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17/01/2018

The High Tech Secrets of Effective Fundraisers

Need another reason to be glued to your smart phone or laptop? Here are five. From fast audio transcription to digital contracts, these apps and programs will help you to be a more effective fundraiser

  1. JustGiving

    JustGiving is the best-known and best-trusted platform for collecting online donations. Now with their iPhone app you can edit your fundraising page and send updates on the run. It also gives you real-time updates on who is donating, so you can thank them straight away. Keep your sound alerts on to hear coins dropping in the collection tin! The app also lets you connect with and support others in the JustGiving community.

  2. Rev

Interviews are vital if you want to tell a moving story that inspires people to give to your cause or campaign. But the cost of having your interviews transcribed can add up. Rev is a simple, fast and cost-effective transcription service that works straight from your smart phone. The app allows you to record an interview from wherever you are and upload the file as soon as you’re finished. It costs only a $1 for every minute of audio and you usually have a transcription back within 12 hours or less. Download Rev for your iPhone or Windows device, your finance people will love you for it!

 

      3.Fundraising Basics

It’s not an app and the website is very bare bones. But this simple program is ideal if you’re starting out as a fundraiser and want an affordable way to manage your donor base. Use it to manage your contacts, track donations, and generate letters and reports. In a recent survey of its users, more than a quarter of respondents said the program has helped them to raise more money.

 

  1. Docusign

Going digital on all your documents is a great way to reduce your operating costs. That’s why US charity Free The Children now uses DocuSign for all its administration. The free, award winning app lets you prepare, send and sign documents from anywhere in the world.

 

  1. Slack

Do you ever have to trawl through old emails for some small but vital piece of information? Or lose hours to a rapid-fire email chain? Slack is a free and intuitive forum that streamlines your work communication. It brings all the pieces and people you need together, with the least email clutter. And because it’s created by gamers, it looks great too. Not convinced? Read why #charity and JustGiving rave about Slack.

 

– Felicity Kitson. A copywriter and storyteller who loves writing for good causes.

03/01/2018

How the far right and conservatism across the world may impact charities

Alexander Pope wrote:

“In faith and hope the world will disagree,

But all mankind’s concern is charity.”

Political Impact

As people throughout the world seem to be voting further right – although even a socialist in the US would be conservative in most other countries – different pressures are being put on charitable institutions. Is there a connection?

This ought to be good for educational charities. Often centre and left governments use the charity laws to make life difficult for private schools and universities. Whereas right wing governments reduce government activity and cut social benefits. Leaving areas that need to be filled by charities.

 

At the same time, organisations are coming under mounting pressure from conservatives to prove value for money. Leaning towards independence rather than outright giving: teaching people to fish rather than giving them fish to eat. There is likely to be less sympathy –­ and money – for immigrants, advocacy, prisons, LGBT people and, especially, poverty.

 

Since Donald Trump’s election in the US there has been a surge in funding for groups that oppose the policies he threatens to adopt. Support for charities that promote awareness of climate change, pro-choice and planned parenthood, civil liberties, torture, cyber hate, immigration and antidiscrimination has grown. This is not unexpected, whenever a reactionary government comes to power, individuals who give to charity feel more concerned and donate even more.

 

A Brief and Current History

Over the past 10 years, the third sector has been cut back in many countries due to economic pressures. And, in the process, sometimes placed on a more professional footing. It has also faced challenges in data protection, fundraising and lobbying. Conservatism has been a threat to charity funding for some time now, as organisations come under increasing pressure to show tangible results and value for money and not challenge authority. There seems to be a growing antipathy to large, institutionalised charities. Caused partly by the large salaries that board members and executives receive as well as concern about where the money raised goes and how it is paid. Large-scale corruption prevails often where governments control the receipt of funds, many officials are involved, and little money arrives at the designated point of delivery.

In the UK, while David Cameron was Prime Minister, government stepped back from charitable giving. And his ideas for a ‘Big Society’ to replace it, along with the cutbacks that followed, seemed to put the burden on volunteers and charities. Leading to far greater dependence on, for example, food banks. This dependence has surged since Brexit. However, donations have dropped in the UK due to the continuing uncertainty of withdrawal from Europe. And even more worryingly, the Office for Civil Society, responsible for charities, volunteering, social investments and mutuals, has been moved out of the Cabinet Office and into the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Will charities continue to have the ear of senior ministers?

 

Looking Further Back

Looking back over the past 200 years, many of the great philanthropists have been social conservatives. The tax structure has helped. Let us hope this will continue and increase. It is essential not to overreact or panic, nor to underestimate the goodwill and energy of the individual. Charities worldwide must continue to make representations and to make the most of all opportunities to fundraise. To establish good relations with local politicians and officials and listen to what they have to say. To measure and communicate their achievements and to engage with the public. Particularly since the trust and confidence of the public are essential: the reassurance that their money is being well spent.

 

To quote Sir Thomas Browne, “Charity begins at home, is the voice of the world.”

 

By Dominique Antarakis– Dominique drives the growth of The Copy Collective, a leading Sydney and Auckland-based copywriting agency. Producing year- on-year growth for seven years, Dominique is a talented leader, skillful journalist and editor who brings her years of experience in design and DM agencies to produce great work for our clients.

19/07/2017

How to choose effective images for your website

There is no doubt about it: images are an essential ingredient of any successful website – everything would look rather dull without them. However, to ensure they improve, rather than hinder, your site’s performance, there are a few things you must consider.

Why include images, anyway?

We live in a highly visual age. And thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, almost everybody has a camera at their fingertips.

The statistics say it all. According to well-known blogger Jeff Bullas, articles that include images get 94% more views. So, the question should actually be why wouldn’t you use images?

Anyway, as mentioned in my intro, there are some things to think before you add an image to your website.

What is its purpose?

Don’t include a photo for the sake of filling space. Make sure it has a purpose. Studies show that irrelevant images usually get ignored, and you don’t want that.

So, what purpose might an image have other than to look pretty? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does it help people understand your message?
  • Does it evoke emotion? Take a look at the photos on Starship Foundation’s website. Do they tug on your heartstrings, or what?
  • Does it support your brand? Using images that clash with your brand will only confuse visitors.

Use real people

Guess what? People like looking at other people. In many cases, just adding a picture of a person smiling person can considerably increase conversions.

There are loads of stock image sites around (I find Pond5 to be useful); however, if possible, hire a professional photographer to take original shots. Also, make sure your images represent your target audience.

Optimise

Large image files can slow down your website’s loading speed. Most people find this extremely irritating, and slow loading speed will damage your site’s ranking with search engines.

Graphic designer Anil Dumasia says that you must balance an image’s quality with how long it takes to load.

“Like a clutch on a car; there is a biting point before it goes. The same applies to the point at which an image pixelates,” he says.

To optimise images, there are plenty of free apps available. Check out Kraken and TinyPNG.

Final words

They say “a picture paints a thousand words.” Well, I could write a thousand more on the subject of using images. Hopefully, though, these tips will give you a good start.

Andrew Healey is a New Zealand-based writer who specialises in writing for web and blog-based contents. His creativity and unique style makes him a reliable writer who consistently produces engaging work.

05/07/2017

The story of a lifetime: how to inspire bequests

Stories are the heart of fundraising – but how can you use them to motivate your supporters to leave you a gift of a lifetime? Here are some tips.

Tell the next chapter in their life story

According to Professor Russell James and his team at Texas Tech University, when people think about making a charitable gift in their Will, they are really ‘visualising their autobiography’. Their neuroimaging study showed that people making bequest decisions use the same parts of the brain involved with remembering their life stories.

This theory played out in tests beyond the lab, with people more likely to respond to the life stories of bequestors than other bequest marketing messages.

The best bequest stories will prompt your supporters to reflect on the experiences that have shaped their lives and their compassion – whether it’s a love of nature, the loss of a loved one or a difficult upbringing.

Video testimonials are a great way to help people see how their narrative can continue, and make a lasting difference in the world. But a compelling written story and images can be just as effective.

This minimatters blog suggests including images of bequestors in past decades, showing a passage through iconic fashions and times that supporters in their 70s and 80s would recognise and relate to.

You don’t have to reserve inspiring testimonials for your bequest brochure either. The Wilderness Society website features stirring stories from supporters of all ages who are leaving them a gift in their Will.

The important thing, of course, is to focus on people’s lives – not their deaths. Making a charitable bequest should feel like a big, inspirational and exciting continuation of their lives and values.

Connect their values with yours

When writing to your bequest prospects, talk up your long-standing relationship and the values your share. If you’ve surveyed them and know what parts of your work they care most about, you can connect to them on an even more personal level. Check out

Ultimately, your goal is to convince your supporters that your charity can achieve the long-term change they believe in.  You can do that not just through a dedicated bequest mailing, but also through supporter updates, thank you letters and variable copy within fundraising letters. Every time you communicate with your supporters, you have the chance to strengthen their personal connection to your charity – and their likelihood of leaving you a bequest.

Bring friends and family into the picture

Dr James’ brain research showed that people thinking about leaving bequests to friends and family engage emotion and memory more than when considering charitable bequests. His findings weren’t surprising – but a good reminder that someone is more likely to leave you a gift in their Will if your cause or work is connected to someone they love.

A bequestor who talks about how a children’s hospital saved the life of their child or grandchild, for example, is a powerful way to inspire parents and grandparents who’ve had similar experiences.

Your signatory can also share stories of family and friends who’ve inspired their own passion for the work they do. It could be their mother who fought for their education or nieces and nephews who they want to protect the planet for. Love brings out the best and most generous in all of us – and this is what you should invoke when talking to people about their legacy.

By Felicity Kitson. A copywriter and storyteller who loves writing for good causes.

28/06/2017

How to plan a successful website

For any charity or not-for-profit, a website is a must-have. Alas, many of them fall into the ‘why bother?’ category. So, before you launch a new website, consider the following:  

1: What is your objective?

What do you want to achieve with your website? It is important that you know. A crystal-clear goal will provide a guide when writing copy, choosing images and deciding on calls to action.

It is possible that you want to achieve several things. That’s fine. However, dedicate each page to a specific goal. Asking page visitors to do several things weakens your message and causes confusion.

For example, you may have a web page for bequests, another for regular donations; one page could also provide information for the people your organisation is set up to help.

Whatever your goals are, make sure they align with your organisation’s overall plan. This way you should get buy-in from the whole team. For more information, here is a useful article.

2: Who is your audience?

Your website must resonate with the people you are reaching out to. Does your audience consist of Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennials? The language you use and kinds of content you create will depend on where your ‘audience is at’ in life.

For example, if you seek bequests, you will probably target wealthy Baby Boomers enjoying their twilight years. These people will want to be confident that their money will be spent wisely. So, case studies telling real-life stories about how people have benefited from bequests would be invaluable.

Alternatively, if your organisation promotes healthy living to Millennials, for example, fun videos and social media activity would be appropriate. To read more about defining a target audience, click here.

3: Information architecture

Think about how your website is structured. Is it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for? The last thing you want is for people to arrive on your Home page and be unable to figure out how to volunteer or make a donation.

So, take care in how you organise your pages. Make sure your navigation bar is easy to understand. Also, ensure every page has an unmissable and compelling call to action. Here is an informative post on website architecture from Kissmetrics.

I have heard some experts describe websites as  ‘silent salespeople.’ So, if your website knows what it is selling, speaks your audience’s language and can point visitors in the right direction, you will have an excellent salesperson, indeed.

By Andrew Healey who is a New Zealand-based writer who specialises in writing web and blog- based contents. His creativity and unique style make him a reliable writer who consistently produces engaging work.

21/06/2017

How to use tone of voice for effective communication

Look at those around you. Some people you trust and can relate to; others not so much. What is the basis for your judgement? Well, often it boils down to how a person communicates – their tone of voice. We judge charities and not-for-profits the same way.

Why is tone of voice important?

According to Charities Services, there are currently 27, 854 charities in New Zealand. That’s huge competition for a piece of the ‘funding pie’ that isn’t getting bigger.

To get a fair slice, your organisation must stand out from the competition, and having a tone of voice that clearly communicates its values and personality will help achieve this.

Maintaining a consistent tone of voice is easy if you run a one-person organisation. It gets harder, though, for larger organisations that employ staff with different communication styles.

To ensure everyone ‘sings from the same song sheet’, a style guide, which outlines your organisation’s values and personality and how to express them, is invaluable.

Three types of communication

Now, I’d like to discuss managing tone of voice for three types of communication.

1: Written

Your organisation’s website copy, brochures, emails, newsletters and press releases fall into this category.

Which words should you choose? Well, that depends.

Unicef, for example, is in the business of life and death. Look at the emotive language they use:

Famine Threatens Millions In Africa

1.4 million children are severely malnourished and desperately need your help in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Yemen.

2: Oral

Your organisation’s language must be consistent when communicating on the telephone or face to face.

Also, as the saying goes, “it is not what you say, but how you say it that is what matters.” So, people must be mindful of how they sound.

From a past life in telesales, I discovered that smiling while talking on the phone made me come across as happy and friendly, even when I was having a bad day.

3: Nonverbal

You can say all the right words, but your body can betray you.

Some tips on positive nonverbal communication:

  • Handshakes: A strong handshake makes you appear confident. Don’t overcompensate by crushing the other person’s hand.
  • Eye contact: When talking to a donor, look them in the eye. Don’t stare, though, and remember to blink and look away occasionally.
  • Arms: Crossing your arms signals that you are disengaged from what’s going on around you and can also make you look nervous.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  The illusion that the right communication has taken place is also a problem to address.

Andrew Healey is a New Zealand-based writer who specialises in writing for web and blog- based contents. His creativity and unique style makes him a reliable writer who consistently produces engaging work.

10/05/2017

How to write an effective call to action button

As a charity or not-for-profit, achieving your goals depends on the support of others. So, it is important that visitors to your website know what you want them to do. You can do this with a call to action (CTA) button.

What is a CTA?

If you’re wondering what a CTA is, here is HubSpot’s definition: 

An image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It’sa ‘call’ to take an ‘action’.

So, what do you want people to do when they visit your website? Donate money? Their time? Sign up to your newsletter? It is up to you to make your wishes clear with a CTA button.

However, not all CTA buttons are effective, so here are five tips:

1: Actionable text

Tell visitors to your website what you want them to do and what will happen. Words like enter, submit and call us don’t cut it.

These CTAs are better: 

  • Donate now to help a child.
  • To learn how to save our planet, register now for our newsletter.
  • Help clean up your community, and register now to become a volunteer.

All three options explain what visitors need to do and what they will receive in return.

World Vision New Zealand’s call to action: “Change a life. Choose your gift now” does this well.

2: Urgency

You want visitors to take action as soon as possible, so add some urgency.

World Vision’s: “Change a life. Choose your gift now,” does this by including the word ‘now’. A stronger option could be: “Donate now to change a life before it’s too late.”

3: Prominence

Don’t let your CTA get lost on the page; choose a colour that stands out. For example, if your web page’s background is green, choose a colour like red or black. Adding a white border to your CTA box can also make it more prominent.

Amnesty International’s website uses a grey backgound so to stand out they chose a bright yellow CTA box.

4: Directional cues

Another way to ensure visitors don’t overlook your CTA is to point them in the right direction. You can do this by including an arrow pointing or a person looking towards your CTA button.

The penguin featured on the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust’s website points to the “Donate Now” button. Now, I am not sure if this is intentional, but it does the job.

5: Supporting text

Sometimes people are nervous about making a commitment – they are might not trust the online environment. So, adding some extra text can reduce their fears.

Big Buddy is aware that some people are wary of using a credit card online, so the following text is included above their CTA:

“We have facilities to accept online credit card donations through a secure form, so you can be sure your information remains safe. This button will take you to our credit card donation page.”

In the charity and not-for-profit sectors, the ability to persuade is vital. In the ‘real’ world, this is second nature to most fundraisers. But, of course, online you can’t talk to prospective supporters and apply your charm. This is why you must not overlook your website’s CTA buttons.

Andrew Healey is a New Zealand-based writer who specialises in writing web and blog- based contents. His creativity and unique style make him a reliable writer who consistently produces engaging work.