Be brave

Yesterday was day two of the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention – although day one for me as I was on holiday on Monday (why, yes! I do have a bit of a tan, thanks for noticing!). For me, the recurring theme in all the sessions I attended, and one I spoke at, was : to be brave.

Wear It Pink

My first session of the day was by Lottie Barnden, Senior Products Fundraising Manager, and Joe Freeman, Assistant Director of Digital Engagement at Breast Cancer Now who talked about how they achieved mass participation success using relationship fundraising and digital innovation for Wear It Pink 2017.

In the past, Wear It Pink had been treated as a standalone product but there was clearly disconnect with the charity brand so in 2017 they made the (brave) decision to incorporate the Breast Cancer Now brand into it more. They involved more staff in the event, segmented their audiences, used personalised comms, combined digital with post, text and telephone calls to reach people in the way that they wanted to be reached, and aligned the brand – which all resulted in an increase in remittance by 6% and a 7% increase in average gift from the previous year.

Here are their four key takeaways:

  1. Principles – define your principles before your campaign and strive for depth and authenticity
  2. Inspire – be smart with your marketing plans and flex them for different audiences. Know how critical digital channels are (but don’t ignore post – which brought in over £300k)
  3. Engage – build a relationship with your audience and know what you want to say to them
  4. Own it – it’s your day, it’s your moment – so own it!

Click to read my Twitter thread of their session:

How to spot emerging digital tools and trends (no matter your size)

My second session was on spotting emerging digital tools and trends, with David Pearce, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Dignity in Dying.

This was an interactive session where delegates got to be brave and share their digital challenges. It was no surprise what most were – and David had already captured most in a slide. I always say that, no matter what size your charity is, the three challenges facing all charities is: time, money and resource.

David shared his reading list, which is how he keeps up with the latest digital and fundraising news. His top tips included:

  • Beware of the ‘shiny new thing’
  • If Facebook is looking to buy said ‘shiny new thing’ or trying to copy it – take note
  • If it’s mentioned in Parliament, listen up

Whenever you’re looking to use digital tools for fundraising, always remember to:

  • Go back to your organisational goals – can this digital tool help achieve them?
  • Test and learn but more importantly, learn from failure
  • Be agile
  • Have an innovation budget (or be creative in your digital budget)

Click to read my Twitter thread of the session here:

What fundraisers can learn from Tinder

My third session, which was packed both with people and top tips, was with Nikki Bell, Relationship Manager at British Heart Foundation and Victoria Ward, Head of Fundraising at British Youth Council to talk about donors and dating.

There was so much in this session, I recommend you read my Twitter thread below but the highlights for me were:

  • Stop chasing the people who don’t care about your cause and focus your attention on the ones who do
  • Use active listening when meeting with donors (don’t take notes!) and always use something personal in a follow-up (such as, I hope you managed to find those shoes you were looking for after our meeting)
  • When they’ve made a donation, break the dating ‘two day rule’ and say Thank You as soon as possible
  • Looking for potential new donors? Find them on Twitter using the Advanced Search function
  • Lastly, ‘self love is the very first romance’. You can’t be a great relationship fundraiser if you don’t look after yourself and love yourself first.

Click to read my Twitter thread of the session here: 

Find the pain and understand the culture

The plenary was by Fatima Bhutto, journalist, author and Young Global Leader for the World Economics Forum. Fatima urged us to ‘find where the pain is because that’s where there is the most need’ but not to just rush in to help but really take the time to ‘understand the culture’. Fatima also said that to make the biggest impact, go to the smallest communities because your work will really make a difference.

Sarah Goddard summed up Fatima’s talk beautifully:

Click to read my Twitter thread of the plenary session:

Be brave on social media

After the amazing plenary, it was time to hear from Melissa Thermidor, Social Media Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant and Rebecca Sterry, Senior Communications Manager at Autistica to learn how their organisations are being brave on social media.

Melissa said that the conversation is shifting on social and that Twitter is becoming more of an advocacy platform. My top takeways were:

“There’s no conversion without conversation.”

Create a community by responding to people’s user-generated content and serve it back to them.

Melissa described how they had tweeted a call out for more black blood donors and received lots of racist tweets in return. Instead of just reporting and blocking (and essentially just ignoring it publicly), they fought back. The result, is quite simply, EPIC (click to read the thread):

This was a really brave step on their part, and one that paid off. But there’s still more battles to fight (and win).

Rebecca spoke about how they undertook their own research to really understand their audience so that they could create personas for them. Autism is incredibly emotive so it was essential to understand what matters to different people.

They choose to be quick to respond to news and to be opinionated. They then empowered staff to use Twitter to help build the brand, amplify the charity’s messages and to add a personal touch when they got things wrong:

What I took away from this session is to stop being so vanilla! Stand up for what’s right and don’t be afraid to admit if you got something wrong.

Last night I spotted this on Twitter and it really nails home to ‘be brave on social media’:

Click to read my Twitter thread of the session here:

How to be an excellent young trustee

The last session of the day was one that I was speaking at. Along with Neal Green, Strategy and Insight Manager at the Charity Commission and Leon Ward, Deputy Chair of Brook Young People.

I’ve been a proud trustee of Small Charities Coalition for five years and Leon has been a trustee of (previously) Plan International UK and now Brook Young People for around eight years so we have lots of experience in being a young trustee. Along with Neal, we shared how we found our roles, tips for applying, the interview process, how you need to make sure you do your due diligence and tips for board meetings and more.

It was a really interactive session with loads of great questions and I hope we inspired the young people in the room to be brave, go forth and become trustees. Looks like we definitely inspired at least one!

If you’re interested in becoming a young trustee, read this excellent guide by Leon and CAF. I’ve also written a post on three reasons to become a trustee.

So that was the end of day two. Were you there? What were your highlights? Tweet me at @LondonKirsty!

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.

Data is everything

Yesterday at the first day of the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention, I found myself attending all the digital sessions, sponsored by JustGiving. As I work in digital – no surprise there, I guess!

For me, there was a recurring theme from all the sessions I attended and that was:

Data is everything

Metrics Mania – the numbers you just have to know with Digital Marketing Consultant Fran Swaine and Celine Boudier, Team Lead and Andreia Silva Cabecinhas, Data Scientist from Ocado drove home the point that we all need to demonstrate impact but many of us are not doing that and how data needs to drive your decision making.

Fran shared a digital fundraising funnel but beware of ‘likes’ at the Attract stage of the funnel – are they just vanity metrics?

Fran suggested using the ‘so what’ test to determine whether something is a vanity metric or not. Here’s a great post from Google Analytics Master Avinash Kaushik to help you put the ‘so what’ test in to practice.

Digital Fundraising Funnel.JPG

Fran shared three steps to setting up a measurement strategy:

  1. Defining objectives (make sure they are DUMB: Doable, Understandable, Measurable and Beneficial)
  2. Defining goals
  3. Dining KPIs

Download Fran’s free measurement strategy template on her website. Her three takeaways were:

  1. Create a measurement strategy
  2. Ensure your metrics are actionable
  3. Benchmark

The next session I attended was Failure swap shop – what you don’t hear in the blog posts (and don’t expect to hear it in this one because: Chatham House rules!). The speakers were Paul Weaver, Digital Innovation Manager at Cancer Research UK, Jessica Paz Jones, Senior Digital Manager at NSPCC and Amy Burton, Digital Engagement Manager at the Department of Health.

The key message was that it is OK to fail as long as you learn from it and you use those learnings to make decisions or to make a case. Jessica summed it up beautifully when she said,

Failures and lessons learned are all part of my arsenal.

What she meant by that is when she is asked to do something and she knows it won’t work based on previous testing, she shows the data to prove that it would be an inefficient use of time and money. You can’t argue with the data!

After lunch I was back in Auditorium 1, Level 4 for Sarah Crowhurst’s presentation on how Plan International UK digitised their Sponsor a Child offer – transitioning it from offline to online.

Sarah spoke about how they optimised their website to convert people who had seen their DRTV adverts to then sign up to sponsor a child. She took us through everything they did and offered lots of tips – such as ensuring that your Google Ads and organic keywords match the keywords in your DRTV script and that even if you give people a specific URL, they’ll no doubt still land up on your homepage so make sure you showcase your campaign prominently.

In most cases, give people a choice and they don’t know what to do but in Plan’s case for child sponsorship, this isn’t true. People want to choose which continent, age and gender the child is that they want to sponsor – much fewer people click the default ‘wherever the need is greatest’.

Sarah’s summary points, which also serve as top tips are:

  1. TV drives our online conversion
  2. Supporters want to be in control (they want choice)
  3. Track their behaviour on your website
  4. Ensure paid search is set up (use keywords from the DRTV script)
  5. Track conversions over time and look for trends
  6. Test, test, test

Plan UK.JPG

Next up (yes, in the same room) was Fiona Pattison, Account Director and Paul de Gregorio, Director of Digital Engagement at Open. They spoke on ‘Taking UK fundraising approaches overseas and bringing back learnings to deliver even better fundraising at home’, which even they admitted was a snappy title.

The session looked at examples and case studies of campaigns they have worked on from  Australia to the US, which was really refreshing to see as I’m so used to only seeing and hearing about UK campaigns.

RSPCA Australia.jpg

As Fiona put it, with mobile everything from ideas to reputations can spread – globally and quickly.

Mobile.jpg

Paul shared that messenger apps are taking over social channels are there is more trust and no ads. This is really interesting and something charities need to pay attention to.

Messenger app stats.jpg

What was really exciting about this session was their Stand for Rights campaign for American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Facebook Live campaign. I won’t go in to detail as there is an excellent post on their own blog, which you can read. Basically they worked with a bunch of famous, funny people to deliver a modern ‘telethon’, using Facebook Live and integrating it with Facebook Donate (not available YET in the EU).

Their top takeaways were:

  1. Create your own global network (the ACLU Facebook Page had less than 1,000 Likes prior to the Stand Up to Rights Facebook Live. They grew it to 26,000 in one week)
  2. Steal the best ideas (why reinvent the wheel?)
  3. Make them relevant for the UK
  4. Get your email programme working (US political campaigns are a great example of this)
  5. Focus on things with impact
  6. Focus on payment technology (it’s all about making giving as easy as possible)

Open takeaways.jpg

The last session of the day was a Social Media masterclass with Jon Ware, Digital Content Lead at Anthony Nolan, Amy Burton, Digital Engagement Manager from Department of Health and Melissa Thermidore, Social Media Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant.

Jon spoke about how they developed a content strategy for Facebook, which you can read in detail on Madeleine Sugden’s blog. But these slides really resonated with me:

Facebook.JPG

Anthony Nolan Facebook.JPG

We got some rare insight into how social media managers have to sometimes fight fake news from Melissa’s presentation where she shared stats from the Manchester Attack.

NHS Blood and Transplant.JPG

Melissa recommended using the linear model in Google Analytics rather than first or last click to get a better idea of how social media has contributed to a conversion.

Melissa left us with this great quote,

Make moments from metrics.

I learnt so much from the first day of the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention – roll on the second! Not there? Follow all the tweets with #IoFCC.

Top tips to get the most out of Fundraising Convention

The Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention is one of the hottest tickets of the year for fundraising professionals – three days packed full of learning, networking and inspiration. If you’re new to Convention, or if you’re going on your own, here’s how to get the most from it:

Choose your sessions in advance

There are so many great sessions to choose from but you can’t book them in advance so make sure you choose which ones you really want to go to and note them down. Sessions are on a first come, first served basis and the really popular ones will fill up quickly so ensure you arrive at the room as soon as you can. Have a backup session in case you can’t get in to the one you wanted to go to.

Split sessions

If you’re going with a colleague or colleagues, don’t all go to the same sessions. You’ll get so much more out of Convention if you each go to different sessions and then feed back to each other.

Download the Convention App

The Convention app is available for both Apple and Android and is free to download. Use it to plan your schedule, see speakers’ biographies, access a map and much more. The best part, for me, is that you can give session feedback from your last session as you move on to the next one.

Take a notepad

Believe me, you’ll learn oodles so bring a notepad and pen – or a tablet or laptop – and get ready to take notes! This is essential if you’re the only person from your charity attending as you can share what you’ve learnt and what you’d like to test or change when you get back to the office. Top tip is to jot down three key takeaways from each session.

Check out the hashtag

The official hashtag is #IofCC so make sure you not only use it when you tweet but that you check out what everyone else is tweeting. It’s a great way to meet new people you may not have been following on Twitter, plus it’s always interesting to hear other people’s thoughts, opinions, experiences etc. It’s also a great way to spot people (if they look like their profile picture) during breaks or at lunch and go and speak to them in real life.

Get social

On Tuesday after the last session, the exhibitors will be hosting drinks for all the delegates so don’t be shy – go along and meet some of your peers in a relaxed, informal setting. Once you’ve had a couple of drinks to warm you up, take part in the quiz where you can win money for your charity! Entry is £5 per person and you can enter a team or join a team by emailing iofconvention@institute-of-fundraising.org.uk.

Learn to meditate

Wisdom Fish will be offering meditation sessions at 10:15 am on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Convention. I love this idea! We could probably all do with a bit more zen in our lives….

Not booked your ticket yet? Be quick before they’re all gone!

 

We need to talk about failure

It’s just over a month until the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention and I for one am getting really excited! As an official blogger this year, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the sessions that I want to attend and the Failure Swop Shop is high on my list.

We don’t talk enough about failure

I’ve said this many times before, particularly in my column for Third Sector, that we don’t talk about failure enough. The recent State of the Sector report by think tank NPC brought this home even more. There is a major reluctance to take risks and potentially fail but the risk of never progressing is even more damaging. There was a quote in the digital chapter of the report that really stood out for me:

NPC

How can we ever achieve excellence – fundraising or otherwise – if we just do what we’ve always done? If we never push the boundaries? If we never take risks? One common theme emerging from every report produced this year (and there have been a few) is that if the sector doesn’t embrace digital – and understand what it means and its potential – it will get left behind. We cannot let this happen.

So I do hope that those speaking in the Failure Swop Shop will be honest and candid in their Fundraising Convention session – it is Chatham House rules after all – because I feel it’s so important to normalise failure. If you can learn from your failure and progress then have you actually failed?

Another session I am looking forward to is Digital. Are we doing it wrong? In this session, Reuben Turner and Pete Grant from GOOD Agency will be challenging the view that digital is just about convenience. They will be sharing examples where digital is used to build meaning, emotion and belief. Excellent. I loved being challenged and I hope this session will make me come away with a different view. If you work in digital and you’re going to Convention, this is a session you won’t want to miss.

Join me and the fundraising community at the UK’s biggest event for fundraisers!

Who or what inspires you?

I’m sure there are many people in your life who inspire you – on a personal or professional level. Some may not actually be *in* your life – like Michele Obama – but their words and (more importantly) their actions light a fire inside you and motivate you to do more, learn more, be more.

Michelle Obama

On a professional level, I have many people who I look up to and aspire to be like – many of whom I can learn from and who motivate me to be the best that I can be.

Luckily for me the Institute of Fundraising is bringing many people in the sector who I admire all together in one place, under one roof at Fundraising Convention 2017. And I’m delighted to announce that once again, I will be a Blogger Supporter.

Fundraising Convention, for me, is a unique opportunity to hear from a multitude of people within various roles and working for different causes across the sector who will be sharing their knowledge and expertise in a warm, friendly and open environment. There are plenty of opportunities to meet fellow fundraisers at socials, at workshops, evening events and during lunch – so make the most of it! Although this is from last year, these tips by Craig Linton to make the most of Convention still ring true.

I don’t think that we talk about failure enough (and what we’ve learnt from it) so I’m really excited for the Failure Swop Shop (note to self: no tweeting about it though!). I may be a digital communications consultant but I’m always learning so I’m looking forward to the Social Media Masterclass  as well as testing whether what I know about digital is all wrong.

As a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition I’m well aware of the importance of a strong, effective and diverse board and how rewarding being a trustee can be. If you have ever considered becoming a trustee yourself, go along to the Charity boards: why change matters session.

Over the last couple of years, the sector has faced some really tough challenges – and there are more to come. Fundraising Convention offers us the opportunity to tackle these challenges – together. If you want to be involved and be inspired, make sure you book your place. And if you book by 21 April, you’ll receive the Early Bird price.

Charities should keep digital innovation at the heart of their approach

Ahead of the Institute of Fundraising’s Innovative Fundraising in a Digital World’ conference on Monday 3rd October Michael Docherty, Director of Digital and Supporter Experience, Cancer Research UK blogs about how charities should keep digital innovation at the heart of their approach. Having worked on Cancer Chat, I can attest that CRUK definitely has their finger on the digital innovation pulse. 

Over the past five years we’ve seen drastic changes in how people interact with digital things. The average person now checks their smartphone 85 times a day, spending five hours browsing the web and using apps. Google processes a mind blowing 40,000 searches a second; it’s fair to say we live in a digital world.

The third sector is as impacted by this digital world as any other sector. In just the last year Cancer Research UK has seen a 30% increase in single donations being taken through our online payment platform and mobile traffic has grown 35% and now makes up over half of all visits to our website.

This is a world where the pace of change is very fast, changes can bring upside or downside, and occasionally those upsides/downsides can be sudden and spectacular. #Nomakeupselfie and Google’s Panda Update are examples of both which have affected CRUK.

To keep pace with the digital world and to deliver the types of experiences that people expect, we’re organising ourselves to put our focus on the main things our audiences need to do with us. Through this focus we’ve been developing capabilities that can be utilised across the organisation in serving our audiences’ needs. Some examples of our capabilities include our ecommerce , online fundraising and online communities platforms, and our new schema enabled approach to content management.

Through our audience led approach, through our new digital capabilities and by working to up skill the organisation, we’re building an environment that allows our teams to be digital first. It’s this approach and framework that lets us be innovative, giving our teams the tools to quickly try different things whilst easily measuring impact and success.

Innovation is at the heart of our approach, and to ensure we are preparing ourselves for the future we’re exploring cutting-edge technologies and experimenting with them to understand how they can support the outcomes we are trying to achieve.

We keep track of new behavioural trends driven by technology in any sector, and we look for ways to apply trends to our objectives – particularly fundraising growth. As an example, given the decline of cash on the high street we’ve explored contactless payments. We’ve also seen market-leading digital organisations invest significantly in virtual reality and have subsequently been actively exploring how we can utilise the technology. These are just two examples of future income and engagement drivers that we believe charities must explore in order to keep meeting their audiences’ needs and remain relevant.

Keeping up with the digital world requires a culture where it’s possible to test and learn, and crucially, acceptable (and dare I say it, desirable) to fail. The way we make it OK for us to fail is to do it cheaply, and ensure we learn quickly so that we aren’t making the same mistake twice. This is helping us grow towards becoming a more digitally mature organisation, where everyone has a responsibility and commitment to be innovative and put their audiences first – and we think that’s helping us keep pace with the ever changing digital world.

Michael will be chairing the Institute of Fundraising ‘Innovative Fundraising in a Digital World’ conference on 3rd October – are you on board with the changing digital world?

There’s a fundraiser in all of us

I’ve never identified myself as a fundraiser. This is because I work in communications and that’s my ‘title’.

But actually, I am a fundraiser. And I wish I’d realised it sooner.

Clayton Burnett’s Great Fundraising report by Professors’ Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang, showed that great fundraising organisations are those with staff and volunteers who are proud of their fundraising, whatever their job title.

The theme for the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention this year is ‘Proud to be a fundraiser!’ and I’m really proud to be an official blogger. For three days, charity professionals will be gathering to hear from our peers about corporate fundraising, individual giving, digital fundraising, community fundraising, events, volunteers and much more.

You can join in already by tweeting why you are proud to be a fundraiser, using the hashtag #proudfundraiser, and a Proud to be a Fundraiser Toolkit will be launched at the convention.

Here’s my latest fundraising initiative for the wonderful charity Child’s i and this is why I’m doing it.

 

So am I a fundraiser? Yes, I believe I am and I truly believe there’s a fundraiser in all of us.

Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention – three days of inspiration!

I am very excited to announce that I am an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, taking place from 7-9 July at the Hilton London Metropole. I will be joined in my blogging duties by Matt Collins and Lisa Clavering – so in good company indeed!

The theme this year is ‘Proud to be a fundraiser’ and along with presentations there will also be social events, such as speed networking, and masterclasses. As a Trustee of the Small Charities Coalition, I am beyond delighted that one of the masterclasses is Focus on Small Charities. Guess which one I’ll be going to!

Sessions that have particularly caught my eye are ‘What fundraisers can learn from rappers’, ‘Small charities – how to use your size to your advantage’ and ‘Living the dream with mobile’.

Take a look at the programme for the three days here and if you would like to come along, book by 25 April to receive the Early Bird discount. Hope to see you there!

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What I’m looking forward to at the Institute of Fundraising’s Digital Fundraising Conference

The Institute of Fundraising’s Digital Fundraising Conference takes place this coming Monday, the 9th September.

I am really excited to be their Conference Ambassador at the event and will be live tweeting throughout the day using the event hashtag #IoFDigital. So if you are unable to attend the event, you can still follow all the presentations with the hashtag and by following @IoFTweets and @LondonKirsty (that’s me).

Here is the programme for the day and, as you can see, it is jam-packed with great speakers and interesting topics. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Laila Takeh, Head of Digital Engagement at UNICEF, talk on Digital Transformation. I’ve heard Laila present a number of times before and she always leaves you with lots to think about.

Another session that has caught my interest is the Google and Grow your charity online Workshop with Richard Craig from Charity Technology Trust and Maryam Mossavar, Industry Manager for Nonprofit at Google. I’m hoping to pick up lots of tips to help small charities, in particular, through my freelance work.

Lastly, the Marketing Automation – Building the Strategy presentation with four speakers, including Robert Elliot from Save the Children, should be really good.

Not only will I be live tweeting but you can also count on there being a Storify the next day. Don’t forget to join in with the event using #IoFDigital