Is Fundraising Convention just for fundraisers?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Fundraising Convention, the Institute of Fundraising’s annual conference, is just for fundraisers because – well, the clue is in the name… but you’d be wrong.

This year marks my fourth Fundraising Convention and yet, I’m not a fundraiser. So why do I go?

I have four reasons:

  • To improve my fundraising knowledge
  • To challenge my own thinking
  • To network
  • To leave inspired by passionate speakers and amazing campaigns

Most fundraisers don’t work in silos. They work together with the communications and digital teams to ensure that their fundraising campaigns have inspiring copy, compelling images, reach the right people and are easy for people to donate or get involved. Whilst we all have our own specialisms, it’s important to build knowledge and skills in other disciplines so that we can work together more effectively and efficiently.  That’s why I attend Convention – so that I can improve and build on my knowledge and understanding of fundraising.

At last year’s Convention there was a brilliant Women Leaders in Fundraising panel discussion, which gave me lots of food for thought. This year one of the key themes is Diversity (and rightly so) and I’m looking forward to the BAME fundraisers in the UK – what’s race got to do with it? session as well as Pride in fundraising. I want to challenge my own assumptions and my own thinking.

Convention offers so many opportunities to network, which as a trustee of Small Charities Coalition, a Third Sector columnist and a freelancer is fantastic. There’s the delegate drinks on the Tuesday evening, for one, which is always an excellent opportunity to meet your peers. And don’t forget the lunch and coffee breaks! And if you need some tips on how to network, read this fab article on CharityComms.

Last year I spent most of my time in the Digital Stream sessions – another reason why non-fundraisers should attend Convention – and I left feeling inspired by the amazing speakers.

This year, I’ve picked out these sessions that I’m really excited about:

And here’s a whole bunch of other comms sessions, hand picked by CharityComms and the IoF. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about being a young trustee, come along to my session with Leon Ward and the Charity Commission.

I’ll once again be blogging the highlights. If you want to see what my highlights were from last year, you’ll find them here.

So if I’ve managed to convince you that Fundraising Convention is not just for fundraisers, book your ticket here.

Be more human and drop the jargon

As an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention, I was back on day two, excited for the sessions ahead. This time I mixed it up a bit and didn’t spend the entire day in the digital stream sessions. Missed day one? Read my highlights here.

First session of the day, however, and I was back in the digital stream to hear Reuben  Turner, Creative Director of GOOD Agency present on Digital: are we doing it all wrong? Now, I’ve known Reuben for years and heard him speak many times. He tells it like it is, pulls no punches but also always has new and interesting things to say and share. And he didn’t disappoint.

Reuben urged us not to think like content marketers (but isn’t content King?), always in pursuit of that next click or like.

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Instead, be more human. More of us want to feel connected and part of a tribe and this is the beauty of digital as it can bring people who belong, together.

Take a look at how the Army now recruit. It’s less ‘come and drive a tank!’ and more ‘here is where you belong’.

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Although SEO, adwords, test and learn etc are your base, and are of course still important, they will only lead to incremental growth. This is more process than emotion.

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Instead, focus on being more human and bringing out these qualities in people:

1. Acknowledge me (I’m here)
2. I care about this too (I belong)
3. I can make a difference ( I matter)

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Quite frankly, no one cares about advertising, marketing or even fundraising (apart from those whose job it is) so we need to find that sweet spot and tap into culture. It’s less about what we WANT people to care about and more about tapping in to what they actually care about. That’s how we will win hearts and minds.

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For my second session I ventured out of the digital stream (to cries of ‘traitor!’ Only kidding) and joined the panel discussion on the Election 2017: What did it mean for charities and fundraising? The speakers included former BBC Newsnight reporter and NCVO chair Peter Kellner, Lucy Caldicott, CEO of UpRising and Fundraising Regulator board member, Vinay Nair, CEO and co-founder of Lightful and John Tizard, strategic advisor and commentator.

There were some really interesting points, summed up in the following tweets.

Ultimately, the key lesson was that we are in uncertain times but we must not let that distract us from our mission. We must still lobby for the causes we care about – we owe it to our beneficiaries.

My third session was on How to drive Digital transformation in practice by Yasmin Georgiou, Head of Digital Engagement at Great Ormond Street Hospital. This was such a good session! I loved how Yas made it seem so accessible and achievable. Digital transformation suddenly didn’t sound so scary! That’s not to say it’s easy though…

Yas started with the question ‘Why do we need to change?’ For GOSH, there were 3 reasons:

1. (a new) Organisational strategy
2. Outdated processes between digital and fundraising
3. ‘Digital’ had lost all meaning

No one at the charity was crying out for ‘transformation’ but rather for innovation. They wanted shiny things like VR, but without the foundation in place (what their supporters wanted, needed and expected from their digital channels) they couldn’t just step into innovation. It’s really refreshing to hear that Yas said ‘no’, rather than jump on the new, shiny things – tempting as they were.

Being Head of Digital is challenging, if digital has lost all meaning.

So get rid of the jargon, as internal stakeholders don’t understand it and it makes them feel intimidated and devalued. Ditch ‘transformation’ and just replace it with ‘the thing’ such as the website or new database or whatever the project is.

Digital maturity is a gradual progression with realistic goal setting and is not about the digital team – it’s an organisation-wide view. This gradual process works particularly well for risk averse charities. Yas used, amongst other things, Third Sector’s Digital Maturity Matrix, developed by the digital team at Breast Cancer Care, to assess where they are now and where they want to be.

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It’s about evolution, not revolution. You might want to wrap up your project in a couple of months but you have to go at the pace of the organisation. Yas said that if she had gone any faster she would have lost people along the way. A top tip is when setting up departmental workshops, don’t forget about the HR team – the conversations with them were the most telling.

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Yas says that it’s important to look outwards and admit when you need external support so she got an agency involved, looked to her peers in the sector and went to events and had lots of coffees. She also accessed a CharityComms mentor, which helped immensely.

And this is their Digital Matrix.

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The to do list is the maturity index and the roadmap, which is now a living strategy. Conversations now are about meeting an organisational need rather than talking about channels and technology. The result of this new way of working has led to the One day at GOSH campaign, which was filmed over 24 hours at the hospital.

Yas’s four top tips for embarking on digital transformation are:

1. Work at the right pace (go too fast and you’ll alienate people)
2. Collaboration and empathy
3. Be clear on expertise
4. Be prepared to adapt

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After lunch I went along to the Women Leaders in Fundraising panel discussion, chaired by Lizzi Hollis. Lizzi set up Charity Women to tackle inequality in the sector. I urge you to join the Facebook group!

The panel consisted of:

  • Helen McEachern, Director of Fundraising at ActionAid UK
  • Carol Akiwumi, Fundraising Consultant and Trainer
  • Amanda Bringans, Interim Director of Fundraising at the British Heart Foundation and Chair of Institute of Fundraising
  • Meredith Niles, Fundraising Director at Marie Curie
  • Kerry Blackstock, Director of Public Fundraising at WWF UK

Lizzi Hollis.JPG

It was a fascinating discussion and an important one too. Inequality and diversity are key issues that the sector needs to address – now.

My key learnings were:

  • speak up when you see or hear sexism, racism or inequality
  • we need to attract young, male talent into the sector because we don’t actually want it to become ‘women’s work’
  • leaders need to surround themselves with the best people and acknowledge and value their skills
  • it’s up to all of us (men and women) to fight inequality in the sector
  • as women, we need to stop ‘trying to have it all’. Decide what is important to you and work on that
  • we need to challenge the norms of what women are expected to do. The sector needs to allow for flexible working – for all parents, not just mothers
  • diversity needs to start at board level

It was a thought-provoking day at Fundraising Convention. On to day three!

Top content tools you need to know about

If you work in communications, social media or marketing then you need to know about these free tools to help you create eye-catching content.

Design

Canva is a free design tool that allows you to create amazing graphics for all your social media and marketing needs. They have a whole host of great features, such as uploading your own images, adding filters, making elements transparent, adding text over images and free illustrations and elements to help you create infographic-style designs. I use it lot for my personal travel and food blog but here’s a Facebook cover photo I created for the Third Sector PR & Comms Network Facebook group.

third sectorPR & CommsNetwork

 

What’s also great about Canva is that it has templates for Facebook cover images, Twitter images, Pinterest posts etc so no need for you to look up the exact dimensions. Best of all? Canva for work, which is a paid version with added features, is free for charities – just apply here.

Notegraphy makes your words look beautiful so that they stand out. Download the app on the App store or Google Play and get writing. Here’s a video to explain how it works:

Images

To create great graphics, you need high quality images. It’s always best to use your own but sometimes that’s not always possible. Here are my favourite go-to websites for high resolution images that allow you to use them as you like – crop, filter, add text etc and no need to credit the photographer: Unsplash, Gratisography, Pexels, Pixabay and Morguefile.

Infographics

If you have a lot of interesting data that you’d like to turn into an infographic, take a look at HubSpot’s free infographic templates. They are PowerPoint templates which you can edit. You can use your own colours and fonts to ensure it’s on brand.

Not free but Piktochart offer charities pricing at $39.99 for  year. They have 400 templates of Infographics that you can edit and customise. Also included are stock photos (if needed) and industry-specific icons.

Gifs

Gifs are moving images that can help add an element of fun into your social media posts. Twitter has a really handy gif feature built in, powered by Gify, where you can use keywords to search through thousands of gifs. CRUK’s Drylathlon Twitter account uses Twitter gifs a lot as it fits in with their cheeky tone of voice:

But what if you want to make you own? Make A Gif is a free tool that lets you make gifs from photos or even video. So why not get experimenting with gifs of an event or even your staff?

What tools do you use? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Top tips for social media

This month I was delighted to be invited to present two social media workshops. The first was at Trading Aces which was organised by Andy Brady,  head of learning and research for charities & social enterprises at Anglia Ruskin University. The second was at the Small charities communications conference in London, organised by CharityComms.

The workshops were fun, although challenging! When you only have an hour, it’s tempting to try to cram in as much as you can but I focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter and tried to give practical and actionable tips for a range of expertise levels. As an accredited trainer, I would usually spend half a day to a full day focusing on social media (and even more if I could) so having just an hour was interesting! I had some really great feedback straight after the workshops and a few emails too so I’m delighted they had a good response.

As part of the workshops I put together a Ten Top Tips for Social Media handout, which delegates could take away with them to stick up at their desk. Download your free copy by clicking on the image. I hope you find it useful!

 

10 Top Tips for social media

Congratulations to the Third Sector Awards winners

On Wednesday, 14 September, I attended the 12th Third Sector Awards at the Lancaster London Hotel. The awards celebrate the achievements of charities, and their partners, and was hosted by comedian Mark Watson.

This year I was a judge in the cateogies: Brand Development, Digital Innovation of the year and Annual Report and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Huge congratulations to the winners in my categories:

Brand Development: Breast Cancer Now
Digital Innovation of the year: Amnesty International UK for 360º Syria
Annual Report: Brain Tumour Trust

There were 27 awards in total – Read about all the winners here and congratulations to them all.

Personally, I was delighted that Refuge won Communications Team of the Year. I think the work that they have done around the Archers storyline and Paul Trueman’s fundraising campaign, in particular, has been phenomenal.Well done!

refuge-team

Photo credit: Third Sector.

The top 30 Social CEOs and a free guide

Last night I attended the Social CEO Awards, hosted by JustGiving. Set up by Zoe Amar and Matt Collins, and now in its third year, the awards celebrate CEOs who are using Twitter to actively engage with their supporters and beneficiaries, discussing key issues and raising awareness of their charity.

The full top 30 are listed in this Guardian Voluntary article.

This year there were three new categories: Senior Leader, Trustee and Rising Star. Congratulations to all the winners!

If you are a CEO wanting to get started on Twitter, or improve your social skills, then download this free guide: Digital Leadership: how to survive and thrive as a social CEO.

The guide has been produced by Zoe Amar and Matt Collins and features advice and tips from Zoe, Matt, Rob Hayter of TPP Recruitment and myself. I offer tips on how CEOs can fundraise on social media and share examples of CEOs who are using Twitter brilliantly to fundraise – like Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid who took part in the Mont Ventoux Climb and raised over £2,000 for her charity.

If your CEO is not convinced about the benefits of being on social media, download the guide and leave it on their desk!

How to make social media more personal for your charity

Social is called ‘social’ because, well…it’s social!

It’s 2015 so I’m sure I don’t need to tell you (or even remind you) that social media is not about broadcasting but about conversations.

I didn’t really need to remind you, right? Good.

Often organisational social media accounts can be conversational but still faceless. You know you’re talking to a person – hey, they may even crack a joke from time to time – but who exactly are these people behind the social media accounts? I bet you don’t know.

But there’s a really easy way to fix this. Use a sign-off.

Big charities often have big social media teams. And by ‘big’, I mean more than one person so they tend to use their name or at least their initials when replying to people. This immediately creates a sense of personalisation – you are talking to a person, not just a charity. When you call up a charity, the person answering the phone would always give their name, so why do we not do the same on social?

Here’s a great example from Save the Children UK. Now, if I have a question I know I can address it to Steve. Isn’t that nice? Better than addressing my question to @SaveChildrenUK…

One of the best examples is Oxfam. They consistently reply with their names and, I have to say, it does make it more special.

I’ve used Oxfam as an example of best practice before in this blog and when I tweeted the post, I had a lovely reply from Stuart:

And of course this works on Facebook too. Here’s how Macmillan responds to comments:

Macmillan Facebook post

And here’s one from Irene at Anthony Nolan:

Anthony Nolan Facebook Comment

Now I’m sure you will agree that this doesn’t cost any money or time, which means that every charity – no matter how small – can do the same. After all, how can we create genuine relationships through social media if we don’t know who we’re talking to?

War has been declared on the charity sector – why aren’t we fighting back?

UPDATE: The Drum picked up on my post. Read it here.

Both the national newspapers and the Government seem to have declared war on the sector. It all started with the death of Olive Cooke. Then it moved on to charities ‘hounding vulnerable people on a no-call list’ before a, seemingly, very personal attack on fundraising directors. Now charities are being told to draw up written agreements showing how vulnerable people will be protected from ‘aggressive’ fundraising tactics. And then there was this article today about how 50% of Alzheimer’s Society’s funds are spent on staff.

Wait. You mean, charity staff get paid? Well blow me down.

Thank goodness CEO, Jeremy Hughes, commented in the Guardian.

Please read it. It is excellent.

Here is a highlight:

Alzheimer’s Society employs 2,500 staff, the vast majority of whom provide services to help people with dementia live their lives as well as they can. We do spend £42m of the £84m we raise on our staff. And they are worth every penny.

Now what I’d like to know is, what are we going to do about this?

Why is the sector not putting on their war paint and digging their trenches? We should and we MUST defend our sector.

Here’s what you can do

1. Read this excellent piece by Ian MacQuillin. 2. Stand up for our sector and show your support by leaving a comment on Jeremy Hughes’s Guardian article. 3. Get involved in CharityComms’s Understanding Charities Group. 4. Contribute to the Guardian Voluntary Sector’s open thread: Charity fundraising: how do we fix this mess? These are all things that we can do as individuals in the sector but what I’d really love to see are charities coming together and not just defending their staff’s pay but also showing their impact. How much have dementia charities saved the NHS? How many lives have been saved from charity helplines? How many people or families still have their homes and food to eat because of charities like Shelter, Crisis and The Trussell Trust? How many charity sector staff would be homeless if they were volunteers and unpaid? Oh but that’s ok – there are plenty of benefits to claim and council houses to go round.

If I post a picture of a cat, will you read this?

I read this article today by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian, Comment is free on how no one will notice when the world ends because we’re so distracted by pictures of cats on the internet (and other things like a dress that’s blue/black/white/gold/who actually cares).

Speaking of cats… (well, I did promise you a picture if you read this – I think it’s praying for our souls).

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My first reaction was: She has a point.

#TheDress trended on Twitter for two whole days. It’s had numerous articles written about it, including the BBC, The Independent etc, yet the atrocities of the world continued – Boko Haram posted a video of an execution, an opponent of Putin was murdered in front of the Kremlin not to mention ongoing conflict in Syria. But people weren’t really talking about that, were they? Are we so consumed by fluff on the internet that we’re forgetting to shout out about injustices or take action to stop atrocities?

Personally, I don’t think so. Actually, I think the ‘fluff’ is sometimes just what’s needed to take our minds off these atrocities – just for a moment. Not to forget, not to pretend it’s not happening but to give ourselves a break from the awfulness of the world and have a laugh or a ‘ahhhh’ or a ‘I think it’s white and gold’ moment.

And this made me think about charities.

There are so many charities who deal with stories of child abuse, of addiction and what that does to a person/family/society, stories of people with incurable diseases, stories of bullying, self-harm, depression, suicide… imagine if that’s all these charities ever talked about?

Would you listen?

I can guarantee you wouldn’t. You’d unfollow them on Twitter, hide their posts on Facebook, unsubscribe from their enewsletters and worse – stop supporting them.

And that’s why it’s so important to balance your communications. I know that sometimes charities find it difficult to have light-hearted posts (that aren’t about fundraising) because they think that it’s detracting from the seriousness of their work.

It’s not.

It’s the charities that are able to talk about all manner of things in the appropriate tone and voice, at the right time, that are so successful in their communications. Examples of these charities are: Cancer Research UK, Mind, Refugee Action, Anthony Nolan, Macmillan, War Child to name a few. In fact, I loved this from Macmillan: