Donor Acquisition through Webinars? Worth a Try?

jpg_2033-Laptop-Cartoon-Character-Waving-A-Greeting-300x268I recently received an “exclusive” invitation for “select” guests to participate in a live webinar aimed at getting prospective students to enroll at a distance learning institution. Participants were promised the opportunity to interact with faculty members as they outlined their syllabus, connect with current students and even to discuss career paths with past students. In general the 60 minutes online were agreeable:  informative, fun and, yes, a little pushy – with incentives designed to get prospective students signed up to a course of study as soon as possible. While I decided against this particular course of study I realized there is a lot of potential in this webinar format for making sales and I wondered how it could be used for fundraising? (more…)

Rubbish In : Rubbish Out

Bad Donor Retention Begins With Bad Donor Recruitment (and what you can do about it) 

Why are so many of your donors rushing for the exit?

One of my favourite Internet campaigns of the past few years is The Story of Stuff, which uses a simple but engaging animation as a way to tell the ‘Story’. It makes the obvious point that we inhabit in the same ecosphere as our environment and that when toxics are involved in the production  of our consumer goods there is a consequent toxic output that is damaging to our health, our economy and our environment. The same elementary wisdom reaches us in other nuggets of ‘common’ sense: eat too much greasy food and you’ll get spots, smoke and your lungs will turn black. To put it simply: Rubbish In = Rubbish Out.

This same maxim applies for fundraising campaigns. And in this blog I’d like to especially apply it to Face-to-Face campaigns (though it can apply equally well to any channel where we have control over the prospects we approach). The simple fact remains that if we recruit the wrong sort of donor in the beginning we will not get the sort of results we need in the longer term to achieve our organisations goals.

Rubbish (Donors) In = Rubbish (Donor Loyalty) Out. (more…)

Face: The Future

The Outlook for Face-to-Face Fundraising
It seems a lot of fundraisers’ time is spent thinking about the future: Will we manage to invest our full budget? Will we reach our targets? What to do if the income is not as planned? Will I have a decent budget next year? Five year plans…

Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball that spelled out at least some of what lay ahead and allowed us to focus just a little more on the present moment? Well, for better or worse, that particular technology hasn’t yet materialized but that doesn’t stop us fundraisers from engaging in a little bit of future gazing. Being prepared for different eventualities is important – it allows us to be able to respond quickly and appropriately and to minimize the damage from inevitable bumps along the way – of course it’s an art, not a science, and with this disclaimer in mind I’d like to offer a few forecasts on how I see the face-to-face method of donor recruitment evolving over the next couple of years.

 1. Shrinking public space in traditional markets

Many councils and cities ban street fundraising

Open any news source in (for example) the UK or Austria (or many of the most established face-to-face markets) and it won’t be long before you read about a city or council that is implementing (or considering) a complete ban or enforced reduction of face-to-face activities in the public domain. Search Twitter for the words ‘fundraiser’ or ‘chugger’ (a term I consider to be both offensive and ignorant by the way) and you’ll see that the face-to-face topic evokes plenty of debate from the public – and a majority of those moved to tweet tend to have a negative view of the practice and are quite vocal in calling for restrictions. I forecast that authorities in these markets will continue to impose limitations and the amount of public space open to street and door-to-door fundraisers will continue to shrink. (more…)

Reader Beware: Contains Dangerous Ideas on How to Motivate (Face-to-Face) Fundraisers!

Greenpeace International Executive Director with some motivated street fundraisers

It will come as no surprise that the highest achieving face-to-face fundraisers you are likely to come across are also among the most highly motivated people working in any organisation. How else do you imagine they deal with a working life that places them on a daily collision course with public indifference, slamming doors and verbal and physical abuse and yet still come away at the end of their shift holding onto their sanity never mind a bunch of new sign-ups for their non-profit?

To be sure, successful face-to-face fundraising requires a degree of talent and a positive mindset is certainly a must, but without motivation no fundraiser would last more than a few days. In fact the high rate of staff turnover in face-to-face fundraising is well known and is a headache and a major expense for most organisations.

Managers are aware of the importance of this fuzzy thing called ‘Motivation’, some even spend a lot of of time, effort and money in the hope that their team will be motivated enough to get through the day with success and show up for work again the next day. But despite this awareness and the efforts put in place to harness motivation there is still a constant “churn and burn” of staff. Why? (more…)

Face-to-Face: In or Out?

Justin Bieber - born in the same year as face-to-face fundraising

Sometimes it’s easy to feel that the face-to-face recruitment of regular donors has been around forever, but in reality it’s still a teenager.

Born only in 1994 face–to-face fundraising has, in its seventeen years moved from being a new and daring method of finding committed donors to a being a reliable stalwart in the fundraising toolboxes of many non-profits. And, like many teenagers, face-to-face fundraising causes a mixture of reactions ranging from intense loathing from those who hate it to those who herald it as the savior of philanthropy that allowed a new and previously hard to reach demographic to experience the joy of giving.

Some have questioned whether it is not now time for face-to-face fundraising to consider retirement; to gracefully step aside before it is pushed. However, this blogger sees plenty of life in a fundraising form that has not yet hit the grand old age of twenty. Face-to-face will surely undergo transformations in the years ahead but the power of one human looking into the eyes of another and asking them to help is too powerful to consider retiring it just yet. Instead, let’s weigh up the alternatives available to those organisations already involved in face-to-face or for those late starters who are considering how best to go about starting out in a tough and competitive fundraising marketplace. (more…)