Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's in a name?

""What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

William Shakespeare, through Romeo and Juliet may have had a point.  But actually, a common knowledge is useful, especially in teaching.

I presented two sessions at AFP last week, to a mostly American audience and spoke about two things - what we in Australia call regular giving and a method of recruiting them, called face to face.  

By regular givers, I mean someone who has money debited automatically again and again in an agreed time period, usually monthly.

By face to face, I mean the act of speaking with someone, in person, and asking them for such an automatic donation.

These two names don't really work.

To many fundraisers, a regular giver is, understandably, someone who gives - um - regularly. This could include people who donate every Christmas.  So regular givers is not the right term. The Canadian approach is to call them monthly givers doesn't quite work either, since some are quarterly and some are fortnightly.

As for face to face, many fundraisers have, for decades, referred to the act of asking major donors for money, in person, as face to face. So this confuses people. Even if you define what you are talking about, people need to train their minds to the crossed meaning, which reduces the impact of the point of the teaching.

My proposed solution is to grab the best descriptions that exist and make them universal (for English speakers anyway - I don't know where to start with Chinese or Spanish equivalents).

I recommend for monthly donors / regular donors / automatic debitors we take on the American descriptor:  "Sustainer".  It makes sense, isn't a re-branding of the word and is not ambiguous. 

For face to face / street fundraising / chugging we should go with the old British descriptor: 
"Direct dialogue."  I won't even complain about the inevitable American misspelling (Dialog) which is more environmentally friendly anyway.  (Think about it).

Anyone want to help me with the re-branding campaign?


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is nuclear energy a viable solution?

The pain and fear for people in Japan is truly horrible.  The government has lost credibility in what it is saying about the partial meltdown of the now infamous reactor 2 at Fukushima.  But what is the real data?

I am currently in Canada, having spent some time in the US where Americans have been buying iodine to such a degree that there were TV ads running in the USA informing people about scams around radiation treatments.

And when they said on the news that a pool of water had one million times the safe dose of radiation - what did that actually mean?  No wonder people - even across the Pacific - are worried with statements like that.

This superb graphic puts into perspective in a very easy way. Whilst the graphic makes you realise things aren't that bad (at this point in time) it doesn't take into account indirect effects of the nuclear industry - weapons and waste in particular.

I am still torn on nuclear energy as part of a solution for energy needs.  Just because it is not as bad as coal* does not necessarily make it a good thing.  Especially when weapons and waste are taken into account. But what, real alternatives are we going to actually take up?

* In terms of anticipated deaths, environmental impact etc - even including a Chernobyl size disaster every couple of decades, coal power appears to be worse than nuclear.  This blog has useful links to other relevant data sources.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cost of fundraising is the wrong measure

Several people at the AFP conference talked to me about how cost of fundraising (or required return on investment - ROI) was a challenging obstacle for their fundraising efforts. Especially if they were a small organisation or had a challenging 'type' of cause.  For example, it is easier to raise money for breast cancer than cystic fibrosis.

The state of Oregon in the USA is the latest place to totally misunderstand this concept.

Dan Pallotta tells you more here.  He also puts out a useful argument to present to your board about why it is the wrong measure.


AFP Congress presentation - monthly giving online

Here is my first presentation from the AFP - I hope that you find it useful whether you were there or not.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Second presentation at AFP - do your 5 day job in 3 days!

Today I presented a session titled "How to be so good at fundraising you only need to work afternoons 3 days a week".  I was a stand in for Jonathon Grapsas.  He came up with the title which is clever way of saying - do your data analysis!

This presentation is much more detailed, with the case studies not hidden so a massive wealth of information for you, even if you didn't make it along.

Hope it is useful.


Afternoons, 3 days a week
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

AFP 2011 Harvey McKinnon on monthly donors

Blog from Harvey McKinnon's session at AFP.  He is talking about 'How to Build.a Highly Successful Monthly Donor Program'

Right from the beginning some data - all organisations should be able to get 5% of their current donors to monthly giving. Some will get 20%.

Shocking - of 300 or so fundraisers, no one put their hand up to having more than 5,000 monthly donors.  Nearly all had less than 500. But at least half had some form of monthly giving program.

The USA really is behind Europe and Australia on embracing and growing monthly giving.

Why bother?
Monthly programs....
1. Increase income - value of the donor will at least double
2. Better relationships
3. Donors stay longer - monthly donors stay for ten years on average
4. Predictable - the money just keeps rolling in
5. savings
6. Income grows over time
7. Convenient for the donor

Although some monthly donors make their payments by cheque, as opposed to EFT or credit card they tend to be worth half of their automatic debited peers.

Myths about monthlies...

1. It didn't work - it may not work straight way, need to get the proposition right
2. Small amount of money, it is a lower average donation, but not over a year
3. Worries about access to bank and credit card info - insignificant number of people
4. Are donors too old - some old people will sign up, it is still worth it

So, you want to start a program? What are the essential components.

1. A donor base
2. An appealing mission - accept that some organisations are easier to fundraise for, but it works for pretty much every cause that can get single donors
3. An audit - what are you doing well?
4. Effective processing - must debit quickly and act when people drop off
5. Strong communications
6. Integrated marketing - don't talk about it, do it
7. Senior management support

Harvey was saying to take people out of general direct mail appeals programs once they become monthly donors. He did say there are some caveats, but we find that monthly donors who used to respond to direct mail appeals should still get them - but perhaps fewer, and always personalized and recognizing their monthly donation.

How much to ask for?

Try and tie the amount to something specific. 'Your $50 a month will buy...'

According to Harvey, the easiest method of gaining some monthly donors is having a monthly option on forms. This has worked really well for many charities, but at some point you should send specific monthly donor asks (my opinion not Harvey's).

Phones are a great way to do it too.  In his opinion there is not a lot to decide between the hone and mail. I say do both.

Harvey reckons that face to face (direct dialogue) can be too expensive to start for smaller organisations. 

Age is a huge factor on early attrition in Canada. This reflects the pattern in Australia. His data shows that average donations effect attrition too. The higher the average, the worse the attrition. To fix, always proactively downgrade young donors giving higher amounts.

Greenpeace and Amnesty are pioneers of monthly giving fundraising - check out their websites. They 'slice the salami' - 33c a day etc.

Showed a direct mail stoning pack - sending stones the same size as those used to kill women accused of adultery. It was a campaign, but all responders were asked for monthlies. They got 25,000. (I think he said that much - it is a lot!) 

Monthly programs are worthy it for example,  a specific charity where the average monthly donor gives 6x as much as their non monthly counterparts. It takes a while, but it is brilliant.

You should look after the donors though. Send them invites to special events, open house, send cards - give them a good experience.

Great session.  If you are at a conference and Harvey is speaking, even if you know about monthly giving you should go watch him.

For more on monthly giving, search this blog for 'regular givers' and 'fundraising is beautiful' and listen to the podcast on If you are at AFP, come to my sessions tomorrow! 

What do you say to identify a major donor prospect?

I am at the AFP conference in Chicago, listening to Eli Jordfald from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Carolina.

Amazingly 85% of the major donor portfolio was developed from existing donors - smaller gift donors. The majority of these were ex patients. 

In the US, major donor fundraisers talk about 'The Discovery Call'. These are calls that connect people with what the organisation does. Physical, or by phone they are not really cold calls. Yet fundraisers still dread them.

Her first angle is to look at people who are already grateful. Ex-0atients are obvious choices, but other 'alumni' should be considered.  But you have to be quick. People are not grateful forever.

Her list for prioritizing targets is remarkably similar to the Pareto major donors next week program. 
- past donors
- first time donors (everyone!)
- alumni
- board
- donors to similar causes
- screened grateful patient lists

The screening is wealth screening - similar to the service that Charlotte Grimshaw offers through Fundraising Research.  

So you have a list. So what do you do next?

Discovery calls.  Whatever you do, at some point you have to call the prospect.  And listen. These are not sales pitch calls (unless the donor is not a major donor prospect), they are question sessions.

The purpose of the first call is not to get a visit but to asses whether a visit is appropriate. Be prudent - is it worth it? Visits are expensive.  And in that first call, be upfront about title.  Also, she says not to worry about avoiding discussing diagnosis. Ie ask them about their diagnosis and treatment.

If you do determine that the prospect is not a major gifts prospect, it is fine to ask during the call. Unless they give you a reason not to ask - ie the person says they are broke, just lost their house, gone bankrupt etc.

So, you get to speak to them, what do you say?

- Opening
- Assess interest
- Validate capacity
- Determine next steps

Examples of openers.... Introduce self, thank for previous gifts and ask something like 'I understand that you were recently at my hospital and I would be interested to hear about your experience there'

Examples of questions assessing interest.... Tell me about your personal experience
How do you see your involvement
Would you be interested in learning more about our research and clinical programs?
What areas interest you most in the field of cancer?

Basically, ask why they believe in your cause.

Examples of validating capacity questions....
- did you work while in treatment?
- now that treatment is over, do you plan to travel?
- do you have favorite organisations you like to support? .... Tell me about your involvement.

Examples of questions to determine next steps...
- I'm planning a trip to (your town) next week, would it be convenient to meet in person?
- I would like to invite you to a unique tour of the new cancer hospital
- would you like to tour ... Something else
For lower level people
- would you like to be a member of the .(donor club)

Now and then you will here people say you are in my will - make sure it is documented and they have the wording right.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fundraising is Beautiful Podcast Data 3 - F2F v non F2F

As I promised on the Fundraising is Beautiful Podcast, here is some more useful information on regular donors. This short presentation compares the implied life time value of average monthly donors recruited across a group of Australian and New Zealand charities (data is two years old now but the trends are the same).
F2 f v non f2f
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The worst disaster in developed world since WW2

At a scale greater than 911 or Katrina the devastation in Japan is surely our worst developed world disaster. The main differences between such huge human disasters in poor countries v rich countries are in media coverage and the ability of the nation to cope.

Whilst the number of people killed in Japan is huge and rising, the number of displaced persons appears to be comparable to the number of displaced people in Libya, yet the media has relegated the humanitarian crisis in North Africa to a bit part. We have Japan earthquake and tsunami, potential nuclear disaster and then the poetical impact of the Libyan crisis, political impact across other Arab and North African countries and maybe something about the North African humanitarian crisis.

The Japan disaster has also introduced a watershed in acceptable media coverage. Not long ago we weren't shown dead bodies, this time we were shown people fleeing for their lives, with neighbors screaming them on only to be caught up in the wave and had their lives extinguished in front of us, again and again.

The emotional impact is huge. I have no idea how it will affect fundraising. Appeals in Australia have been relatively low key so far - people are still shocked and no agency seems to be shouting for funds like they were over Christchurch and our local floods.

Unlike the floods, where there was a hastily constructed collecting tin in every pub, and no ten minutes on TV without an appeal there is no out-pouring of community spirit and people led fundraising here in Australia. I am sure millions will be raised but the impact on giving will be different. Only time will tell how.

What I do know, however, is that if you are are making decisions about your fundraising activites, and are not working in an organisation raising funds for the earthquake appeals then please, don't alter your plans. If you think the disasters will harm your fundraising so you postpone activities or cancel them then you are right, it will harm your fundraising - a lot more than if you carried on.

If you work in an organisation fundraising for the people of Japan right now, please don't forget the follow up. Check out to assess my point by point plaN against your own plans. It may be helpful.

In the meantime, please donate to Save The Children who have launched an appeal for Japanese children affected by the disaster,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fundraising is Beautiful Podcast Data 2

The second of three bits of data on the value of regular givers, relevant to the recent podcast on Fundraising is Beautiful.It shows the value of regular givers recruited from thirty odd New Zealand and Australian charities.  (Australian and New Zealand charities, email Clarke if you want to come into next year's benchmarking program).SeanRg numbers for podcast part 2 value
View more presentations from Pareto Group.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fundraising is Beautiful Podcast Data 1

The first of three bits of data on the value of regular givers, relevant to the recent podcast on Fundraising is Beautiful.It shows the number of regular givers recruited from thirty odd New Zealand and Australian charities and what sources they came from.(Australian and New Zealand charities, email Clarke if you want to come into next year's benchmarking program).
Rg numbers for podcast part 1 recruitment x
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Fundraising is Beautiful - Data and information

During my recent interview with Fundraising is Beautiful, I said I would put up some data and information backing up some of the points I made.

If you want to know when they go up, please sign up for updates, and they will be going up one at a time - first one (data showing Australian recruitment numbers) is going up tomorrow.



Emergencies should not overwhelm

Emergencies Should Not Overwhelm
ImageIt always seems like there are more and more emergencies. This year fires, flood and earthquake have hammered Australia and New Zealand, as well as at least seven other countries. La Nina is not finished with us yet. The massive displacement of people in North Africa looks like it is just going to get worse, and the spectre of civil war raises its ugly head into the limelight again.

None of this takes away the needs caused by crippling diseases like arthritis, killer diseases like liver cancer, runaway species extinction and rainforest destruction. But let’s face it – it is the emergencies that get the news.

Colleagues and I have written about the perils of fundraisers holding off fundraising activities due to an emergency that doesn’t directly affect their charity. For example, a New Zealand cancer charity deciding to postpone its donor appeal due out the first week of March because of the earthquake. Few commentators disagree with our point that you should go ahead with your campaign.

But what if your organisation is directly affected? For example, if there is an earthquake, and your charity is a development agency tasked with helping out.

In this case, the emergency should affect your fundraising. If the event is gaining lots of media coverage, then it is likely that you are already affected by the phones ringing, and your website being overwhelmed.

Read the full article here.

Fundraising is Beautiful... Beyond America too!

I am very keen on the Future Fundraising Now blog from Jeff Brooks in the USA and often recommend it, and I have also featured the regular podcast from Jeff known as 'Fundraising is Beautiful'.

The latest Podcast I am very keen on people listening to - especially my mum, since in it they actually interviewed me.

They were asking me about the differences between fundraising in the USA and everywhere else. A tall order, so I just stuck to the countries I know about. We talked about monthly giving, face to face mass donor acquisition and premiums.

You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recent presentations available

If you attended FIA and came to the session on identifying major donors that Charlotte Grimshaw and I presented, you can find the presentations here.  The other, direct marketing data session, is also up there.

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here