This might well be a controversial thing to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Your sign-off process is broken.
There, I said it. Now I need to explain why.
We all know that the most powerful thing we can do as a fundraiser is introduce our donor to our beneficiary.
Yet when it comes to communicating with tens of thousands of donors in letters, ads, emails and texts we choose to put sometimes similar numbers of people between them and the beneficiary in the ‘sign off process’.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the words or emotions of a beneficiary or frontline charity employee get tweaked, nudged, or simply changed to suit someone else’s perception of the cause or the donor.
So, I have a challenge I’d like to set.
Take a look at your sign off list today and circle the people that really really need to be on it (the people that check facts for example). Strike off everyone else.
If it helps, imagine each one of those people standing in between your donor and your beneficiary whilst they try to have a nice chat.
In doing this I’m sure you’ll get appeals out quicker and the results will be even more impressive than they are now.
And if you want any proof take a look at Paul’s post from a couple of weeks ago.
Go on, you know you want to…
For the last couple of months, hundreds of thousands of people have been held spellbound by the photographs, thoughts and daily routines of one man. He’s not a politician or religious leader. He’s not a general or a doctor.
He’s an astronaut.
Until yesterday Commander Chris Hadfield, of the Canadian Space Agency, was in charge of the International Space Station. From his vantage point 250 miles above us, orbiting at 17,000 miles an hour, and living in zero gravity, Commander Hadfield had his Twitter followers laughing, crying, and contemplating their places in the universe.
It felt like an extraordinary privilege. He lifted us from our day-to-day experience to spend time with him among the stars, looking down on our little planet with a whole new perspective.
So, how did he do it? How did he capture – and keep – the attention of nearly a million people?
Content, content, content.
As fundraisers, we know the importance of content. And now we have proof that we’re not alone.
The photographs from space were beautiful. But each one was accompanied by a fact, a snippet of history, or just a thoughtful comment – which gave it meaning, and context.
When he wasn’t showing us our world from space, he was telling us about his day. He wrung out a flannel and we watched the water float. He told us about the weird food he was eating and the experiments he was conducting.
He did question and answer sessions with school children across the globe. He sang with youth groups and church groups and students of all nationalities and ages. He tweeted in English and French and algorithms. He replied to individual questions. He was inspiring, amusing, wise – and he seemed like one of us.
I suddenly realised that the way he was using the information and content at his disposal to entertain and educate nearly a million people was, genuinely, brilliant. And it was all quite simple, really.
Wonderful photos. A point of view. An informed, collusive tone. And a genuine passion for his subject matter. That’s what Chris Hadfield had in his toolbox, and he used it wisely.
It’s not exactly rocket science. But to be reminded that great content is the key to successful fundraising was a valuable lesson from space, all the same.
(He’s still tweeting! @Cmdr_Hadfield)
(Photograph by Chris Hadfield)
There has been an awful lot of noise about the decision by KBH (the people that own the poster sites on the trains) to limit the volume of charity ads they carry to 20% of the total volume at any one point.
Rather than add to that noise, we invited Ian, KBH’s MD, over for a cup of tea and a chat.
Before I tell you about that, I think I should tell you what we think about trains.
We love train advertising for one simple reason. It gives us access to people who have disposable income, jobs and mobile phones that can send text messages. Even better, it gives us access to them while they are at a loose end.
We’ve learnt that if we create really strong propositions and put mobile front and centre into those propositions we get fantastic response.
We’ve also learnt that if we don’t deliver strong propositions we get rubbish results.
What we haven’t seen is an overall decline in results that could be attributed to an overcrowded channel. But rest assured that if and when it happens, we’ll be first to know – because we’ve put (and continue to put) more ads on more trains than anyone else.
Anyway, back to that cup of tea with Ian. We had a really constructive meeting, Ian explained that he was taking steps to ensure the longevity of the channel for charities, but also to make sure that his business didn’t become over reliant on one sector. Very sensible. Ian told us that KBH are really committed to the charity sector. And they are NOT looking to increase prices for charities.
Ian also agreed to consider less ‘restrictive’ ways of protecting the channel. One thing we said we should keep talking about was the number of ads from similar charities in each carriage, as well as considering the asks promoted. So we’re going to help Ian and KBH figure this out.
If you’ve got an opinion on how this could work. Introduce yourself and let us know in the comments below.
Paul de Gregorio