Great fundraising involves exceptional planning 

and an artistic execution
Swiss architect Le Corbusier Venice, 1952


Today, I would like to share two great pieces that came across my desk in the past week. One is about capital campaigns and the other is about consultants to charity - since a lot of charities hire consultants to lead them through the campaign process, these seemed like a good fit.

The 10 Pillars of Great Relations Between Charities and Consultants

Working on a campaign together is not a short-haul project. It's a relationship for everyone involved and like all other relationships, communication and respect have to be at the heart of making it work. The Agents of Good have taken a solid stab at identifying the elements that need to be in place for everyone to feel satisfied.

I probably feel most strongly about the need for conversation and I would suggest that anyone looking to hire a consultant should feel that they are bringing on a person that they can have honest and frank (and sometimes difficult) conversations with.

Running a Successful Capital Campaign

This article was a real keeper because it gives a good overview of the key elements that need to be in place when approaching a capital campaign. I especially agreed with this point:

In the 90s people gave to institutions, in the early 2000s, they gave to projects.

Today, it’s about impact. So when positioning your story, make sure you indicate how your project will make a difference in the community it’s meant to serve.


Much of the rest of what was suggested can be summarized to say that successful capital campaigns involve heaps of strategic planning. Do people want to give, why should they give, who to ask, when to ask, what to ask for, how to say thanks...these are the big questions that come first. It's why communication with your consultant is so important - getting through the process of asking and answering these questions involves a lot of conversations and a realistic set of expectations on both sides. 

We don't need Planned Gifts, it's a capital campaign...

Another question that I think belongs in any capital campaign is about "what happens in ten years from now? How does the financial future of this organization look? What can we be doing now in this campaign to create that reality?"

It's where I think legacy gift planning has a place in current dollar campaigns. 

Those bequest commitments may not do much in terms of meeting current needs, but when the relationship building happens now (and preferably seamlessly with the campaign fundraising), there is a better chance that sustainable support for the charity will be in place down the road.

The debate about how to count and recognize legacy gifts is a big one in Canada, but I think the important thing is to open the door to those opportunities as much as possible even during campaigns - your donors are thinking about their relationship and giving in a comprehensive way, why not present asks in the same way?

What are your thoughts?
 

Do you get too much mail from charities each year asking for money? 

Not me - I love every piece because of how much I learn from them all! 

Since a big part of my work revolves around creating marketing and solicitation pieces for fundraising campaigns, I want to share a bit about what gets me excited.

In short, I love the ones that make me feel something. 

What are the emotions? 
Connectedness, urgency, passion, the knowledge that MY GIFT is crucial both to me personally and to those whom it will aid. 

(ok, I secretly like postage-paid envelopes so I can respond right away!)

I won't lie and tell you that I got onto this passionate feeling thing on my own. This is where I first got my inspiration.

Here is my perspective on what makes for great charity marketing:


Picture
 Let's talk about ME

This week, I saw a capital campaign brochure that used the word "we/our" 7 times in the main, 3 sentence long, "case for support" paragraph. 

The brochure showed me a lot of giving charts. It also had a lot of detailed tax-related info.

I felt nothing.

There was no story about me. It didn't address the question: "here's how we're a part of your/others' life now and with/without my gift/partnership, here's what's possible for others and for me."

I look for solicitations that tell me about all the great things that the charity does, how it changes lives and how participating will change my life / affect my feelings (positively!). 

The truth is that most charities, even boring sounding ones, do really make life better - the stories are there, but they need to be told as the lead story before any asking happens.


Picture
There are 12 steps to hand washing?

WHY is more important than HOW

Though I specialize in tax-smart gift planning, I believe in limiting tax planning info in a general brochure. 

The most important thing that has to be communicated is the "why" of giving and not the "how to give."

Let's step into the shoes of our donors and imagine how we'd like them to think about giving:

"Yep, I finally decided to start supporting hungry kids in my community because I realized that my tax credit rate was 44% after the first $200 of giving and I just wanted to keep every dollar out of the hands of that wretched CRA!"

OR

"Well, I realized that a lot of the kids that Feed the Kids was helping could be the friends of my own kids at school and so I decided I could help out and feel good about supporting families like ours in my own community!"

So really think about the space that's being dedicated to explaining tax implications and limit it to a very brief, high-level invite to talk more about what might be possible. 

At the same time, I feel reassured when I see a charitable registration number included and perhaps a short note mentioning that gifts are eligible for a donation receipt as per CRA regulations.


Picture
Don't bite off more than you can chew!

Many fundraising pieces include a full menu listing of 8-10 gift planning options.

When's the last time your typical small, urban charity thought they might have a use for ecologically sensitive property? 


Yep, it may be a gift planning option, but there's no need to list all of them unless the charity has the capacity or alignment of mission to accept such gifts. 

Less is often more. It's important to open the door in marketing material to gift planning options, but I think the menu should be limited to bequests - and maybe insurance, RRSPs, securities - basically, the most common options. 

Ask Better, Give Smarter

I love this scene from the Mad Men series where ad exec, Don Draper, literally reinvents the wheel for Kodak by introducing a campaign for the Carousel slide projector. 

There's even an engrossing story to be told about something as boring as a slide projector! 

The sales pitch is 100% about me and what I am going to feel personally when I use this product. Draper drives it home by telling an emotional story about his own life through the slide show.

Ask better by telling the story of your charity and give smarter by looking for charities that share why your individual participation matters! If we can get passionate together, great things are possible!

"Create a sentimental bond with the product...
It's not the wheel, it's the carousel"


© 2011-2012 Christina Attard. All Rights Reserved