Thoughts on Squared Online Module One

I promised to post about my Squared Online journey so here are my thoughts now that module one is complete.

The first module is all about A connected world and it forced us to think about our own digital life. If I’m honest, I found this module rather basic but I understand that the course is made up of around 300 – 400 people all with varying levels of experience and we need to start somewhere. From module two, where we are put into groups to work on our projects, it steps up in terms of level of difficulty.

At the end of module one we had to complete a project, which was to create a video to introduce ourselves to our fellow ‘Squares’. Having no prior experience of creating a video, I was considering just doing a basic webcam video. However, the whole point of me taking part in this course was to learn, so learn I did. I used Window’s Movie Maker to create my video and although the recommended time to finish the project was 2 hours, this probably took me about 6. Yes, seriously…

It’s not a great video, I admit. But I did it all by myself with no help at all and I’m really rather proud of it. If it were a picture, I would have stuck it to my fridge with a magnet.

Module two will look at how to think commercially and the project looks challenging. Bring it on!

Did you hear the one about National Convention?

Today was the first day of the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention. It was a day of many firsts for me: my first Convention, my first official blogger role, the first time I am representing JustGiving in my new job as Content and Community Manager and the first time I met some of my peers in real life. I could tell you a story about each of these ‘firsts’ but this blog post is not about me.

But it is about storytelling.

Storytelling was a recurring theme today. The plenary by Alan Clayton, Creative Director at Revolutionise, and Jayne George, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Guide Dogs, really brought storytelling to life. In fact, Guide Dogs, has invested in equipping everyone in the organisation to be able to tell a story. Why? Because real stories bring their cause to life, pulls on emotions and raises funds.

How do we tell a good story?

It’s imperative that you have an authentic voice. Alan shared the example of Jack’s story, whose family was helped by Claire House.

Jack's Story

His mother’s words demonstrate just how powerful storytelling is. So powerful that most of the audience was in tears. Give your supporters and people who use your services a voice and let them share their stories, in their own words.

Take your audience on a journey but make the story simple so that it can be understood by everyone, not just people who already know about your charity or your cause.

Make a story come to life

There’s no denying that words are powerful but in this age of sharing, stories also need to be brought to life. There are so many low cost ways to make your stories multi-dimensional, such as using Audioboo, Vine or Instagram. Look at this example from charitywater and how they’ve told a story in a few sentences with a 15 second video to illustrate their impact.

Give your story wings

Don’t just share your story with your audience, share it with your colleagues too. How many times has the fundraising or communications team created a video and then not told anyone about it? In order for your story to soar, everyone in the charity needs to hear it, read it, see it and believe it.

** My presentation of the day award has to go to Rob Mosley and James Barker’s presentation on What fundraisers can learn from rappers. **

Photo credit from Ken Burnett.

The year that was

As we delve head-first into 2014, let’s take time to reflect on the year that was.

For me, both personally and professionally, it was a great year – I got married and I took the plunge and went freelance. I really can’t wait to see what 2014 holds… it’s only the first week of January and already it’s full of promise.

Here’s a great video on Social Media in 2013 (Hat tip to Paul de Gregorio) Can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Social…

Three things I learnt from this video

This is the video of my 300 Seconds presentation on How to Build a Personal Brand. Watching it back I have learnt three things:

1. I don’t like the sound of my own voice (but then, who does?)
2. I really over-ran….it was meant to be 300 seconds, not 450. I must work on my timing
3. I need to work on my nerves – it shows in my voice

Now I just need another presentation opportunity to apply these newly learnt skills…..

Feel the Fear and do it anyway

Feel the fear

For a while now I’ve been sitting back admiring (and feeling a bit jealous at times) of my peers Matt Collins, Bertie Bosredon, Sam Phillips, Ben Matthews and Zoe Amar. I’ve been admiring the exciting projects they’ve been able to work on with a range of charities and clients and been a bit jealous of their ability to ‘be their own boss’.

So I’m taking the plunge. I’m going freelance*.

I’m not going to lie….part of me finds the thought of the unpredictability of it all absolutely terrifying. But at the same time it’s really, really, REALLY exciting (and oddly liberating) and I can’t wait to get started.

Over the last month or so I have been meeting with accountants, setting up meetings with peers to get some advice, securing some work and getting a website in order (watch this space).

So I’m finishing my full time job next week and then I’m off on a little holiday before starting a part-time Social Media Consultancy role at a PR agency in the first week of September. I’ve also got a training course set up with another agency and I’m really excited about what we will be offering (more of that later).

While I get my website in order feel free to contact me via email, kirstymarrins(at)gmail(dot)com, or via Twitter or LinkedIn.

I look forward to hopefully working with you some day soon!

*Ok, so technically I’ll be freelance three days a week.

The power of video

I was delighted to be asked by the very lovely Gaby Jeffs and her husband Jeremy of Magneto Films to take part in a series of films they are producing with charity experts (their words, not mine!) to share their top tips for communications and digital engagement.

Now, if I’m really honest, I was dreading it….I’m not a fan of being filmed but Gaby and Jeremy put me at ease straight away and it ended up feeling like I was just having a chat with friends.

One of the questions I was asked was how I felt charities could use video effectively. I won’t go in to too much detail about my answer in case it’s one of the clips they want to use but it did make me pause for a moment and really think about what makes a great charity video.

And this one came to mind.

You can’t help but be moved by those personal stories and those precious moments…. and the emotions they elicit makes for a very effective video. Wouldn’t you buy a Daffodil?

Mobile Giving and why we should all be doing it

I had been meaning to set up a regular gift to the wonderful charity Child’s i for a while. I first heard about them when founder Lucy Buck spoke at a CharityComms conference. I was so inspired by the work that they do to find families for orphans in Uganda, but also by the fact that the charity was run entirely by volunteers. And these volunteers were making huge social media waves. And I was impressed and a little bit in awe.

Now I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to set up a regular donation but today was the day I was going to do it. (It may have been this image on my Facebook newsfeed that helped)

Image

I went to their website and clicked on the big Donate Now button which took me to a page with a range of options, including regular giving, one off donations and fundraising. I clicked on regular giving and LO AND BEHOLD  there was a donate using your mobile phone option:

Image

It was so ridiculously easy to set up. All I had to do was:

1. enter my mobile number and hit the button

2. wait two seconds for a text

3. reply YES

4. job done

What I really liked, apart from the ease and speed at which it took to set up, is the fact that I can cancel at any time just by replying STOP. Or, if money is a bit tight one month, I can reply with SKIP to miss a payment. Perhaps not great for the charity but good for me. Another thing perhaps not great for the charity was that I didn’t receive a Gift Aid option.

I do believe that by making regular giving as easy as possible for the donor, you will increase your regular giving overall and this is why more charities should be incorporating mobile giving into their donation mix. That and the fact that 60% of people surveyed by Open Fundraising, on behalf of UK mobile payments regulator PayPhonePlus, said that donating by text was their favourite way of giving to a charity.

Well done to Open Fundraising  for setting this mobile regular giving up for Child’s i.

Oh yes, and there was an AWESOME ‘thank you’ video delivered by text but you will just have to sign up yourself to see it.

Videos that inspire

It was the Virgin London Marathon over the weekend, which is always an amazing event. Thousands of people run for charities that are close to their heart and thousands turn out to cheer them on along the route.

The week following the marathon is a  timely opportunity for charities to thank their runners. It is also a prime opportunity to inspire people to sign up to run for them next year.

Here is a fantastic video from Oxfam, personally thanking EVERY runner who ran the marathon for them. It is a brilliant example of how a video can be made on a shoestring budget yet be really powerful and effective.

Another, quite innovative, video from Anthony Nolan (who are the official 2014 Virgin London Marathon Charity partner) encourages runners to sign up to run for them next year by giving runners in a local park a little taste of what to expect on marathon day.

Both of these videos are not slick, expensive ‘corporate’ videos but rather short, simple videos using real people that bring a smile to your face and make you want to take action.

I also recommend you read Ross McCulloch’s blog post: Your Charity’s videos are crap. Here’s how you can change that.

The art of saying ‘Thank You’

I spotted this tweet from social media monitoring business Sprout Social who had baked a cake for one of their staff to say ‘thank you’ and to show their appreciation for the great feedback she had received from a client: 

Image

 

It got me thinking how simple it really is to say ‘thank you’ and how we probably don’t say it often enough. 

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Storify so of course I have collated some great ‘Thank You’ examples from charities – from photos, to Vines, to video.

When last did you say ‘Thank You’?