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2013 Christmas fundraising campaigns… How much do you want people to give?




The tried and tested mechanic used to be an odd number of monthly giving points, say £3, £5 and £10 with tangible benefits aligned to each.  The lead ask featured on the letter, flyer or envelope would be the middle one.  This appeals to human psychology in that ‘baby bear’ way where we don’t feel that we’re being mean but can comfortably acknowledge that we want to give more than the minimum but the maximum might be a bit much.

2013 smaller ask - small

The ‘lead’ ask in at least three of the campaigns we’ve received is right at the bottom – £2 per month.  I know times are tough and that there are several fundraising agencies out there encouraging charities to drop the ask levels to boost response rates but I can’t help but wonder what the success rates are.

Anyone happy to share their experience or thoughts to add to the discussion?  I know that different charities will target slightly different audiences and consequently the experiences and results will vary but… if the recipient says ‘no’ to £2, where do we go from there?

One answer might be telephone follow up but for £2 a month the payback period could be unacceptable.

2013 Christmas Fundraising campaigns… heavyweight fundraising packs


It’s usually after Christmas that we get that bloated feeling but here’s a picture of the Macmillan Christmas appeal received last week, containing  (to the tune of 12 days of Christmas everyone…):

one branded outer envelope

one ‘stock’ letter from Beverly the nurse

two free Christmas cards

two free envelopes

one free calendar

one free bookmark

one response envelope

one free car sticker

one free flat pen

15 free personalised address labels

one campaign flyer

…and a partridge in a pear tree.

Macmillan 2013 Christmas campaign

The information was generally sound (part 4 on data), the branding clear and the ask simple to follow and directly associated with tangible benefits for people living with cancer.  But do I really need eight free gifts in one pack (OK six if I count the cards and envelopes as the same thing)?  I support MacMillan with a series of cash donations but I didn’t have the will to work through the letter, the flyer and all the other double-sided stuff.  Perhaps it’s too much?

What’s happening to Christmas 2013 fundraising campaigns?


The seasonal campaigns have been dropping on our doormats for a few weeks now  and we’ve noticed a few things that seem to be different from last year:

  1. The number of ‘traditional’ direct mail campaigns is falling
  2. The number of items in the packs we are receiving is getting silly
  3. The lead asks seem to be getting lower
  4. Getting the data right is still key to making the recipient respond positively

We’ll post a thought or two every couple of days and it would be great to hear your experiences too.  Here’s the first… Read more…

The law of unintended consequences


We read and hear a lot (not least from me) about the importance of innovation, testing new ideas and thinking our way through challenging times.  BUT… something we don’t often talk about is the law of unintended consequences.

Newton’s laws of motion state that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction… in other words, there is always a knock-on effect of the decisions we make.  Consequences are not always immediately identifiable so we can’t plan for every permutation but wherever possible, we should try to think about what the impact of our ideas will be in the future, before jumping into what seem like great initiatives right now.

One of the best ways to plan for unintended consequences is to share experiences so that we can all incorporate them where possible andGood intentions so here are a few real-world examples (with the names removed to protect the innocent). Read more…

Choose your charity celebrities wisely


We’ve written about this topic before across a number of blogs but here’s a belting example from this very morning of why you should think carefully about using celebrities.

Here’s a snippet from my email invitation to the Chain of Hope Ball and there are three things wrong with it from my perspective:Chain of Hope Ball invitation

  1. The fist two scrolls are full of celebrities darling, and nothing about what the event is for ie; the cause you’re asking me to support
  2. The celebrities and entertainment picked seem to be the product of who was available rather than targeted at the (likely) wealthy attendees in any cohesive manner
  3. Jeffrey Archer is a convicted perjurer.  A liar on a significant level… and I’m supposed to be impressed that he is running the  charity auction!

And let me add that not putting the price for tickets anywhere doesn’t make your event seem exclusive in the ‘Tattler society page’ way that you hope it does… it makes you seem like you haven’t really targeted your audience well enough to send this kind of email invitation.

So, don’t use liars to promote your cause, don’t assume your audience thinks your cause is less important than rubbing shoulders with ‘celebrities’ (because it isn’t) and try to target people who actually care.  Rant over.

Starting a new Charity Job


In the same week I received a video rehash of ‘what fundraising directors should do in their first 100 days’ and my wife was offered a new job. Having watched the video and re-read Kivi Leroux Miller’s free guide (click on the image), I started to think that there is a pretty healthy list of other things a new fundraiser can do that

Free Guide from Kivi Leroux Miller

Free Guide from Kivi Leroux Miller

aren’t so ‘strategic’ to help start a new role in the right way.

I should explain what I mean by right; setting strong foundations to be effective beyond that honeymoon (however long it is). Here’s an experienced-based list of things I think we could all consider when the time is right for a move:

  • Get to know your team, colleagues, peers and boss. So much is written about the efficacy of emotions and personal connections to a cause in fundraising activity, so spend time getting to know those around you on that level. Being able to empathise and relate to your teams makes working together in such an environment easier, particularly if times get tougher and you all need to find that ‘something extra’. Read more…

The problem with being ‘competitive’


Organisational wisdom tells us that businesses and charities alike have to be ‘competitive’ to survive.  But what does that mean exactly?

If you ask a business it means making sure everything from pricing to product or service delivery is done to a high standard that attracts customers.  Let’s be honest though; in an increasingly commoditised world market place the reality is perhaps closer to doing things to a minimum standard that doesn’t encourage your customers to look elsewhere.  Being ‘competitive’ is more like an organisation’s ticket to the game and once there, they have to find other ways of encouraging customers to choose them specifically. Read more…


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