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…
Does the end always justify the means? Does innovation always lead to an improvement? Today’s blog is an open question around a service I’m sure many of you have come across this year – as I have recently. Here’s the story…
A few entrepreneurial groups have started to work with funeral directors across the UK to look after some of the administration around in-memoriam giving. The companies engage directly with funeral directors to take moneys collected at services or in lieu of flowers and promise to deal directly with the charities concerned, saving the funeral directors time.
There is no charge to the funeral directors for this service so it’s relatively simple to see the appeal of passing all of the administration around dealing with charities to a third party.
The companies then contact the charities concerned and offer to send the money collected minus a fee – some offering gift aid services (although I’m not sure how this is achieved given the anonymous nature of funeral donations) and suggesting that the fee comes out of that extra amount.
The charity can’t send a thank you and receipts to the family (as they would with direct relationships with funeral directors) or manage their records efficiently for future activity because the money arrives anonymously. There is also no direct link to the funeral directors or the families so no idea of exactly how much has been collected.
Perhaps the key factor is that the donor doesn’t know their donation is reaching the desired charity minus a fee. Perhaps this doesn’t matter to some, but I wonder…
In one instance related to me by a practising fundraiser, the charity was told that they would pretty much have to deal with this particular organisation as they had hundreds of funeral directors signed up with more to follow.
So, the ROI is great. The administration burden on charities is low and the funeral directors have perhaps a more simple process for handing over collections. But is it ethical for this innovation to hide from donors that their donation isn’t going to the cause in its entirety?
I followed the Institute of Fundraising National Convention’s twitter stream with interest last week and was, like many of my friends and colleagues in the sector, amazed at just how many times certain words, phrases or ideas came to the fore.
What amazes me is that here at Bottom Line Ideas we’ve been talking to Trustees, managers and junior team members for over five years about the importance of understanding and managing, not avoiding, risk. In fact, these blog pages are littered with ideas and thoughts on the subject. But when a handful of ‘gurus’ talk about the same thing, we must all of a sudden pay attention to the concepts of risk, failure, innovation and learning from them to move us all forwards.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m grateful to the likes of the afore-mentioned folks for raising the issue so publicly and refreshing it in the minds of the charity sector audience, but this isn’t new and it isn’t news. The fact that the subject of the sector’s risk aversion / fear of ‘the new’ is still making plenary session speeches is just depressing! Read more…
Last week Third Sector reported that Help for Heroes had received over £600,000 in donations following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. This adds to the impressive sum of over £150m the charity has raised and allocated in just a handful of years since its creation in 2007.
How come they are so successful when many other established charities are finding it tougher right now?
From an outsider’s (and a sector watcher’s) perspective, here are some of the things I see that seem to differentiate Help for Heroes from other charities:
- Lots of media coverage generated using the powerful and very personable stories of wounded service men and women. Including well-targeted partnerships like the Sun whose readers tend to support the armed forces Read more…
In the last week there have been lots of conversations around why branding is potentially pointless for charities and can be a total waste of hard-earned money.
Well, I’m here to (loosely) use maths and logic, the core tools of good fundraisers, to suggest why this need not be the case.
Firstly, here’s a truism I think we can all agree on:
- Unfocused, generic brand advertising ≠ guaranteed success for a charity’s specific activities
But if done well, I know the right kind of branding activities support fundraising and services alike. So here’s the thinking…
- Charity brand = product of (everything we say, everything we do) = how our audiences perceive us Read more…