Thursday, November 28, 2013

On-Line: Is It Fundraising's Snake Oil?

Full disclaimer: I am obsessed with the Internet. I spend too much time on Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Feedly and a bunch of other sites. If I buy stuff I research and order on-line. I donate on-line. I blog (Nobody reads it). I respond to e-mails quicker than phone calls. I love digital. I am a nerd. I want on-line to be the answer to everyone's problems...I really do.

Yes, I make my living from face-to-face fundraising and telephone Having said that, I created as a way for charities to cheaply harness on-line giving and fundraising. I believe in on-line. I believe mobile giving and a good on-line donation facility are essential. When your budget allows it, I believe on-line gives you some amazing opportunities.

But, as a charity, on-line should NOT be your priority.

Stephen Pidgeon recently summed it up nicely: "All you online enthusiasts out there should remember Blackbaud’s [U.S. 2012] research. Online revenue accounted for only 7 per cent of those charities’ incomes. And that includes people like me who receive a mailing then donate online."

The pro-online stats you are being fed are misleading. When on-line giving sites exclaim that 50% of donors come from Facebook, what they mean is that 50% of THEIR donors come from Facebook. The truth is probably less than 1% of ALL donations are coming from Facebook - and they're motivated by their friends.

Someone associated with Google and YouTube recently said "57% of Those Who Watch Nonprofit Videos Go On to Make a Donation". I wrote a whole blog post on why this statistic is baloney and why bad statistics are dangerous for charities.

And therein lies the problem and the ultimate truth.

The on-line stats you keep getting fed are forgetting that on-line is a 'facility' rather than a 'driver'. In other words, yes people are using on-line to make more donations because it's convenient and secure. But they are being driven to do it by something more personal: a conversation, an experience or good writing.

Do not confuse the 'method' of giving with the 'motivator'.

If you are a charity, especially a small one, ask yourself really if you'd be better off spending the next hour updating your social media or picking up the phone and calling 10 people.

If you have to choose, should you put thousands of Euro in to a flashy website or should you spend the money paying someone who has the confidence to network and 'ask' at your next event?

Text on a computer screen will never drum up the emotions that your passionate voice can. And we are in the business of emotions. This will not change in your lifetime.

If you find yourself considering 'Twitter or Facebook' as your fundraising strategy I would suggest you instead use that time to take a half-day and go to the cinema to watch Gravity in 3D.

Yes everything we do is on-line and the world is obsessed with on-line and we are drowning in #hashtags. But until charities' on-line income gets closer to 50% I honestly believe you are spending your money and time in the wrong place.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Can't Donate Blood? Is This A Solution?

When I turned 18 I wanted to donate blood. But I wasn't allowed - and am still not allowed - because I lived in the UK for a few years.

Years later when my Dad became sick with leukaemia I learned about 'platelets' and I decided I wanted to become a regular donor. Again, I'm not allowed to do so because I lived in England.

My girlfriend once went with 3 friends to donate blood. All of them were turned away - she had lived in England, one had just got a tattoo and two of them are gay.

I'm aware of their reasoning, but it's frustrating. With Ireland's currently blood supply running at only 3-10 days I feel there's a better way. I once suggested to the IBTS that potential blood recipients could 'opt-in' to receive my 2nd rate blood. Not entirely practical of course.

But here's my new idea...

YOU may be eligible to donate blood, but might not have the time.

So let me donate my time. To you.

Let me spend an hour or two doing one of your chores, on the condition that you use that time to go and give blood. Let me pick you up, drop you at the blood clinic, go do whatever you need done, then come back and drop you home.

Imagine a whole network of wannabe donors who aren't allowed, all willing to donate their time to the people who just can't find the time to go and give blood.

Is that a temporary solution?

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Things You Can Do To Help Irish Fundraising Right Now

1. Attend This Free Data Protection Seminar
When something free is jointly organised by Fundraising Ireland, The Wheel and ICTR you know it's important.
The new developments in data protection are bad for Irish charities - even if it doesn't affect you yet it eventually will. I recommend attending the Data Protection Seminar so we can all keep on top of this.

2. Fill Out This Survey
Total Fundraising are running this survey with Whitebarn Consulting. By filling it out, as a non-profit, you could win €250. And the results should benefit the sector as a whole.

3. Attend Fundraising Ireland's Donor Care Seminar in Galway Next Week
Next week's Donor Care seminar should be good. Justin McDermott is, without a doubt, an excellent fundraiser and I'm really happy to be speaking with him.
I'm putting a lot of effort in to the seminar, and Fundraising Ireland are putting a lot of effort in to building the available training out West.
I hope you'll support it. Now cancelled! Well, that's a shame.

4. Sign Up To
A bit of self-promotion, but why not? By signing up your charity for free to you are helping us work towards reducing the fees again.
As the amount we processed increased the bank reduced their fee, which allowed us to reduce our fee from 5% to 4%. It's no secret that I'm working towards a 3% fee and then even lower. But I need more charities on the site. If every charity in Ireland shared a donation portal you could probably get credit card charges below 1%.

5. Vote For Your Next Fundraising Ireland Board
The elections for the next Fundraising Ireland board members take place on the 12th of December. The list of candidates is here and my profile is here.
I've been a proud member of Fundraising Ireland since October 2010 and have always tried to support the sector by sharing data, speaking at seminars and conferences, and through sponsorship. I believe I can help Fundraising Ireland continue and expand the amazing work they do.
Whether you agree or not, I hope you will take the time to cast your vote at the AGM - it is hugely important who goes forward.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Predictions For Irish Fundraising In 2014

I didn't do too badly with last year's predictions. So here we go again...Here is what I think we're going to see in 2014:

The Charity Regulator Will Disappoint Many
Not because they're doing anything wrong. In fact, I think the new charity regulator is going to be a great resource and will have a really positive impact on the sector.

But many people think the regulator will somehow reduce what CEOs earn, get rid of 'chuggers', and eliminate some of the more questionable charities. They won't - it just wouldn't make any sense. And that'll leave a few people lamenting the Charity Regulator as 'another quango'.

SMS Giving Will Get MORE Expensive
We got a quick sniff of the high-life in 2013: LikeCharity brought in 100% of SMS donations going to the charity and conversion campaigns were run as an opt-out.

The Data Commissioner put the kibosh on the opt-outs in any form which made the whole thing so much more expensive. And surely it's only a matter of time before LikeCharity give up on an overly strict Irish market or at least start charging fees to make it worthwhile. 'Tis better to have Liked and lost.

We'll See The First Notable Charity Merger
2014 will see charities began to take the idea of merging to the next level: sharing administration costs and forming one 'super' board could work in some cases. Just be prepared for a cringe-worthy rebranded name.

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

Changes To Tax Relief On Donations Get Big
The new tax-relief rules that came in to play were a bad thing for 2013. But they're (for the most part) good for 2014. You'll be able to claim tax relief on all €250+ donations from 2013, including self-assessed donors. That's big. Make sure you get those CHY3 forms signed.

Legacies Will Get Big
It's already started, but in 2014 we're going to really see legacy messaging drip-feeding through everything. You may as well just go update your will now and get it over with.

A Great Year For Statistics
The new regulator will give us all access to more charity finance figures, so we'll hopefully get a clearer picture of how the sector is growing.
Mix that with more research from The Wheel, Fundraising Ireland, Total Fundraising and more and we should get access to some really nice Irish fundraising stats.

More Innovation
Picture more Deal Effects, more Adtruisms, and more fundraising portals. Generally, good things. But don't get caught up in the hype. Sure, they'll help. And the more you put in, the more you'll get out. But they're not a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet. Fundraising is a long, hard slog. Always. And most of it takes place off-line.

Cost Per Acquisition Is About To Go Nuts
More and more charities are finally getting round to recruiting regular donors, which is a great thing. But it's also going to put pressure on the public, on the suppliers and on fundraisers. Combine that with stronger regulation, stricter data protection rules and more large charities bringing their face-to-face in-house and what you'll see is an increase in your cost per acquisition.

What do you think we're going to see in 2014?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Your Fundraising Litmus Test

This week I'm updating a donor care seminar and working on two messages to the general public. And I'm reminded once again: Everyone needs a fundraising litmus test.

My girlfriend is my fundraising litmus test.

She is the most loving, giving, generous and beautiful person I have ever met.

When I told her I wanted to write a charity in to my will she told me to "F*ck off."

Presumably she knows she's going to outlive me, and wants complete control of our money when I die or she kills me. More than that, I believe she wants our son to get everything. She probably doesn't take me seriously either: I requested that her sister receives €50 upon my death on the condition that she spend a night in a haunted mansion.

Today, I wrote the phrase "I encourage you as a potential donor..." and she pulled me up on it.

Firstly, because I keep forgetting to use plain English (which really is a skill).

But mainly because I used the word 'donor'. She said "What member of the public knows that they are a ‘donor’? – that’s a Fundraising term – if I hear donor I think of blood donor or organ donor."

She IS a donor. And doesn't connect herself with the word.

I don't believe radio works. But she started crying when she heard Bee For Battens on the radio and made the decision to give.

I hate incentives. But she only signed up as a monthly giver to an animal charity because they offered free micro-chipping. She cancelled a few years later because she 'couldn't be arsed' and 'wasn't getting any updates or cute photos'.

I asked her more about that and she went on to describe a different animal charity:
"The Donkey Sanctuary send me sh*t all the time because Rachel sponsored me a donkey for a year and that was years ago.  I actually must sign up to them – they are brilliant with the stuff they send. They give proper updates and loads of photos."

She donates to every single friend that asks for a donation.

She is amazing and she thinks I'm an idiot.

She is your treasured Dorothy Donor.

Who is your fundraising litmus test?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fundraising 101: A Beginner's Guide

These are my 10 favourite nuggets from my Fundraising 101 seminar. Not necessarily the most useful or most interesting...but my favourite...
  1. Fundraising is a real job and a real skill.
  2. Fundraising takes time or money. And time is money.
  3. Charities don't like any form of fundraising until they do them.
  4. The cause is always greener on the other side.
  5. You are not your target audience.
  6. Do you want Brand Awareness or Money?
  7. "If your charity is called 'Save The Whales' every once in a while you need to save a whale."
  8. If someone says, "Wouldn't it be great if..." then assume it won't happen.
  9. Your database is probably bigger than you think.
  10. If a fundraiser is bad don't give up on fundraising.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My IoF N.I. 2013 Seminar: Telephone Fundraising

Here are the slides from my Telephone Fundraising seminar at the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland conference, as well as what I think are the key points below:

Mystery Shop Your Own Organisation
I phoned two large Northern Irish charities to make a credit card donation and both failed to take my money. Try ringing your own reception (or get someone to do it for please!) and see if they know how to handle a donation, know how to say thank you and know what to ask you.

Have An Inbound Cheat Sheet
Write up a one-pager for anyone who may receive these donation calls so they know what to do.

CEOs and Boards Fear Telephone Unnecessarily
Everyone says they hate receiving calls from charities asking for money (including me) but that's simply not true. People are warm, friendly and open. Cancellations are rare. Complaints are even rarer. Pick up the phone and talk to your donors. They will appreciate it.

Phone Calls With No Ask Are Still Fundraising
Thank you calls, care calls, surveys, etc. are still fundraising calls because they increase the chances that the person will go on to donate to you. There is monetary valuable in them.

A 'No' On The Phone Has Value
The great thing about the phone is that even people saying 'No' allows you to get feedback.

Integrable Is A Word. Integratable Is Not.
Telephone can and should integrate with should phone your mail recipients, phone your lapsed donors, phone your fundraisers. Phone everybody.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Undue Fear Of SEPA

A few people have flagged this with me: under the SEPA scheme there will be new rules concerning direct debits, where it will now be very easy for a donor to request a refund.

Donors will now have 8 weeks to request, no questions asked, that 'Authorised' payments are refunded.

Where the charity can't prove that the donation was authorised the donor will have up to 13 months to request refunds.

A few charities have said they're worried about this: that a monthly donor could in theory come back and demand 13 months worth of donations to be refunded. And on the surface it seems like a scary prospect.

But the truth is it won't make a difference...

The reality is, if a donor contacted you today under the old scheme and requested 13 months worth of refunds, well, you'd have to do it. You wouldn't have to do it, but you'd have to do know?

No charity is going to get in to a dispute with a donor about who owns the money. You're not Sky TV. You're not Zurich. You're a nice charity that relies on the kindness of donors and if they want their money back you're going to have to give it to them.

The new rules are good. They instill confidence and, in reality, don't change how you would handle the situation.