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…)

The last word

This is the very last 101fundraising blog post of 2012 and incidentally also our 200th. It therefore seems doubly appropriate to round out the year with a retrospective look at the year (almost) gone by. Read more…

Time to wake up to e-F2F

Today, all over the world, thousands of ordinary people will decide to start doing something amazing. Every month, they’ll give their hard-earned money to causes that they may never have heard of before, to help people they will never meet or protect places that they will never visit. (more…)

Ready. Acquire. Aim.

Once, twelve days into a new fiscal year, we threw out the annual plan.

Fundraisers love – and should love – their strategic and annual plans. We need plans. Then sometimes we need new ones. This is a blog post about agile planning, and thinking less linearly about the planning cycle.

Admittedly, the time we threw out the playbook was a dramatic one: Haiti. January 12, 2010. We all know the story: the earthquake and its horrible loss of life. 300,000 acutely injured, 1.5 million homeless. A minute after the earthquake, MSF/Doctors Without Borders launched the largest rapid emergency response in our history. (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…)

Too busy to tweet? You’re a liar.

Everything that happens on any social media channel can be categorized as one of two things: content or conversation. Content builds a following, conversation builds a relationship. Content is difficult and time-consuming, conversation is fun.

So, here’s an idea – outsource and automate content so you can focus on having conversations.

I know, automation sounds a lot like spam. And mostly, I agree. But it’s not impossible to automate content that is timely and valuable. If you can hit that sweet spot, your audience won’t care that it is automated.

For example –great fundraising blogs like (more…)

Social Network Fundraising: The Beginners Guide

This is me running 16km and raising €2,549 for the Dutch Cancer Institute (NKI-AVL). The target was only €200.

Social network fundraising works because of two reasons: (1) you are asking your own network, and (2) the fundraising is being done publicly. This combined provides a healthy and effective social peer pressure.

When you were young you probably had to do a sponsor run at school. You had to get pledges from your neighbors and family for a quarter or 50 cents per lap. Remember that your neighbor always said: “So, what is the rest giving?” This is the best way to describe social network fundraising, she didn’t even hesitated. Straight away she went into the “how much” discussion…

Recently I gave a presentation for the participants of the ATMA Challenge. In this fundraising event 30 young professionals will climb one of the Himalaya mountains (6,764 meter!). Every participant has to raise 2,000 euro for educational projects in India, so that adds up to 60,000 euro in total. My presentation contained 16 tips on how they can raise this money.

I am convinced that 2,000 per participant is too low. Just before I went there I posted on Facebook: “They are going to raise 100,000 euro. They just don’t know it yet.(more…)

The Fundraising Parable of the Good Samaritan

Claire Squires stood at the starting line of this year’s London Marathon knowing she’d raised £500 for the Samaritans.

Hours later, when news of her death broke, donations were pouring in to her fundraising page at £500 per minute.

Claire’s death is a tragedy – but what does this phenomenon say about us and the state of fundraising today?

There’s no denying this is a tough time to be fundraising. Yet the day after the marathon saw the largest number of donations JustGiving has ever received in a single day – with more than 10,000 people donating at any given time! In just 3 days Claire raised almost a quarter of the £3.8 million that the Samaritan’s receives each year from individual donations. (more…)

A fundraising checklist: what Italian fundraisers look like?

For sure, you would be able to answer this if you had participated at the 5th Italian “Festival del Fundraising” during the second week of May 2012. Three days, around 600 fundraisers, more than 20 sponsors and a lot of sun. The annual meeting is held at Castrocaro, a little town located next to Bologna, strategically between Roma and Milano.

Many, many, many sessions and activities and no time to rest if you came like many of us to learn by sharing. So even though you are in an historical 4-star hotel and have free access to thermal facilities, there is little chance for you to come back home without a huge need to rest. I am sure that every attendee will also have taken back a huge checklist full of technics to explore or to test: online, offline, integration of channels, new services and many ideas from abroad considering the number of foreign speakers that joined the event.

So let me try to review what are the trends that emerged without being too descriptive…let’s hope the other 599 people will write comments and identify their best moments. So here we go: (more…)

Fundraising Into the Future – and BEYOND! (Part 2)

Last week I blogged about the digital revolution in fundraising, and asked whether it has “changed the game”, or only the “rules”.  (Or, as I would argue, not even the rules, more like the shape of the playing field and which ball gets kicked, hit, chased, or fielded).

Having finally gone Twitter (I know, I KNOW…) I’d say the biggest ‘revolution’ that social media has brought to the industry is… how many people without other jobs are now claiming to be someone “connecting donors to their causes” and “helping charities use social media to raise awareness and funds”.   In other words, biggest winner so far?  The industry.  But let’s see….


Getting digital really working

So what does a solid, well performing digital fundraising program look like?

It’s the question I’m often asked, and am going to share, as best I can in a little under 1,300 words.

Dispelling the myths

One of the most frustrating things about the digital world is that it is full of illusion, and quite a lot of BS.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Social media is the next big thing and will transform charities fundraising programs
  • Digital is completely different to the offline world, and as such different teams should be working on each program
  • Email and landing page copy must be short (more…)

Fundraising Into the Future – and BEYOND!

There’s a debate in the fundraising industry about the future.  Not whether we will all have jobs;  no, everyone’s pretty sure about that. The world’s problems aren’t going away, and in fact we seem to be creating problems at about the same rate we’re solving them, so the world will probably need NGOs in the foreseeable future, (and they will need funding), but that’s another blog.

No, the debate is about the digital revolution.  First we had the “internet” (small “I”), then the Web, and now we have the portable Web – its called a “smart phone” in case you just climbed out of a cave – and a new place where people talk to friends and family, share things, even donate already, called social media, which right now is mostly Facebook and Twitter, but which will grow and diversify with Tumblr, and Pinterest, etc.

So the REAL QUESTION is this:  has the advent of the digital medium “changed the game” of fundraising?  Or has this simply expanded the methods we use to fundraise?   To put it in MBA terms,  do new digital activities raise *incremental*  income, that would NOT have been raised otherwise, if we couldn’t ask for donations over the Web or phone? Or is it just taking over the more tied-and-true methods?


Does online fundraising have to mean restricted funding?

For the last few years, the buzz about ‘crowdfunding’ has been steadily growing and a increasing number of crowdfunding sites for charities have been appearing, and continue to appear at an astonishing rate – to the point where I increasingly finding myself questioning how necessary and valuable some of them are (do we really need specific sites for charities in particular regions or sectors when there are sites that allow all regions and all sectors, and are searchable?).

But, a while ago, I started to wonder whether these sites were changing something they hadn’t actually set out to change – that they were responsible for a trend towards restricted giving online.  I found myself pondering how big a trend it would become, and what impact it might end up having on the sector.

The launch of CRUK’s MyProjects sticks in my memory as a pivotal moment that made me stop and wonder whether I had been witnessing a trend emerging.  I observed, with interest, the restricted nature of the projects that donors could choose to find through the site and was surprised that the charity had taken that tack.  Surprised because, during the 15 years I’ve been a professional fundraiser, I can only think of a handful of times that I’ve worked on an appeal that wasn’t unrestricted – because most individual giving is, for reasons I won’t insult anyone by explaining. (more…)

Google Analytics for Dummies (or Fundraisers!)

This blog is meant for those who use Google Analytics. You can read this if you would like to polish up on your basic Analytics skills. It’s not meant for freaks. Just some basic tips and tricks for those who want to learn about the visitors on their website or use their site to generate leads or donations.

Today I will just discuss the very basics of Google Analytics, like how to install it and what do the terms mean. In my next blog, more advanced options of Analytics will be discussed like setting goals, creating funnels or using Analytics for A/B testing.

So for now, the basics: (more…)

The real art of Karate Fundraising!

Karate Fundraising? A new discipline is born? Come on! You didn’t hear about it yet?

Ok, don’t worry, this is not (really) a new channel or a way to boosting the income of your fundraising programme. It’s more like a way of seeing things and to ease your fundraiser everyday’s life.

Let me first explain how I came across the concept of “Karate Fundraising”. I was speaking on the phone with my friend Paolo Ferrara, one of the Italian digital gurus. Just trying to set a day to meet, in order to prepare a session for the Italian Fundraising Congress earlier this year. The session was about arguing which techniques, digital or traditional, were more successful in fundraising. (more…)

Donating with a Tweet

Often we see something like “Please donate a tweet a day to help …. “ followed by a link to a site where people have to sign-in with their twitter details, or give it permission to access their twitter account.

Often though organisations don’t explain how the ‘donated’ tweet helps, they say what it helps, but often not how it helps.

If a charitable organisation is looking at using something like “donate-a-tweet”, it would make sense, and help with the cause if they were to tell people how “donate-a-tweet” works. If an organisation were to do this it would give their friends, followers an insight into how much it can help. (more…)

8 lessons for online fundraising

Lessons from the Wikipedia year end fundraiser
We have read a few blog posts so far, in which the issue was raised whether online fundraising is just a hype. Some remarks were quite skeptical. In this blog post I want to tell the story of one major online fundraising success: the 2010 Wikimedia campaign. What lessons can be learned from this success about requirements for online fundraising success? (more…)

Sociale media – interessant voor fondsenwervers?

Social media is hot momenteel. Het volgen van alle blogs, opleidingen en workshops hierover zou meer dan een dagtaak zijn. Elk zichzelf respecterend marketing- of communicatie-congres heeft het op de agenda staan. Tegelijkertijd neemt ook het aantal kritische geluiden toe. Is het wel zo rendabel? Levert het wel iets op? Wat is eigenlijk de ROI? Is het niet een ‘Bubble about to burst’?

Een onderzoekje tijdens de DDMA-clinic ‘Social Marketing voor Non-profits’ gaf aan dat “non-profits wel social willen maar zoeken naar het hoe”. Social Marketing zou met name interessant zijn voor Communicatie en PR en in mindere mate voor Fondsenwerving.

Als fondsenwerver voor de Hartstichting zie ik echter juist Sociale Media als een bron van onschatbare informatie (luisteren!), een nieuw kanaal naast de teruglopende traditionele kanalen, maar vooral een vorm van directe interactie met je achterban. Een nieuw kanaal dat zich minder leent voor het oude businessmodel met focus op het direct werven van machtigers of donateurs. Maar wel voor co-creatie, voor het faciliteren en ondersteunen van (fondsenwervende) initiatieven van je achterban, en voor het aanbieden van andere donatiemogelijkheden. (more…)

Het nieuwe doneren via mobieltje (NFC) in 2012

Op de achtergrond zijn diverse organisaties aan het bekijken hoe mobiele betaaloplossingen gebaseerd op Near Field Communication (NFC) technologie toe te gaan passen. Dit wordt ook wel aangeduid als contactloze betalingen.

Schrik je nu omdat er weer een nieuwe techniek aan zit te komen en deze blog weer naar een nerdy geek gehalte dreigt te gaan? Niet schrikken zou ik zeggen. Gewoon blijven lezen omdat deze techniek weleens een nieuwe vorm van doneren aan non-profits kan gaan betekenen. Wellicht is dit alles al realiteit in 2012!

NFC is een draadloze korte-afstand technologie die op meer en meer plaatsen wordt ingezet of ingezet gaat worden. Een voorbeeld: wanneer ik in een bus of trein stap bij een van de deelnemende vervoersbedrijven (in de toekomst) hoef ik alleen maar met mijn kaartje te zwaaien voor een NFC-lezer en het systeem haalt automatisch het tarief van mijn rekening en ik mag reizen. (more…)

Communication and Fundraising, the never ending story…

The past 2 ½ years I travelled to different countries and met lots of people engaged in a wide range of fundraising activities and campaigns. Despite the obvious differences in ‘couleur locale’, it always struck me that fundraisers are struggling with the same questions and problems, if it is in Japan, Italy or Brazil.

One of these issues coming up over and over again is the cooperation between Fundraising and Communications. More specific digital communication as communication through the website, webvertising, Twitter, social networking, crowdfunding, etc. The digital area offers great new fundraising opportunities with yet unknown potential. If you visit a doctor, buy a new car or want to know what’s happening in the Middle East, the first thing you do is surfing the web. What do you think a potential donor will do…?

Knowing this, it would seem obvious that every communication department is fully prepared to receive these donor prospects. An effective digital communication strategy is in place aimed at attracting and informing prospects in such a way that they are guided to the appropriate webpage where they are one mouse click away from their so-much-wanted donation. (more…)