Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I just woke up and realised I was getting old.

I just didn’t understand it.

I thought I was pretty with it on using computers.

As a member of the first computer generation, I owned a ZX81 when I was 12, bought during the Falklands War, when Thatcher was PM and Britain used to have mines. Getting a program running on my computer then involved typing in something like:

20 GOTO 10

Then hitting run. “SEAN IS COOL” would appear across the screen, line by line for ever. Boy, was I cool.

Since then I have been ‘into’ computers. I got a 16k RAM pack for the ZX81 then later a 48k ZX Spectrum, briefly a VIC20, a Commodore Plus 4 then took a Commodore Amiga with me to York Uni in 1988.

And I have always played games on them, and been a little ahead of the game on all things computing. After Uni, along came the Playstation, (then Playstation 2 and 3), XBOX, XBOX360 and most recently the Wii. I got them all, so thought I was pretty much still up on the computing world.

I was using JANET in 1989 and was used to getting information online by the time the internet actually arrived proper. (JANET was the Joint Academic NETwork, a sort of internet for academia, it maybe still exists).

And I was an early adopter of mobile phones and even SMSing. In the early days, you could only SMS within the same network and when most of my friends received a message they had no idea what to do to read or respond. SMS was around for about three years before everyone suddenly twigged – I guess it was the kids getting access to mobiles at the turn of the century that made it so massive.

But despite this, something happened to the next generation (and actually, those just half a generation behind me too) and I missed it. And I just woke up.

In his book ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas Friedman talks about how American Business was asleep and how information technology is flattening the world (actually flattened it, but America is just catching up). Good book, but a good cheat is to catch the video below.

Even after reading the book, it would appear I was still half asleep. A year I would never read a blog. I thought they were pure narcissism full of over inflated, unsubstantiated opinion. Now I know they are but I am an avid reader of several, and contributor to several too.

I still don’t get Twittering & Facebook daily feeling updates – it seems incredibly boring, even more narcissistic and scares me. (Ben Elton wrote a great book, Blind Faith, of a post climate change apocalypse Britain where these social networks have eradicated privacy and Twittering is scarier than the fiction.)

If you don’t know what Twittering is, please stay asleep.

Anyway. I just woke up to the power of blogs. You obviously get blogs, or wouldn’t be reading this, but they offer communication solutions beyond organised opinion columns like Professional Fundraising Magazine’s.

Over the past two months I suddenly got it. A real Eureka! Moment. As well as playing around with this blog I also set up an internal Pareto staff blog, accessible only to our staff.
It was amazing what happened – and how. The first thing was how easy it was. Using Google’s
Blogspot http://www.blogspot.com/ I set the blog up, including inviting relevant people and posting the first blog in about 15 minutes.

The next thing that is amazing is how it took off.

The first article was posted by me on 8 August 2008. Then there were a couple more from me, a couple more from early adopters and by the end of August we had 13 entries. Just over two per week.

September had 52 postings – more than one a day. People have posted results, tests, ideas, videos, piss-takes, inter-office Wii challenges, instruction manuals, commitments to the team, and more. It is blowing away those circular emails, and our internal newsletter is fast becoming redundant (there actually hasn’t been one since the Blog went up, and no one is missing it).

About 60 people have access to the blog, and it is a great communication tool. And so, so easy.

Since then I have set up another private blog for charities involved in Pareto Benchmarking, and more recently we have started using it for our Masterclass / training sessions. The Resource Alliance asked Jan Chisholm (Pareto Fundraising Australia’s CEO) and myself to work on a new style of Masterclass for the IFC.

This Masterclass includes real data information from a charity, and affords participants the opportunity to look at data and interpret, plan and then look again at what happened to the data.
This is all pretty complex, so what we decided to do was to actually use a blog to get the briefing across. It is semi-private, in that anyone can look but only members can comment or post. Check out http://paretoifc08.blogspot.com/.

I thought I was a tech-head, but I was falling behind. If you are behind, and have a responsibility for marketing your business or charity – please, wake up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Telephone madness

I can't believe there are still people out there calling themselves fundraisers who don't think using the phone to call their supporters is a good thing.

Many years ago it was a big argument in the UK. I remember going to board and senior management meetings where people were trying to tell me how to do my job. They would say things like “... well I would never make a gift if I received a phone call at home, probably when I am in the bath ...”

Putting aside the fact that I must have a lot of very clean colleagues, I am so glad that I managed to convince them that this was a load of nonsense – squillions of pounds later they got it.

I know the argument has raged in Australia too, but I thought it was over. Surely no one would be daft enough to think that using the phone would damage relationships with donors?

Badly made calls, churn and burn calls and rare “shady” calls can damage relationships, but the majority of calls made to donors these days are done by professional fundraisers; trained people who work hard to understand and maintain the long-term relationship with the donor.

And yet the negative approach to telephone fundraising continues. A couple of months ago at a masterclass in Sydney I had one fundraiser telling me they wanted to use the phone to talk to her supporters about becoming regular givers but their board wouldn’t allow it. The reason was the same, a board member had said, “If I got a call like that,I wouldn’t respond ...” Aaarrggghh!

It reminded me of a friend (who will remain nameless) who got a job at a large-ish charity a few years ago.

This friend is a pretty damn good fundraiser, and knows her stuff. The new employer had tons of donors and a decent regular giving program. What is the first thing she wants to do? Of course – a phone campaign to upgrade (increase the monthly gift).

With agencies and in-house teams succeeding in getting 40-60% of donors to upgrade, and getting an increase in the amount by 40-60% as well, you end up with between 16% and 36% increase in regular giving income from those you talk to! Wow! And that is annual income. We also know that people who upgrade are more likely to upgrade again.

My charity fundraising friend pulled together a great proposal.

The response from her boss? “I don’t work in the kind of organisation that bothers its donors at home.” She refused to even read the proposal.

Our friends at The Lost Dogs’ Home have proved the importance of great phone calls and great customer care. They have a terrific retention rate, but they also spend time and care finding out about their donors’ views of animals, and even their pets’ names.

This intimacy pays off with great phone calls that are really good chats between animal lovers, often around the donor’s pet.

Now, if you think I am being negative, I am positively sweet compared to my mate John Burns. I asked him for a quote and this is what he sent:

“I'm morally opposed to fundraisers imposing their outdated morals on their charities to the detriment of their beneficiaries. A more supreme example of ignorant arrogance might be hard to find…”

Please don’t knock stuff back for unsubstantiated reasons. Get the facts, don’t rely on anecdotes, and above all – put it to the test.

This blog is based on an article I wrote for Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine, in Australia. For more information about fantastic quality phone calls for your donors please talk to me or sara.mansfield@paretophone.com. www.paretophone.com

Thanks! Sean Triner

Monday, September 15, 2008

Help - information about fundraising sources

I got an "Ask the Guru" question about sources of information about fundraising from countries other than the USA. Giving USA produces a great book, and in the UK there is Charity Trends.

But what about fundraising in Germany? and France? Canada? Anyone tell me about any other great publications from other countries?



The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Major Donors - in action

Just before I left Canada last month, I did a job for Amnesty International Canada - our first big job in North America. We were looking together at their major donors, identifying potential people and then going through the hardest bit: asking.

I play a naughty trick, ensuring that the training finishes an hour ahead of schedule and then making the attendees actually call some donors to say thank you, and make some appointments.

I have found that this helps build confidence and get some momentum going.

Anyway, as time was ticking along one of the callers got into a conversation with a lovely donor.

At first he agreed to an appointment, then when he thought about it more, he decided it was too difficult. But our Amnesty International Canada colleague was charming, involving and listened well. By the end he had agreed to make a donation there and then of $10,000. His previous largest gift was $1,000.

What a great bloke. The amount he gave was exactly 10x previous largest gift - and also the amount the training had said we should ask for.

The training session was a bespoke version of my "Hitch-Hiker's Guide to major donors" session which has been presented at various conferences around the world, most recently in London at the IOF, and soon (by Jan Chisholm, Pareto Fundraising CEO) at the AFP in New Orleans in March.

The presentation is below and an article explaining a bit more will be posted on this blog this week!

Sean Triner

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Plenary from SAFRW and Australasian Fundraising Forum

This really neat website, Slideshare allows us to put presentations up online and embed them.

I have recently returned from the SAFRG conference in India, and went straight to the Australasian Fundraising Forum.

In India I did the closing plenary, and in Australia the opening - they were both based on the same presentation which is below. Best thing is to play it through whilst listening to Lean On Me (Bill Withers), Mad World (Gary Jules), What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Beautiful Day (U2).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Inconvenient Truth of Corporate Fundraising

Have you ever questioned the corporate/community ‘love-in’ line that we are often fed by a variety of media, fundraising commentators and corporate enterprises themselves? Corporate philanthropy, triple bottom line, corporate social responsibility – call it what you will, I know I do – is not what many crank it up to be.

In 1966, before most of the buzz-phrases you and I know and love existed, companies in the USA gave a whopping 0.9 per cent of their profit away to good causes. This is according to Giving USA. Generous, huh?

Forty years on, and of course the percentage must be much higher now, right? I mean, what with the monumental shift in public attitudes towards corporate responsibility and ethics and all that – things have just got to have changed out of all recognition, haven’t they?

Ok, then, take a shot. Just how much more of their profit do you think US companies give away now? Don’t cheat by taking a peek at the end of the article. Instead, write down the figure you reckon and see just how close you get.

Exciting game, isn’t it? I think so. You see, corporate philanthropy is one of my favourite subjects. Corporate fundraising is so darn cool – it adds kudos, awareness, involvement and, of course, money to charity coffers. It’s a win-win ‘love-fest’ for all involved – where no one goes home empty-handed.

Or is it?

Well, actually, to some extent the answer is yes, there are loads of great examples. Looking at Australian charities, I checked out a few websites of those I know do well from corporates. NRMA Careflight do well (a roadside assistance/insurance company associating with a rescue helicopter charity), Westpac (a bank) give a nice slice of cash to Mission Australia (a welfare charity) and Canteen (young people living with cancer) do alright out of Toyota, Qantas and others.

And according to a Giving Australia report, companies said they gave AUS$ 2.2 billion in money in 2003/04 and a further AUS$ 1.1 billion in goods and services. Isn’t that wonderful?

Well – I’m not so sure it is. In fact, before you rush off to embrace your nearest corporate CEO, ask yourself this: if corporations are so generous, then where’s the bloody cash? One thing’s for sure, if you take the time to look at the annual reports of the top 20 charities, you won’t find much evidence of large amounts of money being given away by commercial organisations.

My cautionary words about corporate fundraising are not unique. Back in the early 1990s a guy called Stephen Lee had a few things to say about the topic. At the time he was the boss at the Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers, the then name of the UK’s Institute of Fundraising, the British equivalent of North America’s AFP, the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Now he is a very clever academic fundraising guru working at Henley Business School in the UK.

Anyway, Stephen told a story about the UK’s ‘One Per Cent’ club, a club supposedly made up of commercial organisations who give away one per cent of profit. It was a hilarious story, because the club members didn’t actually meet a key part of the membership criteria – giving one per cent of profit away! He stood up and called for charities to refuse corporate donations until companies stopped taking the mickey out of the whole corporate/community partnership business.

His point was that, in the deal between commercial companies and charities, the companies were the winners. Charities rarely knew how to fight for a good deal and ended up being nothing but a big pair of rose-tinted specs for the company. Charities jump through hoops to get a corporate deal and then get paraded like an unfaithful footballer’s pretty wife. Yes they get some jewels – but at what cost?

My point is not quite the same. I want to be more pragmatic. There is money out there – and it can be a lot, but charities need to be much more realistic about their expectations of corporate fundraising.

Let’s look at the facts. Nearly all donated corporate money comes from very few companies and goes to very few charities – most of which are well-known brands – UNICEF, WWF for example – or well-established hospitals, universities, etc.

Now look at the big, growing charities – they are growing from regular giving or government grants, not from corporate donations.

Before pursuing corporate fundraising as a provider of growth in your fundraising strategy you really need to answer these questions. Is corporate fundraising a good use of your limited resources? Can you realistically compete with the big brands, NSPCC, UNICEF, Careflight, Cancer Council and Mission Australia? Is your brand something that will help corporates sell more of whatever it is they exist to sell? Is it even your job to know the answer to that last question and, if so, why would you be any better at it than them?

One Australian company, Cavill and Co has been working with charities and corporates for many years, trying to marry up relationships. In their vision and values statement they hit the nail on the head, ‘... not for profits [need] to adopt an attitude of abundance and forge equitable partnerships with corporations ...’ Of course, my favourite word there is equitable.
The sponsors really do treat the charity’s staff, and therefore the charity, with very little respect. They expect the whole deal to be about how grateful the charity should be, not about an equal partnership.

Let me tell you a true story about a friend of mine who works for a charity that gets a lot of money from companies. My friend doesn’t want to be named so we’ll call him Erik. Erik was really excited about being appointed to a new job with this charity, and especially about the blue chip companies that were plastered all over the charity’s events material, and in the annual report.

But Erik has had a nightmare. The sponsors really do treat the charity’s staff, and therefore the charity, with very little respect. They expect the whole deal to be about how grateful the charity should be, not about an equal partnership. The companies rarely respect their end of the deal – nor acknowledge the benefits the charity brings to their public image.

Erik grew more and more disillusioned, and one day decided to do a simple bit of maths, income divided by staff time. And that’s when the penny dropped. The figures were clear. Despite basking in glory, his corporate fundraising staff were bringing in much less revenue than their contemporaries in other areas of fundraising in other charities Erik had worked with; areas such as major gifts, bequests and direct marketing.

At some of my recent masterclasses in Canada I asked the attending charities to send me their income by fundraising area divided by staff time per area. Suffice to say, from those who completed the homework, corporate fundraising came out pretty darned badly.

Doing it properlyI am not all doom and gloom. My company, Pareto Fundraising, is frequently engaged by charities to work on their corporate fundraising programmes. So does this mean I am a hypocrite? No, I am not saying reject corporate fundraising out of hand – merely challenging you to measure it properly, look at the returns, and accept the fact that for most charities it is flogging a dead horse.

And if you do go the corporate route, do it properly. If you hire a dedicated member of staff, ensure that whoever it is can ‘close the deal.’ Give him or her tight, fast targets and drop ‘em like hot rocks if results are not coming through. You will know in three months.

Don’t be fobbed off with ‘I’m doing research’, or ‘I’m working on our case for support’. Corporate fundraisers need to be out of the office – at the companies’ offices – more than in the charity’s. Ensure that you have indices that prove sales in the making, and hold them to tough sales targets within 12 months.

Your corporate fundraising programme needs to be strict from the start – you need to understand the value of your own brand, understand why they are supporting you, don’t accept partnerships unless standards are met, create a new internal code of practice and most importantly, don’t devote more energy and resources to this area than income from it deserves.

So, let’s finish with a comment about corporate philanthropy in the country for which we have the most data, the USA. And please don’t think, ‘Ah, but it is different here’. It isn’t.

The most generous country in the world, and home to some of the most successful and largest companies in the world, the USA is the nation that invented the ‘triple bottom line’ and to some extent ‘corporate social responsibility’.

What was your guess for how much US companies gave – as a percentage of profit – in 2006?
Forty years of change and the percentage of profit US corporates give has gone up from 0.9 per cent in 1966 to 0.7 per cent in 2006. Oops, did I say up?

Pareto Fundraising can help you with your fundraising strategy. Although our offices are in Hong Kong, Toronto, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Wanaka we deliver strategic advice and consulting worldwide.

To see if we can help you, please email canyouhelp@paretofundraising.com.

This information also appeared in F&P magazine and is also on SOFII - The Showcase of Fundraising Innovationand Inspiration.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Learning fundraising - fundraising conferences and more

It is an interesting business this fundraising for good causes. We all love it, most people I know are in it because they want to 'make a difference' and we all do our best for our charities. But it still isn't a profession. So where do we get our training?

There are qualifications - the CFRE is the one that I most familiar with, but I am sure there are more. (Please share them by commenting on this blog).

I am lucky that my job allows me to visit loads of conferences, where I learn more and also get to present a bit. But sometimes I find out about a new conference I have never heard of, so I thought it useful to publish a list of conferences I know... Please add more by commenting.

I really don't care if the title is conference/forum/workshop or whatever, I am just looking for learning opportunities for fundraisers - and the relevant website, and when it is please!

As well as conferences, Pareto Fundraising offers tons of training too. Mostly in Canada, Hong Kong and Australia more information can be obtained here.
Links are usually to the parent body, since actual conference sites often change.

Australia - FIA Conference. Annual, next February '09
Australia - Australasian Fundraising Forum. Annual, most recent August '08
New Zealand - FINZ Conference, Biannual, most recent May '08
India - SAFRG. Annual, most recent Aug '08
UK - IOF Convention, Annual, next 6-8 July 2009
Netherlands - IFC, annual, next 14-17 Oct 2008
USA - AFP, annual, next 29 Mar - 1 Apr 2009
USA - DMA/AFP 'Bridge' Conference. Annual, most recent July '08
Brasil - Brazilian Fundraising Conference, Annual, next 5-7 Nov '08 (NB the website was not working for me when I put this up, and my Portuguese is not good enough to search in the right lanuage).
International - IWRM. Maybe annual now? Most recent was Malaysia, May '08

Oh, and if anyone knows of a list somewhere else, I would rather point to that and save me some time! The closest I ever got was to follow guru and Resource Alliance chair, Mal Warwick.
I will get the list up in a friendlier format on our revamped website in the new year.

Sean Triner, Pareto Fundraising

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guru at last! But just for a month

Please keep your opinion to yourself, especially you JB, PR, JG and everyone else, but for one month I am officially a guru...

The Resource Alliance runs a popular section on it's website, called "Ask The Guru", and I am September cover-boy.

So, if you have a burning question you can post it on the site, and I will do my best to answer it or point to somewhere else where there is an answer.

You may also want to look through some of the other questions to previous gurus, who were:
Mal Warwick
Kay Sprinkel Grace
Ken Burnett
Steve Thomas
Tony Elischer
Ted Hart
Stephen Pidgeon
Bernard Ross
Norma Galafassi
Simone Joyaux

Sean Triner

Monday, September 1, 2008

Knowing Bilbo raises more money

Photo: Bilbo, (c) Base Photographics

Pareto Fundraising is obsessed with data. We love it. In all of the forms it takes, especially:
1) Big picture, environmental data (who gives, how many people are there, how big are charities etc).
2) Analytical data (what your donors - or customers - do)
3) Personal data (information about your donors).
The third type, personal, is a lot of effort to collect. We know we should collect donor transaction history (purchase history), contact details and date of birth, but what else?
We collect tons. We get it in various ways, including surveys which are one of the best tools a charity can use. But I want to share a tiny snippet for you. One of our clients, The Lost Dogs' Home, captures as much information as it can, including the name of pets belonging to the charity.
I asked Paul Roberts, CEO of Pareto Phone and co-owner of all the Pareto group companies, if knowing pet name made any difference to whether someone would upgrade their regular gift.
In a remarkable show of the power of personalisation he sent me an amazing statistic.
After calling donors, who were already regular givers, Pareto Phone noticed that 44% of people they spoke to, who had never told The Lost Dogs' Home the name of their pet, upgraded. Pretty damn good!
But for those who had notified pet name a massive 63% of them upgraded!
Obviously, pet name won't be such an important identifier for most charities, but please think about what information you want from your donors, and why.
Sean Triner

Regular giving reference blog

In many blogs and articles will refer to regular giving. What do I mean?

Regular giving is, to me and all those in Pareto Fundraising and Pareto Phone, the act of giving an automated gift to a charity, usually by credit card or straight from bank account. It is usually monthly.

It is also the biggest revolution in non-governmental fundraising history, producing more growth for more charities than anything else, ever.

Large and small charities have had their ability to provide services revolutionised by regular giving. For a great example, check out this article by Kate Hoelter, Fundraising Manager at The Lost Dogs' Home.

Last year we gathered together a group of charities in Australia, and analysed their income by source, excluding legacies and government. As you can see in the chart below, HALF of their fundraising revenue of $160m p.a. now comes from regular giving.

(F2F, RG, Child Sponsorship and F2F Child Sponsorship make up the four top segments, orange, blue, purple and green - and all are types of regular giving).

If you work in charities, and raise money from individuals it is essential that you investigate it further if you haven't already. If you don't, you are negligent and should fire yourself!

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here