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.
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.
“13% of online gifts came from mobile devices
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.
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.
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.
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.”
A little addendum to my last post. BirdLife has just put out their formal Christmas campaign and given how much I like birds and want to protect them, I’m giving them an extra plug. They have some really lovely bird-related products in their online store. And who can resist a baby bird in a santa hat?!
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.
Here are a few that caught my attention:
Chairity begins at home
Each 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.
If 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!
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!
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!)
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! 🙂
@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.
Follow Louis Vuitton: Connect with community, increase brand loyalty … and sales.
Today I see Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) is investing more than A$155m in a contemporary art museum and performance space via the Fondation Louis Vuitton. A little grand, I’ll admit but essentially it confirms the adage: connect with your community and your sales will benefit. CEO of LVMH Monseiur Bernard Arnault commented that the new museum in Paris is about sharing its values with the public. It’s certainly saying ‘we’re nice people, you would do well to do business with us’. And if Louis Vuitton sees the benefit of it, a brand that is synonymous with luxurious style and good taste, it would seem a good idea for us all to consider.
For instance, I’m delighted to see that Macy’s in the US raised more than US$3m with their Shop for a Cause promotion. Shop For A Cause is an all-day shopping pass for 25% off regular, sale and clearance merchandise throughout the store. Money raised helps many US charities.
As many of you may know, I believe corporate philanthropy is an oxymoron: I’m very keen on the idea that when companies help charities it’s a two-way arrangement – i.e. both sides benefit. After all, its their shareholders’ money that they are contributing so share holders usually want some kind of return on their investment. So I like the Macy’s model. I’d guess LVMH is not just in it for the continuing respect it creates for their brand but for the ongoing sales which may ensue.
But we don’t all have the resources of an international brand so I thought I’d share a few ways I’ve come across for companies to give back to the community and build their own sales and brand. That’s also why I started my own retail trading website http://www.joynin.com to assist Australian corporates and NFPs work together to mutual advantage.
Here are 7 ways companies with great products to make more sales and support their favourite charity.
- Create an offer that benefits the charity and your brand. In Macy’s case, the charity sells discount vouchers for $5 each . The customer then uses those vouchers in store to obtain the Macy’s discount. Macy’s makes a sale (albeit discounted but they do that presumably with regular seasonal promotions) and the charity gets the $5.00. A good mutual benefit. And doesn’t Macy’s look good!? Balletonet in Australia will donate $5 from every pair of ballet flats purchased in October, to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. All ways to raise funds for charity and increase sales.
- Offer useful goods in kind to drive PR opportunities. This is a common way companies offer to help charities: by providing goods and services at no or very low cost instead of actual cash. Valuable goods in kind should replace something that the NFP would otherwise have paid for therefore saving them real cash they can apply elsewhere. So most NFPs need assistance with accounting, auditing, IT, advertising. Can you help them cover the costs of these services by providing measurable, reliable assistance that you can then leverage in PR?
- Skilled volunteering. This is a continuation of providing goods in kind but usually its called pro bono or skilled volunteering. By providing NFPs with skilled resources they would otherwise have to pay for, you do at least two things: You improve the knowledge and acumen of the NFP and you give your own staff members interesting opportunities to expand their business knowledge in new environments. A win:win.
- Joint promotion to each others’ customers and market segments. When you work with a NFP to promote your business and your relationship with them, you potentially open up new markets or deepen penetration into both of your primary target audience segments. In this way, you attract new potential donors (or visitors, stakeholders) for the NFP and your business grows by selling products to new customers. When you create an attractive offer, both sides benefit.
- Link to each others’ websites. A simple link and a profile of your charity partnerships on your website linking to theirs is a great way to promote their cause and show how much you care. It can enhance your brand equity.
- Donate your discount! Don’t like offering discounts? Consider offering your customers the choice of say, 10% off a product which you’ll donate to a worthy cause. Research has shown that consumers respond to this kind of cause related marketing.
- Make explicit your choice of charity or NFP partnership. By strategically considering and getting your staff involved with the decision on which organisation or cause you partner with, you are:
- much more likely to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
- able to do more good for that cause by focusing on it
- likely to reduce the number of generic solicitations you receive from other organisations requesting support
- able to build relationships with key business leaders and collaborate on more interesting and longer term projects
Joynin.com is a great new retail website that directs donations from sales of your products to your favourite cause. Help retain your brand values and raise much-needed funds for your favourite charity. To find out more visit www.joynin.com
I do hope this was helpful for you. I am always looking out for ways to help NFP organisations raise much-needed funds in the most economical and transparent way possible. Please do share your thoughts with me. And if you have a favourite NFP organisation (that includes sporting clubs, schools, hospitals etc.) that could use some donations, why not nominate them at www.joynin.com/ Happy shopping!
For more on the LVMH story, see Vanessa Friedman‘s story in the New York Times.
Just recently I decided to apply for certification as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) Why? What? Did you know you could be such a thing? I was encouraged by my highly professional and effective fundraising colleague Stephen Mally of Fundraising Force that this was something that was considered highly important for all fundraisers and I do agree that it is important that we help recognise the skills and abilities required to be provide excellence in this challenging – and somewhat undervalued – field. It is not, as a lovely contact said to me the other day, just a matter of sending out a few ‘begging’ letters. He added: ‘Surely your assistant could do that?” I hope there’s more to fundraising than a few sporadic mailings no matter how well written?
For me, it was a choice to acknowledge the commitment I had made to my own career over these past 16 or more years. It was a way to promote the continuing professionalism of the sector and to encourage others to seek to further their own careers.
So I’ve signed up and will take the exam later this year. I had a look at the number of Australian ‘graduates’ to the certification and while there were a few there were not that many. So it made me ask? Do you think it’s worth the effort? Should it matter whether you’re a CFRE? I’m interested in your thoughts. And will let you know how I go with my study before the exam. It never hurts to brush up on your knowledge and I’m sure I’ll also learn a few things I didn’t know before. If you’d like to find out more about CFRE, visit www.cfre.org or go to the Fundraising Institute of Australia website for more information.
For the first time Zoos Victoria and our Foundation (fundraising and sponsorship) team were recognised by the Australian Fundraising Institute for our very special fundraising campaign leveraging the 150th anniversary of Melbourne Zoo. It was my privilege to head up the ZV Foundation during this highly creative period, a role I still hold.
One of the main projects was Mali in the City with 50 sculptures of our very own (then) baby elephant Mali were painted by professional and amateur artists and positioned all around the city. Each sculpture had a paid sponsor for the period of the installation and at the end of the exhibition, all of the sculptures were successfully auctioned off. A wonderful event that brought the Melbourne community back in touch with its fantastic city Zoo. We raised almost AUD $1m with the campaign across our various events and activities for our Victorian and International conservation programmes. And had a great time in the process!
Here’s the story which was featured recently by the FIA talking about the awards:
Winner of the 2014 Most Effective Creative Campaign and the 2014 Special Projects, Events Award
Campaign: Melbourne Zoo’s 150th Anniversary Mali in the City Campaign.
Key Personnel: Jenny Gray, Kevin Tanner, Pamela Sutton-Legaud MFIA, Sid Myer AM
What does winning this award mean for your organisation?
Winning the award meant a great deal for Zoos Victoria, in particular helping to acknowledge the hard work of a team of people that worked on Melbourne Zoo’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. It was also significant as it further demonstrated the love that people all over Australia share for Melbourne Zoo and Zoos Victoria as an organisation but also the love people feel for the charismatic animals that live at our zoos including Mali the Asian Elephant. Being successful in reaching a large number of people with our anniversary celebrations was extremely important for our organisation as it meant many people became engaged in our fighting wildlife extinction work and at the end of the day – this is the most important message.
How has it impacted on your work in terms of campaign strategies, staff morale etc?
The Award was a huge boost for the many teams involved in Melbourne Zoo’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. It was nice for staff to be publicly recognised for a campaign which touched so many different people. It has also made staff feel proud to be part of an organisation that is fun, has the ability to be bold and, above all, to be part of an organisation that the community clearly values.
Briefly tell us about the campaign that won you this award? What made this campaign so successful?
We won the Award for our 150th Anniversary celebrations which took place in 2012. In particular, we held a public art exhibition called ‘Mali in the City’ which saw 50 life-size artist decorated fibreglass elephant sculptures displayed all over Melbourne’s city streets and later sold at auction with all proceeds donated to Zoos Victoria fighting wildlife extinction efforts. The campaign was extremely successful as the sculptures were modelled on the exact dimensions of Mali the elephant, (at the time) a two year old elephant calf who was the first female elephant calf born in Australia and arguably one of the most popular animals at Melbourne Zoo. The campaign was also extremely unique, it was eye-catching and helped to brighten the wintery streets of Melbourne and it involved a large number of local people from local business to community and high profile artists.
Why did you/your organisation decide to submit an entry?
We decided to submit an award to help recognise the huge amount of work dedicated to the project by a large number of staff members across many departments of Zoos Victoria and also to help acknowledge the incredibly positive support from the Melbourne community. It was also another avenue to help raise awareness of our fighting extinction work with threatened species within a community that cares about causes.
What advice or suggestions can you give to other members considering submitting an awards nomination?
The Awards are a great way to celebrate your team’s hard work and successes within the fundraising industry. It was also a good way to benchmark your campaigns against what the rest of the industry is doing. In particularly winning the award had numerous benefits including media opportunities as well as the opportunity to build new relationships at the Awards event.
Apologies to Shakespeare… But I’m pondering: Why do we call Fundraisers… well, Fundraisers? Yes we do the action of raising funds … but that is so much only a part of the end result. What we do more than just raise dollars is build long term relationships and help philanthropists deliver on their own philanthropic goals.
In doing that we must do so much more that is often overlooked in the focus on the bottom line.
If you hire a Sales Person for your sales team, you want certain specific things from them in terms of meeting budget goals and building client relationships. And clients hopefully are getting a product they want and need in exchange for their cash.
And yet a Fundraiser often must manage more than you’d expect from a sales person and it’s time we found a new description of this much misunderstood role. As a Fundraiser, if you are to be successful in encouraging others to donate their time, talent and in particular treasure to an organisation, any fundraiser must learn an entire range of skills hidden in the term ‘fundraiser’ .
If you’ve ever met a great Fundraiser then you’d know that we are the sum of many parts. They are often good people managers, good financial managers, have a strong understanding of strategy: can take a helicopter view of a business to understand not just its financial needs but its priorities and urgencies. They learn how to build long term relationships; must learn how to recognise a philanthropist’s needs and goals and try to match them with their organisation’s needs and goals. It’s a tricky, sensitive business and one that takes maturity, knowledge and understanding of the role philanthropy plays in any non-profit business’s success.
Perhaps worrying about the title is a red herring. As with many things, it starts with the brief when a recruiter is starting to look for someone who can raise funds.
1. Forget the title: Look for relationship people – that is those who understand other people AND understand money and how it works within a business.
2. Look for those who understand how to put together a strategic plan and can explain the organisation’s priorities to potential donors.
3. Look for those with a track record – yes, the bottom line does come into it, it’s just not the only thing.
4. Look for a link to your cause. Does the potential recruit really care about what you’re doing.
Just because I started this off looking at the title, I’d like to suggest a few alternative (nice) names for fundraisers:
Chief Relationship Officer; Strategic Prioritiser; Philanthropic Advancer, Bonding Adviser….
Perhaps the US has become more inventive – whatever we call them, fundraisers deliver a very valuable service to our non-profits and I believe it could be time we gave a higher recognition to their varied skills. They bring more to most organisations than just dollars. But as a ‘Strategic Prioritiser’ myself, perhaps I have a bias view. Over to you.