Friday, 6 November 2015

The DMO Club: Five mobile fundraising campaigns you need on your radar

You check emails on it, take photos, shop, plan journeys, check your bank balance, wake up to it and occasionally you might even use it to call your mum - we are glued to our phones.

But which charities are making best use of mobile for fundraising? At October's Direct Marketing Officers (DMO) Club * we started a list. Here are five of our favourites:

1. Touch Look Check (TLC) - Breakthrough Breast Cancer/Breast Cancer Now

We had to mention this - partly because we work on it, but partly because it really was one of the trailblazers of value exchange. You want to know the five signs of breast cancer right? Send us a text, and we will call you back to get your address to send out your free guide... Now, while we've got you on the phone...

Simple but effective, TLC hits two objectives: get health information out to the public, and bring on board new regular givers.

Initially the campaign was tested out of home (trains and washrooms). It smashed targets, and rolled out as part of business as usual activity, adding in DRTV. Three years, one merger, a new brand and a summer of discontent later and TLC is still going strong. In fact, response is better than ever before! 

It's a great combination - information people want, and a cause people care about. 

2. Mobile Membership - Diabetes UK. One to watch! 

Why have a one-off value exchange when you can have one a month? Diabetes UK have reinvigorated their existing membership product for a younger audience, rolling out a mobile version using Mobilise (regular giving by SMS).

Content from the members' magazine is going mobile, with supporters able to sign up to receive monthly updates with tips, recipes and support specific to their condition, in return for a £3 monthly donation by SMS. As standard with Mobilise, users can skip a month or stop at any time.

The product launched a few months ago and so far recruitment has been through warm lists, mainly email. But this winter the product is rolling out through GPs surgeries, to reach new audiences. Watch this space...

3. Send a net, Save a life - Christian Aid

Is this the grand daddy of text to donate? Christian Aid paired a simple, tangible ask with then-new technology of premium SMS. The charity sector has never looked back.

4. The Bee Cause - Friends of the Earth

Another pioneer of text to get fundraising, the wildflower seeds campaign showed value exchange could work not only for health charities but for other causes too.

5. Straight to Mobilise DRTV - Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK found a new way to put donors in the driving seat with their straight-to-mobolise DRTV advert. Cutting out the callback is an attractive proposition for donors, refreshing response rates and cutting acquisition costs. 

Do you agree or disagree? Or is there another mobile fundraising campaign that has caught your eye? Let us know in the comments, or head over to the DMO (Direct Marketing Officers) Club on LinkedIn and join in the discussion. You can find us here

Ruth Stokes & Emily Pond, DMO Club.

* The DMO (Direct Marketing Officers) Club is an informal group for direct marketing fundraisers working at officer level. As well as our LinkedIn group we meet in London every other month. 

Our next meeting will be in the evening of 25th November when we’ll be hearing from Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and Research at the Institute of Fundraising. Come and join us!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Being a young trustee - why you should do it!

At 25 surely it’s too early to say it, but I’m starting to feel old. People born in 1997 are old enough to drive – as I found to my horror when I sold my car last month. Friends my age have told me they’re already using anti-ageing cream.

I’ve found a better approach to feeling young - surrounding myself with people who are older than me. This is why I became a trustee.

It isn’t. Actually I stumbled into it. I had supported the charity for a long time and went to their AGM last year to get more involved. I met the Director, and a conversation about volunteering led to one about fundraising, which in turn led to her emailing me when a trustee position became available.

What clinched the interview was my enthusiasm. I walked away from it knowing that while I might not have as much experience as other candidates, the interviewers couldn’t doubt my dedication.

Being a young trustee is absolutely brilliant. I get to support a cause I love. I have a huge motivation to learn about all types of fundraising, not just my field. And I get to see the inner workings of a charity.

What does the charity get out of it? Someone who understands and loves fundraising. I’ve drawn on everything I know about fundraising and put together a plan for new income streams like individual giving and challenge events.
The charity is totally reliant on trust income – and if we don’t branch out it simply won’t survive. It’s terrifying and exciting in equal parts.

They also get someone with a good work/life balance - I don’t have an all-consuming job, or any responsibilities at home. It’s us young’uns and the oldies who have time. Both categories are equally needed.

So why don’t more young fundraisers do it? Firstly, I think young people may feel they don’t have much to offer. But if you’re working in the sector you will almost certainly have vital skills and experience other charities need.
It’s well known that people can be wary about fundraising – even if you sit on the board just to fight its corner or explain why you need a proper database, you can make a massive difference.

Secondly, on a practical level, it can be tricky to find these opportunities. Try groups on LinkedIn like Young Charity Trustees or UK Charity Trustees, where roles are sometimes advertised. And be proactive – network, find charities you’re passionate about and go to their events.
There are small charities crying out for support from trustees with time and energy, it’s just a matter of finding them.
Seek out these opportunities and give it a go - I really can't recommend it enough. You will learn stacks and it's incredibly rewarding - and it's cheaper than anti-ageing cream!
Ruth Stokes

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Our fundraising bubble

Christmas is over, 2015 has started. We’re all back at work – counting the end of year pennies, and planning for the next one. Having spent two weeks with my family I’ve been in a work-free zone. It’s been rather lovely I have to admit. But it also made me realise what a fundraising bubble I can live in.
It’s no secret that I love what I do, and when I love something I can have a tendency towards all-encompassing absorption. (I still have my folder full of Michael J Fox pictures and interviews…). So fundraising tends to take up a lot of my time and thoughts.

I contributed to this article for Fundraising magazine on my favourite campaigns of 2014. Being proud parents, my Mum and Dad love to read anything I write so I showed it to them.

Also in the article Liz Tait writes: “Fundraising in 2014 will no doubt be forever remembered for the no make-up selfie, the ice bucket challenge and the Commonwealth Games text giving.”

And my parents made a couple of comments that shocked me to my fundraising core :-)

Firstly my Dad asked what on earth the Commonwealth Games text giving ‘thing’ was. Then, to my astonishment, my Mum asked me what the ‘no make-up selfie’ was. I had a reality check there and then.

I work in a bubble. While they’d both heard of the ice bucket challenge (and my Dad took great pleasure in explaining ‘no make-up selfie’ to my Mum – he’s on Facebook so saw this one), these two pieces of fundraising had completely passed them by.

Yet conferences were full to the brim with presentations about #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge. And I’m pretty sure we’ll see the Commonwealth Games crop up a few times on the 2015 conference circuit. And colleagues just can’t stop talking about them.

We’ve seen and heard so much about all of these that we have started rolling our eyes and ignoring what we can learn. Fundraiser fatigue is setting in.

So, this 2015 I will make sure I look outside my bubble, continue to remember all my audiences, and try and deliver fundraising that works for them.

Here’s to a great year!

Danielle Atkinson

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

To merge, or not merge. That is the question.

“Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel,” or so the song goes. If I’m honest, that’s how I initially felt when the merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer was announced.

I’ve been here before, or so I thought.

Except this is different. Both internally and externally. When Merlin was taken over by Save the Children (over a year on, let’s be honest now), it felt very different. There was an undeniable (and understandable) positive spin throughout the process.

And while I’m still pleased that this means the Merlin legacy of health care can live on (as evidenced by the Save the Children EbolaTreatment centre in Sierra Leone), I can’t quite bring myself to be happy about what happened. 

But this merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer? Well, it makes perfect sense. Two charities, with the same strategy, competing? No longer. And if that isn’t brilliant news for putting an end to breast cancer, well I don’t know what is.
Yes, there is uncertainty across the organisations for everyone. Will we have jobs? Who knows. Do I want to stick around and find out? You bet.
Being part of this well managed, well led, ‘absolutely makes sense’ merger is (almost – let’s not get carried away), a pleasure. It’s exciting, exhilarating and challenging – all in a good way.
And supporters? How did they feel? I can honestly say that there weren’t that many encouraging responses to the Merlin/Save the Children ‘merger.’
This time? Absolute understanding of why this is happening, delight that it is and lots of commitment to continue to support. It’s hard not to be swept along on that wave of positivity.

And me? Well, I have a wealth of learning from ‘the other one,’ that is proving invaluable. I re-read the post I wrote at the time and it’s still relevant. In fact, I’ve spent a few months reducing my circle of concern and increasing my circle of influence.

And being positive and optimistic? All over that one! It really is very exciting to be part of this great step forwards in breast cancer research.

Working across two organisations while we integrate and build our new charity won’t always be simple – but I’m determined to make it fun, focused and successful.

Let the hard work begin!

Danielle Atkinson

Monday, 1 September 2014

Why are so many ‘charity’ people being so bah humbug about the #icebucketchallenge?

Why are so many ‘charity’ people being so bah humbug about the #icebucketchallenge? And yet, with #nomakeupselfie people were full of excitement.

I’ve held off blogging about the challenge as I didn’t want to jump on that particular bandwagon. But now I’m just getting annoyed.

Articles like this one in Civil Society – Why I Didn’t Accept an Ice Bucket Challenge. This one seems to be to have an element of giving snobbery attached to it. It’s ok to give, so long as I keep it to myself.

Why? If people want to shout about the fact that they’re giving to charity – albeit because of a social craze – how can that possibly be a bad thing? 

We talk endlessIy in this sector about how to engage the younger generation of givers. And then this one happens and we get grumpy about it. I’m really not sure why. It’s fun, it’s inclusive. And even children can take part.

This challenge has raised £millions, made people laugh, engaged them with giving and with charity. And it’s user-generated – what’s not to love? Is it because ‘we’ didn’t think of it? 

To be honest, there are thousands of people giving monthly via direct debit, popping change in collection tins and donating to emergency appeals.

And, ignoring direct debit giving, how are the two latter ways of giving any different to taking part in the latest social media fundraising craze?

A wiser woman than me once described emergency fundraising as ‘fund catching’ – catching the mood of the time as people respond to horrific events. Put the mechanisms out there and people will respond.

Popping money in a collection tin – is there a less engaging, more cold way to give to charity? No engagement, no thought – and, arguably, no warm glow. The #icebucketchallenge is giving that glow (ironically) to thousands of people. 

Did I think I would do it? No. Did I want to? No. Did I do it? Yes. And actually, it made me feel good. I felt part of a something. I gave money to charity. And I was able to nominate people and make them think about why and who they should give to.

Take part and understand why those audiences who are doing it are enjoying it. Don’t we always say we should understand our audiences more? You might even suprise yourself by enjoying it.
I don’t think anyone is suggesting that this user generated fundraising is going to replace more traditional methods of garnering support. But it’s happening more and more. And we need to embrace it, or be left behind.
So, please. Stop being grumpy. It’s very irritating.

Danielle Atkinson

And if you want to laugh at me, and other fundraisers taking part, here we are:

Friday, 22 August 2014

Why don't fundraisers become CEO's?

Reading about John Bines promotion from director of fundraising at EveryChild to chief executive in the latest issue of Third Sector made me think of a “conversation” (ie conducted in 140 characters or less) that I had recently with @AlexSwallow and @Pollysymondson about the apparently low numbers of fundraisers that move into being a CEO.

It is a topic that interests me for a few reasons; one that I had previously worked at a charity led by not only a former fundraiser but a woman to boot (there is an imbalance at CEO level, apparently, but less so that in the private sector).  

@LucyRothstein held a number of senior fundraising roles before moving from Development Manager at The Grasslands Trust to being its first Chief Executive – she has since moved on to the same role at The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, so it wasn’t by any means a one off!

Secondly, I had wondered myself whether it was something that was part of my own future aspirations; I had a partial answer to this a while ago when a work situation presented opportunities in this direction and I felt it wasn’t where I was headed. 

I put this down to me as an individual; I am a bad public speaker, going off on tangents every few minutes, and I often spill things down myself. I feel like a CEO should have more personal gravitas.

But this discussion, and several others I have had on the topic, make me wonder whether there was something about either the perception of fundraisers suitability for CEO roles, or whether fundraisers simply don’t want to move in this direction. 

I feel that it may be a combination of the two; according to Civil Society’s Director of Fundraising Survey 2011 25% of senior fundraisers have aspirations to become chief exec, but few make the move. I didn’t think even 25% seemed that high considering the survey questioned fundraising directors at the largest charities.

Fundraising seems like a perfect background for a CEO; we understand financial pressures, managing multiple projects and developing new ones, and acting as a bridge between funders and services. We have to know the work of our charity inside out, as we are the ones often facing the general public, and need to build their confidence in us.

When Chris Askew was promoted from director of fundraising at Breakthrough Breast Cancer to chief executive he said in an interview, “there might be a perception that the director of fundraising is too close to the fundraising side. 

Fundraising in many organisations is quite a large part of everything they do, so I can imagine that there might be a concern that someone coming from this part of the organisation’s operational side might have too much of a focus on the fundraising side of things.”

Or maybe we just love fundraising too much? @Pollysymondson commented in our discussion that you are less hands on with fundraising as a CEO, even if it is within your remit - whereas even at manager or director level within a fundraising team, your role is often very hands on in terms of actually “doing fundraising” because that is what you are good at, and what you enjoy.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on this topic!

Jemma Saunders

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Down with “donors”

I’ve had a couple of weeks to digest all that I heard and saw at IOF’s National Convention.  As I drink from my Proud Fundraiser mug, and reflect on the themes that jumped out at me, I find myself stuck on one thing. 

One thing that really annoyed me.


Yep, I spent 3 days getting annoyed by donors.  Or, rather, by the use of the word: “donors”.  

Fundamentally, for most charities, our supporters are at the heart of everything we do.  We simply couldn’t do our work without them.  Our donors, to my mind, are a subset of our supporters.   

Those thousands of people who raise millions of pounds running 26.2 miles for us at assorted marathons across the country are, in many cases, not donors.  They don’t donate to us.  They choose to support us in a different – and amazing! – way: by raising money from their friends.   

Would they call themselves a donor?  Our campaigners who lobby politicians and force the agenda in the houses of parliament, who challenge drug decisions, who call out corporates for their environmentally devastating behaviour – many of those people don’t donate directly.   

But they help us achieve our charitable objectives.

But, more than that, at a time when we’re talking so much more about how we resonate, how we engage, how we find our emotional heart, how we tell stories and inspire, how crucial it is to understand attitudes as well as analyse behaviour – when we’re doing all this, how can we justify using such a transactional word?  

I sincerely hope that no charity would address me as “Dear Donor” in a mailing – even if I had given them cash.  

Personally, I don’t think I want donors.  I would rather aspire to supporters; people who care about the cause, who are inspired to fundraise or to give or to petition or to do something, to make a difference in the way they can. 

I’m not saying it’s not about the money – please, I’m a fundraiser, my primary function is of course to raise money – but isn’t it about so much more than that?

Lisa Clavering