10 tips for great online legacy fundraising

In 2013 I wrote about online legacy fundraising content. Although well written persuasive copy is still key, digital trends move on. So four years later it is time to see whether the web pages about legacy fundraising have improved and what has changed.

I looked at a random sample of over 50 large, medium and small charities. In most cases the pages were pretty dull, especially from smaller charities. It is hard to write warm, engaging copy about legacies as we often fall over ourselves trying to be sensitive. But the charities who get it right have a confidence and a clear sense of themselves and their audience.

collage of various screenshots from sites discussed below

Here are ten ingredients for emotive and effective online legacy fundraising.

Be clear and persuasive

WaterAid’s legacy site stood out as the go-to example of a persuasive and well designed site. The page starts with a clear call to action – leave the world with water – which sets the tone. They use eye catching and engaging links and headings (leave your mark / what would you like to pass on?) which include and challenge the reader. Images are positive and inspiring. They also include a photograph and name of a person to contact as well as a legacy promise which are both reassuring and clear.

WaterAid

Save the Children UK also use clear and inspiring headings (write a child’s smile into your will) and use bold to highlight important words. They use beautiful pictures of smiling children to reinforce their words. Their writing is confident, concise and persuasive (make a lasting difference, your kindness).

Save the Children UK

Use social proofing

Campaigns like Remember a Charity week help to promote legacy fundraising. Many charities reinforce this message in their copy. They show that remembering a charity is something that everyone can do.

The Migraine Trust makes a clear statement which makes leaving a legacy accessible – “a gift of just 1% will make a real difference to supporting our charitable work”. This is a clearer way of what they were saying in 2013.

Migraine Trust

Many charities talk about ‘thousands of people who leave a legacy’ or ‘thanks to people like you’. Use social proofing to validate someone’s decision.

Use video

Since 2013, many more legacy pages include videos. Take a look at this personal message from a supporter on Prisoners Abroad. Or this slick video from ActionAid showing Mrs Harben’s legacy. Or this simple beautiful video from RSPB. Or this speaking from the heart story from Glenys who supports the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer's Society

Talk about impact

What difference will someone’s gift make? Talk big picture about your vision / mission or about specific services. More charities are making big statements about what a legacy means to them.

RSPB’s opening statement is clear and bold: Your legacy is nature’s future.

RSPB

Refugee Action’s Leave a legacy page goes into more detail. It is beautifully written using storytelling and sense of urgency. It frames the problem and talks about what they can do with a legacy gift. The page is short, concise and powerful. A great example of a small charity getting it right.

East Lancashire Hospice talk about leaving a legacy of love and explain that last year, legacy gifts paid for three months of care.

If your organisation is all about solving a problem or finding a cure, talking about legacies could be difficult. How do you frame the ask when you might not be around or needed in the same way in 20 / 50 years? Don’t avoid the issue – think about how you can present it effectively.

Macmillan Cancer‘s legacy page says: “In the future, doctors and nurses are going to get much better at diagnosing cancer earlier, and treating it.” But stresses that half of us will get cancer at some point so Macmillan will still be needed.

Say please and thank you

Choosing to leave a legacy to a charity is a big deal. The fact that someone is reading your page about this is a good sign. Keep them with you by recognising this. Say please and thank you in the right places. If you come across as kind and thoughtful at the asking stage, it will reassure people that you will behave in the same way when you are processing their gift.

Think about motivation

Why do you think someone might have reached your page? What are they thinking. This page by the Miscarriage Association is written really warmly and in a gentle tone of voice. The quote perfectly positions the ask.

Miscarriage Association

Include appropriate images

Brighten up a serious subject with colourful or inspiring images. Reward visitors to this page and make them want to stay. A collection of several images may work better than a single one. For example, this landing page for the British Heart Foundation includes images of family, medical research as well as a big thank you.

BHF

Many organisations seem to rely on stock images of grey-haired couples on their legacy pages. Remember to use images which reflect the demographics of your readers. Also people often write their will triggered by big life events such as getting married or having children. Your audience isn’t just people in later stages of their lives.

Take a look at NSPCC’s page which includes quotes and images from supporters at different stages of their lives. Their stories may chime with readers, validating their own idea to leave a legacy to NSPCC (see social proofing above).

NSPCC

Think about a hook

What could make your legacy fundraising stand out? What stories do you have to tell? Has a legacy gift allowed you to do something special or unusual? Is there someone you could write about or feature to make your ask come to life?

Mencap’s gifts in wills page is based around the inspiring story of Lord Brian Rix. The page says that he “helped change the future for people with a learning disability. With a gift in your Will to Mencap you can too.” It uses beautiful images from their archive and talks about what he achieved in his lifetime. It says that although lots has changed, people with learning disabilities still face challenges so by leaving a gift in your will, you can help change the future too.

Mencap

Similarly, Leonard Cheshire, marking its centenary say “Leonard’s legacy became our legacy. It could be your legacy too.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity includes information about JM Barrie’s legacy gift in their pages. Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity talks about your final chapter and how to write your own ending.

Include practical information

Make it as easy as possible for someone to actually get the legal stuff right. So include:

  • information about different types of gifts (see this handy guide to the types of legacies by Demelza Hospice)
  • your official name (and any previous names) and charity number
  • suggested wording
  • information to help someone work out the detail of their estate
  • information for executors
  • contact details so a potential donor can get in touch.

A promise can offer reassurance about how a legacy will be dealt with when the time comes. A few charities included these – see WaterAid’s promise, RNLI and Breast Cancer Now.

Be interesting

There were a few examples of charities who’d produced interesting supporting content. For example:

Get the navigation and terminology right

Think about where your legacy pages sit. How easy are they to find within navigation or search? Be your own mystery customer and check.

Don’t bury your pages – make them prominent, especially if legacies make up a sizeable proportion of your income. Don’t just stick them under ‘Other ways to give’.

Check where they appear in your content rankings on your Google Analytics. Are you using the right terminology for your audience? Test whether the word legacy or will works best. Many charities use both.

See my previous post on legacy fundraising (persuasive and engaging writing in online legacy fundraising) for some tips on terminology and placing of legacy pages. Also how to talk about legacies on social media.

How do you measure up?

Is your online legacy fundraising content strong enough or is it dull and unconvincing? Give your copy a facelift before Remember a Charity week in September. If you are not sure how well it comes across, get your mum to read it or do a page swap with someone else from another charity. Get some feedback and think about how you could bring your content to life.

Share your examples

Have you seen (or written) any good or bad examples of digital legacy fundraising? Please do share them here.

My top five online legacy fundraising sites are listed in a JustGiving blog post. I’d love to hear what yours are.

 

Saying thank you on #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday started in the UK in 2014. Charities use it in all sorts of different ways. Some ask for money or time. Others ask for action. (See Do something good this Giving Tuesday by Kirsty Marrins for some examples).

Others just say thank you. Here are some of the creative and lovely thank you’s I have seen today.

Videos

Mind’s staff read out messages from people who have been helped by Mind. At the end it says ‘We can’t thank you enough for helping us to give people a place to turn and a way forward’.

Mind's staff reading out thank you messages

The Trussell Trust have been tweeting very short thank you messages covering all aspects of how people support them. There is one long one (37s!) on YouTube.

Trussell Trust's staff hold up thank you signs

The Donkey Sanctuary said thank you to their supporters with lots of lovely pictures of donkeys.

Video of still photos of donkeys

Images

War Child UK shared a thank you photo with children holding up letters and waving.

Children hold up letters spelling out 'Thank You'

Refugee Action shared ‘thanks to you’ numbers showing how many people they had been able to help.

Refugee Action - 'this year, you've helped us to...

Marie Curie have been using lots of different ways to say thank you. Here they share statistics showing the impact of their work. Other tweets show them writing thank you letters. Members of staff talked about this on their personal twitter accounts too. And they made fab personal doodles.

Marie Curie - a supporter says thanks for the fun thank you

Personal thanks

Rethink Mental Illness also called supporters to say thank you. In total they contacted 221 people!

Rethink Mental Illlness contacted 221 people to say thank you

Breast Cancer Care started a #ChainOfThanks.

Debbie's thanks to her best friend as part of BCC's ChainOfThanks

The British Heart Foundation thanked their 68,000 event fundraisers and also tweeted a special thanks to the Marathon runners. They also tweeted personal thank you’s using gifs and red and white images to certain supporters. And the CEO Simon Gillespie tweeted his thanks to staff and volunteers.

BHF: 'you ran the miles, you made it count'

Dogs Trust thanked their corporate partners, saying they were ‘wagtastic’.

Dog's Trust sending personal thanks

How do you say thanks?

It is easy but important to say thank you. How do you do it?

A general thank you works well with an image or video to attract attention. These images, videos and actions are low cost and reasonably low-effort. You don’t need a big budget to say thank you well using social media.

Have you seen any other creative thanks today? Please do share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading ūüôā

See also GivingTuesday’s Twitter Moments showing some of the UK charity activity and how brands got involved.

Creative ways to illustrate data and stats on social media

Stats and data can be very dry but with some attractive or fun images, you can make them interesting. On social media you have a second or so to attract someone’s attention. A dull text tweet or post may get limited views or clicks. (See how much more engaging a tweet with an image to illustrate a statistic is: Breast Cancer Now vs British Heart Foundation prevalence tweets.) Whereas one with a creative image may encourage someone to pause and read more.

Here are some examples of tweets which include graphics to illustrate data or statistics.

Count-ups

Totalisers are a great way to illustrate fundraising targets and successes (see Richard Sved’s Blue Peter blog post if you are not sure). But count-up stats can work for other things too. Think, number of hedgehogs rescued or Big Knit hats knitted.

Many of RNLI’s lifeboat stations have their own twitter accounts which they use to share details of launches. This example from RNLI in Poole shows the running total of launches over the year and since 1865 as displayed on a noticeboard in the station.

Noticeboard showing daily and overall total of RNLI Poole's shouts

Maps

Everyone loves a map.

The London Fire Brigade share details of the incidents they are dealing with. This tweet uses a map to show where an incident is happening. Other tweets use photos from the location.

London Fire Brigade: map showing location of an incident

Macmillan Coffee have an amazing searchable map showing where their coffee mornings are happening:

Macmillan Coffee: map showing the number of coffee mornings on Jersey and Guernsey

Maps can go even further to bring an event to life, especially if they show the remoteness or danger of a place. This tweet from a boat enthusiast uses an app called ShipFinder to illustrate an RNLI shout off the coast of John O’Groats.

Map showing 2 lifeboats with a boat in trouble

When using third party data, do check the data protection and copyright issues.

Here’s another nice use of maps (I like maps) from the Met Office who are fab at social media. It contains lots of information. There’s a background image to give a sense of the weather as well as UK map with blobs showing different summaries for areas with text over the top.

Met Office: tweeting the weather forecast summary

Infographics

Infographics are still a strong way to present data. If done well they can tell a story.

This graphic from the Fawcett Society shows the number of references to men and women in economics coverage.

Fawcett Society: graphic showing the representation of women in discussions about economics

The Big Issue Foundation regularly share this graphic of their impact. There is a lot to take in but it presented in an engaging and attractive way.

TBIF: infographics showing basic facts about BI's work

This tweet by Health Foundation responded to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. It clearly and simply illustrated their data. Unfortunately it doesn’t link anywhere for more information.

The Health Foundation: graph showing decline in government spending on health

Stats can often just come across as numbers. Shelter’s Christmas campaign focuses on the 100,000 children who will be homeless this Christmas. This tweet helps to illustrate what that huge number actually means. A giant 4 on a blackboard brings it to life.

Shelter: the equivalent of 4 children in every school will be homeless this Xmas

This JustGiving blog post on the power of infographics shares lots more examples and gives tips about how to produce them.

Other

Graphics don’t have to be professionally done or cost lots of money. Howard Lake’s graphic traffic course shares lots of great tips about using anything and everything to bring your data to life.

This BHF pie chart of a cake showing portion sizes is really clear and eye catching.

BHF: pie chart made from a pie

This hand-drawn image from John Sutherland, a Met Police Officer connects the reader with the issues on a human level. It generated lots of interaction including some very lengthy conversations as comments underneath.

Hand-drawn picture showing factors influencing a young man's knife crime

Top tips

  • Accessibility – remember that not everyone will be able to see your graphic. Include the data in the tweet or post in full or as a summary with a link.
  • Links – include a link so people can read more or take some action.
  • Source – check and reference the source for your statistics and third party graphics. Also think carefully about sharing sensitive data about live events. Get permissions or preserve anonymity where appropriate.
  • Use your assets – do you have graphics in print, someone in the team with lovely handwriting or drawing skills? Maybe you have other tools lying around such as lego or magnetic letters?
  • Check your sizes – use this size guide from Sprout Social.
  • Have fun and be creative!

Add your examples

Please add your favourite examples in the comments box. I am especially keen to find more count-up and creative graphics as I couldn’t find very many good examples.

Have graphics led to more engagement for you? How much time or budget do they take to produce? Have you got top tips for producing graphics on a shoestring? Please add your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Can I help?

I help charities and non-profits with their content. Whether you are looking for training for the team, copywriting or  input into your content strategy, please get in touch.

Content Curation – how to use Storify and live blogging

Got a big social media campaign or event coming up? Or want to tell your story in a new but¬†authentic way? You need to get up-to-speed with content curation. Here’s how to capitalise on all the great content, comments and good feeling around your charity.

What is curation?

Curation is a fancy way for describing how you bring lots of different assets together to tell a story. In the old days you may have written a press release or general page about what happened. Now you can show what happened by including the tweets, videos, links etc. The storytelling is more authentic as you are doing it through the voices of other people, not just your organisation.

Curation can be done manually through your blog or you could use free sites such as Storify or Pinterest.

Campaigns and awareness raising

Time to Change produced a live blog through yesterday’s¬†massively successful #timetotalk¬†campaign. It gave them a place on their website to collate and¬†share all the news coverage, tweets, pictures and messages of support as the campaign spread.

Live blog from #TimeToTalk

Curation is a good way of collecting everything together after the campaign, to say thank you and to celebrate achievements. Take a look at this example from Girlguiding of their Say No to Page3 campaign. They used Storify to share messages of support for the campaign as well as links to the petition and press coverage.

Curation is also great for telling a linear story,¬†ie this is what happened as it unfolded. A great example of this is Mind’s Storify about the #MentalPatient outcry last year. They produced it really quickly after the event so once the twitter noise had died down, the media had somewhere central to look for information.

Other inspiring awareness-raising uses of Storify

Selection of DiabetesUK Storifys

Events

There are lots of examples of charities using curation to gather content around a fundraising event (runs / cycles / jumps etc). These are great ways of connecting with the¬†fundraisers doing the event as well as¬†their supporters. Take a look at BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride 2013.

Events such as conferences, meetings, parties, lectures, galas are prime for curation. You can add so much value to an event by showing behind the scenes, what participants got out of the event as well as general comments and pictures.

SoundDelivery produced an excellent Storify of the Social Media Exchange, not just the usual collection of tweets and resources from a conference. It punctuated the sections with a couple of sentences giving context. They included video, photos, Vines¬†and audio to¬†bring the day to life. They also added links to other useful resources which had been mentioned on the day. It is quite long but it’s the kind of Storify you’ll go back to again and again for inspiration.

Grayson Perry’s Radio 4 Reith Lecture last year was a brilliant example of live blogging. Links, pictures and¬†comments¬†were all being added in real time alongside the 40 minute programme. It generated a rich experience.

Other curation examples

NCVO's Pinterest boards

Top tips for content curation

  • Have fun and be creative.¬†You don’t¬†always have to produce content which is related¬†to your cause (for example Beat Blood Cancer’s Laugh for Leukaemia joke competition). Reward your supporters with content they’ll like.
  • Do you have any¬†linear (success) stories you could tell? Think about Rethink’s Find Mike – this is perfect for curation as it started small, got lots of press and social media coverage and then had a happy ending.
  • Think about the stories and messages you have within your organisation, which would work told in this way? What assets (video / photos / comments¬†etc) do you have which could be collected together to tell a story? Curating just tweets isn’t enough.
  • Does your audience use Storify (or other similar sites)? If you don’t know, ask them. Also look at how many views and followers similar¬†organisations have if they are on Storify. If your audience are not there, would you reach more people by using your blog for curation?
  • Invite supporters to contribute. Don’t forget to tell them they’re included and ask them to share.
  • Be selective about what you include. It’s not curation if you include everything.
  • Devote time to get the skills within your team.¬†Look at lots of examples to help you understand how you could best use curation.
  • Don’t underestimate how much time it takes. It’s hard to get it right.
  • Include a donate link¬†/ button if this is relevant (eg Save the Children’s Philippines response).

Don’t forget to promote your Storify channel (if you have one) prominently on your website. If you have share follow us / join us buttons Storify should be included alongside all your other¬†social media channels (NB I didn’t find anyone doing this, even those with successful channels). People won’t follow you if they don’t know you are there.

Oxfam's share buttons on their homepage

Conclusions

Curation is generally free but time consuming. It takes practice to do it well but it is a great way of re-using content which has a short lifespan.

Further reading

Please do share your examples and top tips¬†as a comment¬†or via Twitter and I’ll add them here. There must be loads of examples of other museums or galleries doing interesting things with curation.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you think about how to use your content. I am a freelance web editor and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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‚Äôll probably never meet the people who will benefit from a gift in your will but they‚Äôre part of the family because they‚Äôre RAF. Supporting each other through life‚Äôs challenges is what family is all about, and that‚Äôs 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>

Make your errors useful

Error messages are so often¬†given¬†little thought¬†when re-launching a website but actually they could be one of your most visited pages. It’s worth spending some time on them to get them right. Turn them into positive pages by making them sound like they were written by a person¬†rather than automatically generated and making them useful, maybe even fun. Here are some examples of 404 (page not found) errors from big charities and companies.

404 – computer says no

No branding, robotic language (‘the requested resource has not been found’), assumption that it is the user’s fault (‘please ensure you have typed the address correctly’), no alternative links, this is a desperate, desperate¬†place to find yourself. This charity’s error page¬†could have been marginally worse if the heading had been in red.

The requested resource has not been found

A confusing error is sometimes worse. This example says error three times and gives a code which is meaningless to the user. We don’t know whether¬†we are seeing this as a result of a technical problem¬†or ¬†a broken link? To ‘go back’ is the only option given.

error, error, error - repeated three times

Be helpful and approachable

WaterAid make it very clear what has happened (‘file or page not found’) and what they want you to do (email).
Page or file not found

Oxfam’s 404 works through some solutions (‘here are some tips which might help’) alongside a confused goat.

Oxfam - oops, sorry

The British Heart Foundation’s 404 starts with a sorry, has a please and lots of ideas for alternative destinations (presumably based on the most common interactions).

Lots of options on the BHF 404

Connect with your cause

RNLI’s error message connects the error to their strengths. They have a picture of a man looking through binoculars and text which says: ‘We’re sorry ‚Äď we can’t seem to find the page you’re looking for. That’s a shame, as we’re usually quite good at navigation.’ Nice.

RNLI's we're usually quite good at navigation

Missing People’s 404¬†does something similar: ‘Page not found, neither is Thi Nguyen’ then full details about the missing person.

Page not found, neither is Thi

Add personality

Dog’s Trust have bags of personality online (see their brilliant fetch (rather than search) button). DT’s 404 page has a cute dog, friendly heading (‘Oops – this page isn’t here’) and a pointer to the site map and other links. Their technical fault is even better.

Error message from Dog's Trust - cute dog

Of course, animal charities have more potential to add personality / fun / cute pictures than say a health charity. Blue Cross say ‘Oooooops’ and have a snoozing cat. RSPCA say ‘Whoops’ and ‘Looks like a dog may have run off with that page. Sorry about that. Perhaps he’s buried the page out the back?’

A nice picture is a good way of brightening up an error page, even better if it’s of something relevant. Here, the BBC’s 404 page has gone retro with our old friend the clown dusted down from the 70s, now with 404 written on the chalk board – genius.

BBC error page - 1970s retro with clown

Lego’s 404 is just weird.

Lego gremlin pulling the plug

How do you match up?

Go check your error pages:

  • are they helpful?
  • do they generate a positive reaction?
  • could you add an image?
  • is the language clear and approachable?
  • are there clear links to get people back on track?

Think about what you can do to improve your user experience. Reward people for finding this ‘secret’ page rather than punishing them with an unhelpful, dull¬†page.

While you’re there, check errors in forms. Are you nicely hand-holding to help people complete a purchase, enquiry or donation or SHOUTING AT THEM for making a mistake? (See previous post on donate forms for some examples.)

Want more?

If you need more inspiration for dull vs fun error messages, just do a search for 404 in google images or look at Wikipedia’s page on 404.

Comments?

I looked at hundreds of charity error pages in the interests of research and these were the most inspiring I found. Please do share your tips and favourite examples (good and bad). Leave a comment, go on.

‘Please donate’ in 140chars?

Does your charity ever tweet general donations asks? Should your organisation capitalise on it’s healthy social community by reminding them to donate¬†or would formally asking this way alienate them? Here’s some food for thought to help you work out whether tweeting asks is right for you.

Strategically not asking?

This morning’s Social Brands 100 report listed Dog’s Trust as top charity.¬†This tweet appeared as part of the launch event (text: From the beginning @dogstrust decided not to fundraise through social media but to build their community).

Dogs Trust don't fundraise through social media

Dog’s Trust are masters of using the right content on their social media to grow and¬†engage their community. To date, they have¬†82,400 followers on Twitter and 517,000 Facebook likes. They generally tweet / post about events, pictures of cute dogs as well as passing on messages from people¬†fundraising for Dog’s Trust.¬† But no direct appeals for donations.

A very quick straw poll of five random charities on Twitter found that in the last four days, none sent a please donate tweet. The only fundraising-related tweets were one justgiving request and one promo for a raffle. These were charities with significant numbers of followers (from 6000 Р719,000).

Asking as part of appeals

Generally, direct asks tend to relate to an appeal and invite a donation via text such as these two examples (from the British Heart Foundation and Epilepsy Action).

BHF ask - Mending Broken Hearts Appel

Epilepsy Action - text giving tweet

General asks

The only general, out of the blue ask I found was from Providence Row (again for text giving). Lovely language: “If you’re feeling generous today, please consider donating…. Sending good vibes your way”

Providence Row - text donation ask

Reasons for not tweeting asks

So, tweeting an ask is not common practice, but why? I asked this question on UKFundraising’s LinkedIn group recently and got some interesting thoughts about why it wasn’t done:

  • Organisations¬†don’t have a large donor following on Twitter so they believe it wouldn’t generate much income or response.
  • They ask their donors/supporters so much by other channels that they don’t want to over ask and ‘switch’ them off
  • Other departments other than fundraising control the charities tweets and prefer to use them only for non fundraising uses
  • Twitter feels more like a friendly chat over the garden fence and not really the place to make a direct ask. However, it’s a great place to let people know about charities or even a particular appeal (with a link) and they can then decide for themselves if they want to get more involved.

One person said “its important to firstly build up and engage with followers by tweeting on issues of interest to them rather than using it solely for fundraising requests. A constant stream of straight donation requests is likely to lead to people un-following.”

So other than practical internal control of social media, concerns were about turning people off. Is this realistic? Surely people who follow charities through social media know that they rely on donations to survive and will tolerate and could even act on the odd request for money? Are we just being embarrassed about asking? Are we missing a trick by not tapping into this warm audience?

How do YOU feel as a follower?

As a consumer of charity tweets,¬†do you ever see general ‘Please make a donation’ tweets amongst all the others? How do you feel about these? Do they make you want to give? Would you un-follow?

Conclusions

Think about your twitter / social media strategy (if you have one):

  • Is¬†your policy¬†based on when you were growing the community rather than now it is established?
  • How do you know what your followers want and don’t want?
  • Have you asked them what they want? (See this twitter survey from English Heritage)
  • Have you tried asking for a donation? (See what happens and use tracking to count donations / page hits / unfollows etc)
  • What does success or failure look like? If 1% of your followers donated ¬£5 and 1% un-followed would this be ok?

I wrote this KnowHow NonProfit guide: How to use Twitter for fundraising which has some tips about writing, timing and technical giving ideas.

What do you do?

Do you tweet asks? Does it just not work? What frequency is ok (once a month / once a week?) Please share your views and experiences here.