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 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: 



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’? 


Vine – You’ve only got six seconds so make it count

No doubt by now you will be familiar with the latest social media platform on the block, Vine.

Vine is an App that lets you film a six second video from your phone or tablet that then plays on a continuous loop. No video editing skills are required, which makes it an attractive option particularly for small charities that may not have a budget for videos. The App is also free so all that’s required is a bit of time, imagination and creativity.

As Vine is owned by Twitter, expect some investment in the near future. Currently it is not available yet on Android but that should change fairly quickly. At the moment it is still quite a basic App in terms of its capabilities but some charities have been using it in really powerful and clever ways.

You can see lots of examples of charities using Vine in my Storify, I heard it through the (grape) vine. 


So what makes a good Vine?

From the many examples I have seen so far, a good vine is one that:

Has a beginning, middle and end

A video should tell a story and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Think about the case studies you have on your website and see if you can turn any of those into a Vine. Can you capture their journey in just six seconds?

Has a clear message

It’s the elevator pitch concept. Think first about what your message is then work out how you can convey that message in just six seconds. Keep it simple with one message at a time.

Has a call to action

After watching your Vine, what do you want people to do? Perhaps it’s making a text donation, signing up for a fundraising challenge or just visiting your website. Whatever it is be sure it is clearly shown at the end of the Vine. Although the video plays on a continuous loop, viewers shouldn’t have to watch it three times just to read the call to action.

Is visually appealing

Vine has the ability to record sound but most charity Vines I’ve seen so far are soundless. Often a song or a voiceover will pull on our emotions but images can, of course, do this too. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when you only have six seconds, a powerful image needs to work as hard as it can. If you are using images as stills, ensure they are high-resolution and in focus.

Offers personalisation

Some charities are already using Vine to thank their donors, campaigners and fundraisers by using their names or Twitter handles with a thank you message. It is a wonderful, inexpensive way of making supporters feel special and appreciated.

Lets  your personality shine

Social media has already enabled us to give a personality to our charities by letting us engage directly with the people we support and the people and organisations that support us. So why not let Vine do the same? Show your supporters the people behind the charity with ‘Meet the Team’, ‘A day in the life of…’  or ‘Funny things that happen in the office’ Vines. After all, people invest in people so let your staff shine!