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!

Three reasons to become a trustee

It’s Trustees’ Week and, therefore, the perfect time to promote being a trustee. I’ve been a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition for three years and I have two more years left of my term. In that time, I have learnt so much about governance and the vital role that the Small Charities Coalition plays in our sector. Thanks to our small but amazing team, our volunteers and my fellow trustees – past and present, we have provided advice, support and help to thousands of small charities and given them a voice through our policy work.

As we all know from the closure of Kids Company, being a Trustee is a huge responsibility. Essentially you are legally responsible (along with your fellow trustees) for your charity so always make sure to do your due diligence before applying for a trustee role – it’s vital that you know what you’re getting yourself in to. But with this responsibility comes a heap of benefits too.

Here are three reasons to become a trustee:

  1. Gain experience in different areas

Prior to becoming a trustee, I had never held a management position. By becoming a trustee, you quickly learn about management, governance and strategy. It’s a great way to gain skills in areas where you are lacking. It’s a position of great responsibility so can help boost your CV. How? Well, the CEO of the charity reports to the trustees and the trustees also help manage finances and issues of governance.

  1. Feel good by giving something back

Being a trustee of a charity where you really care about the cause is very rewarding. There are no financial rewards as being a trustee is a voluntary role and it can sometimes be quite full on. However, knowing that your skills and experience are helping a charity reach its strategic objectives is a wonderful feeling. Even better is when you know how much your time, skills and experience is appreciated and valued.

A charity should always have a Board who all bring different skills to the table with them – although of course some will overlap – so that they can best serve their charity in all areas. As a digital marketing trainer, I offer my services to our members by delivering training or webinars on behalf of the charity. I also have a monthly column in Third Sector where my by-line says that I am a trustee of SCC, which helps get our name out there. And whenever I am delivering external training or presenting, I always introduce myself as a Trustee of SCC so look beyond just what you can offer in the boardroom.

  1. Extend your networks

SCC has 10 trustees from different areas, sectors and stages of their careers. By joining a Board, you are extending your network of peers and engaging with a diverse range of people. As a trustee of SCC, I’ve been invited to events which of course allows me to meet people and expand my network. I’m also a huge advocate of social media and always promote the work of SCC to my networks whenever I can, and I know that some people have followed me on Twitter or connected with me on LinkedIn because of my trustee role. Our CEO, Mandy Johnson, wrote this excellent post about the role of social media for a charity CEO and how it can be used to connect with our members across the UK as well as allowing ourselves to be transparent.

During Trustees’ Week, why not explore what trustee roles are available on Trustee Finder, in partnership with Do-it.org? Make a lasting difference.

 

 

Some very exciting news….

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have been appointed* as a Trustee for the Small Charities Coalition! The charity is a networking, mentoring and support organisation for small charities and is committed to helping staff, volunteers and trustees access the skills, knowledge and resources that they need to best serve their cause.

Small Charities Coalition

For those who know me, you will know that I embody the charity’s mission wholeheartedly. With first-hand experience, I understand the challenges of working in a small charity and that is why I started the Sole Communicators group with CharityComms, over a year ago now, to give sole communicators a space to network with peers and share knowledge.  It’s also a professional development opportunity to develop their skills through our themed events with speakers from the sector. The next one takes place on 5 November with Helen Jones from Refuge who will be talking about their Don’t Cover It Up campaign.

I also believe in giving back and sharing your skills with others on a one-to-one basis, which is why I have mentored small charities through Media Trust’s Media Matching service and I’m currently a CharityComms mentor.

I really can’t wait, in my capacity as a Trustee, to help the Small Charities Coalition spread the word about the vital work that they do to empower small charities and trustees with the skills they need to best serve their charities and, most importantly their supporters.

Alex Swallow, Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, has written this brilliant blog post for Third Sector. I urge you to read it.

*There is the small formality of meeting the Board before being formally appointed