Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Your Charity Can Replicate The #IceBucketChallenge

Let me just get it out there straight away:

You can't replicate the #IceBucketChallenge,
the #NoMakeUpSelfie
or the next big thing.

(I'm sorry - I kind of tricked you in to opening this blog post. But wait! I will tell you how to increase your chances.)

As I said before you can't replicate these things and instead your fundraising should focus on things that are more scientific and more reliable. You also need to be ready just in case it does happen. I've got some tips here about how to be ready and Zoe Amar did an excellent post here.

So how do you increase the chances of an #IceBucketChallenge kicking off for your charity?

Through good old fashioned fundraising.

You see, ALS didn't really benefit out of nowhere. When the Ice Bucket Challenge started it was vaguely for any charity, until one guy decided to bring ALS in to the mix. Why did he do it? Because one of his relatives had ALS, he had confidence in the charity, he knew they needed money, and he'd probably already donated to them.

So how do you replicate that?

  1. Gain people's confidence by running effectively, being transparent, and showing the public how you help.
  2. Tell people you need money and what you're going to do with it.
  3. Get people to donate to you through traditional fundraising which is proven to work.

If you have all that stuff in place then there's a better chance the next big thing will come your way.

And even if it doesn't? (Which it almost certainly won't)

Well, you'll still be raising money.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your Donation Page Is Out-Of-Date

Your donation page is probably not as good as it could be. As a result you're losing donations and the people who are giving to you aren't probably giving as much as they could.

You need to overhaul your donation page and there's plenty of great tips out there on what it should look like:

But even if you follow all that great advice your donation page is going to be out-of-date.


Well, because you don't know what your next appeal is. You don't know what the next big news story is. When you designed your donation page you might have know why people were visiting it, but you probably don't know why they're going to visit it today or tomorrow.

So how do you deal with that?

Well, the next time you're putting your money in to your website make sure you get an adaptable donation page. You almost certainly don't have an in-house website person and can't afford to pay an agency every time you want to change something, so you need to make sure you can edit your donation page from the back-end at no extra cost.

More than that, you need more than one donation page. You need to have your standard donation page, but you need to be able to quickly set up up a donation page customised to the #IceBucketChallenge, #FreeGaza, #MigrantX or whatever is going to motivate people to want to help you.

The customised pages need to have relevant images, relevant text, relevant stories, a relevant Thank You, and a relevant 'shopping list' - even a relevant URL. Have a look next time and what you'll see is almost all charities have the same generic donation page with no mention of what drove them there.

Remember, your donors aren't donating to you. They're donating to your cause...or more specifically how they interpret your cause. Your donation page needs to match their interpretation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Obligatory #IceBucketChallenge Blog Post - Criticism of Criticisms

It was inevitable that I'd do a blog post on the #IceBucketChallenge. As a Fundraising Consultant and Service Provider my business model relies on me piggybacking my thoughts on to the latest trend, attempting to add some insight that you'll associate with my name. As this post is shared it spreads my name and moves me up the search results, which then converts to more business and increased income, allowing me to accumulate more material objects until I die at 64. Anyway...

In case you missed it, the Ice Bucket Challenge is the latest on-line viral sensation which also claims to raise money and awareness for charity (in this case ALS a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease).

It's interesting...but more interesting is that the tide is starting to turn and it's becoming more and more fashionable to criticise these things rather than support or just ignore them. You'll see that - we see it with every positive movement, as we have with charities themselves.

I've seen articles call it a 'damaging fad' and even 'the end of charity fund-raising'.

The criticism's I've read so far are:
  • It's not raising extra money for's just taking money from elsewhere.
    No doubt some people that donate $10 to this challenge will then find themselves having to decline a $10 donation elsewhere. That's unfortunate but it's still a donation. However, the people we're interested in are the ones that donate the $10 and then find themselves having to buy less drink, cigarettes, crap, etc. What the 'for-good' sector has effectively done is stolen some business from the 'for-bad' sector and made an effort at increasing national percentage donation levels that have otherwise remained pretty steady.
  • People are having too much fun.
    And presumably they're not having more fun...they're just taking fun away from other places?
    I never understand this - even if you work in a morgue or warzone or charity you're allowed to find fun as long as it's not at the expense of others. Jesus, otherwise what's the point of anything?
  • It doesn't raise any awareness.
    While 'awareness' may well be useless, you can't argue that more people searching for and reading about the disease is in fact raising awareness.
  • Some people aren't even donating.
    That's right. And these people weren't going to donate anyway. But some people are donating that hadn't before. And some of these 'some people' will go on to donate again.
  • Some people are donating to the wrong charity!Well they're probably doing so because they have a personal connection to that cause. So, whatever.
  • We should be donating without these fads. And we should be donating monthly because it's more cost-effective!
    We shooooould...but if you've ever met a human and/or have any self-awareness you'll know that we don't always do what we should.
  • It's a waste of waterReally? Kind of sounds like you're clutching at straws, like the people who say that electric cars use more energy than normal cars. But if you're really worried about it then use sea water. It's freezing.
  • It's so annoying!
    The reason the Ice Bucket Challenge is so annoying is because it's working so well. If your Facebook timeline was filled 20 million news stories about a cash collection on Tara Street you'd be annoyed too. Now you know how I feel about GAA and Harry Potter.
    But my buzz with fundraising is always that the results justify a tiny bit of annoyance and inconvenience. I always try to picture a kid who will benefit from these donations and someone telling his parents he shouldn't be helped anymore because their Twitter feed is annoying. You know where you won't hear about the Ice Bucket Challenge? In a book, a park, or a Marx Brothers movie.
  • Ice bucket purists are annoyed that the charity element is detracting from their first love.
    OK, I made that one up.

You'll notice a lot of these criticisms can be applied to cash collections, challenge events, galas, etc.

For me there is only one valid criticism, and it's not even a criticism of the campaign. It's more of a criticism of consultants, bloggers, Boards, and fundraisers that encourage you to try and replicate these things.

As I said in my #NoMakeUpSelfie post, charities should be prepared and ready to capitalise on these amazing things that crop out of nowhere.

But don't waste time and money trying to replicate it. Forget chasing the viral dragon and instead focus on good old-fashioned, reliable fundraising. And have some fun.

Here's my Ice Bucket Challenge:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Become A Better Public Speaker in the Charity Sector

Do you work in the Irish charity sector - either as a paid member of staff or as a volunteer?
Do you need to make presentations to groups of people? Maybe to co-workers, potential funders, or volunteers?

Do you think your public speaking could use a boost? Want more confidence?

If so, I hope I can help. I am looking to bring Toastmasters to the Irish charity sector - and I want to hear from YOU if you are interested.

What Is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a worldwide, non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. It's a friendly, fun and supportive environment. Every day around the world like-minded people meet to help each other improve their skills.

There are already over 100 clubs in Ireland, usually made up of members who share a common location or common employer. So far, there is no organisation dedicated to the unique needs of the Irish charity sector.

How Is A Meeting Structured?
A typical meeting is divided in to 3 parts:

  1. 'Table Topics' helps people to speak 'off-the-cuff', delivering short impromptu speeches with little or no preparation.
  2. Prepared Speeches gives you an opportunity to deliver a speech you have been working on for days or weeks. It's a great chance to practice an important presentation or speech before the real thing.
  3. Evaluations are constructive feedback, used to help everyone become a better speaker. It also helps you get better at delivering constructive feedback.

What Are The Benefits?
You'll become a better public speaker. You'll get a chance to meet other people working in the Irish charity sector. You'll learn loads about lots of random topics. You'll have fun.

What Does It Cost?
It depends on the club, but you're usually talking about €5 a meeting.

Why A Toastmasters For Charity Staff & Volunteers?
Your public speaking is so important. How you deliver your message can be the difference between someone donating, volunteering, or doing nothing. We can all benefit if we have better public speakers in the charity sector.

I'm Interested Already! Shut Up And Tell Me What To Do
OK, at the moment I'm recording interest with a view to launching an introductory 'Speechcraft' set of meetings. From there, with enough interest, we will work together to launch an amazing club which meets every 2 weeks.

So please e-mail me, with no commitment, and let me know if it's something you'd be interest in.

Thank you!