The Ikea Approach

Im sure most people have been to Ikea at least once. There are two things that strike me about Ikea every time I visit and I think we fundraisers can learn from it.

Firstly they never (ever) miss an opportunity to remind you of the great stuff they have available. When you walk in the front door they are displaying beds and household goods, and you arent even in the household or bedroom area. When you do get to those areas they are showing you stuff for kids or kitchen items. Then at the check out they are reminding you of the meatballs that you ate in the canteen, and offering you the chance to take them home!! Secondly Ikea  don’t want you wandering aimlessly around the store, they want to show you the best way to move and get the most out of your experience, so they direct you around their store.

This is the Ikea Approach and I think that fundraisers need to remember this when thinking about their organizations interactions with donors.

We need to never miss an opportunity to remind our donors of the great stuff that we do and we need to make it easy for them to donate (just like Ikea make it easy to purchase). We also need to direct them , direct them with an ask, direct them with a project that needs support, direct them to new areas of work. We cant assume that our donors will have all day to find out about our organization, so we need to make sure we tell them about our great work, remind them about it again and then direct them to donate (how and how much)

Of course the Ikea approach isn’t flawless and  one area where Ikea can learn from us is the follow up and post shopping experience. I have never once had any communication from Ikea after a trip there, they have never thanked me, or checked that the flat pack experience worked out ok.

Textraising – follow up

I posted about textraising a few weeks back (you can read that post here). After I posted I was contacted by Joanna Fortune the CEO of an Irish charity, To Russia With Love. Joanna got in touch to say that they have actually had some success with textraising. Here is what Joanna had to say about the successes they have had:

Debbie Deegan was awarded International Person of the Year andat the Rehab People of the Year Awards last year and she decided to capitalize on the opportunity (it’s a televised ceremony) and developed the charities first text donation campaign, the TV audience was asked to donate €5 to To Russia With Love by texting the word CHILD to 57800.  In the first 24 hours 14,000 people donated!!

They  have since run a number of campaigns by text, each one ongoing!  You can also subscribe to donate 2 euro per week by texting TRWL to 57802 and every Friday you receive a text thanking you for your ongoing support, this brings in a couple of thousand a monthweek, which isn’t bad going at all.

While they have had some success with this type of giving there are some challenges and, CEO Joanna Fortune told me that “a text campaign requires a lot of advertising and PR to make it work and this costs money.  We were lucky with our first campaign in that it was a live televised appeal so it didn’t costs us anything to run and the networks waived their charges for it.  The networks are reluctant to waive their fee on an ongoing basis though they may consider requests to do this for a specific campaign time period of a week or so.  To Russia With Love is highly cognisant of all costs associated with campaigns especially in these current times so we cannot invest in PR to really promote our text campaigns like they need to be to make them as successful as the first one”

Meanwhile Third Sector Magazine in the UK reports that “four fifths of text donations reaches good causes”. The article states that:

Research by the Text Donation Campaign Group, a coalition supported by the Charities Aid Foundation and the Institute of Fundraising that lobbies for cuts in charges, revealed the following charges:

A £1 text donation through Three results in 95p going to charity, but only 80p of the same donation through T-Mobile reaches the good cause. T-Mobile passes on 90 per cent of £3 and £5 donations. Charities receive 90 per cent of money donated through O2, Orange and Vodafone, and 89 per cent fromVirgin.

Operators have up to now waived charges for big charity campaigns such as Comic Relief and absorbed charges for charities supported by their corporate social responsibility strategies, but their fees have made it difficult for other charities to use text fundraising.

O2 lowered its fees last year, with Vodafone, Virgin and Orange making changes this year so that more of the money was passed on. On average, 91 per cent of a £5 text donation given through any major operator now reaches the recipient charity.

The campaign group’s leader, Joe Saxton, estimated that good causes could raise £100m a year through text donations in five years’ time.

He said it would be interesting to see whether charities publicised the percentage of donated money they received from each mobile operator, which could put pressure on providers with higher charges to lower their fees, or stated the least amount the good cause could receive from a text donation.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, called for a fixed fee. “For donors, it’s really important to know that the majority of their money is going straight to the charity, not to the operators,” she said.

Inspired by Impact

I often talk about Impact on this blog and I was inspired recently by, what I considered to be a great example of Impact driven donations.

I have followed the progress of the Grace iPhone Application for a few months now through Lisa Domican on twitter and her Irish Autism Blog. Autistic children have difficulty communicating, but this application on the iPhone helps children create sentences with pictures. This application opens a whole new world to the children and their families.

However not every family had access to an iphone…and here came the campaign.

Lisa started asking people on Twitter if they had an old iphone or itouch would they send them to her and she would send them to families. Then Lisa decided to ask people to donate so she could buy iphones for the families.

I saw this ask and I thought,  if I could get 20 people I know to donate 10 euros together we could buy an iPhone for one family. The impact of that just seemed really powerful, a little thing could make a huge difference.

I sent an email to friends and families and explained that

for just €10 we could, together, do something great and open a whole new world to these children and their families.

People responded, they were struck by the  fact that this was  an incredibly simple way to make an amazing impact on the lives of these children. So far almost 1,000 euros has been raised, thats 5 phones, for 5 families. The number isnt huge, but the impact is. Look at what people were saying on the donation website

What helped my ask  was the fact that Lisa had lots of information available as well as this great footage from the Irish news that showed how the application worked.

If you felt like adding 10 euros to help out here is the link

Australian Major Donors Tell Why They Give

I have just read this report from Relate Partners and it provides a useful (if not earth-shatteringly new) insight into the motivations of Major Donors. Relate have spoken to 14 major donors in Australia and offer a summary of what motivates them to give, and some things that frustrate them about their work with non profits. This report, as is to be expected, aims to promote the work of Relate Partners (testimonials on the back page), but still it’s not a bad read . If you dont have time (it is quite short) Pro Bono Australia offers this overview

Australia’s major donors give because they believe they have vital contribution to make, but feel underutilised by charities who only want their money, according to a new report. The report found that the most inspiring environment for giving by major donors is with charities who engage them in a well contextualised relationship, shaped by candid conversation.

From the face to face discussions, the group of major donors say they give most to causes that impact people in need, to charities that can leverage their giving, and when personally asked by a well informed representative in an appropriate way.

Director of Relate Partners, Steve Gleeson, says major donors typically ask the very basic question, “How can I best contribute to help address this need?”.

Major donors say they are sceptical and tired of direct mail and do not respond with their biggest gifts to this solicitation method. Whilst they all prefer to be asked clearly, directly and personally for their major gifts, they don’t expect it to be the CEO. These high capacity donors say they generally need contact with someone who knows the work, can inform them well, be clear about what they want and is prepared to ask for it.

Allowing major donors to inform the method of engagement and communication, by hearing directly from them, is a real positive towards expectations being met, and their giving being maximised.

Nic Capp, founder and director of Relate Partners, says as they spoke one-on-one with these major donors, it was clear that they were buoyed by talking about how to improve their giving experience.  Capp says they want to be better engaged because they want to help as best they can.

Major donors acknowledge they have disproportionate capacity to resource charities and they often want to give more than money. Typically highly skilled, vastly experienced and well networked, major donors say they feel underutilised by charities who only want their money.

The report says when these high calibre people ‘buy in’ to a purposeful endeavour, they want to contribute well and often are willing to contribute beyond financial donations. Their life and business skills and experience can not only be invaluable to a NFP in an advisory or board function, but when utilised they can be extremely motivating to the major donors in their resourcing capacity.

Relate Partners specialise in major donor personal engagement and had conversations with 14 major donors who agreed to respond to a range of questions, in order to help inform the fundraising practice of Australian Not for Profit organisations.

(Original Content Credit: Pro Bono Australia)

The full report can be viewed at

I came across all of this information via Jay Frost

Anchoring Charity Donations

Paul Dervan posted this last week, worth a read. I think a lot of charities do this well.

Anchoring is interesting. When we are buying stuff, we’re overly influenced by one particular piece of information we are exposed to. There are lots of subtle examples. In their fascinating book Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein explain that charities can influence the amount donors give by how they present the donation options. People will give more if the options are €100, €250, €1,000 and €5,000 than if their options are €50, €75, €100 and €150.

Barry Schwartz gives more anchoring examples in his book Paradox of Choice. If you walk into a suit shop where the suits displayed are €1,500 each, and you see a nice suit for €800, this may seem like a good deal. But walk into a different store where suits are displayed at €500, and the same €800 suit seems very expensive. The pricing information is anchoring your views.

Schwartz gives more examples. For example, a high-end catalogue seller of kitchen equipment was selling an automatic bread maker for $279. Later on, they added another more expensive deluxe version for $429. While they didn’t see too many of the deluxe makers, sales of the $279 machine almost doubled

Controversial or Genius Charity iPhone App?

Jonathan Waddingham posted an article on Civil Society on Tuesday highlighting this  iPhone App from Depaul called iHobo. Since his post went live there has been some interesting comments on the site, and others,  discussing the application, with some people calling it tasteless and others saying no, hang on this is really good.

Jonathan has kindly allowed me to re-post his article for anyone who may have missed it. At the end I will give my thoughts and would be really interested to hear yours.

Despite over 100,000s apps being built for the iPhone, very few charities have entered the world of mobile applications. That could be understood in the early days of apps, but since iTunes has had over a billion app downloads, it’s clear there’s a market.

The charity apps that have been released so far are mainly been trying to be useful or informative. Good examples of these areBullyingUK’s app, (which puts their content in your pocket), WaterAid’s Toilet Finder app (that helps you find a nearby toilet) and the recently released JustGiving app (useful for individuals fundraising).

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great, and serve the purpose they’re meant to, but none of them make you sit up and think differently about a subject. This is where the iHobo app, built by Publicis London for Depaul UK, comes in.

This app puts a real homeless person in your phone for three days, and uses the technology of the iPhone to make a subtle, but immersive experience. You see, your homeless person sends you messages (using the iPhone’s push notifications) every so often during the three days, and if you respond and give him a sleeping bag, money or a sandwich, he’ll be ok. If you ignore him, he might not find a place to sleep, be offered drugs or go hungry. You can check on his overall wellbeing at any time to see his body temperature, calorie intake and how many alerts you’ve missed.

In a way, it’s like the Tamagotchi pets that were so popular a few years back –give them attention and they thrive, or leave them alone and they suffer. But it’s also nothing like Tamagotchi, as you grow strangely attached to your hobo as the days go on, and you respond to the calls for help and feel good as you see him get along ok thanks to your help – like it’s a real person, not a toy.

Another clever feature of the app is the donation options – as they’ve not tried to accept donations within the app, nor send people off to a website to make donations (which aren’t always optimised for mobile either, but that’s for another blog post), but include options to send a text donation. It’s a very simple way of getting around the app donation issue, but very effective. I’m surprised no one’s thought of that before. Plus, they show how much of the text donation goes to the charity, a good nod to transparency.

But back to my hobo. I ignored him last night, and when checking on him this morning, I found out that he’d been mugged. I genuinely felt bad. And this is the crux – this app makes you feel something. Yes, it might make some uncomfortable and argue that it’s belittling the plight of the homeless, but that’s what I like about it. The best charity appeals, for me, evoke an emotional response. They challenge you to think differently about a subject, and for me, that’s why the ihobo is a fantastic charity app.

So what do I, for what its worth, think?

Well I think this is great. Ok I think there are parts of it that maybe they got wrong, ie  the name of the application, iHobo, maybe misguided. But outside of that I think this is a great use of new technology, I think it is bringing a very real problem to a new audience. It is bringing the real issue of homelessness to the virtual world. There was one great comment on the video, I could walk past a homeless person, but couldnt ignore my phone. Its incredible to think thats the reality of our world, but it is, we are consumed by our phones, and now Depaul are challenging this. I can’t download this application (im in Ireland) so I would encourage as many of you as possible who can to download it and then share your comments.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts

An Introduction to In Memoriam Fundraising

Ask Direct are hosting a seminar ‘An Introduction to In Memoriam and Tribute Giving’ on Thursday 27th May in the Morrison Hotel, Dublin, costing €75. The session will be led by Kevin Kibble, one of the UK’s foremost experts on Tribute and In Memoriam fundraising.

In memoriam fundraising is one of the most underdeveloped areas of charity fundraising, yet when implemented successfully it delivers both significant income for the charity and a valuable focus for grieving donors. Many can find its effectiveness and donor-centric methodology difficult to grasp.

This valuable fundraising tool is often mistakenly seen as being too intrusive – yet donors tell us the opposite and can in fact become your most passionate supporters.

This seminar will look at:

  • the changes in society that are making in memoriam fundraising so successful
  • how in memoriam fundraising works and how it differs from legacies
  • what tribute fundraising is all about
  • how to talk to bereaved donors
  • ‘top tips’ on introducing in memoriam to your fundraising mix

To book now email your name, organisation and address to