Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another post just for Aussies

Thinking of attending the FIA conference next year?

I hope so, and I hope that you can come along to my masterclass on story telling.  More information in the video below...

To register, please visit the Conference website here.

(PS, it is cheaper this week!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A special blog for Aussie fundraisers

I’m writing this blog to extend a personal invitation to you and your team to attend the 2013 FIA Conference in Sydney next March. 

The 2013 Conference includes an impressive line-up of fundraisers and inspirational speakers from around the world, including:

* renowned ethicist, Prof. Peter Singer – a personal intellectual hero of mine (and I am doing my best to get FIA chief Rob Edwards to let me introduce Peter!);

* direct mail and donor loyalty specialist Harvey McKinnon – I’ve heard Harvey speak before, and he really knows his stuff, and he is funny as well as knowledgable;

* major donor expert Tony Myers – an exceptional opportunity to learn from someone who has a vast experience – and enormous success – approaching major donors; and

* communications guru Bill Toliver – who has been described as ‘the most engaging and entertaining speaker I have heard in a long time … unorthodox, inspiring.”

There’ll also be plenty of familiar faces from the Australian fundraising sector, including Jan Chisholm, Vision Australia; Marcus Blease, Cerebral Palsy Alliance; Pareto’s own Fiona McPhee; Martin Paul, More Strategic; and Jannine Jackson, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead – and I’ll be presenting a Masterclass on Storytelling.

I’ve attended every FIA since 2002, and I can assure you it’s a very worthwhile investment. If you book before Friday, 14 December (ie RIGHT NOW!), you’ll qualify for the early-bird price. If you’re an FIA Member, it’s even better value.

The theme for the 2013 Conference is ‘Aspire to Greatness’. So what are you waiting for? Please, Click here to register today.

I’ll see you there.

PS: The annual FIA Conference is well worth your investment of time and money; I should know – I haven’t missed one since 2002. And if you register by Friday, 14 December, your ROI will be even better. Click here to register today.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Reverend knows how to thank his donors

It is not often you get beautiful, heartfelt stories from passionate people in our sector.  We all work hard to make stories wonderful and involving but they seem to come naturally to many Clergymen, but Rev Graham Long bashes these out quite regularly apparently.  I was forwarded this from a member of the ‘Inner Circle’.  This is a lovely, involving thank you letter.

See what you think, and read my comments at the bottom.

Dear Inner Circle,

Just now there was a woman standing in front of our Op Shop. Although she had a blouse on, her arms were not in the sleeves which caused the blouse to be worn more like a scarf, leaving her upper body entirely exposed. As I moved toward her to see if I could perhaps find her something to wear she bent down as if she was picking up a baby and laid it on the seat out front. By the time I reached her, she was nursing an invisible baby. A homeless fellow said to her, "Luv, if you put your arms in your sleeves you'll be able to do what you're doing without showing the world what you've got." She politely thanked the homeless guy and put her arms in her sleeves and then resumed feeding her invisible baby. I backed off because we had a couple of highly skilled female staff around and they didn't need my help. As I plough through this day however I can just imagine the kind of heartache that this dear lady has brought to us today. I'm so thankful for so many skilful and safe pairs of hands around here.

Robyn and I celebrated 41 years of marriage this week and in my romantic style, I worked late on the night in question. Yesterday at lunch, some staff members called us both up to the roof where we found a table set for two, with candles and a menu to rival the best restaurant in town. On the table was a card from our support team who had decided to surprise us in this way. There are some beautiful people in the world.

Last weekend was spent with my Mum in a dementia ward. The ward could be called "Hogans Heroes" because escape was on the mind of most of the residents, including my Mum. At one stage Mum introduced me to a lady who just needed to get out to check on her house that was quite near the nursing home. She said that a gentleman who was a resident had a car that was just in the car park so that all I had to do was let them out to get on with their business. The gentleman with the car appeared with his shoes on the wrong feet which didn't give me confidence in this particular plan. My dear Mum is well enough to know that she's locked in but not well enough to live anywhere else. The Southern Cross Oaklands Park Lodge in South Australia provides the most fabulous care for Mum and all of their residents. My sister, Heather, who lives near-by, carries a heavy load of love which she embraces like the five foot nothing giant that she is.

Thank you to the many who came to hear the Salem International Choir from Chicago last week. I thought we'd have a success if 200 people showed up. We had 400 seated and 160 people standing plus the choir which was another 80 people. What a once in a lifetime opportunity that we shared together! What an outpouring of joy and love! I wrote to the Pastor this week saying, "I think our faith is not taught but caught and I'm sure you left behind a pretty serious infection." I will treasure that gift for the rest of my days.

I was talking to a woman this morning who is living in a bus shelter. She said, "There isn't much privacy but I have great access to public transport." Meeting the odd saint like this helps to keep my petty whinging in check.

How glad are we to have you as part of our inner circle? Plenty glad!


Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

For sure, this will make you feel glad to be part of this inner circle.  I guess the technology (training, database or equipment – not sure which) needs a little help though:  My Inner Circle friend has a name; why is it not personalised?  And then it could have been great to add a variable acknowledging whether she went to the Salem International Choir or not. 

But, is better to get a non-personalised but beautiful personal email like this than a technically clever personalised but dull non-personal email isn’t it?  But imagine getting a fully personalised, beautiful personal email too!  I do hope the good Reverend gives some techy person a holy tap on the shoulder to make this real!

PHOTO: Reverend Graham Long

(Thanks to Wayside Chapel for permission to reproduce the whole letter – if you want to receive lovely emails like this become a member of the ‘inner circle’ here.)

Sean Triner

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Even super huge clouds have a silver lining

Superstorm Sandy has wreaked havoc on more people in the USA than live in England.

My thoughts are with those people, strangers and friends from the Carribean through USA and into Canada who have lost loved ones, homes businesses and communities.

As I write this the media and still showing dramatic images, lots of sad stories - but also lots of gorgeous 'human spirit' bits that we always see after natural disasters.

It must be very hard to see any positive outcomes from such natural fury but I am going to try.

Climate Change
There is no way anyone can say that Sandy was a direct consequence of human caused climate change.  But there is plenty of evidence that the frequency and severity of such storms is expected to increase due to climate change.

As New Scientist reported...

Such devastation could increase in the future: climatologists say that slow-moving storms like Sandy will become more common as climate change increases the occurrence of "blocking patterns" that slow down weather systems.
"We expect that hurricanes may move more slowly in the future than they do now," says Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Slow-moving hurricanes dump all their rain onto a smaller area, causing severe flooding, with coastal regions taking the brunt. "This shifts rainfall towards the coasts, and increases it at the same time," he says.
Even though there are still people who don't 'believe in climate change', most will begin to hedge their bets.  Really, the whole world needs the US to 'believe in climate change' if we are going to ever take serious global action.

Tragic climate events - even if not directly connected - can bring awareness of the awesome powers, and having them not just on our doorstep, but in our home is a true slap in the face.  

US high school teacher, Greg Craven, got it right with his fabulous website, book What's the worst that could happen? and great video "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See".  He takes a logical approach to the disagreement about climate change.

As you can see from his little sketch below he is advocating action whether you believe in climate change it or not.  He assumes action on climate change (scenario A) costs money.
I think that Sandy will help push more people who are sitting on the fence into deciding that the risk of a longer depression is better than the risk of a global catastrophe.

Here is his logic:

For all of us, wherever we live, the US economy is important.  Sandy has caused billions of dollars of damage in the USA.  But Americans are resilient, tough and community spirited.  Despite economic woes, donations are flying in from everywhere and the rebuilding cost will huge - but a great stimulus package.  New jobs will be created, business come into being and old businesses rebuilt.  I have no idea if this will be a net positive to the economy.  I am no expert on this kind of Keynesian thinking - I am not even sure it is Keynesian; but there will definitely by a great 'pulling together' spirit as we saw in Australia after our recent floods and fires.

Whatever happens, this storm will hit the insurance companies.  Whilst they will put up premiums, there is only so much of that they can do there.  However, it is the impact of this storm on insurance companies that could have the biggest and most important impact on the future of our planet.

The Insurers and Climate Change
Insurance companies 'believe in climate change' - they see it as a serious threat.  Back in 2007, the boss of the Reinsurance Association of America, Frank Nutter gave evidence at a select committee on energy independence and global warming "The insurance industry's financial interest is inter-dependent with climate and weather."

Andrew Castaldi, head of the catastrophe risk unit for the Swiss Re America Corp, said "We believe unequivocally that climate change presents an increasing risk to the world economy and social welfare."

Let's hope that since common sense and science have not created the action we need on climate change, this tragic catastrophe and the economic imperatives of the insurance companies will help push through some change that would position the United States as world leader on action on climate change. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stop Global Warming | Greenhouse | Red Planet

Sometimes a charity (in the case campaigning organisation in Indonesia) comes along with such an amazing TV ad you just have to share it.  This has got to be one of the most bizarre and amazingly abstract ads I have ever seen.

I am sure after watching it you will take immediate action to stop climate change, it just makes so much sense.

Click the link here:  Stop Global Warming | Greenhouse | Red Planet | WE LOVE AD


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why an ROI of 1.0 in acquisition could be a bad thing

Direct mail is having an amazing resurgence in Australia.  Charities have been used to large volume acquisition mailings pulling maybe 1.0% response rate.  An initial return on investment of 0.70 would be considered really, really good.

But more recent innovations - particularly using 'premium' packs - have lifted response rates considerably.  Many charities are achieving response rates unheard of on large volumes; 3.5% is now met with a little bit of appointment even though it is fantastic.

These packs tend to be large, with lots of elements such as these two examples posted out recently.

Even though they cost more to print and post, they can do very well indeed.

Recently, we have had quite a few actually break even on acquisition - something very rare not long ago.

When the results below came in, Pareto staff and clients were jumping up and down with joy... (the results are NOT one of the packs above, they are different examples).

This means that the $215,000 raised covered the cost of this pack in total.

So why am I saying this is not a good thing!?

Well, as a one off it isn't - but if we keep getting ROIs of 1.0 it really means that we are not taking advantage of a great opportunity.  It means we are not targeting enough people, not going 'deeper' into less responsive lists and donor sources.  It is good news - but only if we interpret it correctly: that it is an opportunity for more acquisition.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Christian Language for non Christians

I have read many a post, article or heard words of wisdom that people who partake in religious activities tend to be slightly more generous than those that don't.  It is hard to get concrete data to back that up in Australia, but a quick look at any big picture giving data from the USA (like Giving USA) certainly backs up this theory.

In Australia, the USA, UK and Canada by far and away the largest majority of donors who worship are Christians.  But those countries have all got substantial non Christian communities as well – atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and more.

The odd line of scripture or quote from the Bible is said to increase response rate from Christians, but how do you do that without putting off non-Christians?

One approach is to look at some the Bible lines or sayings (or interpretations of sayings) that have come into everyday use.  Many Christians will relate to the sayings, but non-Christians are unlikely to recognise the saying as a quote from the Bible.  Provided it is a good quote, in context, and helps the appeal it is therefore likely to have a net positive impact.

I have never seen this tested but it all makes sense.

Here are ten such sayings that you should be able to weave into copy without causing problems.  Note, they are not all direct quotes - some are alluded to.

"It is like the blind leading the blind!" (Matthew 15:14).

"Going the extra mile" (Matthew 5:41).

"Wash my hands of it" (Reference to Pontius Pilate at Jesus' trial. Matthew 27:24).

"Salt of the earth" (Jesus' words at Matthew 5:13).

"Written in stone" (Moses and the stone tablets - the 10 commandments at Exodus 31:18).

"Turn the other cheek" (Jesus' words. Matthew 5:39).

"It is better to give than receive" (Jesus' words recorded at Acts 20:35).

"It's like feeding the 5000!" (Reference to the miracle of Jesus at Matthew 14:13-21). 

"Nothing but skin and bones" Job 19:19-20 

"United we stand, divided we fall" Matthew 12:25

For more Bible sayings that could be useful.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Regular giving or one off donations: which to go for?

Fundraisers need to grow their databases, but should they invest in regular giving (automatic debits) or one-off donations?

In Australia, until around 2002, the answer was simple because regular giving was a tiny part of the fundraising mix.  Some charities tried acquiring new donors straight on to regular giving, to mixed success.  Some just added an extra line to their direct mail acquisition appeals  offering the opportunity to become a regular giver.

Then face-to-face arrived.  Not only did it acquire hundreds of thousands of new regular givers, it actually created an entire new ‘type’ of donor – a younger demographic.

Brilliant fundraising expert and blogger, Jeff Brooks picked up on this in a recent blog where he noted that: “There are younger donors ... just not in America.”  He goes on to say that, “In Australia, more than a third of the charity collected each year comes from what's called Down Under "regular giving," otherwise known as monthly giving or sustainer giving.”

He is right indeed. About a third of individual income to professional fundraising charities appears to come from regular giving.  World Vision reports $195m of it’s $345m income in 2011 was from regular giving.  The Pareto Benchmarking report, looking at around $330m of other charities’ income, shows that over one third of that came from regular giving.  This report studied 48 different charities’ data.

Even though face-to-face has been the engine behind this growth, there still many regular givers acquired in other ways.  One significant way is by asking current donors to become regular givers, usually through a combination of phone and mail.

This ‘regular giving conversion’ process is so effective that some charities think of their ‘normal’ database as simply the means to generate leads for regular giving conversion.
Charities often make a choice as to whether they should focus on regular giving or not, but the latest data from Pareto’s benchmarking shows that this is the wrong approach. You don’t need to choose between one or the other.

One reason is that most regular givers come from face-to-face. These donors are younger and hardly ever do anything except upgrade when they are phoned. In addition, they are also poor major donor prospects, with very rare exceptions. Furthermore, they are not good bequest prospects, because they are too young and not yet interested in supporting charities in this way.

The chart below shows the percentage of donors in various categories who have informed the charity they have mentioned the charity in their will.

In general, face-to-face donors are clearly not interested in putting charities in their will.
The other reason you don’t need to make a choice for or against regular giving is that nearly all non-regular donors will not become regular givers, no matter what you do.

The chart below shows second gift rate by charity within 12 months of acquisition.  It shows the proportion of those second gifts that were the beginning of an automatic payment method (blue), or another one off donation (organe).  Each column is a different charity.  The black lines match the right hand axis – this is the number of new donors acquired by each charity, the orange block is the percentage that had made a second gift within twelve months, and the blue shows the percentage whose second gift was the first of their automatic debits.

Put simply, most new non-automatic debit donors don’t become regular givers within 12 months – even for those charities trying hard to get them to do so.

On the other hand, what of people who came straight in as regular givers?  The chart below shows the total contributions of all donors acquired straight onto regular giving by the channel that was used to acquire them.  Face-to-face accounts for well over two thirds of these donors, and only a few per cent are from online.
The little crosses go with the right hand axis and show the ‘ratio’ of giving compared to first gift after four years.  The left is the average total given by donors acquired through that channel straight onto regular giving.

For example on average, face-to-face donors will have given around 25 times their first debit – about $650 - after four years whereas a donor acquired straight to regular giving from a direct mail piece will have given around 45 times their first gift - about $900.

The blue is income from regular giving, and the orange is additional income from other donations.  The face-to-face donors across these charities gave insignificant amounts on top of their regular donations and the direct mail donors gave about $50.

So, we see that most of the value from regular donors is from those regular gifts and little from additional donations.

It is hard to get regular givers to give additional gifts and it is hard to get non-regular donors to become regular donors.  But you as a fundraiser really need both types of donor.

Don’t choose between regular giving and one off – do both.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A world beyond fundraising for charities

Last week I was at the Nonprofit Strategy Forum in Brisbane which looked at some of the challenges facing nonprofits (I still prefer the term 'charity') but mostly not from a fundraising point of view.  I was on a panel with two others challenging the current paradigm; one encouraging charities to not be scared to borrow money and another looking at how charities should not just look at income but also social capital - having impact beyond monetary things.

The idea was that we were meant to debate and be controversial but we kind of struggled to disagree with each other.

The borrowing money is a fascinating concept.  Particularly for fundraising.  From a commercial lenders point of view, in the scheme of things to invest in, professional fundraising is generally a pretty safe bet; failures are rare and returns are very good compared to other business ventures.

Many of the big international charities here got their foot into the fundraising market in Australia via a loan from their Paris or Geneva based 'parents', but other than that there are few others willing to borrow.

There are also people from the Myer Family Company, Vision Australia's board chair, the ACNC task force (new charity regulators) and someone from Opportunity International talking about microfinance options.

A great mini conference for CEOs, finance people and board members.  Tickets still available, Sydney 12 June and Melbourne 15 June.

Oh - and if you are a subscriber to this blog, quote STPF12 to get a discount.  Eg from $330 to $275 (+GST) on a single, small charity ticket.  Call 02 9555 4203 and tell them you would like a discount.

More information here.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Big Macs and Giving

A bit of fun:  Who gives the most?

The Big Mac Index is used by the Economist and others to measure purchasing power of a currency.

Some fundraising friends of mine are building a Global Giving Wiki and they are starting with a Big Mac Index on giving - ie comparing average donations to the price of a Big Mac.

In Australia, looking at average gifts across around 40 charities we can see that the average regular gift is around $28, between six and seven Big Macs.  How will that compare to various countries?

The answer will be revealed at the end of the year, when lots of people have filled in the survey - people like you!

(Bizarrely I didn't know, and nor did anyone in the Pareto Sydney office know, how much a Big Mac cost.  I had to get the answer out of our Brisbane office).

Please complete it here, it takes about 3 minutes.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How complex is social media?

Think you know all the Social Media providers that are out there?  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc?  Could you name just five more?

Business Insider published an image from Buddy Media showing around 300 Social media sites, trackers, URL shorteners and more.

The point of the article is that social media is really confusing, but I disagree.  There is no need for charities to be early adopters of social media platforms; most have short lives and disappear.  The ones that survive and grow are of most interest to us.

Even then, be cautious:  mail, phone and face to face still account for nearly all new donor acquisition.  There are donors acquired online of course, but when it comes to digital, old fashioned web advertising (where social media is treated as just another place to buy advertising) and email still accounts for nearly all digitally acquired donors.

Looking at 45 Australian and New Zealand charities we see in the chart below that online solicitation is growing, but is still very small.  Please note - this is solicitation; more and more direct mail solicited donors actually use the web to donate, but here we are looking at where the advertising goes, not the inbound channel.

When it comes down to it, social media follows the Pareto Principle; a majority of the useful traffic is going to be through a minority of the social media platforms.  In other words, just get Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter right and you don't need to worry about the others.  This month.

The infographic with all the social media firms is here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Australians gave more to charity in 2011 than ever before

The latest Pareto Benchmarking figures - derived from looking at actual transactions across 45 charities in Australia and New Zealand - revealed that Australians gave more money to charity in 2011 than ever before. Double checking annual reports of the largest fundraising organisations not in benchmarking confirms it was a good year.

Regular giving (automatic debits) has grown enormously over the past ten years. In fact, for professional fundraising organisations such as Cancer Council NSW and WWF regular giving accounts for more income than 'one-off' donations.

As you can see from the chart above, across the group, around a third of individual gifts came from bequests, a third from regular giving and a third from occasional donations such as those sent in response to direct mail.

Direct mail had been pretty flat over the last few years, but has begun a new resurgence in growth as new creative approaches lift response rates from around 1% to over 4% for many charities. This is from sending letters to people who had not previously donated to the charity.

We expect this growth to accelerate as more and more charities have recently succeeded with their early tests. However, it can take a long time for them to accelerate their programs so the growth will most likely be reflected in 2013 data (to be presented in 2014).

Face to face (people on the street and knocking door to door and asking for monthly pledges) goes from strength to strength, with these 45 charities acquiring more donors through face to face last year than any previous. The only thing holding back further growth in this area is capacity from the face to face providers - they are mostly full up.

But it is not all rosy on the face to face front - one charity in the group lost 60% of its new face to face donors within one year. The average is around 45% but the best manages to keep most of its donors, with only 36% attrition.

Australian and New Zealand charities can join Pareto Benchmarking for free - email


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The funniest ad campaign analysis since Stupid Non Profit Ads

"Advertising campaign reaches Mrs. Betty Turner, 93, and 17,678 people who don’t care..."

An agency spokesperson said she hopes "the 17,000 people who saw the ads and really don’t care about the Foundation will change their minds when they begin a new series of ads costing tens of thousands more in a few weeks.". See full article here.

Thanks to Jeff Brooks for this lead...He is the master of knocking waste of money (and time) advertising campaigns. You may recall his 'Stupid non profit ads'.

If you dont already I suggest you Subscribe to Jeff's Future Fundraising Now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Life You Can Save

As his mobile phone disappeared into his pocket a huge smile crept across Mark's face.  He had to hold himself back from punching the air and whooping with delight.  Just nine months ago, things hadn't looked so rosy.  

His business had grown really well until then - especially with one, blue chip client.  But ten months ago a new marketing director had turned up in that client and within a month had swept in a new agency.

He knew it had been a mistake to rely on just one client for half his business, but how could he have turned them down?  He had struggled over the past nine months - cut his salary to the bone even though Marcia was expecting.  Now little Toby had entered their lives, money was very very tight and the board insisted on redundancies - unless he won this new client he'd been wooing. 

The call was confirming the contract.  Business was back to booming - but a condition from the new client was that he had to personally oversee the account; without him there was no deal.

Whooping aside he noticed people dodging a street fundraiser - one of those earnest young people banging on about saving the world.  This one was representing Oxfam.  Well, representing Oxfam today Mark thought - tomorrow it will be Amnesty or Greenpeace.

Earnest World Saver caught Mark's eye.  Before Mark could escape he was caught, dazzled into inaction.

"Hello sir, how are you today?!" began Earnest.  "I'm good but..." began Mark, looking for an escape route.

"That's great! I hope you can spare me a few moments on this fair day.  I am working for Oxfam to help alleviate poverty and literally save kids lives around the world.  You see, in Africa right now, countless kids are suffering from easily curable diseases.  A million of them will die this year from  diarrhea alone.  For just $35 a month - a little over a dollar a day - you can directly help save lives..."

Earnest clearly believed in what he was saying; he probably passionately believes in human rights and tying himself to nuclear subs as well thought Mark.  But Mark had more on his mind right now.

"Thanks, I'm sorry - I don't have time right now" he said, making a beeline for a pedestrian crossing where a young mother watched, relived at not being Earnest's victim.  Her child, maybe five years old and dressed in a cliche pretty red dress,  looked fascinated by something in the road gutter.

The young mum caught his eye and they both knowingly smiled as he quickly sloped off towards the crossing, willing the lights to change.

Earnest was casting about for his next victim when Mark saw something dart out of the gutter - a rat perhaps.  It shot across the road, daring the traffic and startled Mark.

Then things slowed down - it was like a movie; he saw the red dress move after the rat, and the red mass of a bus coming in from the nearside. Without thinking he was moving - instinct kicked in and he leapt across the front of the mum, dragging the kid backwards and towards the gutter.  The change in direction, the speed - everything was working against him as he saw the terrified face of the child falling into the gutter ahead of him.

He felt the bus - the wind, the noise and he knew it was over.  Marcia and Toby - what about them?  He heard the screeching - the tyres and the mother and felt an arm grab him, pulling him up.  The bus had come to a rest - the shocked faces of passengers staring out.

Young mum embraced Little Red Dress as he realised it was Earnest helping  him up.  Earnest had tears in his eyes.  "Mate, you're a hero."


Our job as fundraisers is to make people care enough about children (or equivalent cause) a long away away, as much as they do for someone close.  Most of us would hope we reacted like Mark did, but he risked everything - not just his clothes, a meal or a new iPhone - everything - to save the life of a stranger.

We fundraisers bring our causes closer to our donors through stories and personalisation, though relationships and demonstrating consequences of not giving.

Facts and stats don't make things closer, stories do.

By the way, I am doing a story telling master class at the FINZ conference May 10-12, book here.

Peter Singer does a similar analogy in his superb book "The Life You Can Save" (hence the title)- I thoroughly recommend it, available on Amazon etc. 

You can make the world a much better place without putting your life and your family welfare at risk by donating to Oxfam here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who are the rich people on your database?

Those lovely people at Fundraising Research & Consulting (FR&C) have decided to give a massive gift to all you fundraisers wondering where the money is in Australia.

For years they have been trawling the web and building a database of the richest people around, who they give to, how much (where known) and anything else in the public domain.

This information helps charities save lots of money on targeting but also FR&C offer a service where they have a look at the people who are already donating to you and match that to this database of big givers.  You may well have someone who donated $1m to another charity giving you $100 every Christmas.  That doesn't mean they will suddenly give you a million, but you certainly should be talking to them differently.

You have to pay for this service but there are a load of free resources available too, and this is the gift FR&C are  giving to you:  A full list of all those resources.  Now you could go and find them yourself, but using this free list will save you over a hundred hours of work (and you would probably not have found them all anyway!)

Check out


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Communicate TODAY about the non-disaster earthquake

Millions of people woke up to relief that the two massive earthquakes last night did not cause devastating loss of life and damage to property.

The British PM was visiting Indonesia at the time, and immediately pledged the UK's support if it turned into a disaster (I am no Tory, but believe this was not an empty promise) and International NGOs around the world were on high alert.

As hundreds of thousands evacuees return safe and sound to their own homes and beds, the whole world can join them in relief, with sad memories of what happens when the earth shifts in a different way.

So a non-disaster happened.  Fundraisers around the globe were also on alert, but also can relax now and get on with their fundraising programs as planned.  Except...

I would like to throw a spanner in the works.  The near disaster was big news, but all the media will have all but disappeared over the next 48 hours.  Fundraisers:  Be quick but if you act now, right now, you may be able to help your charity with a very quick, very cheap fundraiser.  All international aid charities will have  some wonderful people who have made gifts after disasters, but never donated since.

I suggest getting an email out to them, right now - no delay, it must be today and ask them to contribute to a monthly donation program to help in disaster preparedness.  It won't revolutionise your fundraising but will definitely add a few new regular givers to your file, very cheaply.

Bullet points for the email below the video...

* Personalise it
* Explain what happened, reference local news reports
* Explain it is all good news now BUT
* Thank them for their support when disasters happened before
* You had teams on standby (better to say something like "I have just heard that our Indonesia alert team has stood down now...") - point out this was only possible because of support in the past
 * BUT we still need funds to be ready for disasters, as well as during disasters so you have a disaster preparedness fund (or say something similar)
* So please will you help by signing up to just (local equivalent of ) 50c per day, taken as a convenient monthly donation of $15..
* A link to a monthly sign up landing page, with "Thank you for helping YOURCHARITY be ready for the next disaster".

If you do it, please let me know how it goes.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AFP Joy of Story telling

Just finishing a session in Vancouver on story telling.
Here is the presentation....
Some other brilliant people on fundraising...
And Tom Ahern...
And Jeff Brooks...
A great letter is here...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Premium v non premium mailings

I am currently in Canada, being overwhelmed with premium data from Italy, Belgium, France and US. It is wonderful! All that data :)

The US data sometimes goes back decades, the European 5 to 7 years and some fascinating stuff.

As per my previous blog, premium acquired donors are shown to respond to non premium mailings - like we found in Australia.  At slightly lower levels than than non premium donors, but there are so many more of them it all works out quite nicely.

But, and it is a big BUT, they respond better to premiums.  Also rather fascinating is that the results all these direct mail agencies' clients get from their non-premium donors - they tend to respond to premiums better too.

In Australia mailing warm donors premium mailings is more challenging than cold for logistical reasons but we are trying to test these findings in the New Zealand and Australian market too.

I do wonder if things will be different here - the other countries are much more 'mature' (ie more charities have been mailing more premiums for longer).  In the US the premium acquired donors really don't seem to do anywhere near as well when sent non premium packs (as per Data Monkey's recent blog) but the level of activity there is massive compared to over here.  The Europeans seem to be somewhere in the middle.

However, Data Monkey also recently quoted  David Hazeltine saying that if premium donors only respond to premiums then send them premiums.  I reckon in ten years or so that could be the case in Australia and New Zealand, but it appears that is not an issue yet.

The Belgians told me that generally, because of the smaller sizes there, they tend to acquire using premiums but then send a mix of 'high value' premiums, 'medium value' premiums and non premium mailings; they have found that increasing the frequency of mailings makes more money.  Their current clients send ten to thirteen warm mailings per annum.

It takes years to test the right combination of premium to non premium warm, and the number of those mailings because of small population and donor pools.  In lieu of a better idea, I wonder if the Belgian approach is the right way to go in Australia and New Zealand too.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Something look familiar about this ad?

This is the 'article' that Data Monkey referred to in her recent blog (see my previous blog).

It appeared in the most recent Fundraising and Philanthropy magazine; I still recommend subscribing if you are in NZ or Australia, but for other countries I figured not showing you it was unfair!

You may note the style of the ad - ads like this have been around since the early 20th century, and they are still the best layout I reckon; David Ogilvy may be in a better place, but his proven ad ideas are still the best to place in the 21st century.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Premium v non premium donors

The blogger Data Monkey confessed to being a bit of a cynic following my article about premiums* in Fundraising and Philanthropy magazine.

Much has been written about premium and non premium donors, mostly by people who love them, or by people who hate them.  The bottom line can be summed up by:

Against:   Many people just don't like them - a personal view, shared by a couple of mentors including Uncle Ken Burnett.  This is like many people just don't like face to face.  They argue:
* Average premium donors are not as loyal as non-premium
* They need to be sent premium appeals to give again

Others love them arguing that
* Response rates are huge
* Loyalty is almost by the by - if they only respond to premiums, then send them premiums!

Both sides are kind of right really, but are not mutually exclusive.  For me it comes down to looking into the data.

The solicitation pack, and whether it had a premium in it is only one variable we can use for analysis.  There are lots more variables - such as amount donated, list source, use of credit card, cheque or even cash and age of donor.

What we see is that premium mailings tend to acquire many, many more donors than non premiums.  Our tests have revealed considerable response rate differences:

Here, the premium beat the next best non-premium pack (which did extraordinarily well) by nearly three times.  Even though it cost more, the ROI was nearly twice as good too.  Other charities get similar differences - premiums seem to get two to four times the response rates of non premiums, with ROIs at least 50% better.  

Working closely with one charity (the one represented in the chart above) we have studied how these new donors behaved.  We found that the average premium donor is not as 'good' as non premium, give less, have a slightly lower chance of giving again to non premium appeals than non premium acquired donors but still do give - and of course, there are between two and four times as many of them.

However, when we drilled down we found that donors who donate the same amount to either a premium or a non premium seem to have little else to differentiate them.  For example, about 44% of premium donors who gave $50 had made another gift (to non premium appeals) within 12 months, compared to 47% of non premiums - too close to be significant.  Interestingly their average second year total giving was $91 for non premium and $89 for premium.

So, for this charity at least, $50 donors are more or less the same regardless of whether their original solicitation included a premium or not.  Other charities are getting perfectly satisfactory results from premium acquired donors too, but few have tested premium v non-premium so we aren't in a position to know if this is consistent but I imagine it will be.

We (Pareto staff and clients) have co-written a paper on all of the findings we can share, working title "Pareto Guide to Premium acquisition in Australia" with this kind of information, case studies, data and more.  It is with the designers at the moment, but if you want a copy, just drop me an email.  


* Definition of a 'premium donor': Someone who responds to a mailing which includes an unsolicited 'gift' such as a tote bag, keyring, stationary pack, cards etc.  These are usually great devices for increasing response, but even those that don't respond may use them - they are kind of like viral advocacy for your cause.

For my original article you will need to subscribe to Fundraising and Philanthropy magazine here.  Ask if they have a back copy and they may throw it in with your subscription if they have any left, after all you are a fundraiser and are used to asking...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What is face to face / direct dialogue?

I am in Canada for the AFP Conference (which goes to Canada every now and then).  Yes, it is cold.

When most European, SE Asian, Australian, NZ and International fundraisers talk about "Face to face" or "Direct dialogue" fundraising they often mean something different to what  many North Americans mean.

Of course, face to face fundraising technically means anytime someone speaks directly to someone else, soliciting  a gift.  But in most blogs and books written by non North Americans it means "The act of soliciting someone, usually a stranger, for a regular, ongoing gift usually monthly and between $15 and $45 per month."  The people who do the soliciting are usually paid, and more often than not working for a third party agency.

This kind of fundraising has driven huge growth in many countries - driving the growth of "regular" giving (automatic monthly debits).

With regular gifts accounting for as much as a third of individual giving in Australia*, you can see how important face to face (F2F) is when you look at the proportion of new regular givers it acquires, and how much money they give.

The chart below shows growth in regular giving income for 41 charities combined from  Australia and New Zealand.

* Estimate is from Pareto Benchmarking 2011.  The new one is due out in a few weeks.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Great and amusing fundraising presentation

Great and amusing fundraising presentation from a volunteer running the NY Marathon a few years back in aid of the Heart Foundation.

Worth flicking through the 16 pages or so.  It is hard to get humour to work in fundraising, and he has done a good job.  I have asked Inspired Adventures to let me know if he made his target! (The presentation is on their blog, they organise fundraising events like this).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Non fundraisers leap to Aussie fundraisers' defence

A great article on Hootville with very specific advice on what charities should do after the silly story in the 'paper yesterday.

"99% of nonprofit CEOs we’ve met fear an unscrupulous, unfair, unexpected media hikacking. Only 1% ever experience such a thing. One such CEO is Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Rob Edwards...

Read the whole article here....Especially if you are an Australian charity worker thinking what to do next; Hootville give you a great guide.

New line of attack on charities

A journalist attended the recent FIA conference at the Gold Coast and wrote lots of stuff about charities and how they do their fundraising.

To be honest, he is bloody good at his job - he has managed to get front page of one of Australia's best selling tabloids and syndicate the story across the nation and it has been picked up by other media.

It is easy to knock him, or accuse him of doing a hatchet job, ignoring the good stuff and spinning amazing stories out of nothing - but that after all, is his job.  And he will be looking for the next angle.

But our bosses will be worried, some charities are specifically named (but not really accused of anything) and it is easy to panic and do something silly.  Some donors will maybe get a little worried about it, but overall it shouldn't make much difference to our ability to fundraise - unless we do something daft in response.

The very worst things we can do, as a sector, are give any credence to the nonsense printed, or give the press examples of conflict between charities which will act as an accelerant.  Approaching the journo or his employers is not going to help.  He is, after all, not stupid - he knows that his story is completely out of context, but it is a great career boost.

Please, charity media departments, think it through before you release your media statements but don't add any credence to what he wrote by saying things like:
* We would never pay professional fundraisers to work for us (kind of cuts future options for you)
* We only target people already supporting us (where will you get new supporters?)
* Apologizing for salaries
* Undermining fundraising techniques that you may not use, but others do very succesfully.
Put up a public statement, complain to the newspaper and talk to your key stakeholders; defend your good practice but do not knock other charities - even if just by implication.

The two areas specifically attacked were bequests and face to face.  Here are some facts you can use when talking to people - even if you don't use these methods.  The data is taken from looking at 41 Australian and New Zealand charities in the Pareto Benchmarking program.

* About half of all individual donations from 2001-2011 came from bequests
* In 2011 bequests accounted for about a third - because other methods are growing
* Regular giving is one of those areas growing (also accounts for about a third of individual donations) and by far and away the largest source of regular givers is face to face
* Generally speaking, people don't give unless asked, and asking costs money

All the way through - focus on the outcome; start with a case study "Little David had cancer but...." and then point out how many little David's were helped as a consequence of your fundraising.

And don't knock Richard's training techniques (he got attacked for making jokes about raising money from the dead): It is well established that shock, unexpected comments and humour improve learning.  If any of you know nurses, care assistants and ambulance workers you will know they deal with stressful situations with humour which is appropriate at the time but sounds terrible when re-told out of  context.

For a great summary of the story, don't bother looking at the paper - there is a brilliant summary from fundraising database supplier AppiChar 'Journalist targets Australian population with Dumb Story'.

"Charities target the elderly and dying for bequest dollars.
In a shocking turn of events, it was discovered via the undercover reporting ...that organisations across Australia, many providing some of the most important services to the country were:
  • Taking a strategic view of their funding requirements
  • Doing everything they can to make sure they tell their story in the most efficient manner to the right people in order for those people to make an informed choice about the money they spend
  • Were sharing knowledge on best practise to help make sure they weren’t wasting time and money..."
Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The cost of fundraising question

Dan Pallotta presented a great, energetic and motivating session today arguing that charities are put on an unfair playing field for competing for people's hearts, minds and wallets. He argues that we pay our people too little, aren't allowed to advertise (fundraise) by spending money, can't take a long term view and must not take a risk, since failure of a campaign in the charity world is not acceptable. None of these restrictions apply to companies.

The issue of most interest to the fundraising conference attendees seems to be cost of fundraising. The simplicity of the question 'how much of my dollar goes straight to the cause?' is tempting and easy for journalists to pick up on. If a lot of thought is not put into it, it is a fair enough question. But it doesn't take emuch thought or information to realize it is practically irrelevant.

A more important question is 'what impact will my donation have?' But the answer to that is not simple. Fundraising is not simple, nor is it fair. It is easier for certain causes to make money than others. Think kids with cancer versus rehabilating young offenders.

Dan was advocating a public program to establish 'overhead' as a good thing - after all, a charity with really low overhead is less likely than one with a higher overhead to have correctly trained and paid staff, proper legal advice, computers, Licences software, accountants, HR policies, outcome measurements etc. Doing things right costs money.

Explaining this to the public will be hard, and maybe we should take it on (despite the huge overhead burden it would add to our costs!) But we need to get our own houses in order first.

Within our own sector, there are many, many board members, finance people and CEOs plus a not insignificant number of fundraisers who buy into the simplicity of the cost of fundraising myth. Dan showed one charity proudly displaying then fact that 100% of your donation goes to the cause.

According to a local radio station, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne recently came out and said F2F should be banned in Melbourne. He is the chair of a large fundraising organisation and he doesn't get it. How can inform the public when our own leaders are so badly informed?

Before we try to explain this issue to the public we need to make sure these non-fundraising bosses of fundraising organisations really understand it.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Face to face bashing is not unique to Australia

Karen Ward who works for the New Zealand PFRA (which tries to make sure face to face in NZ is coordinated and has code of conduct etc) sent through some anti-F2F media following up on the Australian POYSN story (as per my last blog).

My mate in Ireland also wrote up about how an ill informed senator and some media muppet are having a go over there.

Dan Pallotta, US fundraiser and author is speaking first thing at the FIA (Australian fundraising) conference tomorrow and he will probably show his 'I am overhead' campaign from the US taking the issue of costs to the public.

Should we(and the Irish, British and Kiwis) take on the issue in the media? Or are we better off sticking with a pseudo Von Bismark approach - 'The people need sausages, laws and charities but they really don't need to see how they are made'?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Face to face in the media

Face to face works - hundreds of millions of dollars raised over the last decade in Australia alone - as you can see from my most recent blog.

But journalists keep sniffing around to find a story.  Unfortunately for them, there is not much of a story; from a public point of view it is pretty boring because it is just a bunch of people getting paid to do a job.

They get paid a reasonable amount which is usually based on how well they do their job.  

They are employed by a company who arranges materials, admin, data and organises the whole thing with relevant charities.

As the chart in my previous blog shows, the system works - donors who otherwise would not have donated, donate, and charities get to do more work than they would have done if they had not used this method of fundraising.

Consequently, when there are stories in the press not a lot happens really - from a data point of view.  We don't see a spike in cancellations and it doesn't seem to make things harder for street canvassers (if you are one, please correct me if I am mistaken!)

Sunday Telegraph Journalist Jonathan Marshall decided to go undercover and go through the process of training for a canvasser.

Most of what he found is pretty boring:
- the companies exist to make profit
- canvassers are told if they do really well they can make lots of money
- mining towns are great, because people have too much money, little to do and like chatting to attractive young people

However, one thing gave him his hook - something that would actually make this story interesting enough for editors to run, and to be fair to Jonathan he had invested a lot of time in this and is a well trained journalist.

His hook was that the agency was using an acronym to describe who should not be targeted.  Whilst their targeting is actually socially responsible, it had a totally inappropriate word in it - 'Stupid'.  Canvassers in this company were told to avoid marketing to Poor, Old, Young, Stupid and Non English speaking - they say avoid the POYSN (pronounced Poison).  Of course, it is not in the interests of the charity to sell monthly giving to particularly vulnerable people so the advice is good - but the phrase is disrespectful.  Really, it was just waiting to be exposed.

What we do in fundraising is not wrong - we invest and pay trained professionals to make money for our causes.  But we need to do it in a respectful way - yes we can be cheeky, motivate people from many angles (change the world AND make money is a good incentive for many people) - but assume there is a webcam watching us when we do it.

Jonathan's story was picked up by The Project.  The Video will only work in Australia and you want the 19 Feb episode which should start playing .  Fast forward to about 1:30 after the ad.

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here