Are you ready for the cartoon ice bucket selfie?

retro_icons_02_eps10-1113vv-vWhen I first started fundraising, the job titles ‘digital manager’ or ‘social media manager’ didn’t exist. In a relatively short time, ‘digital’ has grown from something we should be doing to an essential part of any charity communication programme. And it continues to rapidly grow and change.

Last night at the CIM event on the future of social media for charities, a panel of experts answered questions on the pace and the future of social media for charities. Two questions stuck out for me.

Do likes save lives?

Then there was a bit of a backlash and asking for likes came under criticism for encouraging slactivism; asking people for the easiest feel-good action that requires little personal effort or sacrifice at the lost opportunity of asking for something a more meaningful, like making a donation.

The UNICEF Sweden 2012 ‘likes don’t save lives’ campaign was viewed 750,000 times from 195 countries, and there were more than 10 500 tweets (8000 internationally) during the campaign period.

One of the observations from the panel was how the perception of likes have changed. They are now seen very much more as the first step in building a long-term relationship as part of an engagement strategy rather than as a success measure in their own right.

So, providing someone who ‘likes’ is given the opportunity to give, then yes, eventually likes do save lives.

Can you design a viral campaign?

Do you remember in 2010 there was a Facebook campaign that asked you to change your Facebook profile to a cartoon character to stop violence against children? The campaign didn’t originate from the NSPCC, yet it raised over £100k for the charity, even though the NSPCC made no ask.

Fast forward to spring 2014 and #nomakeupselfie appeared on Facebook. CRUK were quick to set up a text to donate mechanism and whilst this campaign (like change your profile picture to a cartoon character) was not generated by the charity, it raised £8 million for CRUK in 6 days.

Last month #icebucketchallenge, exploded on Facebook, and part fuelled by celebrity endorsements raised £37million for ALS in the US. In the UK Macmillan were accused of not playing fair and hijacking #icebucketchallenge digital media channels. Macmillan have raised over £250,000 for a campaign that has no connection to their cause.

The short answer is that it is incredibly hard to design a viral campaign, but charities must learn from previous trends and constantly horizon scan to spot the next viral fundraising opportunity.

When the panel were asked for their thoughts on the next trend, they predicted another viral ice bucket-type-challenge before Christmas. Are you ready?





Anyone can write a good direct mail pack – right?

vector-thumb-up-913-1992Unless you have been living in a hole for the last month you will have heard something about the latest campaign ‘proud to be a fundraiser’from the Institute of Fundraising.

The essence of the proud to be a fundraiser campaign is not some navel gazing back slapping morale boosting exercise for the fundraising community. It’s about how organisations that are significantly growing their fundraising income are the ones where everyone in the organisation is both proud of what they do and the fundraising activities that enable them to do it. Because without fundraised income charities can’t achieve their mission.

This campaign springs from the Great Fundraising report* that was commissioned last year by Revolutionise (then Clayton Burnett). When Adrian Sargent was asked to summarise the key finding of the report in one succinct sentence, after some thought, he said,

“Income grows when the entire organisation is proud of its fundraising as an integral part of its mission”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising sums this up in his recent Guardian blog; when everyone works together to achieve the organisations objective, then everyone is a proud fundraiser for your cause.

A few weeks ago, in response to this principle, that in great fundraising organisations ‘everyone is a fundraiser’, I overheard someone rather crossly remark, ‘that’s all very well, but I hate it when people who don’t understand fundraising tell me how to do my job’.

Have you ever had to bite your lip when a well-meaning person points out how in their opinion charities should stop ‘those chuggers’ bothering people, or should stop sending ‘junk mail’ or spending money on big ‘glitzy’ events?

There is a fine balance between the principle that everyone in a charitable organisation, given that fundraising is core to a charity achieving its mission, has a fundraising role, and acknowledging that professional fundraisers embark on a career path that can involve years of study and perfecting the specific skills required for their chosen fundraising discipline.

Within the catch-all term of ‘fundraising’, there are some core principles that apply across all fundraising disciplines, for example understanding your donors, emotionally connecting through storytelling, asking appropriately, showing donors the difference that their contribution has made and thanking well. Each type of fundraising requires a different and delicate balance of skills.

It is not the case that anyone can write a good direct mail pack, organise a successful event or inspire a major donor to give a donation, but it is the case that everyone through a mutual understanding of how fundraising works has a part to play to support fundraising by playing to their strengths.

Whether you work in front line services and share stories about the difference you make, work in finance to make processes work more effectively or are a consultant who provides advice, essentially your role is always about helping the charity achieve the mission and fundraising is core to that.

That’s why one of the recommendations in the proud to be a fundraiser toolkit, which is a practical guide to help you become a great fundraising organisation, is induction and training for all staff so that fundraisers better understand the work of other teams and staff who do not work directly in fundraising understand the principles and how they can add value by becoming both proud of their organisations fundraising and a proud fundraiser.

Whether you have fundraiser in your job title or not, you can learn more about what proud to be a fundraiser means for you by downloading the proud to be a fundraiser toolkit or get in touch with the teams at Institute of Fundraising or Revolutionise.

*Download the Great Fundraising report for FREE here. 

Download the Proud to be a fundraiser toolkit for FREE here. 

This blog was first published on the 101fundraising crowdblog. 

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