Why you should Hand Write your Thank You’s

Picture Source: http://z6.co.uk/sr7qg8

You know what its like when you get a hand written thank you card, it makes you feel special. Don’t we want to make our donors feel special?

So is it worth taking the time to hand write your thank you notes?

Its possibly not realistic to hand-write all your thank you notes, but maybe you could take the time to write one a day? Ask all your staff to write one a day.

I think by doing this something else will happen in your organisation. You will start to look at all your appreciation communications. As you hand write a note you will look for ways to relate the donation to the donor, to talk about impact, to really personalise it. Thats not something we do with mail merge. We tend to categorise donations into campaign pigeon holes and so the person that responded to mailing X gets thanks letter X and the person that donated because of event Y gets thank you letter Y.

By taking the time to hand write some notes, not only will you make those donors feel great (do it randomly too, dont just pick the big cheques), you will start to think about how you can apply this right across your organisation.

So while the idea of hand writing all your thank you notes may be a bit idealogical, you should look at how you can apply your hand written note thinking to all your thank you letters (should they be letters by the way?)

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Amnesty’s “Read it or Bin It” insert – follow up from Amnesty

I posted a few weeks ago about the insert in the UK papers that Amnesty did called Read it or Bin it (you can read that post here).

I asked a few questions in the post and got a really nice response from Fiona McLaren, Amnesty’s Online Communities Editor. She told me that the team werent able to share any stats (always disappointed with that) but were happy to share some of the insight into how the campaign came about, thought you may be interested to read what they had to say

“The ‘bin it’ creative was produced specifically for the insert marketplace. Learning from other successful creatives suggested that less can be more with inserts and that we should try to get the reader to the point of the ask very quickly. So it was designed to explain the work of Amnesty International in a very short, simple and engaging way. It was first tested in Feb 2010 and out-performed, both in terms of response rate and ROI, two other test pieces. We are now rolling it out to insert media we have used successfully in the past including newspapers like The Guardian, Observer, Scotland on Sunday, The Independent and Indy on Sunday and periodicals like The Week, New Statesman, Big Issue and Time Out. At the moment, we have no plans to use the creative in other acquisition mediums but we will see how the roll out campaign works before considering other acquisition activity.” – Alistair Baggs, Senior Direct Marketing Coordinator

Top Charities know what buttons to push

This is the title of a page from the An Post website where three Irish Charities share their insights into Direct Marketing. The presentations are all on the site, free to download. Worth taking a look

You can find them here

Sunday Times Rich List 2010

The 2010 Sunday Times Rich List was released yesterday.  Every Fundraiser in the country probably has one but its still a useful resource.  Apparently there will be some information online next week for those that didnt get a copy.

They do have an annual giving list, which is great, and the paper reports that:

Crucially, we find that the rich are still opening their wallets for charitable activity. Our annual Giving List shows that the top 100 charitable givers donated £2.493billion last year, down £324m from £2.817 billion the year before.

Although this represents an 11.5% fall, most of the charity accounts relate to the year to April 2009 — a period when the fortunes of the super-rich were plummeting by the day, leading to the 37% fall in their wealth reported in the 2009 Rich List. So, relatively speaking, philanthropy remains buoyant, with several windfall donations establishing foundations that will generate huge sums for generations to come.

Is this just Cause-Washing?

Piaras Kelly posted a picture of the front Page of today’s Sunday Independent on Twitter last night. Here it is

This money is, according to the Sunday Independent, his disputed bonus, and apparently:

a close associate of Mr Fingleton, speaking with authority, declared: “Mr Fingleton has never said he would keep the money for his own personal use. This was an option he never once considered. His intention always was to quietly distribute these funds to a number of Irish charities. It is still his preference that this should happen.” (source Sunday Independent)

I like how he wanted to do it quietly, but its now front page news!!

For those who don’t know ” Mr Fingleton resigned as chief executive of the building society in April 2009 after it emerged that he had received the bonus just weeks after the Government introduced the State bank guarantee the previous September. Mr Fingleton promised in March 2009 to voluntarily return the money, even though he was “entitled beyond any doubt” to receive it.” (Irish Times)

But should any charity accept this money?

When I saw the picture on Twitter last night I wondered if this is one of those instances where charities should say “No Thanks”. Something about it just feels wrong.

I am not sure it would be a wise move for any charity to accept this money. The term green washing is used to describe “the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by an organization to create a pro-environmental image  after being embroiled in  an environmental controversy“.

I think this alleged move by the former banker is akin to what I call Cause-Washing.

The temptation to accept his donation is huge, it could create a massive Impact to a charity, I get that (trust me I get it!). But I think all too often charities are used as scape goats. We often hear the phrase “But its for a good cause”. Well thats not good enough. We need to be able to take a position that this isn’t in the best interest of our cause, our long term goals, and most importantly our donors, and turn this donation down.

In the brief discussion on Twitter Richard Dixon made the great point that the donation would have “short term good, but what does it do to long term brand value? You’d forever be “the charity that took 1m from …”

I would love to hear from any charity that is offered the funds and if they have taken the step to turn the donation down. And if they accept it, what made them make that choice?

Face to Face Fundraising

Mark Phillips posted this over on his blog earlier….and I thought it was well worth re-posting and sharing with any of you who may not have seen it. I have also put in another video, a genuine recruitment video from a face to face company….do you see any similarities?

Do photo-calls work?

I met with two people connected to the organisation I work for last week and we were chatting about things in general and during the conversation we discussed, naturally, other charities in our space.

The two gentlemen I was with both commented on a picture that was on the front page of one of the largest national newspapers that morning, both talking about what that charity did etc… I hadn’t seen the piece in the paper so I went into a shop to look at a copy and see what they were talking about.

Here it is, great picture, front page. I am sure everyone in the charity was just over the moon that day.

picture taken from the Irish Independent Front Page

But guess what….both men that I spoke to named the wrong charity. They both thought the launch was for a totally different charity then it actually was for.

Now of course this is only anecdotal, but it certainly begs the question, are we right in pursuing this kind of PR. I know I am prone to fall into default mode of, lets do a photo call. It’s realitively easy, it ticks a lot of boxes (normally keeping a sponsor sweet), but what impact does it have. And we are all about Impact right?

It clearly didnt resonate with my colleagues, it certainly wasnt going to compel them to act (if it did they would have been acting for the wrong cause). So does this kind of PR really work? Are we measuring it (beyond the ad-value of the piece landing on the front page of the paper?).

Maybe the question is, what kind of PR does work for non profits? I would love to hear from PR professionals either inside or outside of the non profit world and get their thoughts on what they are doing differently?

As it happens it was a launch for that Jack and Jill Foundation who have set up a site called www.jackandjillflowers.ie