunteer. Ask them to fundraise for you.

Eventually, try to reactivate them. The won't be challenging donors forever. And when they're ready to give and give loyally then the months and years of work you have put in to nurturing the relationship will be well worth it.

Upgrade Your Donors
Upgrading your donors by telephone works extremely well. The return on investment is amazing. The response of donors is positive. Statistics are showing that an attempted upgrade call will result in improved attrition rates regardless of what the outcome of the call is.

Start upgrading your donors now. Get an agency to do it. Total Fundraising do it...and we do it very well.

Create A Donor Community
The attrition of male and female donors are similar, although not the same (do you communicate differently with men and women?). But what I find really interesting is that donors that give jointly as a couple are significantly better quality than donors that give by themselves.

In the same way that running and exercising with someone spurs you to push yourself harder, giving is more enjoyable when you do it with someone.

So how can we manufacture 'joint' donors? You can't ask your donors to start having sex.

But what you can do is build a community of donors who are funding one project and who are visible to each other. Resources like Facebook make this free and easy. Consider setting up a private Facebook group for 50 of your donors that are funding one project. They can interact, support and encourage each other, and most importantly motivate each other to stay involved.

I founded The Retention Consortium where charities can plug in their own figures and in return see other organisations' anonymous figures. Through this shared learning we can make huge advancements in what we're doing and we can avoid making the same mistakes another charity has already made.

For more information e-mail me.

These are just some of the ideas I explored in my seminar. If you wanted to know more or to see why one client was surprised to find out how cynical I am then, well, you should have come to my session.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fundraising Ireland's National Fundraising Conference 2012

Inspired by Howard Lake's usual collection of resources from UK fundraising events I decided here would be a good place to collect useful and interesting tweets, links, resources, etc. from Fundraising Ireland's National Fundraising Conference on 20th & 21st March 2012.

The hashtag for the conference is #finfc12 - follow live updates here.

Here are the Twitter pages of the Masterclass speakers:
Mike Johnston - @hjcnewmedia
Beate Sørum - @beatesorum
Damian O'Broin - @damianobroin
Aline Reed - @alinereed
Margaux Smith - @margauxs

And the rest of the speakers:
Tobin Aldrich - @tobinaldrich
Patrick Boggan -
Simon Burne -
Derval Costello -
Kevin Delaney - @kevmagic
Aíne Gibbons -
AJ Leon - @ajleon
Mark Pollock - @markpollock
Simon Scriver - @TotalFR
Chris Washington-Sare - @CWashingtonSare

And other people tweeting about the conference:

Here's a selection of Tweets:
 the truth goes a long way. Tell it all - the good, the bad, the complete story -@evthewolf 
 ' Sometimes best to go low tech, voice 2 voice, in real time ..it's called the telephone ' ;-)  - @patcarrolltouch 
How about writing a letter to people.. An actual letter.. Thats right.. A handwritten personal letter. Revolutionary.   - @neilirwin 
Never let your organisation get in the way of a great story -  - @damianobroin 
Very good point from Simon - flashy databases that aren't properly used make sloppy communication easy   - @qaoileann
  direct debit date flexibility vital, we should be asking people when they get paid and set dd as close as possible - @ask_direct 
  being a donor can be a lonely experience without any sense of being part of a community - @ask_direct
85% of session attendees have recieved legacy gifts in their orgs but only 25% have an actual legacy programme!!  - @mylegacy_ie
Time and time again its the story making social media fundraising work. But social media that lets people hear it, see it, feel it. - @neilirwin 
Are geeks an untapped seam of fundraising gold?   - @neilirwin
Do u have control of who receives what-where? Dont lump the digital donor in with ur other donors.Identify why they donated & how! - @jennydouglas2
Digital fundraising not working because we are forgetting to prioritise, to ask, to analyse - - @OrlaithFoley
need to prompt people and give them reasons to share on social media.. Not just a little 'f' on your website - @neilirwin
3 second delay in loading a website will cause over 50% of consumers to click away - @timodea
Looking forward to in Dublin on weds , great bunch of speakers there. And me too, I'm afraid - @tobinaldrich
"finance + sales are the 2 most evil industries... But put them together +you get fundraising!" - Simon scriver   - @qaoileann 
Did my "do I have everything"-routine. Did not have everything. Returned for power adapter. Now en route to  again. - @BeateSorum
As an aside, amazed that so many people in the room never heard of Kickstarter. Or didn't admit to it:)  - @qaoileann 
Between AJ Leon and Simon from , the geek chic quotient is high so far at  - @qaoileann
I'll be following you from a grey-skied vantage point in Cork - @omaniblog

Speaker Presentations

[None yet...got pics?]