Does Celebrity Work?

In short, yes……….. BUT…..

Don’t become consumed by it. We all look at charities that have “great” Celebrity support, or a fantasticlist of Patrons, and think WOW arent they so lucky. Are they?

I was speaking to someone recently who was trying to put together a marketing strategy for a charity and they were talking to me about the need to Celebrity support. I had to stop them in their stride and say….Look yes it is a good thing to have, but dont over focus on it. It should not be a core concern. Put it in there, more in terms of…”it would be nice if”…but certainly don’t spend 6 months of the year working on it. Its not going to pay off.

Fundraising Breakthroughs reports on a poll by Harris Interactive that showed two interesting results:

Just over half (51 percent) of Americans surveyed say that, “celebrities make little or no positive difference to the issue they are promoting,”

“One thing Americans say they have not done is support a cause or gotten more information on one because of something they heard an actor, singer or other celebrity say or do. Just 15 percent have done so compared to 85 percent who have not.”

I think too often we get pressured into needing a Celebrity supporter. I worked for an organisation once where one of the board members wanted us to get a list of celebrities on board. I put together a patron charter, so we could present what we would like them to do (it made sense to me that when we approached them we knew what we were approaching them for).

Oh No, I was told, we just want to put their name on the headed paper. Needless to say, it flew right down my priority list.

Our corporate sponsors often ask, Who is your Patron. They of course want to be associated with celebrity X by being associated with you. My advice…………..Be Honest, “well so and so does one thing a year for us and we really arent in a position to ask them to open 15 of your stores this year”.

If they just want you because you have a celebrity, its not going to be the greatest of partnerships anyway.

So when does Celebrity work?

It works when the Celebrity wants it to work. Let’s face it A list Hollywood actors aren’t sitting at home waiting for you to call! They are just like donors. They are donors. They will support the cause that they want to support. It really is that simple. I have also found that they will take part, for the most part, in the events that they want to take part in.

In those instances you are going to get great PR. The press love Celebrity, now more so than ever. So at events, gala balls, launches, you will get the coverage, once the celeb is big enough.

I dont think you should use your celebrity for calls to action, unless they too are taking action. I cringe when I hear radio ads with “this is so and so and I am calling on you to do whatever”(I normally have switched off at that stage). I dont for one second believe that this person is planning on walking 700miles or donating 10 euro a week. They are just doing an ad. Like everything we do, it needs to be real for it to work.

So it works when the celebrity is really taking part. I think the UN have used celebrity well, they really get them to go and visit the affected areas, so they can talk passionately about the cause. Red Nose Day does it well too, as does the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Final thoughts:

  • Dont over focus on celebrity support
  • They will tend to let you know that they want to support you
  • Beware of  Rehab and Scandals
  • At the same time no harm in talking to them if you get the chance
  • They are a lot of work, so measure the return
  • Treat them like donors, they are
  • It is short term gain (but the gain can be good)
  • It works when they are engaged, passionate and particiapating
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Too much copy?

A friend of mine, Paul Dervan, posted yesterday about whether or not it is possible to have too much copy?

This is a question we often struggle with in non-profits when it comes to Direct Mail, and all too often I think we fall on the side, which I believe is the wrong side, that less is more. And sometimes that is because the wrong people are deciding how the mailing should look.

I remember being involved with a particular Christmas mailing for a large charity and the CEO was getting the final say on how the piece should look. He was adamant that the mailing should not go over 1 page!

This frustrated me so much. There was so much more we could have said (that was relevant) and we could have said it a lot better if he wasnt so stuck on…people won’t read more than one page. That is of course true for a certain percentage of those that get the mailing. But if we were to do everything based on this motto we would never do DM, because not everyone (in fact we all know its a very small %) is going to donate.

So what we need to think about are those that are going to donate, they will read more, because it matters to them, it is relevant to them. With good headlines, clever highlighting etc…we can engage them in the letter and once they are in they will want to know as much as you can tell them, that is relevant. As Paul says on his “there is too much copy there….” post:

If your readers are not interested, they won’t read beyond the headline, so it doesn’t matter how much copy you have. But if they read the headline and are still interested, you should give them as many reasons to buy as possible.

Paul makes this point really well , with a quote from Claude C Hopkins:

Some say ‘Be very brief. People will read but little’. Would you say that to a salesman? With a prospect standing before him, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap.”

P.S. If you aren’t convinced read some Drayton Bird!

Australian Federal Govt to Fund National Corporate Responsibility Project

As reported on the Philanthropy Oz Blog, the Australian Federal Govt has commissioned St. James Ethics Centre to carry out an extensive project over three years to expand responsible business practice right across Australia.

The aim of the project is to expand the number of Australian companies that are adopting more responsible business practices and to improve the tools available to promote responsible business practices across all levels of corporate management.

It is great to see the government taking the lead on this and funding a project. I have always thought of Australia as a very progessive country in many ways, and this is another great example.

Director of Appreciation Appointed

Do you ever think we will get to see this Headline?

I don’t know. But, outside of its mission, what is the most important thing a non-profit does? In my book it’s…..Appreciate.

As soon as we start to take our donations for granted, we are in trouble. As soon as we don’t treat each donation as a personal gift to us, we are in trouble. As soon as we start to send out mail merged receipts that don’t talk personally about why that person donated, we are in trouble.

I know it is difficult to wade through all the donations we get and treat each one personally, but we need to. We need to invest in this and that is why I believe non-profits need to consider appointing a Director of Appreciation. Their job description is simple:

Make sure that everyone who connects with your cause feels appreciated and ensure that every contact every single staff member has results in the donor feeling special

I think it is time for non-profits to consider such a role in their organisation. We are in the business of caring so why not care about those who allow us stay in business.

I would love to hear from anyone who knows of an organisation that has any such role, or something that is even similar?

Is this the greatest fundraising mantra?


image courtesy of i5prof

I was reassured recently that the greatest mantra a fundraiser can have in their armour is, Don’t give up.

A friend was talking to me about getting their organisation involved in helping kids in the area where their office is located. They weren’t planning on raising money instead they wanted to help the kids to raise their skill levels.

I asked why his organisation hadn’t done this before, I thought perhaps they didn’t have the resources or maybe he was going to tell me that they felt the time was right now to give back (all good answers). But the answer he gave shocked me a little. The organisation had wanted to do this for a long time, but one senior executive was blocking the plans, he just didn’t see the value. He has left now.

So as you go out there with your proposals for support, remember never to give up, it may not be you, it could simply be the organisation has internal issues that wont allow them support you, at the moment. Try find out if that is the case, or what is the case, ask why they cant support you now (of course be nice about it). 

I remember putting in a pitch for charity of the year a few years back and wasn’t successful, instead of saying ah well that sucks, I called  the company in question and asked if I could meet with them so they could let me know where i went wrong. And they did. And I learnt lots about my presentation/proposal and my own organisation. This made my future pitches a lot better. It is a worthwhile strategy, you will get really valuable information

Then stay in touch, dont harass, but let the organisation know you are still there, a newsletter every 6 months would work. Then when the time is right you will be well positioned to be considered for their support.

So remember sometimes, its not you, so dont give up

Donor Fatigue

Katya Andresen posted last week about donor fatigue. Apparently there was an article in the Associated Press that stated  that numerous disasters in a row – like the Burmese cyclone and the Chinese earthquake – create fatigue and depress giving. 

I remember years ago seeing Bob Geldof being interviewed on the news and being asked about Donor Fatigue, and he just went off on one (and I agreed with him) he basically said how can people ever be tired of wanting to help. I think the phrase Donor Fatigue is one we should try and lose, a donors resources may be exhausted, but that doesnt mean they have donor fatigue. Sometimes we do ourselves no favours by allowing terms like these creep into every day language.

There is more to the AP story, Katya sums it up as follows (the first point is one I spend a lot of time talking to people about)

1. It’s not simply the numbers of disasters, it’s the numbers themselves.  It’s well documented that people can’t grasp huge statistics or fathom masses of people in need.  We think in terms of individuals, and so the higher the scale, conversely, we feel the effect less immediately.  Says one non-giver:

“If you thought about at this very second the number of people who were suffering and dying, I could dedicate all my resources to that and yet it would be a drop in the bucket.”

2. Donors need to believe they can make a difference.  That’s not the case in Burma, where aid is being blocked by the miltary government.  It’s more the case in China, where we’ve seen much more giving.

3. Personal ties make a difference – especially in faraway countries, where people may feel less immediately connected.