#WalkWithTom – raising money ‘for the NHS’

You’ll have seen that 99 year old, Captain Tom Moore (@captaintommoore) has been raising money by walking the length of his garden. Initially he set out to raise £1000 to mark his 100th birthday.

Today (17 April) the total on JustGiving stands at a staggering £17m. JustGiving have done an amazing job to process hundreds of donations per second. The story has been all over the media and donations have come from 52 different countries.

Captain Tom Moore's JustGiving page - total is on £16m

People want to support Tom and give something to the NHS at this impossible time when we need them most. But as the story has grown, the messaging about how and where the money will be used has been lost. As with any windfall fundraising on this scale, transparency is needed about who gets the money and how it will be spent.

Tom’s story

The public is heavily invested in Captain Tom and most will know that this money is going to the NHS in some way. It gives us a good news story, a heroic person to connect with and reassurance that the NHS has much-needed extra funds. All good.

But as with other huge windfalls the sector has seen, there comes a responsibility by the recipient charity to be transparent about where the money is going. Most of the coverage has focussed on Captain Tom, the total he has raised and the progress of his garden challenge.

There is little mention that the funds are going to NHS Charities Together for them to distribute to their NHS charity members – not ‘the NHS’.

Windfall fundraising

Think back to the Claire Squires Fund in 2012 which raised £1m for The Samaritans, #ThumbsUpForStephen in 2014 which raised £5m for Teenage Cancer Trust (until a few days ago holding the record for the most raised by an individual through JustGiving), or #FinishForMatt in 2018 which raised £380k for small charity Brathay Trust).

Each of these was a high-profile news story which prompted a wave of love and action by thousands of donors. Each charity had to respond to this event happening outside their control and quickly communicate their plans about how they would use these large unexpected funds.

For most, donors were responding to the story of Claire, Stephen and Matt, wanting to do something. The cause was secondary. The charities had to get the right balance of letting the story drive donations but at the same time making sure it featured prominently in all their comms (such as website homepage, social media, email marketing). They had to connect with and educate a new audience about their work, and as the size of windfall became clear, make and share plans about how the money would be used.

#WalkWithTom has additional complications as we are all connected to the cause. But in this case, there is also complexity around the messaging of who is holding the money and how we think about the NHS and how it is funded.

About NHS Charities Together

NHS Charities Together is an umbrella organisation for the NHS charities. There are more than 250 across the UK, although only 140 are members. Most hospitals and Trusts have one (see list of NHS Charities Together members). They operate a bit like a school PTA which raises money for ‘extras’ not covered by council budgets.

Most people don’t know or need to know about NHS charities, why they exist and what they pay for which is different from the government funded frontline NHS. But actually this matters. In recent days I have seen lots of people talking about this story, confused (and sometimes very angry) about how and why this money is ‘going to the NHS’ which we pay for through our taxes. Some have raised concerns about the precedent it is setting for people thinking they are donating to the NHS.

Lots of the media coverage simply says that Tom is ‘raising money for the NHS’. Even the Chancellor said it in this message! Most reports don’t mention specifically that the money is going to NHS charities and how it will be used. Maybe people may assume the money will go on PPE and ventilators? Maybe it is too technical to explain or gets in the way of a good story?

But we are once again left in a situation where the technicalities of how charities operate are a mystery to most and the lines are blurred between charity and public sector services and who pays for them.

Hopefully as the story moves away from Tom’s garden, it will focus on the difference this money will make. And explain where it is and where it isn’t going. If the media, simply said that the money is going to NHS charities, rather than ‘to the NHS’, it would be a good start.

How the money will be used

Unfortunately, not much has been said about how the money Tom has raised will be used yet. NHS Charities has been celebrating Tom’s achievements and the ever growing total. They probably haven’t got time to do more. They are only a small organisation and they are running several other campaigns and fundraising efforts of their own.

NHS Charities’ own appeal on Virgin Money Giving has raised £27m (including £26m raised offline from major donors). This appeal gives examples of some of the ways the money could be used including:

  • wellbeing packs for NHS staff and volunteers
  • covering staff / volunteer expenses such as car parking, travel and accommodation
  • communication devices for isolated patients
  • mental health support for staff, volunteers and patients
  • helping patients leave and remain out of hospital.

These sound like very valuable ways to use the funds but what does this look like with £44m+ behind it? Will only member charities get support or all of the NHS charities? How will this be allocated? Is this more than enough to cover these activities or is more needed?

It must be a complicated challenge to allocate this amount of money quickly across hundreds of partners in a crisis of this scale and under such pressure. But donors and the press need their ‘what now’ story about the impact of these generous donations.

Good comms is key

As with any massively successful fundraising appeal, attention will turn from the event to how the money has will be used. Here, questions will be asked about the speed of getting the funds to where they are needed.

Hopefully NHS Charities Together will be able to give clarity through their own comms and press outreach about their intentions for this unexpectedly large amount of money. As well as the numbers, it would be good to see stories about impact to give a human context. We need more good news stories.

There have been some comms on this including a slot by the Chief Executive on Heart FM and a few of the NHS charities tweeting themselves such as Awyr Las Charity in North Wales.

The hashtag #ThankYouTom is already being used by people. Maybe the NHS charities could share their stories of how the money has been used in their hospital using this?

Update

This Civil Society article (NHS Charities Together appeal raises £55m for members (17 April)) gives some detail about how the money is being spent.

Some of the same information is also in the mainstream press. See How will Captain Tom Moore’s £14m be spent to help NHS workers? (Huffington Post – 16 April) and Covid-19 appeal to benefit NHS staff through array of charities (The Guardian, 16 April).

Captain Tom’s fundraising was closed after his 100th birthday. The final total was over £32m.

NHS Charities Together raises £100m through Covid-19 appeal – UK Fundraising.

Read more

For more coronavirus-related fundraising and comms, see April’s Digital round-up.

Digital advent calendars – 2019

Here are some highlights from this year’s crop of digital advent calendars shared by charities, museums and other not-for-profits.

knitted santas in a box. smiling!

Fun and competitions

Ruby the Reindeer is visiting a familiar place behind each door of The Family Holiday Association’s website calendar. Your challenge is to name the places and rearrange the first letters of the answers into the title of a well-known song, in order to enter the competition.

Follow, like or share Deki’s advent tweets to be in with a chance of winning a mystery box of goodies! “Each box is filled with surprises and items that celebrate the vibrancy of the communities in Togo and what Deki means to our partners and staff.”

Stories

Screenshot of day1-5 on Bletchley Park's Instagram advent calendar

Bletchley Park are sharing photos of actual doors from their site and telling the stories from each of them. Check out their Instagram for stories from Hut 1 and the garage so far.

#iwill are posting stories which celebrate the difference young people are making across the UK. Check out the #iwill advent calendar.

Sharing learning

screenshot from Howard Lake's day 4 video about giant cheques

A wealth of information and learning from Fundraising Everywhere’s fab calendar shared in one handy thread. So far we have had Dana Kohava Segal on behaviour economics and Howard Lake on giant cheque pictures in press releases.

CIPR Not-for-Profit are also sharing learning through their calendar. They are promoting great resources and showcasing Christmas campaigns from the sector.

Fundraising

Day 3 of Literacy Trust's calendar showing Onjali Rauf's book - The Boy at the Back of the Class

The National Literacy Trust are sharing details of a book recommendation each day. They asked top authors which book they would give as a gift to a child this Christmas. The tweet includes a text donation number to support their #GiftofReading campaign.

Cats Protection are sharing stories of cats in their care, with links to different ways you can sponsor a cat or support their work.

Others

Orkney Library classic tweet from May - Take Meat On - recreating a-ha's classic tune in book form

Seen any others? Let me know.

Join in

It’s not too late to join in. Last year many organisations ran 12 days of Christmas reveals in the dead-zone after Christmas. What a nice way to share positive stories from 2019 or calls to action for 2020.

See digital advent calendars – tips and examples.

Be a good Secret Santa 2019

Don’t buy your colleagues or family members pointless plastic tat or novelty socks this year. Instead use some or all of your Secret Santa in a more impactful way.

Here are some links to charities running Secret Santa-sized fundraising campaigns and other ideas for doing good within your budget.

Vintage wrapping paper

Buy a gift for someone else

Support a seasonal gift charity campaign with your Secret Santa.

Buy good gifts

Spread Christmas cheer

Why not pool your funds and do something bigger as a team?

There are also countless fundraising appeals, Christmas jumper days and Reverse Advent Calendar campaigns which you could get involved with as a team.

What are you doing?

Last year, the team I was working in split their Secret Santa. We each gave £5 to the pot to be donated to a Christmas appeal we all agreed on. Then had a budget of £5 to spend on a gift which had to be bought from a charity shop.

  • Do you do Secret Santa in your team? Any tips?
  • Is your charity doing an interesting appeal?

Please share in the comments.

See also…

Merry Christmas!

Do you live-tweet?

Some tips about how to get the most out of live-tweeting from a conference or event.

This week it is the epic Institute of Fundraising annual conference. Three days, 100+ speakers, a festival of fundraising best practice, shared learnings and inspiration. The #IoFFC programme is huge with ten different streams (such as digital and philanthropy) and sessions graded by level (intermediate or advanced). If you are there, it must be impossible to choose which sessions to go to. If you are not there, it is pretty hard to follow the busy hashtag as there are sometimes nine sessions going on at once and hundreds of tweets coming out each day.

Screenshot of tweets using #IoFFC. There are 743 new tweets sent since the conference started.

Thank goodness for the handful of live-tweeters, working hard to share key points and their top takeaways in a way that is easy to follow (examples at the end).

How to get the most out of live-tweeting

If you are at a conference or event and planning to live-tweet, here are some tips about how to do it.

  • Sit at the front. You’ll take better photos of slides which will be easier to read.
  • Use threads. This makes it easier for everyone to follow the whole session you are at. Whether you are live-tweeting every important point or just one or two key takeaways, do it in a thread.
  • If you are at an event with more than one session, start a new thread for each session.
  • On the first tweet, include the name of the session and who is presenting, including their @names if they have one. Include a screenshot of the title slide or something else to make the tweet stand out.
  • Don’t worry if you miss an important point. You don’t have to cover everything. It can be quite stressful to try and keep up.
  • Include the event hashtag in each tweet.
  • If you are including images, especially of slides, use alt text to describe what the image is showing. If this is text, transcribe it (or better still include it in your tweet). If it is a graph or chart, try to describe the meaning. Make your tweets accessible to everyone.
  • RT the first tweet from your thread(s) at the end of the conference or the next day when people are back at their desks and wanting to reflect on what they have learnt. Your thread(s) will help them.

(NB Some people don’t like using threads because individual tweets can’t be included in a Wakelet or equivalent later. Personally I think it is more important to live-tweet in a way which helps someone follow everything you have shared. If you fire out lots of individual tweets, some will be missed.)

Why not have a go

Live-tweeting isn’t for everyone. You may prefer to make your notes using a pen and pad to write or draw, or like to type longer-form notes. Or just sit and listen. We all have different ways of taking in new information. You need to get the most out of the event you are at.

But if you are confident on Twitter it can be a great way to take notes in a way that builds your profile and benefits others at the same time. If you can listen and tweet (and photograph) all at the same time you are good to go. Get on the wifi with your phone, tablet or laptop and start sharing.

You may find that having ready-made notes in this format, makes it easier to turn them into a blog post or report later. At the least you will have a thread (or series of threads) which you can look back on and / or share with colleagues.

Tips for conference organisers

Is live-tweeting part of your comms plan for your event? Don’t assume that there will be tweeting delegates in the room. You have put months of effort into curating an amazing event and lots of ideas and examples will be shared. Don’t waste the opportunity to own and drive wider discussions around it.

Here are some of the benefits of live-tweeting the event from your corporate account:

  • reach a wider audience than just the people in the room, both on the day and afterwards. People watching from afar will be looking for an official record of the event to follow.
  • interact with delegates a different way
  • preserve some of the learning
  • build a source of content which you can turn into something else later (for example it can be easier to write a blog post or news story or summary or email newsletter from the key takeaways if you have already written them)
  • help delegates to reflect on their own takeaways from the event by catching up with tweets afterwards
  • use your official record of the day to promote other events or next year’s event.

Make it easy for people to live-tweet your event:

  • agree and publicise the official hashtag early on – on the webpage about the event, joining instructions email and in the programme. Don’t make people guess what the hashtag is or use more than one!
  • tell people about the wifi code clearly at the start of the day. Add it to the programme and on the welcome slide.
  • include the @names of the speakers in the programme and on their slides so people can mention them without having to search.

Set the scene at the start of the day. Take a nice photo and tweet a welcome message explaining what the event is about and share a link to the programme so people can see what is being covered. Make this the first tweet that everyone shares.

#IoFFC live-tweeters

Here are some examples of live-tweeting in action:

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Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

I also live-tweet at conferences and events. If you are a conference organiser, don’t assume that there will be delegates who can help your expertly curated event reach a wider audience. I can help. Please get in touch.

 

 

Small Charity Week – round-up of useful posts

Today I volunteered at the Big Advice Day event in London organised by the team at FSI as part of Small Charity Week. They organised an impressive 315 hours of advice between over 120 advisors and 100 charities in the room and over the phone / Skype. The room was buzzing all day!

I spent an hour in turn with people from five amazing small charities and talked about digital comms / marketing / fundraising. The charities were very different (two working in development / overseas, two health charities and one local branch of a national charity). And of different sizes and ages. All were doing properly amazing and vital work with limited funds.

Here are some of the main themes which we covered and some links to relevant posts I have written, useful to small charities.

(NB I mostly include examples from larger organisations in posts as these are easier to find. I would love to include more from smaller charities. I think we can all learn from each other. Did you see the Small Charities Coalition, #BigSupportSmall campaign which launched on Monday?)

urban street art - snoopy the dog looks up at a flying yellow woodstock (from Charlie Brown)

Legacy fundraising

Four out of the five charities I saw today wanted to talk about legacy fundraising. Many had received legacy gifts but felt that they could do more to drive this type of support. Some were uncomfortable about making an ask.

We talked about using hooks to make the ask easier like Remember a Charity Week in September, Free Wills Month in March or significant events like an anniversary or capital project.

We mostly talked about content – for example, how to make the ask, what terminology should you use to inspire supporters to trust you enough to make this future donation? Really this depends on your audience and their relationship with you. Your ask might be more effective if made via a letter or mentioned in a speech at an event. However, you should probably still have something about legacy giving on your website to help people with the practicalities. The tone of voice and images you use here are key. Your direct relationship with your beneficiaries / supporters is a huge asset as a small charity. If you understand and show that you understand their motivations, you can write content which is powerful and persuasive. If you can show that leaving a gift like this, is something people like them do, it helps them take action too.

It is important to check the digital experience you are giving on your pages – for example can people find the information about gifts in Wills easily (how many clicks and where is it), is the information practical and helpful (does it tell them what they need to know)? Check the statistics if you can, to see where people are dropping off your journey and make changes as needed.

We looked at examples of others being creative, confident and appropriate in the messaging. There are lots of examples of this here:

Involving people with ‘lived experience’

More and more charities are involving people with first-hand experience of the cause at board level, in co-design of services, and in strategy setting. Many of those I talked to today were doing this but not yet involving them in comms. There are big opportunities (and risks) to include first-hand storytelling in your on and offline comms, funding applications and in-person events.

Comms processes

Being a comms / marketing / fundraising person in a small charity means prioritising and juggling. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by needing to be on 24/7. Some of this pressure can be eased by sorting out your systems and processes so that you don’t waste time looking for an image or re-writing a standard piece of copy. (I have a crib sheet of standard tweets, messages and links I can modify and use which saves loads of time.)

Spending some time working out your image strategy, thinking about crisis comms or working on monthly comms plan is time well spent. In a small charity you can be reactive but to avoid feeling like you are always chasing your tail, make sure this is balanced with some planning and preparation.

Small Charity Week

There is lots going on during the rest of the week including fundraising day on Thursday and celebration day on Saturday. Do get involved. The hashtag is #SmallCharityWeek.

Find out about the small charities near where you live. There are sure to be lots of them working from kitchen tables (see this fab thread from Tiny Tickers sharing their working spaces) or shared offices. They are on the ground working in your community or supporting people further afield. Just look at this great A-Z of small charities in Camden curated by Camden Giving which gives a flavour of the volume and variety of organisations in one London borough.

Use the Charity Commission charity search to find a small charity near you. Then find out how you can help. Donate your money or time or skills to give them a boost. Small charities need your support.

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Be a good Secret Santa

It’s that time of year again. Rather than spending money on plastic tat / novelty socks, why not use some or all of your Secret Santa in a more impactful way? Here are a few examples of charities running Secret Santa sized fundraising campaigns and other ideas for doing good within your budget.

smiling windup snowman toy on a cafe counter surrounded by cakes

Christmas campaigns

Secret Santa gifts

Christmas cheer

Why not pool your funds and do something bigger as a team?

There are countless fundraising appeals, Christmas jumper days and local food bank collections you could instead donate to in the name of your Secret Santa.

Action Man style elf - text says 'This year, leave Relf on the shelf'

Leave Relf on the shelf and give a gift that matters say International Rescue Committee in this fab video.

What are you doing?

  • Do you do Secret Santa in your team? Any tips?
  • Is your charity doing an interesting appeal?

Please share in the comments.

See also: charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples from 2017

Check your donor experience / in-memory fundraising

How do your donor experiences make people feel? Have you created an online giving process which is easy to use and says thank you in an appropriate way? In-memory fundraising has to be particularly sensitive to donor’s feelings.

Here’s an example of how easy it is to get it wrong and a reminder to regularly check your donor experience.

Careless comms

A couple of weeks ago I got the news that a school friend took his own life. His family asked for donations to a specific mental health charity instead of flowers at the funeral. On Monday (which was World Suicide Prevention Day) I made an online donation via JustGiving in his memory to the local branch. The charity did not have a ‘donate in memory’ function on its website and I spent 20 minutes going round the houses to find how to make a one-off online donation.

My donation on JustGiving - 'Donation in memory of my school friend, who recently took his own life aged 43. #WorldSuicidePreventionDay"

The next day I got the following thank you email via JustGiving.

It was careless that they spelt my name wrong (it does happen all the time but it is still annoying) but it was the lack of care they put into the response which was disappointing. The tone of voice felt inappropriate given the message I had left with my donation (saying that the donation was in memory of my friend who had taken his own life). I would have expected more care from a mental health charity.

Message says- You're amazing! Thank you Madeline (spent wrong) from Team. x

I put these mistakes down to two oversights.

1. Because there was no in-memory option on their website, I had to make a standard donation, so was thanked in the standard way. The standard subject line (You’re amazing) would have been fine if I had run a marathon or held a cake sale but this was a donation in memory. I wasn’t amazing, I was doing a normal thing in response to a shocking event. I am sure they wouldn’t have used this line if they had created a separate donor journey for in-memory gifts.

2. Maybe the person who writes the thank you doesn’t read the messages left with the donations. If so, it is risky to use a jolly tone of voice and add a kiss at the end of your message. (The message says: Thank you Madeline from Team [charity name] x.)

Check your donation journey

This isn’t intended to be a name and shame but as a real-life example to remind you how easy it is to get it wrong and a call to action to check your donation journeys. It is easy for mistakes to creep in, especially if you are using multiple platforms or have periodically added different online payment options without seeing the whole picture.

But your donors don’t care about this. They just want an easy process to give. They want an appropriate and timely thank you.

Check yourself – be your own mystery shopper. Put yourselves in the shoes of different donors, get your user-journeys right. Think about their motivations and feelings. Check your thank you processes. For example:

  • Are your automatic responses, appropriate in all situations? Avoid exclamation marks and kisses!
  • Have you got the right pathways for people to give in different ways?
  • Do you have an appropriate tone of voice, especially when talking about sensitive issues?
  • How do you respond to personal messages left with donations? Have you developed standard messages you can modify?

Don’t give bad donor experiences.

In-memory donations

Check your in-memory options. Do you have a separate page or donation journey for in-memory gifts? Most charities have these and offer lots of different options. For example, alongside a link to make a on-off donation (via their own online donation process or third parties such as JustGiving), many provide envelopes to take donations at funerals, links to set up fundraising pages or tribute funds, or schemes for bigger donations.

There are lots of examples of hospices and health-related causes who are good at in-memory fundraising. For example, look at Demelza Hospice Care for Children, British Lung Foundation and Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Non-health organisations recognise that their supporters turn to them at these times too so have similar pages. For example, look at Shelter, Family Action and Freedom from Torture.

screenshot of Freedom from Torture page

In all of these examples, tone of voice is warm, gentle, respectful and positive. As with online legacy content, organisations that do it well, make you feel like they are sitting alongside you as you do something good out of a tough situation.

Each gives an opportunity to make a one-off donation in memory, with most offering an option to leave a message.

A donation in-memory is different from a standard on-off donation. It needs processing in a different way. Are you doing yours right?

Further reading

See also, my top tips about online legacy content.

Your comments

How does your in-memory fundraising measure up? Have you got any top tips or examples to share? I’d love to hear from you. Add your views in the comments.

 

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