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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#GivingTuesday 2017

Now in its fourth year in the UK, #GivingTuesday is a chance for charities large and small to ask, thank and share news of the difference they make. It is the antidote to #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday (all of which seem to last much longer than a single day).

Here are some great Twitter examples from this year’s day.

BT image from the London BT Tower scrolling #GivingTuesday video

Short and simple

#GivingTuesday is a hugely busy hashtag (trending across the world on the day) so there is a lot of competition. On all channels, a simple, eye-catching ask stands out.

The standard digital fundraising rules apply – cater to short attention spans, make donating time or money easy to do and pleasurable and give a reward.

Dogs Trust - 4 ways to give + silly dog video

This tweet from Dogs Trust ticks all the boxes. It clearly lists four ways to give support, it uses eye-catching emojis and readable / edited bit.ly links plus a bonus video of a dog rolling in the grass!

"It’s #givingtuesday at LSE! We have four ways in which you can give."

Similarly, LSE student volunteer centre shared four images on Twitter along with four actions.

  • Independent Age clearly listed their text giving options
  • Crisis showed what someone who attends Crisis at Christmas receives
  • Lumos produced a simple animation of five words which explain what they do
  • Refuge were asking people to buy a Christmas dinner parcel for £5
  • Breakfast in a Bag simply asked for £3 donations.

Giving thanks

#GivingTuesday is as much a chance to say thank you as it is to ask. It is an opportunity to celebrate all your amazing fundraisers, donors, campaigners and volunteers. Personal thanks or general thanks work well.

Help for Heroes thank you video

Help for Heroes produced this lovely video to thank their fundraisers, volunteers, supporters and partners. It means more as it is a face-to-face thanks from the people whose lives have been helped by the charity.

The British Heart Foundation are expert producers of thank you gifs and images. Their feed is full of great thank you images like this one.

Marie Curie's hand drawn thanks for supporter Michelle

Marie Curie produced hand-drawn doodles for a selection of their supporters to say thank you.

There are lots more examples of how large and small charities used #GivingTuesday to say thank you (ZurichVolSec)

Taking full advantage

For one day only, Facebook matched donations made via their native giving tool (not those made by clicking a donation button on the platform which links elsewhere).

This tweet from Winston’s Wish explains the ask. A link to the Facebook page would have helped to encourage supporters to shift platform.

Winston's Wish FB ask

Selected Big Give charities are part of their Christmas Challenge which launched at midday on #GivingTuesday. The 500 organisations lucky enough to be included are benefitting from doubled-donations to their listed projects. In the first five minutes, half a million pounds were raised!

ChildhoodTrust - Cats Vs Kids campaign

Eye-catching campaigns like Cats Vs Kids from The Childhood Trust, aim to inspire new supporters as well as current ones through #GivingTuesday and the #ChristmasChallenge17.

CAF were offering to add a bonus £100 to a £10 donation for individuals opening a new account before 30 November.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland devoted the whole day to share stories of amazing fundraisers, achievements, future events and their #earringforhearing campaign.

Using targets

The Myton Hospices

The Myton Hospices were aiming for a Christmas miracle, raising £3220 in 24 hours, enough to pay for an inpatient bed for one week. Through persistent tweeting, a thunderclap and rallying of their supporters, they smashed their target! Throughout the day, they updated supporters with a total. (Read more about their campaign in my JustGiving post on #GivingTuesday highlights.)

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust‘s campaign aimed to raise enough money to plant 100 trees.

(NB Toilet Twinning are really good at sharing regular News Flush updates with a running total on World Toilet Day, pinning the latest total as a top tweet on the day.)

Being creative

#GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to break all the rules, produce something special and have fun.

Southmead Hospital Charity video - Giving Back this #GivingTuesday

Southmead Hospital Charity produced a charming video which explained how a £5 donation would help.

Didn’t get involved this year?

UK Fundraising reported that almost 2000 partner charities and businesses joined in with #GivingTuesday this year. CAF shared stats on the reach of the day, including an impressive 383million impressions on Twitter. And CAF’s press release said that the hashtag was trending on Twitter in the UK from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Blackbaud shared data too including that 26% of online donations were made via mobile.

The #GivingTuesday hashtag was used in over 150 countries on the day.

If you didn’t get involved this year, make sure it is on your calendar for 2018 – 27 November. And think about how you can make your comms stand out from the crowd.

What did you spot?

Share your favourite #GivingTuesday examples from Twitter or other channels here. I’d love to see them.

I also shared my top three highlights from the day in this JustGiving post.

It’s interesting to see how the comms have evolved since #GivingTuesday launched in the UK in 2014. Here’s my storify with examples from the first year.

 

See also: 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising