Fire destroys offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation in Footscray

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A fire today in Footscray  at Little Saigon Market has destroyed the offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation destroying hundreds of Christmas gifts, including 6,000 donated school books, intended for children of poor families.

The Foundation has been a part of the Western suburbs of Melbourne for over 30 years and Les Twentyman has been the major driver.

Donations can be made at www.ltfoundation.com.au and material donations can be made by phoning the organisation on 9689 480 or visiting Replenish for Health in Douglas Parade, Williamstown.

 

 

Online fundraising and Regular Giving increases: findings by M+R Benchmarks Report

It’s refreshing to see some solid benchmarking on the trends in the NFP sector.

In this 10th edition M+R Benchmarks has created some highly useful data on trends in online fundraising. It involved 105 participants in eight sectors.

Interestingly, it shows a decline in response rates to emails; revenue growth increased by growth in email lists.

The report shows an increased trend in monthly giving which is very positive as this is a great way to provide sustainable revenue for organisations.

You can read the whole report here and I’ve quoted some highlights below.  By the way, the report includes some useful and illuminating graphs particularly about which sectors are growing and which are declining.

  1. “13% of online gifts came from mobile devices

  2. For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans, 132; Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. In 2006, those numbers were basically zero, zero, and zero: Facebook was limited to .edu email addresses, Twitter was just about to launch, and Instagram’s founders were still in college.

  3. Nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 of online revenue. This might not seem like much, but considering that overall online revenue grew by 19% in the last year, digital advertising is an increasingly important market for acquisition, conversion, and retention.

  4. The volume has been turned way up: the average nonprofit in our study sent the average subscriber on its list 49 email messages in 2015.

  5. Monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue – monthly giving is growing quite a bit faster than one-time revenue. In the first Benchmarks Study, only about half of the participants had a recurring giving program at all.”

 

‘Chairity’ starts at home…

Each year the sudden festooning of lampposts with Christmas decorations, mince pies in the supermarket and Christmas carols at my local cafe take me by surprise! “It’s Christmas!”, they yell! “Already?” I want to yell back!

This year is no exception .. perhaps because while I was visiting Sydney I was amazed to see – before Halloween was even over  –  some bright spark had already installed a 6.5 tonne Swarovski crystal-decorated tree in the Queen Victoria Buildings ! Now I think that’s really a bit early! It was very beautiful though.

It may sound it, but I’m not a cynic and I actually really like celebrating the end of the year, cooking Christmas cake, eating Christmas cake…

This prompted me to consider the various fundraising appeals and campaigns that are attempting to encourage us each to think about someone or something that needs the gift even more.

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Here are a few that caught my attention:

Chairity begins at home

Habitus Living – this glorious, glossy, envy-inspiring design magazine features the ‘Chairity Project‘ which, while not strictly for Christmas is happening around this time.

Chairity-Project-2015_Tracey-Deep_4-915x587Each beautifully designed chair will be auctioned off for chairity… sorry, charity… a great idea and a wonderful way to combine art, creativity and heartfelt innovation.  For more info visit Cult Design.

Very Berry Christmas!

jessicaIf you’ve already started shopping and perhaps like me you have a ‘gift drawer’ where you put things you’ve taken a fancy to but you’re not sure who they’re for (ok, that might just be me), how about buying a toy for a boy or girl you’ll probably never meet.    Berry Street is a wonderful children’s organisation which since 1877 has focused on the rights of children to have a safe and happy home. With their Christmas appeal, you can buy a gift on line, make a donation or get gift tags for your own choice of gift.  They only accept new toys and really need gifts for children aged 11-16+

Raining Cats and Dogs!

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If you have a cat, budgie, fish or a dog, give them an extra squeeze of affection (maybe not the fish) this festive season when so many cats and dogs are abandoned. Hard to believe I know but some owners find the cost of kennels or catteries to onerous and just leave their pets to fend for themselves.  And definitely please DO NOT give pets as gifts – these are often the unfortunate creatures that end up at lost dogs and cat shelters when their new owners find they cannot look after them. Consider this story in the Daily Telegraph last year but this sad story is the same every year.   If you’d like to support your favourite animal shelter, they often need blankets and financial donations are usually well received. Lort Smith had a great event ‘Pause for a cause‘ to raise money for the hospital, walking around Melbourne’s ‘Tan’ at the Botanical Gardens with over 100 dogs! What a great sight that would have been! Woof!

Cockatoos need you too!

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Let’s not forget our feathered friends this Christmas.  As a bird-lover I’m biased but it is easy to forget that we have so many beautiful native birds on the edge of extinction.  Visit BirdLife.org.au and see what you can do to help. You can become a BirdLife member for just $1.50 a week! Seems a small amount to help save beautiful birds like our waders, or the amazing Red Tailed Black Cockatoos.  What’s your favourite bird? Perhaps make a donation instead of a bought present for a friend.  I know they’d love it 🙂 (And keep your cat in at night, also a good gift to our feathered friends!)

Someone to watch over you

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Finally, this time of year can bring up a range of different and conflicting emotions. If you need someone to talk to, consider the Samaritans.  They have a help line for anyone needing a bit of support. Reach out if you need to. Or consider Lifeline who are there to help with many difficult situations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Festive Season. And if you think it’s too early to be saying this, blame Swarovski! 🙂

 

We went dry in July and helped raise over $4m – with @Dryjuly

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@DryJuly, which raises money for adults living with cancer by supporting organisations involved with cancer research, equipment and treatment, raised over $4m this year through its online and social media marketing. See their beneficiaries here.

It’s a very cool annual campaign with very low effort on the part of the participants and I suggest it has the benefit of growing involvement year on year.

The campaign asks its participants to give up drinking alcohol for a month.  They can just stop there if they like – a great way to have a healthy month.  Most people however would make a donation to get involved and then perhaps raise money from their friends, family and colleagues.

It has a positive benefit for the participants who have an AFM – an alcohol free month – who basically could donate what they would have spent on alcohol during July to the Dry July campaign.

It would be interesting to see how many participants a) join again after the first year – ie their retention rate and then b) whether they raise or donate more money in subsequent years.  I’d like to know what their retention rates are given it is hard for many charities to attract regular donors via online channels.

It may also be a good way to involve men in fundraising – notoriously difficult.  Movember is another annual campaign (the participation requirement I like less as it involves my husband growing even more facial hair!) But I’m sure its successful in this time of trending beards!  This was a fantastic idea started in  2003 by Adam Garone (who sports a most impressive mo’) and the other three co-founders inspired 30 guys to grow a moustache or beard and fundraise for men’s health during the month of November. Now, 10 years later, the campaign runs in 21 countries and in 2012, over a million ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’ took part.  Some very hairy people out there! Barbers everywhere rejoice!

I love these innovative, fun and joyful ideas.  They focus very much on the user, the customer, the donor and do not rely on doleful images and sad stories.  Certainly, there is a need for that type of marketing (and many will tell you how well these elements help) but I do love the fun and happiness created by campaigns such as Movember and DryJuly.

Giving up the grog for July made me reflect on my own drinking habits – and that is a good thing. Perhaps its having a similar effect on others – another interesting piece of analysis to consider.

I encourage all of us in the fundraising and NFP sector to look for joyful ways to engage with our ‘customers’ and stakeholders – make them the hero, give them ways to engage that THEY like and watch how they get involved and even show off their participation.  Well done to DryJuly.  Great result.

World Environment Day June 5th: What do we have to celebrate?

World Environment Day. What are we celebrating?

World Environment Day (WED) celebrations are happening around the country and around the world to acknowledge our progress and to encourage further action to protect our blue planet. There are lots of dinners and other celebrations but… what are we trying to achieve? Saving the rainforest, saving the whales, fighting palm oil plantation owners, reducing the hole in the ozone layer…. Is it all too big? Too hard to get a clear indication of what we want to see happen?

Goals like the Millennium Development Goals around Environmental Sustainability do help us. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight goals set by United Nations member countries with the goal of halving world poverty by 2015. Goal number 7 is about Ensuring Environmental Sustainability Under these they have specific targets:

• Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.

• Target 10: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

• Target 11: Achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

Oxfam and other international aid organizations are working hard to help achieve the Millennium goals. And they do a better job of spelling out what is needed. Read here on Oxfam’s  website: ‘What are the Millennium Goals?’

According to the World Health Organisation, we have made some progress. In 2010, “the world met the United Nations Millennium Development Goals target on access to safe drinking-water, as measured by the proxy indicator of access to improved drinking-water sources, but more needs to be done to achieve the sanitation target.” I think this means we’re doing something right but still have a way to go.  So this is something to celebrate this World Environment Day.

And what are we doing in Australia? With one of the highest extinction rates on the planet and the most cryptic, unique and enigmatic of species under our protection, we also have plenty of work to do if we want to hold up our end of workload that is protecting our planet.  The appointment of an Australian Threatened Species Commissioner in July 2014 was a good step. After almost a year in the job, it will be interesting to see what he has and can achieve.

In the Commissioner’s report after his first 6 months he states: “Australia’s extinction history is unacceptable. Australia has lost 29 mammals since European settlement. According to the Action Plan for Australian Mammals, another 56 land-based mammals are at risk of extinction, and 11 of these are critically endangered. The total list of threatened species has grown to over 1750 plants and animals. The Threatened Species Commissioner model brings a new national focus and effort to secure our threatened flora and fauna.”

He has invested in feral control and some specific projects for some of Victoria’s critically endangered species but the jury is still out.

More information about the Threatened Species Commissioner’s role is available on the department’s website and on the Commissioner’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

The investigation in to non-profit conservation organisations and a threat to remove their tax-deductible status is NOT a good step. According to a report on the ABC’s website by Conor Duffy, a parliamentary inquiry into the Register of Environmental organisations has asked for submissions, with some Government MPs agitating for a reduction in of the register of more than 600 environmental orgs. There is a suggestion the list should only include those orgs which do ‘practical’ environmental work. Putting more pressure on to orgs. with limited resources will not assist the cause of environmental protection in Australia.

So. The various dinners, events, festivals and awards will acknowledge the great work being done by our green community around Australia and around the world. It will highlight the work still to be done and the need, now more than ever, to Act Local and Think Global.

World Environment Day Festival on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, which has some fantastic workshops and activities. . The United Nations with its “Think Global; Act Local” slogan has WED Awards for the best performers (perhaps they should consider some ‘must do better’ awards too?)  The Wilderness Society is launching a new campaign on WED with an event at the Provincial Hotel in Fitzroy.

May we have even more to celebrate next year.

Everything is awesome! Or, what I learnt from the Lego movie

awesome

A 24 hour plane journey from Melbourne to London and a multitude of movies I would otherwise never watch led me to a memorable hour or so watching the new Lego Movie.  A bit of ‘The Matrix’ meets ‘Family Guy’ I thought and all was good. Then, darn it, something started happening. I started thinking that there were messages hidden in this ingenious cartoon creation that I could learn from.

Perhaps it was jetlag but I was getting intrigued. Was this the subtext that I’m told is always submerged for adults only that is apparently part of every feature-length animated movie these days? You tell me.

So if you don’t know the movie, the evil Businessman is trying to ensure that everything stays perfect for ever and that the world works according to his and only his plans.

Mostly Lego world is doing just that until a humble construction worker stumbles upon a great secret that will change the world. He is the chosen ‘Special’ one (getting the matrix metaphor yet?)

Up to now we see an almost automated world where everyone knows where they should be, what they should be doing and what song they should love the most hence: ‘Everything is awesome!’ Yes this song is very annoying but you can’t help singing along! (Try the video and you’ll see…)

So get on with the learnings you say!

1. Being creative does not mean being random and disorganised

As the ‘special’ becomes known to the underground Lego resistance (yes I said that) he gathers together his band of merry men and women and they try to fight the bad guy in their own individual ways which leads to chaos and almost disaster. Teamwork is the answer – creative teamwork.

2. A charismatic leader is not needed

The Special tries his best to be inspirational but as he’s never been much more than ordinary humble construction worker who has always followed the rules he doesn’t know how to be a leader in fact he doesn’t have any real ideas at all. This does not stop them.

3. We are all special.

The lonely guy Emmet (the Special) discovers that he’s sort of not really the special after all. But it doesn’t matter! He’s special in a way no-one else can be and in a way no-one else expected! Go figure!

4. Following the rules is not always bad

Our little anti-hero Emmet (the Special) encourages his gang to fight the badguys with their own rulebook and use  it in their own way, an unexpected tactic which means that they work together as a team and beat the villains at their own game.  This they do to great success.  But they still manage to use their individual skills and creative expression. One even gets to build a spaceship and he is very excited. But I digress.

5. Trying to make everything perfect (or awesome) is not always very much fun or very helpful.

We want to give people enough guidance to work in effective collaboration to achieve positive results but not so much that all freethinking is stifled and they become robots following orders.

6. Help me clarify my objectives, give me a set of tools and some guidelines and let me at it.

A wise advertising man once said: “Give me the freedom of a tight brief” and he wasn’t discussing his underwear. Clarity of goal and methodology is very useful if we allow for individual skills and ideas and if we accept that ideas we wouldn’t have thought of while different are not necessarily wrong and could even be exactly what we needed at that moment.

7. It’s only work right?

When we take it all too seriously it becomes onerous for everyone and no fun at all. When you think we’ll spend 1/3rd of our lives asleep and 1/3rd (or more) at work (I don’t recommend you do them at the same time) it makes sense to make it interesting, engaging and allow for use of our diverse and unique skills.  I mean in that way, everything may actually be awesome! Yay!

 

Thanks for your interest. I’m writing this from the International Fundraising Congress in Holland where I am meeting and hearing from many hugely inspirational people who have to work with incredibly complex rulebooks and still manage to be creative, highly effective and in some cases, very charming. So far no spaceships, but there is time.

Until next time.