Amnesty – Read It or Bin It

I came across this appeal last week from Amnesty International. It popped out of a paper I was reading on a train and I thought it was really engaging. I am a big fan of long Direct Mail pieces, three, four pages, go for it. But for a short piece I really liked this. 

I would love to know more about it, does it form part of a larger campaign, is it across different channels etc…I mentioned it on twitter and Amnesty UK said they would let me know the results, so if they do I will share them.

What do you think of it?

Charity Blogs WORK

And the proof is this…….. Irish Autism Action has been a real leader in charity blogging in Ireland and the hard work paid off last weekend when they won Best Group Blog at the Irish Blog Awards….well done Lisa.

If you haven’t checked the blog out do it today…Irish Autism Action Blog

I did a presentation last year for charities who were new to Blogs, talking about what they are and how to go about it, you can take a look at it below

Ask and you SHALL receive

Over the past three weeks I have been involved in events where there was a reluctance to ask people to give. Well that’s not entirely true. There was a general feeling that asking people to “give what you can” was the appropriate ask.

I have always fallen firmly on the side of……you need to tell people what you want them to do,  if you dont,  they do nothing. This was borne out in what I have observed over the past few weeks.

When you ask people to give what they can, they dont know what you want them to do. They start questioning whether the amount they had in their mind is too little, or not worth the call. Once they start to question what they should do, you lose them.

When you tell people exactly what it is you want them to do, they then only need to think about whether they want to make the donation or not. I also believe that you don’t lose those who can’t afford to give at that level, because they may still feel passionate enough about your ask to donate something.

The more things you give people to think about when it comes to donating the less likely they are to donate. So tell people what you would like them to do, how much you would like them to give, and then watch them give at that level…..and above

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

I have been following Alex’s Lemonade Stand on Twitter for a good while now. I can’t even remember how I came across the organisation. But I think they are possibly my favourite charity at the moment. They have a clear vision and mission and its all based on a simple and great idea.

The origins of the idea, from Alex herself, are a lesson to us fundraisers. For me it reminded me, again, that fundraising doesnt have to be complicated to be successful. Alex had an idea and a goal and she made it happen. She was 4 when she set out to reach her goal. Kids can teach us so much can’t they!

I know I haven’t told you much in this post about Alex’s Lemonade Stand, but watch this video and you will find out all you need to know. Then go visit their website.

Strategic Volunteering

The goal of many corporate partnerships is to provide volunteering opportunties for staff. Now for some this is easy to offer, for others being able to offer this just isnt an option.

I have been in a situation where we lost charity partnerships because we couldn’t offer any hands on volunteering for staff, fundraising opportunities werent enough. The company wanted there staff to get stuck into the work of the organisation and get a real sense of the work we were doing, the impact of our work, so they could then engage staff in fundraising. But we just couldn’t offer that.

I think we missed a trick and should have found other ways to demonstrate our Impact to them that could have achieved this goal, but we didn’t.

I came across a  really interesting  post from Grainne Madden , writing on the O2 iedas room blog, where she challenges this commonly held view of volunteering that organisations have. I thought it was great to hear this alternative view point, addressed at companies.  Grainne says

While it might be good fun for a group of your employees to get together and paint a school or tidy up a park it probably isn’t the best use of their skills and time (unless of course you run a painting and decorating company or a landscape designers in which case they are the best people to do a really good job!).Linking volunteer effort with your organisation’s core skills means that you offer far more value and better outcomes to the non-profits you wish to serve. It’s also more likely to lead to skill development for your people – one of the sound business reasons that companies get involved in volunteering.

So when designing volunteer programmes think about the skills and expertise your company offers before agreeing to a volunteer day

For a non-profit reading this I think it gives us the opportunity to re-think this challenge. And we need to design volunteering opportunities that deliver on the skills and expertise of the company we want to partner with. I think its ok to challenge the conventional wisdom that painting a wall is what is required.

Watch your tone – Drayton Bird

If you haven’t come across Drayton Bird yet, read the rest of this post and then follow the link at the bottom, go to his website, sign up to his useful tips and buy his books. He provides such great insights and while his focus is Direct Marketing I apply his ideas to a lot more of my work .

I got this email from him recently and I thought it was worth sharing:

I had a meeting with the managing director of Mercedes Passenger Cars about 7 years ago when we started doing their direct marketing.

He was concerned about the tone of their copy – and in fact that is why we got the business.

We talked about this for a while, then I said,

“Have you ever actually sold cars?”

“Yes” he said.

Then I asked: “Did you talk to your customers the way you’ve been talking to me?”


“Well,” I replied. “That is the kind of tone your direct mail should have.”

The difference between good copy and so-so copy is largely about tone. Of course, few writers even understand the basics, but even if they do most write with a sort of half-witted enthusiasm, where everything is “fabulous” and “exciting”. So the copy lacks credibility. Readers say, “Oh, come on.”

The really good copy is conversational in tone, and is adapted to suit the context

So, Helpful Idea No 25: Read your copy out loud. Does it sound like someone talking? It should.

And does it sound like typical “sales” copy any one of your competitors could run. It shouldn’t.

The other thing to watch out for is that the language must be appropriate to the writer – and the recipient.

If you’re supposed to be the chairman, write like a wise and friendly adviser. If you’re writing to another chairman, write as an equal. If you’re supposed to be someone who handles complaints, adapt accordingly. And so on.

It’s deceptively simple – but not that easy to do. You just have to work at it.



PS Don’t forget – if you have a friend or colleague who you think would like to hear from me, please forward me their address. They’ll get a polite invitation – which they can decline – and I never share my email lists.

Click Here for all things Drayton

New Whizz Kidz Cinema Ad

They posted on Twitter last week that they wanted to get opinions on their new ad. I like the ad, it will be shown in cinemas only. I did wonder whether or not the call to action should have been stronger on text than the website. I am not sure what their goal is, if its donations, and I think it is, could people not be encouraged to make a 5 pound text donation during the ad (lets face it we all still have our phones on at that stage) and the ad can still end with the web address.

What do you think. Tweet them @whizzkidz

Too Many Opinions

Sorry some of my recent posts have been re-posts…but when stuff is worth sharing, its worth re-posting! Anyway here is a post from Future Fundraising Now on why things can get off the mark in meetings…oh its so true!

A great article in Inc. magazine asks if you’ve ever invited employees to a meeting just so they wouldn’t feel left out. If you’re at a nonprofit organization, you probably have, eh? A Little Less Conversation looks at the real cost of overcommunicating.

Think of it this way: Every time you add another person to a project, the more communication it takes just to keep everyone in the know. Before long, what used to be days spent making progress on the project is days just keeping up with the chatter.

There’s a mathematical reason for this. Each person you add creates not just one person worth of connection; there’s a multiplier effect. The formula for the number of connections is this: (n²-n)/2. That’s bad, because it works out like this:

People Connections
1 0
2 1
3 3
4 6
5 10
6 15
7 21
8 28
9 36
10 45

You can see where this goes. How do you escape the madness?… you need to design ways to reduce communications paths. Eliminate companywide mailing lists — or at least charge $1.50 to post to them. Stop having large meetings. You need a culture in which people don’t get uptight because they weren’t included in a meeting, which means you need a culture that rewards people for doing their jobs and frowns on meddling in other people’s work.

 Nonprofits are notorious for trying to get the consensus of every possible person for decisions. It’s a weight around our neck. If you value innovation, if you value quality, if you just value your life — you’ll keep the noise down by limiting the number of people involved in your projects.

The Future of Radio Ads?

I came across this on DMR and my reaction was WOW. Do you think it could work for the non profit sector? Sometimes we are better off with really strong copy on radio ads and letting people paint their own pictures. But if you are using your radio campaign to link to your TV and outdoor then maybe this is something that will work? Would really love to hear what people think about this one.

Bmycharity is back!

After annoucing it was to close last week Bmycharity have today announced that they are back in business. Great to see that they have managed to find a way to continue offering their commission free service to charities.

We are delighted to announce that Help for Heroes (H4H) has agreed to join forces with Bmycharity to form BmyHero.  The name and branding will change in the next few weeks but for now all fundraising pages and accounts remain live at  We will ensure that our commission free service continues for every charity.

Read more here

Demonstrate Value

I came across this year old post this morning from the Brand Reputation blog and just thought the sentiment was interesting. I am always keen to read what those outside the not for profit sector looking in think. Hope you enjoy

Charities need to demonstrate value to increase donations

There was a story on BBC news the other day about charities facing a downturn on corporate donations as a result of the recession, but I think that whilst the recession is the main catalyst, it’s actually the way charities are communicating with their supporters which is having the biggest impact on reduced donations.

It is inevitable that corporate philanthropy (i.e. donations by business with nothing in return) will decline rapidly as the recession continues. Charities therefore, need to offer a level of value to the donating business to encourage them to keep spending.

This could be either tangible demonstrations of how “investments” (rather than donations) are being used for capital projects etc or to provide the employees of the donating business with experiences (team building events that also benefit the charity e.g. repainting a village hall, cleaning out local rivers, etc). These ultimately provide value to the donating business through results such as increased staff motivation, more effective teams, enhanced employee engagement and so on.

Charities are not unlike the majority of businesses trying to ride out the recession and everyone now needs to focus on their communications with their customers and the public and on how their proposition really adds value.

Plant a Daff

I really like this from the Irish Cancer Society. I was impressed by the way they did the donation part, I assumed I would make a donation and then plant my daff, but instead it was the other way around. They had a great insert in the newspapers last week too that had a paper daff that you can return and have planted in the garden they have in Dublin.

I need your help

I hope you can help me out.

I am looking for some great examples of how charities display their income V’s expenditure on websites or in annual reports. I am looking for the most creative and the most donor friendly versions.

I have actually found it hard to get any examples but the ones I do find are similar to this one from the Red Cross (UK). Which is fine, but Im looking to find something really creative, clear and different.

Bmycharity to close

Online fundraising site Bmycharity, the first site to offer commission free fundraising is set to close in the next three weeks. In a statement on their blog they say that they weren’t able to secure the investment they needed to continue operating

You can read the full statement here