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

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Is your SMT/trustees page inspiring?

How to give the web pages about your senior managers and trustees a digital facelift.

Most charities have a page introducing their senior managers and trustees. These pages are mostly dull and uninspiring. But they could be so much better. With a few tweaks, they could help to boost transparency and trust. They could be inspiring; bringing the passion your team has for the cause, to life.

street painting of lots of faces

Bog standard

A standard ‘meet the team’ page has a photo and biography information for the CEO and other senior managers. There may be a separate page for trustees using a similar style. These sit, reasonably buried in the ‘About us’ section, often in a subsection called ‘How we are run’ or ‘Our people’.

On the face of it, it might feel like these are must-have pages which don’t need much content investment in them. They probably don’t get a lot of traffic other than from journalists or people looking for jobs / trustee roles. They are usually very functional pages which accidentally help to highlight the lack of diversity in the organisation’s management. Because they don’t get much attention, they don’t give any insight into the cause, or an understanding what and why these people do. The pages are very static, not doing much to sell your organisation. They are a website dead-end.

But actually these pages are important. Done right, they make organisations feel more personal. They help with transparency.

Here are some suggestions for how these pages could be improved to drive a deeper insight or conversation.

1. Integrate social media

Zoe Amar and Matt Collins have been on a mission to get CEOs tweeting since 2013. They produce tips and examples as well as an annual list of the top 30 Charity CEO tweeters. Many senior managers do embrace social media as a way of sharing successes, challenges as well as learning from and connecting with others.

But many ‘our people’ pages still don’t include these links. Few promote the CEO’s Twitter address (including most of the winners of Social CEOs). And even fewer, include their blog or LinkedIn profile. Links for the senior team are not included either. What does this convey about the digital culture of the staff and wider organisation? If your senior managers are representing the organisation on social channels, this page should help people to connect with them.

Organisations which do promote their team’s individual Twitter addresses are few and far between. Out of the 50 or so charities I looked at, I only found Breast Cancer Care, Islamic Relief, Diabetes UK, The Scout Association and Parkinson’s UK who were doing this.

Breast Cancer Care's page with clear links to senior manager's Twitter accounts

A few organisations were going further and including multiple channels. For example, SCVO’s full staff list includes contact details, individual listings include blog posts, NCVO’s who’s who pages links to blog posts, Twitter and LinkedIn, as does the people page for JRF.

Do your trustees tweet about your charity and the work they do to support it? If so shouldn’t this information be included in their biogs too? Show current and future digitally-savvy trustees that you want them to use social media in their role. Even if just one of two of your trustees use social media or are happy for this information to be shared, add this to your page.

There aren’t many organisations who are doing this. For example Clive Gardiner of NSPCC is the only CharityComms trustee who has his Twitter and LinkedIn links included in his biog. Small Charities Coalition have added buttons to the profiles of their trustees who are on Twitter. NAVCA have Twitter links for their trustees alongside their short biogs.

NB While thinking about transparency and contactability, what is your organisation’s policy on publishing the email addresses for senior managers or trustees? How contactable are they? Contact information for trustees is especially rare to see. Take a look at Crisis who include the social contacts and email addresses for those who have them and Trussell Trust who have email links for all their senior team.

2. Write biogs which people will read

Cutting and pasting detailed information from someone’s CV just isn’t interesting or engaging, especially when it is replicated in a long list of trustees. Of course senior managers and trustees have impressive backgrounds and experience but supporters may also want to know about motivations, personal experience and skills. Equally, including information about someone’s CAMRA membership or love of ballroom dancing may not be appropriate.

Here are some alternatives:

You could illustrate your team in a completely different way. How about a skills profile for the team (think LinkedIn endorsements)?

LinkedIn skills profile

See more about writing great staff biogs in this nonprofithub post.

3. Get good photos

Getting a photographer in to do individual head-shots of everyone in the same style is worth it. A page where people have supplied their own photos of varying degrees of quality, can look messy and unprofessional. Instead get relaxed, warm pictures of your people. I love these pictures of the team at Ministry of Stories and how they are presented

poloroid-type images, with 'paperclip' attaching the imae to the page at a jaunty angle. Looks friendly and cool.

Rather than head shots can you show your team in action? For example trustees from Blue Cross are pictured with their animals. Youth Music have roll-over images where the second picture shows each member of the team making music when they were younger.

A group picture of the team working together could be a good alternative if it is hard to get lots of single pictures. For example this from The Brain Tumour Charity in 2013. (NB This is now replaced by a video of senior managers talking about their strategy and individual headshots against a branded backdrop.)

Brian Tumour Charity - meet the team

If you can’t use photos for whatever reason, try something more creative. For example NSPCC use brightly coloured blocks for their trustees.

4. Think about your audience

Like with any page on your website, you should think about who is reading this page. Who is it for? What do you want them to do as a result (donate / feel sure that the charity is in safe hands / apply to become a trustee / want to know more)? It may be that all this biography information is not relevant, reading the detail of someone’s career can be quite alienating.

Keeping it simple might be the best answer. Try limiting each person to one paragraph or a certain number of words. Or just including their role and a brief summary. Beanstalk shown here in 2013 do a mixture of both which is really clear.

Beanstalk trustees

You could also think about doing more to showcase the people in your organisation who are doing frontline work. Their stories may be more engaging than the CVs of senior staff. Stop being so hierarchical.

Take a look at this series of videos from Macmillan in which we meet nurses, helpline staff and therapists. Breast Cancer Now do this well too.

screenshot from Macmillan's videos

British Lung Foundation do a really nice job of using their people profiles to link to more information about key areas of their work.

Test what works best for your audience by looking at your page statistics. Make some changes and see how it influences traffic and bounce rates. Change it back or do something different if it has a negative effect.

You could also try putting a call to action (donate / sign up to newsletter etc) at the bottom of the page and see whether anyone acts.

Checklist

  • Do you have a page for SMT / trustees / ‘our people’?
  • Do the photos / video look professional and help to make people feel approachable?
  • Is your text interesting and appropriate? It should bring the work your people do to life. Be aware of word count and usability – realistically who is going to click on a page of names and through and read each one?
  • Do you include contact details? If it is relevant, include social media, email, phone numbers, links to blog posts etc
  • What do your stats show about traffic to these pages? Are bounce rates low? What can you do to improve click-on’s and make them more interesting?

Gold star examples:

How to convince your boss?

The internal politics and processes connected with tweaking these pages is not necessarily simple. Can you show senior managers these examples to help convince them that it is time for a digital facelift.

The profiles of the brilliant people who work of volunteer for you should do them justice.

Show that you are a digitally confident organisation and that your people naturally use digital channels to connect, share and learn. This could help to attract more digitally skilled staff and trustees to apply for future roles. See more from Reach Volunteering about how to attract and recruit digital trustees.

What do you do?

How do you make your staff pages useful? What difference has improving your staff pages made? Do you have reasons for not including social contact details? Please share good and bad examples you have seen. Am especially keen to find examples from small charities. Please share – go-on, add a comment!

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you improve your staff pages.

<This post was written in 2013 and updated in 2018.>

Legacy fundraising – tips for persuasive and engaging web content

It’s Remember a Charity week so there is lots being done to inspire people to leave a gift to their favourite charities in their wills. There’s lots of noise about it on twitter via their pick your moment campaign (#pickyourmoment) and many partner charities are promoting RaC week on their homepages.

RaC week is a great as it helps charities talk about legacies. But online legacy fundraising is difficult. It is hard to pitch tone of voice and terminology to a wide audience where saying the right thing around a sensitive subject is important. Knowing where to place it on the website and how to promote it, is equally challenging. What works offline (in person or DM to segmented audiences) may not work online.

I did some benchmarking for a large charity about their digital legacy fundraising, comparing their online presence with their peers. Here’s what I learnt through the process.

<2017 update – Read on, this page is still useful but once you’d finished, go to 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising which looks at 2017 digital trends and research on over 50 charity websites>

Everyone can do it

Even small charities (and especially small charities as they are likely to have passionate supporters) should have a page on their website reminding supporters about legacies. Don’t be frightened about the subject. You don’t have to use the D word. There are lots of examples of charities producing inspiring and persuasive legacy content listed here you can learn from.

You should also think about setting up ‘in memory fundraising’ which is becoming equally standard. (See Much Loved or Just Giving.)

Terminology and location is important

When I researched this, I found that the use of the word legacy as a heading and within copy was not widespread in the sector. (Equally wills was written with lowercase w). The most common section name was ‘Leave a gift in your will’, but also ‘Gifts in wills’, ‘A gift in your will’, ‘Leave money in your will’. Nice to see the persuasive use of ‘your’ here. It is important to think about your audience and ensure you are using words which are appropriate for them. For example, in AgeUK’s case the use of ‘leave a legacy‘ is right.

The majoring of legacy pages were placed in the Donate section. A legacy is a donation albeit a future one. It is not fundraising. Placing legacies in a Donate section, generally meant this content was two clicks from the homepage.

You can be persuasive and sensitive at the same time

Just because you are being sensitive doesn’t mean you have to be dull. Yes, you are making someone think about their own death but the content you write can be engaging and persuasive, bring the subject to life.

Chances are, visitors are at your legacy pages because they already care about what you do. People visiting these pages are likely to be interested in your cause rather than interested in legacies searching for a charity to support. So your page needs to persuade visitors that remembering your charity in their will is a good thing as well as an easy thing to do. So simply, it should cover the impact of a legacy, a thank you for what they are about to do and easy access to the information they need to progress.

Think about why someone would leave you a gift. Are they likely to have had experience of your cause or used your services? Are they already supporting your work? If you have this information about previous legacy donors, you can tweak your content accordingly. The big times that people update their wills are marriage, birth of children, illness, retirement, old age. Could you do more to connect with people at these stages?

Your opening line is important. Many charities start off by saying how much of their income comes from legacies and the difference this money has made (eg BHF: Since we were founded in 1961, donations in Wills have helped us invest £1 billion in funding ground-breaking research, providing vital health information and supporting those affected by heart disease). But the whole page is an opportunity to persuade. Let’s look at some examples.

Beanstalk’s remember us in your will page talks very clearly and frequently about the impact of a gift on children. Their opening line says: “Leaving a gift to Beanstalk in your will is a way of leaving a love of reading to children for many years to come”. They use the whole page to talk about their work, with a small ask.

Beanstalk - Leaving a gift to Beanstalk in your will is a way of leaving a love of reading to children for many years to come

Refugee Action’s leave a legacy page is another nice example of a gentle ask with clear information about the difference a gift will make.

The Migraine Trust’s opening line is also inspiring: “After taking care of loved ones, consider The Migraine Trust in your Will and see how a piece of paper can do truly amazing things.” The rest of the page talks about generosity, the impact of even a small gift, how grateful they are and how much of their income comes from legacies (51%). It ends with what to do next. It is a well crafted page.
The Migraine Trust - After taking care of loved ones, consider The Migraine Trust in your Will and see how a piece of paper can do truly amazing things.

For smaller charities, there may be a worry that the organisations may not exist when the legacy is processed. Prisoners Abroad address this head-on. They reinforce that they will be needed long into the future and a legacy will make a difference. (“Prisoners Abroad is going to be needed for years to come. Prison conditions worldwide are likely to get worse not better. The demand of our services is likely to increase significantly.”)  Their short page is concise and clear.

Prisoners Abroad - Prisoners Abroad is going to be needed for years to come. Prison conditions worldwide are likely to get worse not better. The demand of our services is likely to increase significantly.

RAF Benevolent Fund don’t mince their words when they say: “You’ll probably never meet the people who will benefit from a gift in your will but they’re part of the family because they’re RAF. Supporting each other through life’s challenges is what family is all about, and that’s what the RAF Benevolent Fund does for the RAF family.” They write very clearly and directly about who a legacy can help. Rather than saying ‘we get this much from legacies’, they say: “One in three people who turn to us for help owe the support they receive to the kindness of those who left the RAF Benevolent Fund a gift in their wills” which is much more powerful.

RAF Benevolent Fund

Personal stories work well here too. They say, look, people like you have already done this. A good example is Shelter’s ‘why I’m leaving a legacy’ stories.

Shelter - case studies

What about other types of organisations? People can have close relationships with institutions such as museums, art galleries, churches, schools, city farms, clubs which means that legacy giving may be worth promoting. For example, Warwick Arts Centre says on their website “leaving a legacy allows individuals to make a contribution at a level that accurately reflects their fondness for Warwick Arts Centre”. Churches also get a lot of income via legacies – see this example from Disley Parish Church. So, having a page about legacy fundraising shouldn’t just be for cause-related charities. Organisations such as the above should recognise that patrons may want to show their appreciation in this way and promote the option online.

These are all inspiring examples. These pages work well to connect their causes with legacy donations and communicate the need and impact well with their audiences.

You don’t need pages and pages

The average number of pages within legacy sections was 7. Useful content included:

  • sample legal wording for a will including charity name, address and charity number
  • information about how to add to an existing will / how to make a codicil
  • information for executors
  • previous names of the charity
  • how to leave gifts of items
  • pledge forms to so supporters can let you know they have included you in their will
  • FAQs / jargon buster about types of gift
  • downloadable guides
  • how to calculate the value of your estate (see example from Epilepsy Society).

It is useful to have contact details where supporters can ask questions. Avoid legacydept@xx.org.uk or similar. This is a sensitive subject and it is important to come across as approachable as possible. Use a named address (mary.jones@xx.org.uk) or friendly department address (askusanything@xx.org.uk).

If you have request forms or contact pages, craft your automatic pages to say thank you and to explain what happen next (eg ‘you’ll receive it in 5 days’). Do all you can to maintain the good experience.

It can be fun

Being jolly about legacies has to be right for your audience. It can be easy to get it wrong. Whether it is right will depend on your cause and your brand.

Macmillan Cancer comes across as warm and approachable. Of course they deal with death everyday so it’s not such a shocking topic for them. They have a fun and slightly quirky wills: fact or fiction video alongside case studies, how-tos and other information on their legacy pages. This is under the heading ‘making a will is easier than you think’ and gets lots of messages across in just two minutes.

You can use social media to talk about legacies

But get the tone right. This automatic tweet generated by Shelter’s legacy page is really nicely written:

Automatic tweet from Shelter

If you are going to craft automatic tweets (rather than just relying on the title of your page to generate them), then think about how the tweet comes across. It will be sent from someone’s address and meant for their followers. Therefore it is not your tone of voice which you should be using. So you could try using more direct language to demonstrate an action you want others to copy (eg I just ordered @Shelter’s Will Writing pack to help me remember them in my will).

Tweets and Facebook posts can be used to talk about legacies and the difference they make. This is a nice example from RNIB:

RNIB tweet - “Little pieces of my life being put back together again". Legacies change lives, what difference will you make?

Be careful about writing about legacy success. The character limit and informality of twitter is especially dangerous here as this example shows (“Thank you to everyone who leaves gifts in their Wills. We received one this morning. Time to hoot the celebration horn”). Ick.

Legacy tweet

Conclusions and top tips

So, there’s lots you can do to make your legacy pages more interesting and persuasive. You have a real opportunity to engage existing supporters to take this step. Talk about your cause in a meaningful way and celebrate the difference a gift like this can make.

  • Your legacy homepage should show the impact of legacies, thank donors and clearly link to next steps.
  • Think about why someone would leave you a gift and use persuasive words about your cause which mean something to them.
  • Talk about the difference a gift will make – what impact might it make.
  • Be generous in your thanks without being too gushy. It is a significant and deeply personal thing that someone is remembering you in this important document so do say thank you.

Comments?

What other great examples are there? Who has gone too far? Please do share your ideas and inspirations here.

If you want some help thinking about how to maximise your own legacy pages – please do get in touch.

<2017 update10 tips for great online legacy fundraising>