#RememberACharityWeek 2021 on Twitter

This year’s Remember a Charity (RaC) week campaign was called Will You? It used a clear and simple ask in bold colours which charity members personalised with photos and their own messages. There was a static image version as well as a gif version. RaC shared a video of their Insta feed which was full of colour.

This annual week is used by member charities to promote the gifts in wills message and used by the wider sector as a ‘safe time’ to talk about legacies (although I’d hope that the campaign has done enough by now to make digital legacy comms, year-round). Media coverage is driven by RaC and once again this year ambassador Len Goodman was spreading the simple message of write a will and if you can, leave a bit to charity. And the Wombles were out in force, especially on Facebook.

Rob Cope wrote this call to action about the importance of legacy fundraising – Why the sector can’t afford to drop the legacy baton now. He stressed the potential of legacies for charities as the baby boomer generation ages, but described a sector where budgets and teams are being cut.

What does this mean for digital legacy fundraising? Historically it was seen that the target (age) groups preferred paper-based comms and face-to-face events, they didn’t use digital. But this year has forced legacy teams to explore and expand their online marketing and stewardship. It’s an exciting time to see how this grows.

Engagement on organic Twitter

As an insight into the messages shared this week, here are some trends from this year’s organic comms on Twitter. Unsurprisingly video features highly but well formatted tweets with strong statements and images also did well. Big audiences did not guarantee good engagement.

Engagement on organic Twitter is generally quite low these days, it is harder and harder to get much of a lift. Many of the standard tweets I looked at using the RaC artwork got very minimal engagement (like Macmillan’s). It’s not to say that it wasn’t effective, just that people didn’t share, reply or like it. The click through rates may have been brilliant or it may be effective as a reminder or motivator for an off-line activity.

I was instead looking for tweets which got good engagement. I wanted to see if there were any particular ‘winners’ or stand-out content as well as trends. Again, higher numbers of likes and views does not necessarily translate to clicks to more info or pledgers.

Strong messages

‘Our work to help animals will not stop’. This stand-out message from IFAW UK is really well formatted – strong first sentence, followed by more detail about your action and its impact. It is well spaced and includes emoji and a link to make it easy to digest. Hashtags at the end help to explain the context (only niggle is they should use CamelCaseToMakeThemAccessible). A montage of six images rather than the usual one or four also makes it stand out.

“There are developments on the horizon around better treatments for prostate cancer. I want to help make that possible.” Great stuff from Prostate Cancer. Simple storytelling, few words, well structured. Clear action and link. The same post did better on PCUK’s Facebook.

Videos

This was one of three tweets shared by the Manchester United Foundation about legacies during the week. The first was a customised RaC graphic which also got good engagement. This 3 minute video was also RTd by the main Manchester United account to its 27million followers.

A similar uplifting 2min film was shared by Lord’s Taverners to their much smaller audience.

RSPB launched a legacy campaign on the first day of the week with a video which will air online and TV called Time Flies. Here it is on You Tube where there is a 30 second version too. It was created with Aardman. On the RSPB website it appears under the heading – Your legacy is the future of nature.

First-hand storytelling

Storytelling by a charity’s beneficiary or testimonials from legacy pledgers or stories from previous donors are mainstays of offline and web page legacy fundraising. Here are some examples from Twitter this year.

Andy from St Mungo’s told how his life has been transformed. ‘Help someone like Andy transform their life, by leaving a gift in your will.’ The video has had 180 views and a handful of engagements (slightly more than daily average and another legacy video they shared in the week). It got more engagement on Facebook.

Glyndebourne ran a series of videos (My lasting legacy) through the week with supporters talking to camera. The opera house set up a special club for pledgers – the John Christie Society. Its ambassador, Dame Felicity Lott shared her story in the first one which had the most engagement.

Not all stories got good engagement, like this from Marie Curie.

Showing impact

There were also a few examples of organisations sharing their impact to drive support.

Content which your audience likes

A safer bet for legacy content is sharing images or stories which appeal to your audience. It might get good engagement but needs to be hooked-in to the legacy ask.

  • This tweet from Badgers Trust appeared in my automatic top tweets listing. Did it get lots of likes because it is a nice picture? It doesn’t include a link to make it easy to get in touch.
  • Lovely cat pictures from Cats Protection got good engagement.
  • This about ancient graffiti from SPAB also appeared in my top tweets. The text and video are interesting content but not related to RaCW, just use the hashtag. More could have been made of this. They did share other content during the week, the whole thing might have worked better as a thread.
  • This National Gallery tweet showing a painting which had been acquired thanks to a legacy got good engagement too (but lower than their usual levels).

Others

Be like Handel and leave a legacy – Coram.

I didn’t see anyone else using polls. This from Crohn’s and Colitis was interesting on their fundraising account where they shared other legacy content through the week including other polls.

Legacy fundraising good reads

Your views

Is your organisation part of the Remember a Charity consortium? If so did you join in with promotions during the week? How did it go? Which channels worked best?

Did you see (or launch) any stand-out comms during the week? Did you run paid campaigns and if so, how did these do?

Please do share in the comments.

Digital advent calendars 2020

Here are some highlights from this year’s digital advent calendars shared by charities, museums and other not-for-profits. It’s been a grim year, so here is some festive cheer for you to view and share with others.

Yarn-bombed santa on a bollard. Photographed on a rainy street last year

Christmas cheer

Roundabout drama - a child drawing a character from the story

Roundabout Drama have a story behind each door of their advent calendar. Day 1 is illustrated by Maxmillian and Sebastian.

Each day Streetwise Opera are sharing contributions from artists who have joined in with A Gallery For All.

Manchester Museum are sharing a caring Christmas calendar.

Jane Austen’s House are sharing a 12 days of Christmas traditions which Jane might have enjoyed. Includes audio recorded by Emma Thompson and material from their archive.

See also:

Stories and successes

screenshot from Cats Protection. Lovely tabby cat

Cats Protection are sharing their annual #CatventCalendar with heart-warming moggy stories every day by email and social media.

Throughout December Stroke Assocation will be celebrating #HopeAfterStroke – sharing stroke survivors’ and carers first glimmers of hope and celebrating the way the charity and supporters have helped to provide hope.

See Me Scotland are sharing nuggets from their year and resources about mental health. Follow #AntiStigmaAdvent.

Gateshead People’s Assembly are sharing photos to remind their community what pre-pandemic life looked like. “It won’t be long until we are all back together.”

Sharing learning

Dr Jenner’s House is running a #VaccineAdventCalendar. The Preventable Disease Advent Calendar will share 24 different infectious diseases, all of which can be prevented by vaccination.

CIPR Not-for-Profit are once again sharing learning through their Twitter calendar.

NAVCA are doing the same.

Liverpool John Moore University’s Student Advice and Wellbeing team are sharing content each day including a live cookalong and DIY gift making on Instagram.

Love Food Hate Waste are sharing tips about reducing food waste over Christmas.

Sharing collections

Museums, galleries and heritage sites are sharing items from their collections. Expore #MuseumAdvent and take a look at:

Actions

BBC Bitesize kindness advant calendar. Day 1 is a nice hot drink, day 2, a bear hug, day 3, a compliment

The best of the rest

Seen any others? Let me know and I’ll add them here.

** Follow some of these calendars using this handy Twitter list. **

Join in

It’s not too late to run a calendar. Last year many organisations ran 12 days of Christmas reveals in the quiet time after Christmas. If you have some content to make your community smile this time of year, why not package it as a calendar?

See digital advent calendars – tips and examples.

Festive fundraising

I should also give a special mention to Richard Sved whose Festive Fundraising Jukebox is raising money for Youth Talk and Alcohol Change UK. Here’s The Holly and the Ivy. He’s taking requests. Get yours in early!

Good gifts 2020

Times are tough. Lockdown 2, darker nights, grim Covid predictions and more uncertainty means we all need a boost. Last week (mid-October) I talked so someone who had already put up her Christmas tree. Mince pies have already been in the shops for a while. This year Christmas will be different but there are lots of ways it can still be special.

Now is a good time to find interesting, fun and ethical gifts for your loved ones. Here are some suggestions about how you can use your Christmas budget to support local businesses, social enterprises, museums and charities. They need your support more than ever.

Christmas tree

Buy good gifts

Sign up to sites like Easy Fundraising and The Giving Machine to generate donations to your favourite charities while you shop online. If you are running a Secret Santa, use the Giving Machine’s Secret Santa generator to make it easy.

Buy a gift for someone else

Support a seasonal gift charity campaign (more to come as they launch).

  • Donate £10 to support Book Trust’s annual campaign. “Christmas won’t be magical for every child.”
  • Be Secret Santa for a child in need via Stipey Stork, a Surrey based babybank.
  • Help a child deprived of an education with a school bag and its contents for £20 via charity School in a Bag. You can track the bag to see exactly where it’s gone.  
  • NEW! Choose Love. Buy gifts for refugees from £5. Includes emergency blankets, hot food parcels and language and skills support. Here’s the Choose Love this Christmas social campaign.  
  • Help Little Village find the perfect gift for 1000 children in London this year. Buy a gift voucher from £5.
  • Does your local charity have a wishlist? Support them by buying items they need. For example, the Crisis Skylight in Newcastle has biscuits, face masks and gloves on their Amazon wishlist.
  • This year there are 17 Xmas Dinner projects around the country, supporting care leavers. Each is fundraising and many have wishlists for gifts. Find one near you.
  • Oxfam Unwrapped – gifts from £5. 
  • NEW! Adopt a word from the Ministry of Stories to support the next generation of storytellers. Flummery and moonglade are still available….

Spread Christmas cheer

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

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

What are you doing?

Are you planning a Zoom Secret Santa or a lockdown Christmas kitchen party? How are you planning to boost morale and spread some festive cheer this year? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

See also…

Charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples if you are running a digital calendar for your charity or community.

Disclaimer: all links included in this post are examples and intended for guidance only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement. Please do your own research before making purchases.

#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

<Looking for this year’s good gift guide? Updated with lots of new links for 2020!>

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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