Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A direct request to my readers

Dear Blog Reader

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope that you find it useful. You may know from a previous blog that it is my 40th birthday soon.

Anyway, it is hard to work out what to get me for my birthday (I know you were not wondering, but please read on...) I have everything really, love, security, a rewarding job, I live by the beach and I meet wonderful people, probably like you, trying to make the world a better place.

So this year, how about something special?

This March 8 will be my 40th International Women’s Day. But back in 1970 my mum was celebrating that day (and mothers’ day too!) by giving birth to me.

Instead of rushing to buy me a fabulous 40th birthday present, can I tell you what I would really like for my birthday?

I would like to smash my $4,000 target to raise money to help women in poverty give birth safely. But I need you to help. Please, will you make a donation here – a big one, it is an important cause and a big day for me.

It is also a big day for many women around the world as they celebrate the achievements of women past, present and future. In many countries, the day is a national holiday.

Please will you make a big, special gift? I know you probably get lots of requests but a donation from you would be wonderful.

And the impact of your donation is huge. It will have a great multiplier effect. You see, your donation will be matched by me (up to $3,000) and I am asking Marie Stopes to only use the money for fundraising, which will multiply its value even more.

Why? Well, please let me tell you about Mya.

Mya, was just shy of her 40th birthday when she visited Marie Stopes in Burma. She was 28 weeks pregnant. She couldn’t afford ante natal care or a midwife.

Mya had tragically lost two stillborn babies but six had survived – every pregnancy and giving birth is a life or death situation for many mothers and babies in Burma. Even back in 1970 – about when she and I were born – this was not anywhere near what could be expected in the UK.

But in the 21st Century it is totally unacceptable.

The staff and volunteers at Marie Stopes agree, so they are out there doing something about it.

The Marie Stopes team visited her at home and educated Mya and her husband about danger signs when giving birth. The delivery of her baby was followed by heavy bleeding causing Mya to lose consciousness.

Thankfully she was taken to hospital immediately for emergency obstetric care supported by Marie Stopes who also covered the cost of transport to the hospital. Without this care, she could have died.

But because Marie Stopes people were there Mya made a full recovery and her children still have a mother. Imagine what might have become of them if she had died.

After learning about family planning choices from a Marie Stopes nurse, she commenced using contraceptives as she has decided seven children are enough. You see, Marie Stopes doesn’t just provide ante natal care and midwifery, they also work with women to explain family planning options – giving women more control over their lives.

This is one of thousands of stories about how Marie Stopes saves mothers’ lives by providing reproductive choices.

We know that if a baby’s mother dies their baby is then 10 times more likely to die before their second birthday, and in developing countries a woman dies every minute due to lack of access to maternal care. Heavy stuff.

Please, make a donation to this appeal on my fundraising site here.

Pic 1: A mother and baby in a post Cyclone family planning clinic in Burma.
Pic 2: My mum and me nearly 40 years after she had me.

Thanks a lot. As a reader of this blog you are probably doing what you can to make the world a better place, but I am sure you can imagine that fundraising for women’s sexual and reproductive health is tough.

So, before this International Women’s Day – March 8th - please dig deep and donate here today to help women in living in poverty in the Pacific region, including indigenous Australians, through the wonderful work of Marie Stopes.

Best regards, and thank you!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Decline in Jewish Donations A Worry

After reading my article in Global Connections Nirit Roessler of the Pradler Program in Israel sent me a thorough report about the impact of the global financial crisis on NGOs in Israel. The Pradler Program works to help capacity build Israeli NGOs.

It is interesting that the dollar exchange problem was the first noted - particularly important for Israeli charities when they get so much money from the Diaspora Jewry. However, the report also highlights specific impacts of business and trust & foundation returns. They finish on a mixed note - the hardships will likely reduce the number of NGOs, and they will come out of this period stronger.

For non-Israeli charities the report is probably still useful.

For example, many of the Australian charities I work with receive quite a few major donations from Jewish people, and of those Jewish donors I know, many donate to charities in Israel as well as here. They are almost certainly thinking slightly differently about how much and who to give to.

The report is here and was carried out by the Center for Research on Philanthropy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aussie Government Productivity Report

Thanks to the FIA for alerting us to the long awaited Government Productivity Commission report into the charity sector.

I haven't read it yet, but am trying to bribe a keen Pareto person with a gift to write a summary for us. I'll read it later too!

Australian charity people, check it out here.


Friday, February 12, 2010

IFC - Important date. But when is it!?

I got this email today from the Resource Alliance. This is a direct screendump and hard to see, but you can see the headline 'Save The Date'. Close inspection will reveal... no date! Presumably the date is a picture, which my Outlook doesn't want to download.

The lesson? Yes - send good looking emails, bu make sure people can read at least the key info on their PDAs and other devices.

(Apologies to my friends at IFC, hopefully you can see the funny side).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

International Womens Day Appeal

My mum (in pic below) had me forty years ago, on International Womens Day in 1970.

Thanks Mum.

Women, like my mum, in countries like the UK have excellent care - they even did in the 70s - that make giving birth a fact of life. But in many communities things are not so good and giving birth is a matter of life and death.

Marie Stopes Foundation works with women and their families in the Asia-Pacific region, and with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on issues around family - including sexual and reproductive health.

It is tough to fundraise around this subject but it is vital.

Please will you help me with a donation in lieu of whatever present you were planning on getting me for my fortieth ;) ? Click here to donate.

If you weren't going to get me anything, fair enough - but please donate anyway.

I am going to match donations on my mini-site to $2,000 so the more you give, the more I give. And of course I will be asking Marie Stopes to ringfence the funds raised for more fundraising - creating a domino effect.

What I wanted for my birthday was BioShock 2 for my Playstation 3, which costs about $100. I reckon $100 donated to Marie Stopes is a lot better. Please will you donate $100 by clicking here, or, if you are a volunteer or not in a rich country, whatever you can afford.

Rich people, please donate $1,000 by clicking here.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

America - the most generous nation on earth

For every Australian there are 15 Americans. But we would still hammer them at rugby (union and league), cricket, Aussie Rules, animals that can kill you in your garden and having a public health system.

But they rock when it comes to fundraising. According to Giving USA, American individuals gave about AUD$286bn (US$250bn) in 2008, and about 10% of that from bequests.

Estimates for Australian individual giving are about $7.7bn, but the last report I can find was the FIA's in 2005. Americans would hammer us at knowing how much they actually raise.

But I often hear how different fundraising is over here and 'cultural' differences. Well, the first cultural difference is that they raise nearly $1000 per person and we raise about $285 per person. Yes, there are historical reasons (lack of public health system being one) but we even earn more over here - the gap should be smaller.

So I am chuffed to see some brilliant American fundraisers in Australia, giving talks and helping us grow.

Kay Sprinkel-Grace was over to work with some charities here and be entertained by our koalas. She was very lucky, on meeting up with her I said keep an eye out for koalas and this one was next to us at eye level...

Whilst here, Jeremy from F&P magazine asked her for an article which should be in the next editition, but you could do worse than check out her books, one of which is reviewed here on SOFII.

In addition, Ted Hart is speaking at the FIA Conference this month. I did the intro for his session in Canada in November and it was great. A new media bloke who starts off by saying something like 'Let us get this into perspective - new media is great but is a small part of fundraising...' Down to earth, and written some good books. Get to FIA, listen to him and be prepared to buy his book. Groupies will probably be able to get him to sign it.

And finally, I hear a rumour that the writer of the best blog in fundraising (ahem), Jeff Brooks is coming to the Fundraising & Philanthropy Australasia Magazine conference forum later on in the year. I am sure Jeremy from F&P will confirm or deny soon, but keep an eye out because his Forum always sells out. In the meantime, subscribe to Jeff's blog - I know you get a lot of email but I promise you will enjoy it, be challenged by it and often inspired.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Disaster Donor Conversion Plan

In attempting to convert a disaster donor to a long-term donor, take a post-initial support - strategic emergency development approach.

Develop post-emergency regular giving proposition

Develop materials to push the proposition - most likely ‘disaster preparedness'.

  • Letter template; the disaster itself would need to be weaved in
  • Email templates / concepts - Emails should be thank yous, links to news, to relevant sites and of course your micro-site
  • Brochure
  • Micro-site (use the corridor structure - i.e. once a donor has arrived at your micro-site, the only things they can click on keep them in the micro-site, NOT link through to your main site until the transaction is complete)
  • Draft script and process for outbound telephone calling team

When disasters strike

  • Follow normal disaster donation procedures
  • Don't forget your Google grant to drive people to your micro-site
  • Thank donors fast
  • Begin feedback and conversion process - over about six weeks
  • Update emails (about ten in the first 30 days would be best- more information is good, not less
  • Regular giving conversion phone all (you will only get through to 20-60%, keep trying)
  • Donors into normal communications program - but note - they may behave differently; flag them as emergency converted regular givers and monitor attrition, upgrades etc separately
  • Test. Throughout this period it can be hard to test, but you must test ideas and find out what works for you. It is so tempting to not test - because of time. But part of the reason you have little time is that you did not test last time.

Oh, by the way, this procedure would apply (though not as good cost per acquisition) to any charity that gets lots of one-off donors, not just disasters, e.g. following a door-knock or big mailing to cold prospects.

Good luck.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Post Haiti Fundraising Follow up

Last week I promised more on what should happen after a disaster.

Unfortunately we live in a world where huge natural disasters are frequent events. Although they generate lots of media attention - and therefore money - we in fundraising know that they are actually superceded by ongoing humanitarian and environmental problems.

So we fundraisers have an uncomfortable responsibility to maximise the long term impact of the outpouring of human emotion and good will that is catalysed by these media events. For every Haiti there is a chronic problem like malaria.

People don't really care about Haiti more than they care about malaria - they are just more motivated through stories, media, peer pressure, guilt when a big media event happens.

A good illustration of how these disasters have engaged the interest of Australians is this chart showing the relative proportions of searches in Google by the Aussie public. For example - bush fires dominated in February 2009 but Haiti peaked in January 2010.

Not surprisingly, emergency response charities such as the Red Cross have been kept busy.

These charities are great getting the aid where needed and getting money straight away. But they all seem to fail on the follow up. I donated to a selection of charities - who asked me to - on Jan 19. I have had no follow up.

When a disaster strikes, these charities are sometimes overwhelmed with donations.

The short term priority is to get the money to the field where it is needed.

But really, the long term priority is to get these - often new - donors more involved. The charities need these people to help with less media hyped but euqally tragic circumstances.

For one charity, we proposed that their entire non face-to-face acquisition strategy be built around disasters. We know there are going to be disasters. And you can plan a growth strategy around them to supplement your other methods.

With initial donations made without the heavy cost of asking, the cost per acquisition is much, much lower than normal. But the lifetime value is very low.

Our initial work in this area shows that speed is of the essence. To increase the average lifetime value, how about getting to emergency donors very quickly with a low-level monthly gift ask? Even with the costs of this taken into account, and the fact that you won't convert everyone, you still end up with a superb cost per acquisition.

The secret about when to go to the new donor with an ongoing proposition is immediately after you have been able to thank them and tell them what their money was spent on.

I saw Australian charity direct mail expert, Leo Orland, present a couple of years ago and he said charities should thank new donors straight away. In that thank you he wanted the signatory to commit to feeding back within a stated period ‘how we have spent your money'. This is excellent advice and is applicable here too.

The bottom line - a media event disaster is an open door to people who care, and what to make a difference. They are hard (and expensive) to find and quickly drift off. Get to them quickly.

That is enough for today, but tomorrow I will post my 'Disaster Donor Conversion plan.'

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti disaster appeal follow up - there is none

Regular readers my recall that I made a load of donations to loads of charities on 19 January, including a couple of larger size donations.

I committed to telling you what happened.

Well, I have had no follow up.

In fact, WSPA who responded really fast to solicit donations have not actually receipted or thanked me direct, but did send me a non personalised (but otherwise informative) email along the lines of 'WSPA thanks everyone who donated towards our Haiti effort; your support [no mention of how much] made it possible for us to complete this first hand assessment and fund the setting up and transfer of this mobile clinic into Haiti.'

WSPA have stopped soliticing Haiti donations now; they raised enough.

But what about all the other charities? Nothing.

I am hoping that I get some follow up - a call, second gift solicitation, feedback, RG conversion - something and soon!

In the meantime (next week) I will write what I think should have happened.

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here