Thursday, December 2, 2010

Al Clayton challenges the whole creative process in fundraising

Creative ideas from Al Clayton
I am at the AFP congress in Toronto, and just attended a great session from Alan Clayton, who these days is working with Ken Burnett causing trouble and challenging charity paradigms.
As well as being fun and entertaining, the session had some excellent truths. Here are my notes...
When doing creative, don't do the normal thing, ie:
What do we need to tell people?
What is our case for support?
What do we want our donors need to feel?
Get emotional resonance. Emotions trigger actions, logic only kicks in afterwards.
The first method is all about how to get a pack/campaign out without getting it wrong, or causing problems - in my words, professional competence crushing and preventing doing the 'right thing'.
All good charity fundraising must be built on emotions, designed to trigger emotions. Period. No exceptions.
Even though, when asked what they would be more likely to respond to, donors are likely to say a logical argument is more likely to get them to give, it is not true.
Logic is for focus groups, not the real world.
After donating, donors will post rationalize. But really, it was the emotion that got them to give.
Emotional impetus is important even for big, corporate gifts.
Al gave an example of the NSPCC getting a huge donation in the UK, equivalent to $10m, by getting the company directors emotionally involved.
Far too often, some professional in a charity works hard to squish emotion out - especially in corporate fundraising applications. Don't.
Logic appeals to people to shift their values, think about things. Emotion shortened this. And e best way to get that emotional response is to align with peoples values.
You can't change peoples values quickly. Al gave an example of Greenpeace trying to, with their 'Clean Seas' program to change behavior. They knew it would take a while, and it was a 25 year program. 
But with a fundraising piece we only have moments. So we need to resonate with the donors' values, straight away.
Al talked about Non-profit narcissism: 'we need, you should...' that relentless need creates poor long term gain, though good short term campaign. I think this is kind of about interpretation, and good fundraising really does need to convey need (else there is no action) and the examples he gave demonstrated need, so perhaps it is more how you demonstrate need.
(I think that the 'we need, you should' angle can work in some communications, but needs to be balanced with good donor care, feedback and telling a long story developing with the donor relationship but I accept that this rarely happens. Charities get trapped in the 'we need, you should' thing, because most charities really look at short term only, and struggle justifying non direct cash raising communications).
Al talked about how we need to get fury and love at the same time. Like parents. Brilliant creative should get euphoria and fury working well. I love this, but it is really, really hard. Charities talk about having direct mail letters that are 'much more positive' but this is not what Al means. Good fundraising letters demonstrate need with hope.
Greatest mistake in fundraising is telling people about 'us', not 'them'.
The old creative process
  • Case for support
  • Brief
  • Assemble the tools
  • Bolt it together from facts
  • Concept
  • Copy
  • Design

FAILS because it is not about feelings

Replace it with a more simple approach:
Emotionally resonate with audience, then do the brief. Get yourself in the mood before doing creative
We saw lots of brilliant examples, which I can't paste here (pictures etc). Go see him at a conference some time.
Oh, one last point - Good creatives are moody. For a reason and good creative makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up - not what ticks the boxes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

AFP Congress

I am excited to be in Canada ready for the AFP Congress. And I get to meet our new staff in Pareto's Toronto office.

At the Congress, I'll be presenting stuff on digital fundraising - tools like Google Analytics and of course Google AdWords (which are free for charities in many countries).

Within that, I will be talking about Anne Holland's excellent WhichTestWon website - which as well as giving some great "Did you get it right?" conversations in the office, there is a wealth of information from the commerical sector of how to make websites more responsive.

So, check it here and let us know if you got it right...


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are you actually having an impact? Show me!

The formula for success isn't as simple as dollars in - dollars out = bottom line - particularly for nonprofits working in the area of advocacy or providing direct services.

If you're the boss of an organisation whose only concern is fundraising, then measuring your success is easy. Pick up a pen, grab an old envelope, and write out the following simple equation: {spend x, raise y (over z years)}. Substitute your own figures for x, y and z, and bingo! You now know all you need to know about whether to reward or fire your fundraising manager.

But for organisations that conduct advocacy and/or provide direct services, the challenge of measuring success is very different and almost always much more complex. Perhaps that's why some nonprofits make only the most cursory attempt to do so, whilst others dodge the issue all together.

Scoring election scorecards

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, ever since I received an ‘election scorecard' through my post from a well-known environmental nonprofit. You've probably received one yourself - several nonprofits produced them in the run up to the general election.

As I held the scorecard in my hand, and read through the list of issues the nonprofit wanted me to consider when deciding who to vote for, I couldn't help but wonder: as the various departments allocated precious dollars to this exercise, how many took the time to work out exactly how they would measure its success? And come to think of it, exactly what would constitute a successful scorecard campaign anyway? New supporters? A flood of donations? Or would a slight rise in the profile of the highlighted issues be deemed enough?

It's a question I put directly to the manager who was directly responsible for the scorecard that arrived in my post that day. I asked him to imagine I was his boss, and that I had called him into my office to justify the expenditure on scorecards vs. other campaign devices.

He acknowledged it was a good, if tough, question. His response was to point out that the campaign wasn't about translating the scorecard into votes; it was a service for members and would hopefully raise the profile of the issues highlighted.

"Yes", I said, "that's all very well. But I'm your boss and I need some proof that this was money that couldn't have been spent more productively. So how are you going to measure the success of these two goals?" His answer was, in a nutshell, through anecdotal feedback and media mentions.

Measuring success might be tough - but it is necessary.

I fully appreciate, of course, that environmental nonprofits will always face a tough job measuring the success of profile-raising campaigns. After all, we can't know if a climate change campaign was successful until such time as climate change has been demonstrably arrested - or the last human on earth dies of its affects.

Yet as difficult as measuring success certainly is, I firmly believe that it's part of every good fundraiser's job to come up with ways to do just that. Especially when you are an environmental nonprofit, and your job is to save the planet. There is simply too little money around to waste a single cent on a campaign that doesn't have a real, tangible and measurable impact.

Success for service providers

So it is hard for advocacy nonprofits. But what of service providers? On the face of it, measuring the success of what these organisations do must surely be far easier. For example, let's say you run a helpline, and you've just launched a campaign to raise its profile. If the number of calls goes up in the wake of the campaign, all you have to do is divide the increase by the cost of the campaign, and you've got a figure to measure your success against, yes?

But hang on, what about the quality of the calls? What if the information was not relevant As soon as you go down this qualitative, rather than quantitative, avenue, you realise pretty soon that measuring the success of a service provider isn't as simple as you might have thought.

A case study: Epilepsy Action

So how do you measure outcomes in terms of quality of life? To answer that question, I want to talk to you about Epilepsy Action, a fantastic nonprofit that is very close to my heart. Partly because they were my first client in Australia, partly because a very dear and close friend had a terrifying operation to treat his debilitating epilepsy (it worked by the way). And partly because they have a very thorough approach to quality control: they bend over backwards to measure outcomes.

Carol Welsh from Epilepsy Action told me that after each person is helped, e.g. at a camp or a memory workshop, participants complete surveys and mark how relevant and useful parts of the service were. She explained that: "our staff look at the surveys and then feed into the next activity. Also we use our phone room to call about a month later and ask [participants] questions specifically to see how the service is being delivered."

Carol went on, explaining that at the moment they are "Trying to reach out to people in rural communities to promote services by video."

Sounds sensible, but it gets better. As I write, Epilepsy Action is doing various marketing initiatives to build up a database of relevant people in welfare and health services and network through networking. But get this: "... we measure staff time on each task and evaluate whether it produces the outcome we are expecting." Fantastic stuff - they actually measure staff time against marketing activities that are not just fundraising. Now, how many organisations can say they are doing that?

Measuring outcomes - not just output

I am not an expert on epilepsy, and I imagine there are conflicting approaches to value from services but at least Epilepsy Action is measuring its outcomes (not just outputs) clearly. They have a sound platform upon which to plan and improve their future campaigns and service provisions. What's more, when potential donors ask them exactly what they have achieved for the quality of lives of their beneficiaries, they can give them a direct and demonstrable answer.

Which prompts me to ask once again - how many other advocacy and service providing organisations are able to do that?

Reading this article, you are probably a fundraiser. But ask yourself - are you raising money that is having a good value impact? I am not talking about dollars in, dollars out. I am talking about impact.

One final piece of advice: a great structure to use and evaluate yourself against is Givewell's Impact Analysis. This is not Givewell in Australia (fantastic data gatherers!) - it is in the USA. Check out what constitutes ‘impact' on their website here.

(c) Sean Triner September 2010

(This is my most recent Agitator column published in F&P Magazine E-bulletin.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tactics trump Economy

I think there is little doubt now that consumer confidence with regard to the economy in Australia has led to a more challenging fundraising market place. As many predicted, corporate and events fundraising seems to have been hit the most (see previous blogs) and regular giving (automatic payments from credit cards and bank accounts) the least.

But clients and staff at Pareto Fundraising wanted to know about direct mail appeals to warm (donors that have given before). Twenty eight charities agreed to self report their results from tax mailings (around May/June) in 2009 v 2010.

The results showed a total increase in income of about 2% which was much less than Australian inflation (3.1%).

When we looked into why, we saw a decrease in average donations and average response rates. The only reason the total was up was that more people were mailed - ie volumes were up.

Interestingly, about half the charities actually grew and half declined.  A key factor in growth seemed to be a shift in tactics - mailing more people, mailing more often, conducting high value donor reminder calls, high value donor packs and using better copy techniques all helped explain growth for many of the charities.  Charities that had implemented these tactics in years gone by didn't reap the rewards in additional growth in 2010 but to be fair to them, they were already ahead of the game.

It seems to me that there are only three factors in growing direct mail appeals income:

1) Realise the potential of your current database through what you mail.
Make sure you are doing best practice direct mail that has been around for years, and is in all the books and blogs: Thank properly, target properly, use personal one to one copy, have an engaging case study or story, use specific ask amounts, longer letters, lots of 'lifts' (relevant additional information), seperate response coupons etc.

2) Realise the potential of your current database through how often you mail.
Jeff Brooks (Future Fundraising Now) reckons you should aim to build up to about thirty asks per year. With the size of Australian databases and staff resources, I reckon aiming for at least twelve a year would make more sense. I have never seen a case where mailing more often decreases total income. It is a matter of balancing costs and time for you, rather than pushing donors away.

3) Get more donors. Simple - if you are getting the most of your donors, then get more donors. And now is a great time; many charities are getting their best ever cold direct mail results.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Counter intuitive ideas

I am blogging live from Pareto Fundraising with Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now fame presenting fundraising ideas to our staff. We are discussing donor retention for mail and email appeals. One advantage Jeff has over us is that his clients have much, much bigger data files so he is able to get more testing done.

Testing is great because lots of best practice fundraising is counter intuitive. For example, longer letters tend to work better, more frequent mailings asking for money increase retention and total lifetime giving, calling people at dinner time and asking them to upgrade their monthly gift works.

If you were to ask donors, in advance - perhaps in a focus group - about the tactics above they would suggest that these tactics won't work. But they do.

So here is a new counter intuitive idea that he says works, and we don't do here.

With the volumes of data available to him, he has been able to test the use of thank you letters as asking delivery mechanisms. This is not done by charities in Australia, and Penelope Burke who wrote Thanks! advises against it. But, according to Jeff, her research is based on opinion through surveys etc. He, however, has tested it on data and over many years has found that it does not increase attrition, but does increase income by 10-15%.

So, if you may appeals and ask for money here are some tips.

1) If you send more than one wave, do not remove donors who give to wave 1 from the subsequent waves. You are reducing your income now and in the future.

2) Test including an additional ask in the actual thank you letter. For example, a tear off option on the thank you letter, or a self mailer envelope. Always include a return envelope.

We have seen some recent success in sending a regular giving ask with thank you letters to newly acquired donors based on an American idea, so this cash ask approach seems an obvious thing to test, even it if feels wrong.  More forward thinking charities could try testing a regular giving self mailer or 'pack' which goes out with all thank yous to non-regular givers, not just new donors.

If you try it in the future, or already have - please let me know the outcome!


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Best Fundraising Resource Online

I have mentioned Jeff Brooks' and his Future Fundraising Now blog before, but here is a reminder about how brilliant it is.

In fact, if you manage fundraisers and they don't subscribe to the blog, you should get them in your office and have a stern word.

At a recent consulting session at World Vision, I mentioned how great it was, and we signed up about a dozen new subscribers there and then - all will be better fundraisers for it!

Recent blogs from Jeff include:

* Why young fundraisers get it wrong
* What to consider before you blog
* Why stories are so important
Not so recent, but brilliant...
* Stupid non profit ads, featuring WWF, Movember, Red Cross Spain, United Methodist Church and more.

Jeff is flying out to Australia next weekend, to present at the F&P conference (and spend a day with Pareto staff having some fun) - if you are in Sydney 1 & 2 September, come along to the conference and see him live.  But whatever happens, please subscribe to his blog!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Very clever stuff

How clever is this?  My colleague at Pareto Fundraising is trying to tell me to move on I think.  But check this out, and think about how you could use this technology to communicate with your donors or customers.

Sean Triner is about to become Australia's Prime Minister

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ted Hart at Pareto Fundraising

Digital Integration, Ted Hart

Following Kate from Google, Ted Hart from is telling us all about social media and fundraising.

Some key points:

- for all the technology out there, it doesn't change the fact that people give because they are asked. Online you kneed to ask or you can't fundraise.

- it is all about integration. You need a real strategy; these free tools - Google, Facebook etc are free but they are not the strategy.

- Think about your donors. He says that, in Canada (and probably same here) only 30% of online donors are gen X. Nearly all the other 70% were born before 1962.

- Regardless of how good your online stuff is, it is no good if you are not an organisation that looks after donors, and understands the importance of relationships

- Whatever you do or don't do online, on social networking sites someone else is talking about you. And on these sites people have a desire to connect.

- Good communications online give you an instant larger audience - if they are good communications they could get forwarded

- True measure of a fundraising professional is not shaking people down for $1000 now, it is getting them giving $25,000 over the years

- Don't worry about about the fact that non email based communications (like Facebook)are growing. Be aware, plan for it but for now your audiences are still using email.

- Amazing tool for Outlook,, when an email comes in it tells you if they are on Facebook etc

- Forget social networking completely, until you have a proper website strategy. He was lovely here and plugged Pareto to help charities do that, thanks Ted!

- Reckons that of the $15.48bn raised online in 2009, a third was generated online the rest was things like people following up an offline promotion and just signing up online, or printing out a form and sending it in

- Website should give the full complement of you, not just your online stuff
- ASPCA shows that people who supply their email give 112% more on and offline. He thinks because they've received more communications. They also gave 85% more donations and 15-20% higher average donation

- Nearly half of annual giving happens in December, in America

- Ted says email is not direct mail, electronically. It is more than that, use it to build relationships, engage and inspire.

- check out Nonprofits guide to Facebook, and Executives guide to Twitter

- Facebook, according to iStrategylabs has plenty of old people on it. Old people = good donors, but reiterated that you need to get the basics right first. Like website design....

- Websites have ten seconds to get across to the browser who we are, what we do and what we want you to do

- Note that according to Marketing Sherpa 79% of visitors don't come in through home page

- Privacy policy does not need to be complex, but should be here. Saying what information is collected, who can access it and how it will be used

Ted then went on to 'review' (slaughter) several charities' websites. People from Vision Australia, Wilderness Society' Wild Endurance event, Starlight, Centenary Institute, Cancer Council NSW and House With No Steps were all brave enough to get publicly ripped apart, especially Martyn Hartley at Vision Australia who really got some flak!

I am not going to be cruel enough to write up here what was said, but it was very, very useful...

More information on Ted here. Bottom line, if you are 'doing social media' and are a fundraiser then read his books.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Digitial Integration Day - Google Adwords

I am writing this at Pareto Fundraising's Digital Integration Day. Right now Kate Conroy from Google is explaining how to get Google AdWords up and running.

Google gives charities $10,000 per month to spend on AdWords. Combined with goodSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) it is great way to drive people to your website or a landing page.

It doesn't take long to set up, just go to Google Grants and click on apply now. You will need a scan of your DGR certificate - evidence that you a 'deductible gift recipient' which is how Google defines an eligible charity in Australia.

Interestingly, there are fifty odd people here, all fundraisers from more than 30 diverse organisations from giants Red Cross to the new to Fundraising Indigenous Community Volunteers. Only two organisations actually have a grant. We are hoping that by the end of next week there will be a lot more.

If you are reading this outside of Australia, then don't despair, they are available in other countries too. For the full list click here.

She is showing us how it all works by creating some ads and keywords live. Really useful stuff and she has given us a link so we can have a look at how it looks and feels inside. If you want to have a look, then log in as, password charitiesonline (from 6 August).

One of the main criticisms of Google Grants is how long it takes to get approved. Although I am still not happy about the delay, at least I now know why. Amazingly, Google runs the whole scheme by asking it's staff to volunteer time to work on Google Grants.

Good on Kate and others for putting in their time, and knowing that, I would ask charity staff to be gentle on these Google volunteers. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Australian Tax Appeals and the GFC recovery

Get a free copy of our Tax 2010 benchmarking special report*

Whilst many charities in the UK, USA, Canada and other countries had a really tough time over the global financial crisis, Australia seemed to come off pretty lightly.

Our in depth data analysis of millions of donations across 33 charities showed a reduction in the rate of growth of income over the past two years, but it still grew.  However, our analysis of mail appeals sent last Christmas showed a lot of charities performing worse than the year before.

So how did we Australians do in the last tax / winter appeals?

We don't yet, but if you are an Australian fundraiser, please help us find out by completing a cool little Survey Monkey here.  You'll need top level information on the performance of tax 2010 and tax 2009 so that we have a context.

We will then compile the results and produce a report.  Those participating will receive a very useful, full report allowing you to benchmark yourself against all the others.  You can use the report as a great context tool in your report on performance to your boss, use it to help plan and budget, and also see if your growth or decline was due to GFC, or maybe your pack was just brilliant or, um, not so brilliant.


Click here for the Survey.

* Full report available to all charities who complete the survey.  Sent as a PDF to the email address provided.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

James Bond trailer or Election Motivator

GetUp! doing what they do best again - 'Give us the money and we will pay for this advertisement to get aired'.  Great proposition, always seems to work.

Would you pay to air this ad?

Note for foreigners who don't follow Australian politics - Julia Gillard is our new Prime Minister, put in place after a fast 24 hour political coup replacing Kevin Rudd.  She is leader of the Labor party, which is our left-ish party, kind of like the US Democrats.  Leader of the Opposition is Tony Abbot, his party is the right-wing Liberal party, our equivalent of USA's Republicans.  The Liberal party should not be confused with the adjective 'liberal'.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Subscribe for updates

For ages I have had a problem trying to get email subscription to work easily.  I used to have it working well, and if you get this in your inbox it is still working for you.  But if you don't, please type in your email in the box to the right:

Subscribe via Email

And you will get my updates.  Thanks to Gen Y Pareto employee Kate Drewitt-Smith for fixing it for me! (She earned herself a nice bottle of wine too).


Friday, June 25, 2010

Please, more consultants speaking at conferences!

I feel a bit weird this year - it will be the first conference 'season' that I am not planning on whizzing around the world to learn and present at conferences.  I am sneaking over to Canada in November (I know, madness) and speaking at the ADMA Forum (26 July) and the F&P Forum (Sep 1) here in Australia.
Speaking at conferences is important for consultants and suppliers like me, but should there be more charity people speaking?
At the recent fundraising conference in New Zealand, an inspiring plenary from Richard Woodward reminded me why I am in this business, and even more importantly, gave me some tools to use whenever things get tough. Richard is a consultant, based in Australia, who helps charities raise money.  
I also learned things from Simone Joyeaux, Gregor Drugowitsch, Tom Ahern, Christiana Stergiou, John Godfrey and Trevor Garrett. All are consultants, except Trevor, who is head of the NZ Charity Commission. I did not attend a session presented by a charity employee.
My gripe this month is not the fact there are not many charity people speaking. What agitates me is the number of people complaining about the fact that at fundraising conferences - AFP (USA and Canada), IOF (UK), IFC (Holland) and FIA (Australia) -"there are not enough charity people speaking!"

This ‘problem' is so rife that some conferences ‘positively discriminate' to have charity people speak. This is one of those problems that's all about prejudice rather than substance. The consultants I named above work either mostly or exclusively with charities. They are charity people. They are just paid indirectly as opposed to directly, and they work for more than one charity. Surely the fundamental purpose of going to a conference is to gain learning and raise more money?

I think we should make demands about what we learn and the quality of the teaching - not who teaches us. Why should we care who delivers the training, as long as it is good? Most of these consultants used to be charity employees. For example, Gregor worked for Red Cross and Amnesty for many years.
When consultants stop working at a particular nonprofit they don't suddenly lose their knowledge. In fact, by the nature of their business, they are exposed to many more variables and initiatives than would be possible within just one charity. A consultant's session may not necessarily be better than that of a charity's ... but it's not inherently worse!

One pro-charity speaker argument is that they can include case studies and results. But from  my experience, consultants are more likely to present case studies, results and comparisons - and across several charities, not just one. This is valuable contextual information. Sharing the results of one charity using a survey to identify bequest leads is great. But having several case studies is better. It gives the student a broader context to consider.
Pareto staff members are encouraged to speak at conferences, and we give tons of information away. 

We also show real case studies with real results often (with permission from our clients, of course). We are not unique. Most consultant speakers include case studies and results; hardly any spruik their services in a crude way. Yes, they will (and should) mention what they do, and they may be cheeky or involve clients. But as long as you are learning, why do we care so much about the fact they are a supplier?

I believe most of these suppliers get up there and present for a host of reasons: ego; a desire to create change; passion for the sector; passion for their area of expertise (e.g. face-to-face fundraising); personal development - or a free ticket. Tom Ahern and Simone Joyeaux, for example, will "work for scenery"! 

Of course those reasons (except maybe the scenery one) are the same for charity staff. The big difference boils down to the last motivator for consultants: that it is good business sense. Getting up and showing people the ropes, teaching, building, challenging - this exposes them to potential customers. They don't need to do the ‘hard-sell', they just need to be genuinely helpful.

Most of what we teach is already in the books. Very little is new to the sector, but it could be new to the attendee. Explaining it well, giving examples and inspiring others is our job. And if we do it well, people will be more likely to talk to us about our business. It also means there is a lot of pressure to be a good presenter. I think that leads to probably 70-90% of presentation submissions coming from consultants.

Consultants can justify their investment in presenting because it is really good for business.  They can justify the use of company resources and the hours put into the preparation to compile the data, put together a good presentation, cruise YouTube for good video to embed, put in some practice time ... well, at least that's how I justify it to my board!
So what should (we) charity people think about all this?
Good! Great stuff! Let the consultants put in the time, let them massage their egos, let them live and become!  But they better bloody teach me something that I can do without hiring them to improve my charity's income.
Next time someone says they are "sick of all these consultants presenting" - ask them why. When they say "I want to see more charity staff up there" -  ask them why again.
(This blog is a slightly updated version of my most recent Agitator Column in F&P magazine E-bulletin.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Get Up! think out of the box

Our lovely Australian politicians do a PR exercise where you can bid for a special treat with one of them.  The leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott auctioned off a surfing lesson with him (like Vladimir Putin he loves to show his physical prowess off - and fair enough, because he has a lot more than me).

Tony is pretty outspoken in a traditional conservative way - as well as describing climate change as 'absolute crap' his policies on refugees trying to reach safety by fleeing their homes in dangerous boats do not sit comfortably with social justice and human rights groups.

Australian pressure group GetUp! motivated donors to put in some money and bid for this opportunity - and lined up a refugee to take the surf lesson and tell Tony his story.

Campaigning genius! Tons of press (even if the bid hadn't won - but it did) and now they are running another campaign to get enough money to air a TV Ad.

Great, specific, well thought through fundraising tactics.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The importance of good writing

I have been asked to blog about a new post at Pareto Fundraising, to try and get the word out that we are recruiting, and hopefully interest you. But I also want to make my blog useful to people who may not be interested in applying, so here is my cheeky "not just a blatant ad blog."

Inspired by Anne Holland's Which Test Won I thought it would be useful to show you a standard ad and compare it with a much more thought through ad - using fundraising copy techniques such as being personal, inviting, easier to read and more interesting.

Unlike Which Test Won, I can't give you a definitive answer on the more successful one since we are just running the second one. Your feedback still welcome though!

AD One

We are an award winning data-led fundraising and communications agency dedicated to the not-for-profit
sector. Exciting growth and continuous success with our clients has resulted in us creating this new senior management role.

Is it the right job for you?

Reporting to the CEO, you will:

  • Have the opportunity to manage the teams that are growing income and strengthening supporter relationships for many of the world’s best-run causes
  • Help to ensure that we’re always giving our best and only accepting startlingly good results
  • Spend valuable time with our charity clients, ensuring that we truly understand their needs and how best we can meet them
  • Be rewarded well, materially and emotionally.
Are you just right for it?

You will need to be a senior fundraising professional with ten years relevant experience, a proven track record in directing and inspiring a diverse range of staff, the skill to negotiate and influence at all levels, and the ability to be the new fundraising face of our innovative and groundbreaking company.

Our staff are some of the most talented, committed and hardest-working people you’ll find anywhere. They all get a kick out of getting great results for great causes, because Pareto Fundraising’s mission is nothing less than to change the world.

To apply, email your cover letter addressing the selection criteria and your CV as well as an application coversheet to

Go to for the selection criteria, application coversheet and job description.

Applications close Friday 18th June 2010.


  • Senior role in international Fundraising and Communications Agency
  • High profile not-for-profit clients
  • Sydney Central location
  • Six figure salary
I need your help.

I need to find the right person for a new and critical role within Pareto Fundraising.

It’s a role that will ensure we do the very best for our clients and will drive great fundraising results for some of the most important charities in Australia and New Zealand for years to come.

If you are a senior fundraising professional keen on furthering your career in fundraising and direct marketing, challenging the status quo, and most importantly making a real difference to the world – then come and meet me. If this role isn’t for you – but you know who it’s for – have them meet me.

We are a team of dedicated professionals working together to help charities achieve outstanding results from their fundraising. I’m proud that our help has enabled these charities to raise record-breaking amounts for their beneficiaries. Now, following our growth and success, we need an expert fundraiser who is also a brilliant manager to help us lift our service level yet again.

This is a very senior role in Pareto Fundraising, reporting to me and managing the entire client service team. You will inspire great people to achieve their best ever work for wonderful causes and you will help charities across Australia and New Zealand.

It is a brilliant job. But it is challenging. To do such a big job you need to be mentally tough, analytical and have a great business brain, but also be outstanding with people. You’ll need an extensive track record in marketing and managing at a senior level (agency or charity) and, of course, you will also know fundraising intimately – especially direct marketing.

Your staff at Pareto Fundraising are some of the most talented, committed and hardest-working people you’ll find anywhere. They all get a kick out of getting great results for great causes, because Pareto Fundraising’s mission is nothing less than to change the world. Now they need your help to realise their full potential.


Jim Hungerford, CEO

PS. Applications close on Friday 18th June 2010. Please email me at with an application cover sheet, your  résumé and a letter addressing the selection criteria (go to for the selection criteria and cover sheet).

Comments welcome!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Allowing donors to donate the way they want to - priceless!

I have an annual budget I like to donate and I want it to all be on my AMEX card. It makes my tax return much easier. So I asked Everyday Hero if I could make my birthday donation by AMEX. Their initial reaction was ‘no', and they explained most of their charities didn't accept AMEX, it was more expensive than alternatives, and all AMEX card holders had other cards.

I then asked Marie Stopes if they would accept the donation direct on my AMEX. Same answer - which got me thinking. Refusing a relatively popular method of payment is not really putting the donor first.

Both parties saw the light after some quick dialogue. (To be fair, Everyday Hero was already in the process of sorting it out - but maybe I can take some credit for speeding it along!)

From the donor's point of view

I persuaded Everyday Hero and Marie Stopes by approaching the issue from a donor's point of view. Let's take a sample donor, ‘Sean'. Sean is forty years and one month old, a NIKE (no interest in kids, ever) earns about $100,000 per annum, is on the board of a charity and was recently appointed patron of another.

He aims to give 10% of his income away. He likes to keep all his donations on one card to make filing a tax return easier. As he flies a lot, that one card is AMEX (so he can bag free flights). With so many great charities to choose from, whether or not a charity accepts AMEX is often a crude technique which ‘narrows the field'.

Three reasons why charities don't want to accept AMEX

1. AMEX usually charges more than its rivals for the merchant fee, which can reduce the value of the donation by up to 3%.

2. AMEX card holders have back up cards they can use, such as Visa and MasterCard.

3. Someone at your organisation has to get around to facilitating AMEX transactions, and there are other priorities. Charities are often understaffed, and this seems a lot of effort for small return.


Ten (seven more than three) reasons why charities should accept AMEX

1. AMEX donors give up to 50% more than non AMEX donors*. This negates the first reason why charities may not want to accept AMEX.

2. AMEX donors who give the same as non AMEX donors are identifying themselves as higher value prospects*. Accepting Visa instead of AMEX removes the ‘rich prospect' flag from your database.

3. Many AMEX charge cards have no credit limits, which reduces bounces.

4. AMEX regular givers give slightly higher monthly donations on regular gift programs but have a significantly higher retention rate*.

5. Richer people - i.e. best donor prospects - tend to have AMEX cards.

6. AMEX holders pay for their cards, so they want to use them. They self-justify with great insurance, a free return flight, frequent flyer points, free lounge access etc, but some of them are just poor people made good who can't accept they actually qualify for one.

7. Explaining why you accept AMEX is a useful example for customer focused training putting donors ahead of admin.

8. AMEX donors like to keep donations on one card as it is easier for tax returns.

9. AMEX donors may say that it is fine when you ask for Visa instead, but you are creating a barrier. They wouldn't have offered AMEX first if they wanted the donation on a different card.

10. You need to think about donors first!

*AMEX's own research backs this up here, but below is a table from Pareto's research, looking at appeal type gifts for one charity with a large enough sample set:

Diners should be accepted too, for the same reasons.

The point here is not that you should necessarily accept AMEX (and I assure you, they are not paying me to write this article!). The point is that a tiny decision, such as whether or not to accept AMEX, says a lot about how an organisation values a donor-centric model.

Staff from Marie Stopes told me they will be able to accept AMEX soon, which is great - it gives me time to save the unexpected higher sum of $5,000 I have to match.

Put donors first.

[Every month I write a column 'The Agitator' for Fundraising and Philanthropy magazine and this post is my most recent entry!]

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fundraising debate is a fundraiser itself

I am enjoying myself in 'Sunny Nelson' at the FINZ  fundraising conference in New Zealand.  Last night we had welcome drinks and I hosted a 'Pareto hot potato debate' on the subject of online social media.  The motion was “Investment of time or money in [online] social media is a distraction for fundraisers”. 

A bit of fun was had, along with a 'worm' giving instant feedback as people voted (and changed their votes) on the fly.  But we tried a unique voting system based entirely on 'bribes'.  The two sides had Dianne Armstrong (Arthritis NZ) and Errol Pike (Bible Soc) arguing against the motion and Steve Bramley (SGL Group) and Brendon Veale (Wellington Zoo) arguing for it.

To 'vote' people had to put money into buckets, and the bucket with the most money would win - and would get a bonus of extra cash.  The prize money would go to a nominated charity (Wellington Zoo or Arthritis).

The arguments were interesting, and fun - pretty mean about each other too (Kiwis have a very thick skin, it would appear) but boiled down to:

For motion:

•             Online giving  is still tiny compared to offline (3% v 97% according to Brendon, with no quote for his source but it is comparable to what Pareto Benchmarking finds).
•             Online social media-ites are the wrong audience
•             Online social media is not really building real relationships

 Against motion

•             It is huge and 'I want a slice'
•             It is the fastest growing method of fundraising
•             We have brought a dog who will get you with his tail if you don't vote for us (they really did bring a cute guide dog training puppy)

So, not a lot of substance in the arguments - but more important was the fact that it was fun - and a very interesting fundraiser.  You see, the votes were really, really close - there was just $9 difference which allowed me to get another $50 in donations by asking for extra, but not telling people which charity was leading.  In the end we raised about $580 - not bad from 80 fundraisers just throwing in a bit of cash.  And there is something liberating and motivating about good old fashioned fundraising, face to face!

(Oh dear, I am beginning to  sound like an events fundraiser again).


Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't We On Your Copy

When it comes to making direct mail work, you need to get all your tactics right - targeting, segmentation, creative concepts, lifts etc. But all of that adds up to nothing when writing poor copy.

Direct mail is still all about letters, and people write letters not organisations.

A really useful tip for when you are writing a letter is always, always write it in the first person.

Compare this excerpt:

"... is working to help people in Zimbabwe.   People like Grace.

Grace is a 30 year old mother of five.  Like many mothers in Zimbabwe she is single, having lost her husband to AIDS three years ago.  Her five surviving children..."

With this one:

"... is working to help people in Zimbabwe.   People like Grace.  Last year, I visited the project in Zimbabwe, and met with Grace in the Community Hall.  At the time I was pregnant myself and as I looked around I realised how lucky I was.

You see, Grace is a 30 year old mother of five.  Like many mothers in Zimbabwe she is single, having lost her husband to AIDS three years ago.  Her five surviving children..."

Much nicer copy, much more involving, believable and just better fundraising.  And in terms of tactics:

"We need to raise $500,000 by June 30.  Please donate by filling in..."

Loses out to:

"I have a target of $500,000 that I need to raise, by June 30.  Please join me and donate by filling in..."

It is important that everything is true of course, you shouldn't just make up stuff - if the signatory wasn't there that is a no-no.  With most of the charities I work with we always try to get the signatory to speak with the 'beneficiary' (the featured person in the story) and then interview the signatory.

You should also have lots of 'yous' in your copy too.  "Imagine how you would feel...", "thank you for your support...", "the impact you could have..." etc.

This isn't news of course - it is well established 'good copy' but the reason I am blogging it now is because of the number of appeals I am receiving where the staff or copywriter clearly haven't read about it before, or still don't believe it, or maybe their bosses don't like it.

There are tons of great websites and books helping on this kind of thing, but I recommend for great copy you should look at Mal Warwick's "How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters" - Rule 1 of his 'Cardinal Rules of Fundraising" (chapter 8) is:

"Rule 1: Use 'l', and 'you' (But Mostly you)
'You' should be the word you use most frequently in your fundraising letters. Your appeal is a letter from one individual to another individual, not a press release, a position paper, or a brochure.

"Studies on readability supply the fundamental reason the words 'You' and 'I' are important: they provide human interest..the most powerful way to engage the reader is by appealing directly to her: use the word 'you'"

My North American based colleague, Jonathon Grapsas offers some more quick tips for good copy here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Give a little...

In Australia, our tax year ends on 30 June. Because donations are tax deductible, all the charities go out with appeals at this time of year.

Looking at benchmarking datat, we see that there are nearly three times as many donors over $1000 in June, compared to any other month. They also give nearly four times as much away in that month.

This begs two questions - why and so what should I do about it?

The 'why' is hard. At this time of year, wealthier people are much, much more likely to be asked. Some charities only ask certain donors at this time of the year.

Appeals go out, because more people give in June than any other month and more people give at this time of the month because more appeals go out, so we have a self-fulfilling loop.

The fact that it is the end of the tax year will also influence people. I know of some, wealthier donors, that give little bits but then at the end of the financial year, they assess their income and decide how much to give when they see their tax liabilities.

But so what? Making sure you present your case for these people makes sense, so I would not suggest not running a 'tax' campaign, but I do suggest not using tax as your proposition. Make sure you still get your proposition right - it is still about the work you do.

The benefit you are 'selling' to your donors is their donations impact on beneficiaries - it is not the tax deduction.

Also do note, that 75% of gifts are not made in June - don't concentrate just on that month.

Looking at motivations, James Briggs recently blogged about how, after forcing people to give (he gave them money to give away), he found that they gave to different charities than their usual ones. Check out his 'enforced giving' blog here.

Maybe that is because the usual catalyst - receiving an ask - was not there, and people had think differently who to give to. To see this theory in action - do this exercise right now:

* Give $100 away. Right now, you are online - get out your credit card and do it.

See how it makes you think differently?

Over to you to work out how to apply that learning to your next appeal.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Climate change skepticism

Climate change scares me. The thing that scares me most, after climate change, is the terrifying willingness of the media and the public to not believe that humans are causing this problem.

I have started reading a load of climate change skeptic material - ordered a load of books, and reading some blogs (and tracing back to peer-reviewed references, of course).

Starting off with a quick Google of climate change, and the following a couple of links...

In one corner we have people trying to warn us that civilization, as we know it, is doomed unless we make some changes. The plus side of those changes is saving this version of society and tons of flora and fauna. The downside is economical cost, which is likely to be less than that of the recent global financial crisis. Although that was (is) painful for many, it is not as bad as the alternative - and the planet will just carry on.

These people are incredibly passionate about informing the public and policy makers to save the world as we know it. They have websites which are part of the 'establishment' Universities and government departments etc, or contribute to sites like Climate Change Australia "...devoted to the discussion and analysis of issues surrounding climate change."

Whether you agree with them or not, it is easy to see why they are trying to warn us. (No, not to keep jobs - these are perfectly employable people without a climate change gravy train).

In the other corner we have the climate change skeptics. These either deny climate change is happening, or deny that it is our fault.

They are incredibly passionate and articulate as well, (though an interesting difference in the style and tone of their language, see if you notice).


Oh! I see. Now that is clear.

Finally, lets have a look at the 'shrill' cries from those champions of eco-religious, one world socialism global warming zealots, Greenpeace. Their (Aussie) reason for campaigning about climate change:

"The world faces a climate emergency. Australia and the Pacific are at the frontline.

We’re suffering worse bushfires, flash floods and a drought that never seems to end. These are all signs that we’re reaching a tipping point to a climate catastrophe.

It’s clear that ‘business as usual’ is not an option."

Scary, but not exactly shrill.

To recap: In one corner, a bunch of people who want to save the world. In the other, a bunch of people who want to stop us listening to a bunch of people who want to save the world.

Finally, if you haven't already, try reading the book What's the worst that could happen? by Greg Craven. His argument is less about who is right, but more about how to analyse and make a decision 'on balance'.

I'll let you know how I get on with my more thorough research of both sides of the argument. And I want to read more on geo-engineering; anyone point me in the right direction?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Does offsetting work?

I just took the 350 Challenge, which adds a nice green badge to this blog. Also Brighter Planet will buy some carbon offsets.

Is carbon offsetting any use, really?

Professor Barry Brook thinks so, since I got the link for the badge off his website.

Cheat Neutral don't think so. Their brilliant parody - you can cheat on your husband, just offset it - along with a trusted mentor of mine have challenged my thinking. What do you think?

(Oh, and if you haven't heard of Cheat Neutral - go for it!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I want to help in Haiti... I mean really help

A schoolmate of mine asked for my advice for people planning on helping Haiti recovery by volunteering.

I understand totally where they are coming from.

I was in Thailand when the Tsunami struck a few years ago and wanted to help. The authorities wanted me to stay away from the affected areas because they really didn't need my skills. The UK and Aussie embassies (I am a citizen of both) asked me to talk to the Swedish embassy who needed volunteers to help trace missing people. By the time I got to them, there was enough help in place.

Locally, I have offered accommodation during floods and fires.

The need to help is a wonderful, human thing. But it is emotional, not rational. If you are there when something happens, then please - accept responsibility and act. Call the ambulance, do first aid, rescue people when safe to do so.

Specialist units, trained aid workers, soldiers, police etc are on standby waiting for the next inevitable disaster. Local and sometimes international support will turn up quickly.

But what about afterwards? Should you go and help?

Lack of hygiene, safe housing, water and food security, looting, fire risk and chemical spills can follow a disaster.

Each of these areas can only be addressed by trained people. Most countries have such, and where they don't will often call for specific international support. (There are obvious exceptions, but UK citizens would not be on the next plane to North Korea following an earthquake).

So, what if you are such a trained person?

If you are in the uniformed and emergency services (nurse, soldier, doctor etc), and live in a richer country then your employer, through the Government, may have a reserve scheme of specialists ready for this kind of incident.

It is not likely that without such reserve training you could help as much as you imagine, but check in with your employer, union or other professional body.

For the most important non-emergency roles, such as carpenters, plumbers and electricians you make think there would be a need, and there could be. But think about the impact - when you are there you are taking work from locals who also need to rebuild their lives. Whatever you do, don't just turn up - make arrangements with a local firm, union or authorities in advance.

It makes sense to get journalists and writers - including fundraisers - to post disaster areas. Their writings, images and work can help generate income and the right kind of support.

This is really brutal, but unless there is a specific call for people with your skill sets, and a mechanism in place for actually applying them there, you will be creating more of a problem than helping. Sorry.

But, what about being another pair of hands? Well, as I said before, if you are there when disaster strikes, pitch in and help.

But afterwards, there is very, very rarely a shortage of labour after a disaster.

More the opposite - people wandering around with nothing to do. Also, local labour speaks the language, knows the terrain, is used to the weather and food - basically they are better equipped than you to do stuff.

Sorry again, but there is not a nice way to say it. You mean well, but mostly you would be more of a burden than a benefit.

Donating the cost of going could have a hundred fold impact on the lives of people there than turning up.

For example, a couple flying from the UK to Haiti would cost about £3,000. Five times the annual income of a average Haitian. Imagine the impact of donating that instead!?

I believe that any impact analysis (jargon for the amount of good achieved divided by the cost) would show that volunteering from the UK (or Australia, USA etc) after a disaster is one of the worst things you can do - possibly worse than doing nothing, and definitely worse than donating.

Unless there is a specific call from a bonafide, rational, strategic agency and an organised, trained method of getting those appropriate people there for defined jobs.

We should donate. And get friends to. And with the couple of weeks or more time saved by not going to the country, we could volunteer for a local charity. Or volunteer abroad with someone like VSO or Earthwatch. These things will help the people of Haiti more than us turning up there with kind hearts and genuine humanity.

If you still want to go, then make sure you understand that you are doing it for yourself, not - in this example - the people of Haiti.

Maybe not such a bad thing, provided you don't become a burden. You will gain much more than a holiday, meet fantastic people and gather some great stories.

Plan carefully, work with a professional organisation, be prepared for everything to go wrong - including injury and illness, sharing rooms with strangers and theft, notify your embassy on arrival.

And afterwards, follow it up. Start a local fundraising committee, talk to local Rotary etc and share your photos, motivate people to donate. Aim to raise at least ten times the amount that you spent getting there - that should balance the karma!

Still up for it? Well, check out Tonic, they list organisations that could help you get to Haiti and help here. Also, visit the websites of the big local relief agencies at home.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Update on birthday appeal

Thank you all you lovely people who have donated to my 40th birthday appeal. My birthday (and International Women's Day) is in one week (March 8) and the appeal will finish a couple of days after that.

My main objective was to raise lots of money for Marie Stopes. I originally went for $2,000 with me matching it by the same. But that target was hammered pretty quickly, so I extended it.


I have decided to match to $4,000 now - and at the time of writing am just $600 away from it. I had taken 'The Life You Can Save' Pledge, an initiative run by ethicist and author Peter Singer but even though I am in his lowest income category I will be well over the minimum he asks for.

I also encourage you to pledge a percentage of your income to charity - and any donation to my birthday appeal will count towards it!

Thanks again wonderful friends, family and caring fundraisers.

(If you haven't donated yet, please do by clicking here, thanks!)

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here