Making a Business case for a new CRM

Getting buy-in from trustees and colleagues can be difficult when it comes to selecting a new CRM. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and in some cases, you aren’t even reading from the same book. The best way to understand others’ needs and to appeal to them is by putting yourself in their position.


Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a good understanding of what you and your other stakeholders need. Now is the time to make a solid case for it. First and foremost, you must stick to your objectives. It may sound obvious, but this is easily overlooked once you’re down into the detail of software functionality! In this infographic, we explore the three main challenges when it comes to investing in technology: Data migration, managing cost and achieving buy-in from your board.


Infographic teaser



Staying laser-focused on your non-profit’s mission is the best way to keep the interest of your senior colleagues and trustees. Think about your key stakeholders and what’s in it for them. What do they stand to gain from a new CRM solution? What about your trustees? What are their drivers and objectives? With any new purchase, the return on investment (ROI) will rightly be scrutinised. In order to keep your project on track, you’ll need to be able to effectively answer any questions that your CEO, trustees and others will have regarding the value of your new investment.


A good vendor will take you through a fully consultative sales process and help you demonstrate how the solution achieves a positive ROI for your organisation. At this point, you should be asking for references to build a clear picture of how the potential technology partner has helped non-profits that are similar to yours.



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How many people actually see your Facebook posts?


If you’re responsible for your non-profit’s social media, you probably know about how many Facebook fans you have. Your fan count is the simplest way to know how many people see the messages, calls to action, photos, invitations, appeals, and news you post. Or it would be, if that number weren’t hugely misleading.

As you know, Facebook’s ever-mysterious algorithms limit your posts from reaching everyone that likes your page. In fact, most people who like your page don’t see any given post. In the 2017 M+R Benchmarks Study, it was found that on average, a non-profit will reach just 8% of its fans with a post that isn’t promoted. 

We know. It hurts.

You can pay to increase that reach, of course, and that kind of paid promotion can be an effective part of your social media and digital advertising strategy. But the truth is, resources are limited and non-profits do not pay to boost the vast majority of their posts.

But there’s good news, too! A lot folks—45% to be exact—who do see your posts aren’t your fans (yet). As your social media influencers engage with your content (especially when they click “Share”) it pops up in their friends’ news feeds.

So most of the people who follow you don’t see your Facebook posts, and about half the people who do see your posts don’t follow you on Facebook. Non-profits need a better metric than number of fans that more accurately reflects how many users you can expect to reach. Enter the Earned Reach Average, or ERA.

Earned Reach Average (ERA) is the average number of people who see a given post for every Facebook fan you have. 

In the Benchmarks study, the average non-profit had an ERA of .225, meaning for every 1,000 Facebook fans a nonprofit has, their next post will reach about 225 people. So if you’re a completely average organization (though… we know you’re not) with 60,000 fans, a given post will be seen by about 13,500 people (60 x .225=13.5).

It’s good to have fans, the more the merrier. But so much of your Facebook reach comes down to engagement, shares, and being seen by audiences beyond your existing fanbase. If you want to be seen on Facebook, the nature and quality of your content are just as important as the number of Likes you have.

9 Common Donation Page Mistakes

If your online donation form is ineffective, it warrants immediate attention. The occasional mistake is inevitable, but given the high-volume traffic non-profit donation pages receive, it’s crucial that your donation form is optimised to be as strong as possible.

Many supporters prefer to give online on their laptops or mobile devices instead of in person. A poorly designed donation page will make you miss out on these supporters’ donations.

If your donation form needs updating, read on to learn more!

Here are 9 of the most common donation page mistakes:

  1. Hidden Donation Forms
  2. Requiring Donors to Give Too Much Information
  3. Overfilling Your Donation Page
  4. Forgetting Security Certification
  5. Not Being Mobile-Savvy
  6. Avoiding Different Giving Levels
  7. Not Suggesting Recurring Donations
  8. Ignoring Social Media
  9. Failing to Say Thank You

But don’t worry, we know how your non-profit can avoid them!

Mistake 1: hidden donation forms

Mistake #1: Hidden Donation Forms

If your supporters can’t find your donation form on your site, they can’t donate. There’s no way around it. By having a hidden donation form, you’re losing donations left and right.

Your online donation form needs to be centre stage on your site and easy to use!

To further assist your donors with giving, you should:

  • Include links to your donation form in your email blasts. Don’t turn every email into a plea for donations, but some emails should include links to your donation form so donors can give easily and your non-profit receives the donations it deserves.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Most adults are tweeting, posting, and sharing content on social media. Include a link to your donation form in your next Facebook post or tweet so that users can easily find it. You can also include the link in your bio on social media profiles.
  • Making giving easy on your site. No matter how involved a supporter is with your non-profit, if she’s on page 83 of your blog’s archive or just arrived on your homepage, she should be able to donate easily. Place donation buttons on every page to guide supporters to your online form.

Tucking your donation form away under menus and other pages only reduces the amount of donations your non-profit receives.

How to fix it: Include your online donation form in your online communication strategy and make sure donors can easily use your online form!

Common Donation Page Mistake 2: requiring donors to give too much information

Mistake #2: Requiring Donors to Give Too Much Information

If a new prospect arrives on your website, she won’t know a lot about your non-profit right off the bat. But if she finds that her interests align with your mission and she’d like to give to your organisation, she’ll need to be able to find your donation form easily.

Because you know to keep your donation page easily accessible, your online donation form will be easy to find and your prospect will be ready to start the donation process right away.

But instead of landing on a donation page that allows her to donate right away, she has to make an account and fill out information.

No one wants to be greeted by a multitude of fields all marked “Required” on an online form, so limit the number of required fields on your donation form.

We’ve found that adding just one additional field reduces the number of completed donation forms and that adding two or more additional fields will cause your donation count to drastically drop.

If donors have to make an account and fill out their name, address, credit card info, and a security question just to make a donation, they’re far more likely to abandon the process and never end up donating.

Forcing donors to create an account sharply decreases the number of donations that your non-profit could be receiving with your online donation form.

Instead, try giving donors a choice of creating an account or donating as a guest. You can do this in a pop-up window that also explains the benefit of creating an account.

A cluttered donation form won’t appeal to anyone and the bottom line is that you shouldn’t require donors to make an account to donate.


How to fix it: Limit the number of required fields on your donation page for a higher donor conversion rate. Don’t require your donors to create an account to give, but provide them with the option to create a profile to track their donations and involvement.

Common Donation Page Mistakes 3: Overfilling Your Donation Page

Mistake #3: Overfilling Your Donation Page

You donation page should be just that, a donation page.

Your website is where people go to learn about your organisation through success stories, videos, and updates on your projects and events. That content belongs on your website, not your donation page.

Supporters are on your donation page to donate, so don’t distract them by overfilling your donation form with background information on your non-profit.

Follow these points to keep your donation page simple and straightforward:

  • Limit your copy to a few sentences.
  • Only include one image on the page and it should be at the top of the form.
  • Remove sidebar navigation and menus from the page.

Adding too much to your donation form will distract from the donation and encourage traffic to leave the page.

How to fix it: Keep your copy concise and only include one picture on your donation form so that donors aren’t drawn away from giving.

Common Donation Mistake 4: Forgetting Security Certification

Mistake #4: Forgetting Security Certification

When a donor gives online, they are submitting both personal and sensitive information so you should ask yourself, “Does your donation form reassure donors that their data is safe?”

If the answer is no, you could be losing contributions from millennials, gen Xers, baby boomers, and more potential donors!

Make sure that you include the proper security certification logos and comply with PCI Standards (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards), and check that your payment processors are verified. This will reassure donors of your authority and credibility.

Building trust with donors is key for donor retention and your non-profit’s reputation.

How to fix it: Include the proper security certification logos and maintain PCI compliance when it comes to your donation form.

Common Donation Mistake 5: Not Being Mobile Savvy

Mistake #5: Not Being Mobile-Savvy

91% of British adults own smartphones and the past year has seen a 205% increase in mobile donations.

That’s a percentage you want to be included in.

Don’t rely solely on accepting donations on laptops and desktop computers. You’ll miss out on the contributions from donors who want to give on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

When formatting for mobile devices, make sure your form isn’t cluttered or prohibitive to the donor’s experience. On the form, include just a brief paragraph explaining your campaign as well as your logo.

You’ll want your mobile-responsive donation page to be even simpler than your donation form for the best user experience possible. Think big, easy-to-click buttons and a vertical layout. Reduce a donor’s need to pinch and zoom!

This seamless experience will give them a quick and secure donation process.

How to fix it: Make a mobile-friendly donation page and keep it simple for a higher donor conversion rate. All the top online donation tools should have options for mobile.

Common Donation Page Mistakes 6: Avoiding Differing Giving Levels

Mistake #6: Avoiding Different Giving Levels

Offering different giving levels on your donation form can result in higher donations in the long run.

How? It all has to do with the psychology of giving.

If a donor lands on your donation page with the intention of donating £25 and you provide an empty field where a donor can give any amount they please, you’ll probably receive the intended £25 from that donor.

But if you offer different giving levels, like £20, £30, £40, and so forth, there’s a greater chance that this specific donor will round up and give £30 instead of down to £20 or filling in an “Other” blank.

And offering different giving amounts with appropriate descriptions allows your organisation to show donors where their donations will go.

That said, along with your preset amounts, you should still include an “Other” field for donors who want to select their own donation amount. Don’t box supporters in.

How to fix it: Give donors different giving levels to help increase donation amounts.

Common Donation Page Mistake 7: Not Suggesting Recurring Donations

Mistake #7: Not Suggesting Recurring Donations.

Donors have busy schedules and giving to your organisation is a small portion of their lives. Help take away the stress of giving by offering recurring donations right on your donation form!

New donors might only want to give once for now, but your loyal donors are likely to give again and again.

Instead of relying on all of your donors’ memories, provide the option of automatic, recurring gifts on your donation pages.

This way, your donors don’t have to fill out a donation form every time they want to give and including this option may convert one-time donors into recurring donors.

How to fix it: Give donors the opportunity to make monthly, quarterly, or yearly gifts to bring in more donations.

Common Donation Page Mistake 8: Ignoring Social Media

Mistake #8: Ignoring Social Media.

If your donors are giving online, they most likely have social media profiles as well. They’re tweeting, posting, and commenting on a regular basis.

This is the time to include social media buttons on your donation page.

Let your donors easily share your donation page on Facebook or Twitter because it will:

  • Let your supporters brag about their generosity a little.
  • Spread the word about your donation page to a broader network.

Not offering social media options on your donation form is a missed opportunity because you’re losing easy shareability. Crowdfunding platforms have jumped on this opportunity, and you should too.

Donors can click the tweet button and share your donation page with little effort so give them that opportunity.

How to fix it: Give donors a way to share your donation page on social media to give your non-profit more exposure.

Common Donation Page Mistake 9: Failing to Say Thank You

Mistake #9: Failing to Say Thank You

You’re not off the hook yet. Just because a donor has made it to your donation page and given to your non-profit does not mean your organisation is done with managing that donor’s experience.

Make sure that your acknowledgement page is just as great as your donation form.

This screen needs to express your gratitude for their donation. Also let them know that they will receive an email confirmation, direct mail acknowledgement, or both shortly.

Then, direct donors to more information about your non-profit like:

  • Upcoming fundraising events
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Updates on current and future projects
  • Social media sites

But just remember, these follow-up links are always secondary to the actual acknowledgement.

Thanking donors is a must.

How to fix it: Your gratitude toward donors should be expressed thoroughly on the acknowledgement page, followed by additional information to involve donors.

Many of your donors will expect to give to your organisation through an online form, so don’t disappoint by having a sub-par donation page. Keep these common mistakes and our solutions in mind for the best results.

Measuring Outcomes & Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

“We can end hunger around the world by 2030.”

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s a big statement, a big goal. When you consider a goal of ending hunger, you have a couple of choices. You could either think, ‘That is way too big for me to wrap my mind around,’ or you can say, ‘That’s a big goal, and I can do something to move the needle, even by one tick.’


Let’s take a step back. Why are we discussing big goals?


In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—also known as the Global Goals—to change the world for the better and leave no one behind by 2030. This 15-year initiative aims to tackle 17 areas of need across the world, from eradicating hunger to fostering responsible production and consumption to ensuring everyone has access to a quality education.

Across these 17 goals are 232 targets and indicators designed to be guideposts, acting as gauges to tell us how well we’re making progress toward achieving the goals. Translation: outcomes measurement. This is so much more than the UN pointing at a North Star – with the emphasis on outcomes tracking baked into the SDGs framework, we have the indicators to see if we’re on track to achieving social change with a ready-made formula to measure success.


Do the SDGs Apply in the United Kingdom?


Now, back to our big “end hunger” goal. If that feels too daunting, and almost like you’re trying to change the world all at once, what if we said this instead:


We can end hunger in your city by 2030.


That feels different, doesn’t it? One of the sentiments I have been hearing from funders over the past several months is how hard it is to align your mind with something when it’s presented as such a huge global issue. Instead of tackling an issue for the whole world, what if we thought about it in a closer context? The SDGs have to do with achieving social change around the corner just as much as they do with achieving social change around the world.

There’s plenty to do to make change ‘around the corner.’ Something like ending hunger isn’t a challenge that’s confined to developing nations. In fact, in 2016 600,000, including more than 150,000 children, lived in food-insecure households.

If we look at some of the other goals, we begin to see that “global” doesn’t have to mean “across the globe.” Ending poverty on a global level doesn’t have to start someplace else – there were over 4.6 million people living in persistent poverty in the UK between 2010-13. Or, with the goal of supporting good health and well-being, the UN isn’t restricting this to certain nations or areas in the world. When we consider that Cancer Research UK projected that there would be 350,000+ new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2014 as just one health-centric data point in the UK, it’s clear we have so much more progress to make right here at home.


At this point, you may be thinking, ‘The SDGs are worthy goals, but I can’t veer away from what I’m already doing in my work.’

As you’re reading this, you may be leading a health foundation striving to provide greater access to quality healthcare for the people you serve. You may be a grant maker sitting in a community foundation, convening local change-makers to address issues like ending hunger, addressing inequality, or creating economic opportunities. You may be reading this in between reviewing grant applications to support responsible production and consumption or to take action against climate change. You may be part of a non-profit running a local food bank, doing your part to make sure no one goes hungry in your city.


Here’s the kicker: if any of those descriptions scratch the surface of what you’re doing in your work, you are already supporting the SDGs.


The only adjustment I’d encourage you to make – if you haven’t done so already – is to acknowledge that your change-making work is fundamentally part of this global effort. What the SDGs have given us is a way to recognise that these big goals apply in our own backyard as much as anywhere else in the world. The Global Goals are everyone’s goals.


2030 is Around the Corner


When I say that the SDGs apply “around the corner,” I mean locality as much as I mean the clock is ticking. 2030 may sound like a far-off date, but it’s closer than you might think. We’re already in the third year of the SDGs, and we still have lots of progress to make.

While we don’t yet have an exact format or collection mechanism at the global level to capture and share SDGs progress data, there is no time to waste in ensuring you are as prepared as possible to provide your results data to contribute to the emerging global impact story.


Unless we have the data to depict our progress, how will we know if we’re making a dent in achieving the goals?


At the same time, as you bolster your ability to track and measure the results of your funding and investments against the SDGs targets, you’ll set yourself up to be a better collaborator for change. As more and more individuals and organisations recognise a shared commitment to achieving the SDGs, it will be crucial that each participant across the spectrum of social good speaks the same language. A goal of ending hunger could never rest on one set of shoulders alone. Big issues like the ones the Global Goals are addressing require multi-sector, multi-stakeholder input and effort. With multiple stakeholders across sectors, there’s incredible opportunity to collaborate for change.


However, if each participant talks about and measures the results of their giving in a different way, you may dilute the power of what you can achieve together. When we speak a common language of giving, we set ourselves up to share apples-to-apples results data of how we’re making progress on some of the world’s biggest issues.

The clock is ticking – the more we can bring people together to truly collaborate toward achieving the goals based on a shared understanding of success indicators, the more we’ll be able to do as the calendar approaches 2030.


How to Act on the SDGs (Hint: You Already Are) 


The SDGs present a unique opportunity for the entire giving sector to get aligned on achieving a better tomorrow for our world. Never have we had a formal platform that so clearly outlines goals and targets to achieve social change with the ability to foster cross-sector and worldwide collaboration.

If you are inspired to act, the good news is that you are already well on your way. The good work you do each day to invest in making change is already inherently supportive of the SDGs. Now it’s up to you to make sure you’re positioning that good work to align with the worldwide effort to create a better world for all, near and far, today and into the future.


4 Steps to act on the 2030 Agenda:


  1. Get informed. There are lots of resources available to get acquainted with the SDGs, what they seek to achieve, and what’s being done to make progress on the 2030 Agenda. Visit the UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform or try taking our SDGs true/false quiz to explore the goals.


  1. Familiarise yourself with the SDGs indicators. Spend some time reviewing the SDGs targets within the goals that align with your focus areas to see how the work you’re already doing could be contributing to achieving SDGs results. Speak with your partners and colleagues about the indicators relevant to you to ensure you’re on the same page about measuring progress from your work.


  1. Evaluate your ability to measure outcomes, not just outputs. It is more critical than ever to ensure you can measure outcomes and assess results data stemming from your investments in social good. With the enormity of the issues the SDGs seek to address, no one change-maker can achieve the goals alone. We will be best positioned to answer the question, “Are we making progress?” when each participant is speaking the same language and measuring results in an apples-to-apples way.


  1. Share your impact story.If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Likewise, if your organisation is making progress toward one of the SDGs and no one knows your impact story, did your change-making work move the needle? While the answer, of course, is yes, now is the time to share your results as widely as possible to build a global story of impact. As Matt Stevenson-Dodd, CEO of Street League recently said at a Blackbaud Event, “The best advice I could offer is to remind foundations to talk about the incredible work they do.”


Still wondering how the SDGs apply to you or curious about how foundations can actually measure outcomes and impact in the SDGs framework? Ask away. When it comes to achieving these big goals, the more we connect and share ideas, the more we’ll be able to accomplish.

4 Ways Your Non-Profit Can Stay On Top Of Data Security

Data security is an ongoing issue in the non-profit sector and is one that has been brought to the fore following the global ransomware attack on May 12. However, by getting the basics right, you can go a long way to protecting your organisation from attacks like WannaCry.


Here are four simple tips:

  • Have an organisation-wide password policy in place. At a minimum, it’s best practice that users change their passwords every six weeks and use a mixture of higher and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords should never be written down, reused or shared. If, like me, you struggle to keep track of your ever-growing list of passwords, there are secure password management tools that can help you out. Find out more here.


  • Make sure you and staff can spot phishing emails. These are commonplace but easily handled. A phishing email is designed to look like an email that has been sent from an authoritative source, e.g. a bank. It will typically direct you to a website and ask for sensitive, personal and financial information. If an email raises your suspicions, do not open it and definitely don’t click on any links.


Phishing scams are usually easily spotted and unsophisticated. Recognising common phishing tactics can be done by training your staff using simple, free online programmes.

  • Make sure all PCs, laptops and servers have the most up-to-date version of their respective software installed. You should see reminders letting you know it’s time to update. But in case you don’t, it’s worth to check every six weeks or so.


Software updates aren’t trivial, they include regular security enhancements and improvements to software.

  • Make sure you are using the most up-to-date version of your CRM or database solution. This includes Raiser’s Edge for example. If you are hosted on a cloud -based system this will happen automatically – but if you are hosted on-premise, make sure you always update as soon as a new version becomes available.


If you have any concerns or would like to find out more on how Blackbaud is keeping your data safe, our Customer Support team is on hand to help. If you are currently hosting your Raiser’s Edge or Blackbaud CRM database on premise and you would like to find out more about Blackbaud hosting, please contact your Account Manager or

Why Instagram Could Be Helpful For Your Non-Profit

Like many non-profits and social enterprise, you may be scratching your head and wondering how an Instagram presence can help you contribute to social good in a creative and heroic way. With all the noise out there, how can you be sure that your efforts are even moving the needle for your cause?

You know that Facebook and Twitter are still major drivers of traffic to your website, but your love affair with Facebook is somewhat diminishing because hardly anyone even sees your posts if you haven’t boosted them (i.e. paid for your posts to be seen). We’re getting report after report of diminishing returns on Facebook posts due to constant changes with the newsfeed algorithm.

It’s time to add something else to the mix—let’s start thinking about the value of Instagram for non-profits. Here are five key things non-profits should know about getting started with Instagram.

1. Instagram is the fastest growing non-profit community engine

In April, Instagram announced it now has 700 million users, with the last 100M growing even more quickly, and 200M are using Instagram stories. The 2017 M&R non-profit Benchmark Study found that for every 1000 email subscribers, organisations can expect to have 39 Instagram followers and that orgs experienced on average a 101% Instagram follower growth in 2016.

Therefore, Instagram = the fastest growing non-profit community engine on social media.

Instagram is here to stay, but for most non-profits, Facebook and Twitter are still the leading referrers of traffic to main websites. Instagram will be a major player for organisations within the next 2-3 years, given its strength in key groups, such as rural locations and most 18-34 year olds, with other demographics likely to follow. It’s also easy to forget that Facebook owns Instagram and has integrated its Ads Manager to run ads on both platforms by default. This opens a new, young, diverse and growing audience to non-profits and NGOs .

Keep up!

2. Engaging with supporters + influencers goes a long way

A little love goes a long way.  Pay attention to what others are doing on Instagram — follow key supporters, peers, influencers, those who inspire you, etc! —and engage with their posts with likes and/or comments! It’s about reciprocity – many of them will help you back.

Interaction (done well) warms people’s hearts. It’s age-old wisdom from Dale Carnegie and other wise people that, if you show interest in others, they will be more interested in you and you’ll be more influential to them. Compile lists of Instagram handles for your team members, key supporters, influencers, and organisations with like-minded causes so that you can easily tag and mention them in your posts.

Along the way, you’ll also learn from these interactions what people are excited about right now and see how you and your mission can fit into the current online conversation in the best way.

3. Visuals will help you build brand awareness

Facebook, which owns Instagram, is putting a lot of emphasis on Instagram, including integrating augmented reality features going beyond Snapchat in coming years. Instagram is not a niche platform anymore — it’s a major player. You need as strong a strategy for Instagram as you do for Facebook and Twitter. This is a challenge because many non-profits are more focused on text than visuals — be the charity who does visuals well! You can only post from your phone (or from Hootsuite on a computer after integrating Instagram), so you’ll want to recruit fun images from and about your team members, and save to your phone.

Your posts, stories, livestreams, and ads on Instagram will help you build awareness — especially with beautiful, colourful, high-definition, authentic images. There are so many easy ways to curate images—from team outings, program activities and events to pictures of your mission in action and those you serve.

4. Incorporate hashtags and mentions

After you’ve written up a snappy post and before hitting Share, type a hashtag sign (#) and start writing words relevant to your post to see what hashtags Instagram recommends. You can collect a list of hashtags that other like-minded organisations and influencers are using.— a platform that helps you identify popular hashtags by keyword area—can be used to find and analyse popular hashtags to help amplify your post and your cause. You’ll make your posts discoverable to people interested in that topic, beyond those who currently follow you. Then sit back and enjoy more engagement with your posts and new followers!

Mention and tag relevant people and organisations to gain more visibility from the people you care about — mentioning someone in your post’s copy sends them a notification, and tagging them makes the post appear in their tagged photos.

5. Use features like Livestream and Instagram Stories

Live videos on Instagram get preference in the Instagram news feed algorithm for display, so give it a try and go live! Once a live video has ended, it’s no longer visible on Instagram (so do it for long enough, like at an event!). And don’t worry about perfection. These videos disappear after the video has ended, so focus on really giving your viewers a behind-the-scenes look into your organization and mission.. See instructions for doing a live video.

Unlike Instagram Live, Instagram stories stay on your feed and your profile for 24 hours, with content grouped together in slideshows. You can choose to upload a video you’ve taken to your Story, so that it’s visible longer than livestreaming is available. If desired, you can also share them as a post to your feed timeline, for even longer enjoyment.

Who’s watching your content? You can check by watching your own story, then swiping up to check out who’s seen each photo and video. See what’s most popular and use that feedback to select what to feature from a particular part of your story, by posting it on your profile.

How To Use a Consultant When Selecting A CRM

By Collette Langley, Business Development Executive, Blackbaud Europe


As a member of a sales team, I work closely with a wide range of IT and Fundraising consultants. When I know a good consultant has been involved in workshopping a non-profit’s requirements or helping in the selection and implementation process, I’m relieved.  To me, it means that the organisation is committed to action, that they have spent some time thinking about what they want to achieve and that they are taking the process seriously.


Investing resource in an external consultant drives an organisation to take the sometimes-daunting first step on the journey of achieving their goals through new technology.


I can also say with confidence that the best consultants know a great deal.  They have been allowed on the inside of a lot of boardrooms; they see all sides of the process; they are in on every conversation and their experience is invaluable to us all.


Benefits of using a consultant:

  • Milestones: Helping you set timescales and sticking to them; not just in the project implementation but also in the selection process itself.  The selection process often overruns, and it’s rarely because the supplier isn’t keen enough! For example, we often work with organisations who don’t have a desired go-live date. It’s a bit like working with someone who doesn’t have financial constraints – sounds great, but in reality, it means the selection process isn’t following any rules, project plan, or selection criteria and things can – and will – overrun.


  • Budget: A consultant is great in helping you define an appropriate budget for your project.  Many organisations will put a call into a number of suppliers to get a feeling for a budget.  But there are so many variables to consider and making sure you’re comparing apples with apples isn’t as easy as you think at first glance.


  • Insight: We are all biased in our opinions. We all think we know what we want out of a system.  But a consultant provides an outsider’s view. A fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to assimilate your goals and prioritise your requirements, which can bring great benefits.


However, one note of caution. You as the non-profit must remain strong and in control. The wrong consultant, or a lack of direction from you, can muddy the waters, eg. by introducing suppliers that aren’t a good fit, just to make up the numbers or allow comparisons to be made.  This (in my opinion) often happens when an organisation isn’t confident in making a decision.  You may already have a supplier in mind who is a good fit for you, but rather than do due diligence yourself, you introduce a consultant to take you through a process of supplier selection which just leads back to the original supplier.  I recognise this also happens because you may have procurement rules which mean you have to see at least three suppliers and there are merits in this (arse-covering is one!), but you need to be clear why you’re doing it, and remain open to other possibilities the consultant presents.


As with most things in life, communication is key.  There is nothing more disconcerting in my working life than getting one answer from the customer and another from the consultant.  You need to be honest with your consultant and communicate continuously with them throughout the process.  Let’s be honest, when something goes wrong in a project the consultant is the first one to cop it!  All fingers point to them, they were the ones who made the suggestions and guided the decision, it’s easy to blame them and people do (on both sides). It’s a tough job, but both we and you can make it easier and ultimately lead you to making the right technology choice for your organisation.

4 Ways Smart Integrations Can Improve Non-Profit Fundraising Results

For many, the term “automation” conjures up images of Rosie from The Jetsons or computers coming to steal our jobs. In reality, automation just means integrating your cloud apps and is an efficient way to simplify complex tasks and business processes that would otherwise require tedious human effort. For non-profits, automation offers specific benefits in terms of transparency and efficiency. It can simplify your administrative work, allow for a 360-degree view of your organisation, and even help you raise more money.


Here are four reasons your non-profit should consider integrating your apps:

1. More time for your mission

You work at a non-profit because you want to provoke social change, but you spend most of your workday reconciling invoices in your account app. Sound familiar? A non-profit isn’t a business, but it does need to accomplish basic business tasks such as accounting, record keeping, and reporting. Frequently, non-profits dread these tasks because it means devoting less time to work that directly relates to their missions.


With automation, however, you don’t need to worry about checking tedious, repetitive tasks off of your to-do list. Rather than focusing on tasks that keep your organisation running day-to-day, you can focus on tasks that push your organisation further towards its goals.

2. Improved reporting and greater transparency

Running a non-profit involves making strategic choices about your goals. These decisions are more difficult to make when you have inaccurate or inadequate information about your programs or campaigns. In addition to this information block, we already know that non-profits often face unrealistic expectations as written by The Stanford Social Innovation Review:


“The cycle starts with funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much running a charity costs. And results in non-profits’ misrepresenting their costs while skimping on vital systems—acts that feed funders’ skewed beliefs.”


Automation, however, makes aggregating the information non-profits need to make high-level decisions simple, by syncing it between otherwise separate apps. This gives you an instant view of your donations and leads in one place. Automation means you can make better high-level decisions about your goals because at any moment you can view a 360-degree snapshot of the entire organisation.


This 360-degree reporting also means that you can be more transparent with your donors and leadership. By connecting your CRM with your accounting program, it’s much easier to account for every penny spent.

3. Lower cost; higher ROI

Another distinct challenge for non-profits is that, though they aren’t profit-driven, they still need to run efficiently. Donors expect organisations to spend as much of their funding on the mission as possible, minimising other costs. Non-profits are always looking for ways to be both leaner and more efficient – automation can help you accomplish both. Cherrice Browne of Houston, TX based non-profit The R.O.C.K. explains: “The point of having everything integrated and working together is to cut down on the time we spend on activities that don’t help us grow. For example, updating sales reports by hand – it doesn’t make money and it leaves room for error.”


Automation takes tasks that would otherwise require human labour and does them more quickly, more accurately, and more reliably. Instead of paying tens of thousands of pounds per year for a dedicated administrative staff, you can automate many repetitive tasks and allocate resources to new initiatives. By lowering your spending on grunt work and using those funds on higher level tasks, an increase in donations and hitting your KPI’s are sure to follow.

4. More efficient donation campaigns

Non-profits rely heavily on online fundraising campaigns, but raising money can sometimes feel like throwing things at a wall and trying to see what sticks. With automation, you can make sure all your donor information is stored in one place. When you can access donor information more easily, you can craft targeted emails and campaigns that are more likely to result in a donation. This is key for increasing campaign efficiency, as personalised emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.


For example, let’s say an annual donor recently attended a fundraising event for a particular cause. Knowing that she attended the event is valuable information; because she demonstrated an interest in that particular cause, she’s more likely to respond to a campaign about it. With automation, this insight is immediately available in your CRM or Marketing automation tool, and you can use it to craft tailored email campaigns that target donors based on their past behaviours. Additionally, automation enables you to interact with donors at otherwise disparate touchpoints, such as event attendance, membership renewal, and even birthdays.


Automation isn’t just the future of labour; it offers distinct advantages for non-profit organisations. It allows you a 360-degree view of your entire organisation from accounting to lead generation and frees up staff to focus more on your mission and less on administrative work. If you want to run a leaner, more efficient, more accountable organisation, automation is worth considering.

How to Build a Tribe of Community Fundraisers

Don’t ignore the ‘thinkers’ and talkers’ – they will encourage more ‘doers’ in your community fundraising tribe, says Julie Roberts


Often as fundraisers, we can focus too much just on the ‘doers’ – the actual participants in our community fundraising and events programmes. We can often overlook the social media observers (‘thinkers’) and advocates (‘talkers’) if they themselves don’t give or fundraise. In doing so, however, we are denying ourselves a real opportunity to expand our community fundraising.


Community fundraising is generally seen as a reactive form of fundraising: passionate supporters approaching an organisation and telling them that they want to raise money to help the cause, but in their way and when they want to.

It is always fantastic to have the support of these ‘doers’, but how do you find more of these like-minded, passionate people who love fundraising in their own way? This is a key question I get asked by charities over and over.


Building a tribe

Well, the answer is to build a ‘tribe’; a community of people in which there is a sense of collective purpose and belonging. But how? Well in this day in age the perfect platform is, of course, social media – no geographical barriers, no time barriers and interaction as and when supporters want it.


But you need more than a platform. You need a strong content strategy to engage your potential supporters.


First, let’s think about what you know about these passionate supporters. Start by asking, what’s their key connection? It all starts with your cause. They have come to you because they believe in your mission, your purpose, what you are hoping to achieve as an organisation.


Second, in what way do they want to support your cause? What are the attitudes and beliefs that motivate these individuals to act on behalf of and in support of your charity? Many want to fundraise in an active way, so they feel like they are helping the individual/family that is being immediately affected.


In my experience, the best content engages supporters by highlighting how others are helping your cause to achieve the outcome of your organisation in the same, active form of fundraising.  For example:



Now you need to reach out and find your tribe. You should start by focusing on your warmest supporters, then add additional marketing (links to your social pages, Facebook adverts etc). You’ll soon start to see your tribe grow through their connections.

When I worked at Cancer Council NSW we ran a campaign called Do It For Cancer. The following results are for the first EDM we sent to our warm past community fundraisers to grow our Facebook page. The email was titled ‘Stick up for us and we’ll support you!’


Email sent: 12,877

Emails opened: 2,666

Open rate: 20.7%

Click throughs: 466

Likes received from email: 249

Conversion from click through: 53.4%

Additional likes from the day of email sent: 320

Additional likes from day after email sent: 209


Creating a journey

So, you have created a social media community and now you have great content. But will this, in itself, bring additional doers? For some, yes. Others, however, will need to be taken on a journey within the community. They need to feel that they too could belong to the active pool of supporters. But they need to be convinced. This could be achieved through inspiration for the activity that they could do, the support others have gained from the organisation or the way other people’s networks came to support them. You’ll never truly know what caused someone to register on that day to become a doer. All you need to understand is how to take them on this journey.

To help me explain how the journey comes into play, meet my three key tribe personas: Nelson Mandela, The Poet and Oprah.


Nelson is the doer; the go-getter who is rallying his troops and is actively helping your cause head towards its mission by raising vital funds.


The Poet is the thinker of the tribe. In community fundraising terms, the Poet is the one who will add fun and a creative input to provide inspiration to others.


Oprah is the talker. The one who will comment, share and like posts, and interact with others, spreading messages that bring the content to more people.


Why are these important? All three work alongside each other to spur each other on and in turn help identify and engage your next army of doers. By understanding these community characteristics, you can start to build a real fundraising community.


Start by showcasing your current doers. This is one example of what we used to do on our Facebook page:


This will inspire the thinkers about what potential fundraising ideas they could do. Meanwhile, your talkers will start to talk about the activities of your doers and share the ideas of your thinkers. And in turn, new doers will start to realise how they can support your cause and act.


The bonus ball

Not every single person will become a doer – but they may become a donor for another doer. They could become an advocate for your cause and for these active ways of fundraising. They could be the link to another potential doer for your cause. The list of opportunities is endless.


The insights you’ll gain and additional networks you’ll reach will allow you to create a brand new tribe for your community fundraising programme. Hopefully, one that can be used not just for finding doers, but for finding and making the most of all kinds of new opportunities.


Julie Roberts is the director of More Strategic [] and a passionate community and events expert. She recently spoke at the IoF Yorkshire Conference in February about how she grew the community fundraising programme at Cancer Council NSW [] in Sydney, Australia and turned it into an innovation funnel. If you need help in your community or events programme, email

How Non-Profits Can Use Storytelling to Boost Donor Retention

Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report shows us that donor retention for first-time donors is still remarkably low – 29% for offline donors and 21% for online donors. But if donors are retained passed that first year, the retention rate jumps significantly to 60% for offline donors and 58% for online donors. This data shows that new donor retention should be a high priority for non-profit organisations.


According to this most recent Charitable Giving Report, “The non-profit sector is entering a period where sustainable growth depends on embracing best practices in donor engagement, retention, and stewardship.” This is our professional call to action. Now is the time to instate best practices at your organisation and truly develop a great system for donor retention.


So much of fundraising and relationship building is about following up with donors—keeping in touch, reporting impact, keeping them apprised of new happenings and so on. This is where I see a lot of organisations struggle. First, they wonder about the “right” volume of communications to send to donors. Second, they wonder what the content of these communications should be.


My short answer to the question regarding volume of communications to donors is that it needs to be more than you are currently doing. For instance, one email a month to your email list is not that much and more than likely not enough to do the heavy lifting of relationship building. Start by evaluating the volume of your communications to your donor segments—offline and online donors. List out everything someone would have received if they made a gift six months ago. Ask yourself: Is this enough to successfully build a relationship with the donor?


When it comes to the content of donor communications that actually retain donors, we must focus on communicating impact. The best content to accomplish this is stories. Stories show donors their impact in action and clearly demonstrates how, through giving, a donor has helped solve a problem or meet a need.


As you evaluate your donor communications strategy, here are three places that you will want to incorporate stories:

1. Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are often the first touch point a donor receives after making a gift. A great thank you letter should surprise and delight donors, tell them how the gift was used, and tell them a story of impact. This does not have to be a long story. It can be a short paragraph in the letter, but that will be enough to give your donors the warm fuzzies about their philanthropy.

2. Donor Newsletters

Newsletters are such an important piece in donor communications and stewardship. But all too often they are just used to report updates and nothing more substantial. Pivot your organisation’s newsletter to be more donor-centered. Make the whole newsletter about donors and donor impact, which includes telling a variety of stories.

Need some newsletter inspiration? Check out these five non-profit newsletters.

3.  Impact or Gratitude Reports

Many organisations are starting to do special follow-up reports on larger annual campaigns that they run. These reports are impact or gratitude reports that, again, highlight donor impact through stories. They showcase stories of program participants, clients, and beneficiaries of the work. In some cases, they will also tell donor stories to help connect donors to their peers.


No matter where your organisation is at with donor retention, I encourage you to evaluate and upgrade your efforts through story-based content.

Three Major Components of a Successful Annual Giving Campaign

Over the past six decades, individual donors continue to be the largest philanthropic group. Donations by individuals accounted for £210 billion, more than double the amount of foundations, charitable bequests and corporations combined. Obtaining and sustaining these individual donors is vital to your annual giving campaign. Your annual giving campaign is comprised of strategic development opportunities, helping you meet and exceed your fundraising goals each year. Many different efforts will add to its success, with each step of the campaign requiring donor interactions and stewardship.


You have two main objectives as you develop your annual giving campaign:

  • Strengthen donor or membership relations
  • Sustain operational expenses


Planning a campaign takes preparation and detail. Focus on these action items as you begin to shape the campaign:

  • Set a realistic annual fund goal
  • Analyse your current prospects
  • Develop a team utilising all resources and connections
  • Follow-up and thank you


Your development team should focus on the annual giving campaign until they reach the annual fund goal. Consider these three opportunities to help you meet your goal, maximise exposure, and generate success: fundraising appeals, events, and stewardship.


1. Appeals

Appeals are direct communication pieces to your prospects and donors via print or electronic delivery. They contain powerful content and create exposure for your organisation by educating others on your past, current and future efforts. These solicitations generate awareness of your mission, build relationships, and increase revenue. The most common appeals are Mid-year, Giving Tuesday and the Season of Giving.



While there are many ways you can go about shaping your appeal, highlighting an individual situation or story will have the most impact by enhancing your donors’ understanding and increasing their connection to your cause. Once messaging is complete and you’ve crafted a story, ensure the solicitation is delivered in a simple, informative, connective, and uplifting way.


  • Delivery – Ensure the message is vibrant and concise. Use simple verbiage and keep statistics to a minimum. Statistics are great motivators, but can also alter the voice of an appeal. Readers need to easily understand the message to connect to it. A confused donor will disregard an appeal, resulting in no gift.
  • Mission – The voice of your appeal must prominently support your mission throughout the piece. Your organisation’s mission and objectives should be clear to the reader.
  • Personalisation – Personalisation is key to making your donors feel important and connected to your cause. Simple additions such as the donor’s name, last donation date, and the amount of their last gift can have a lasting impact.
  • Imagery – People naturally look at pictures before reading text. Capitalise on this by using images to tell your story and enhance the donors’ emotions. Select photos that invoke feelings of empathy and joy to develop drive and energy to support your cause.
  • Donor Impact – Donors like to feel connected and valuable to causes they believe in. Focusing on donor impact creates ownership and connection, ultimately increasing giving. Explain how donor support is critical to your mission, and highlight donor impact in your story.
  • Donation Amounts – Engage your donors by showing and telling them how you are utilizing their money. Keep the amount you ask for and explanations simple, and use examples.
  • Convenience– Accessibility is vital; make it easy for your donors to give. Your website should reflect your current campaign, and your donation button or page must be highly visible. Include options, such as recurring gift, so donors have the choice to give again automatically. Direct mail appeals should include a return envelope. It’s no secret that social media is incredibly effective: Don’t forget to include a link that leads directly to your donation page.
  • Execution– Appeals are endorsed by many people in many ways. Leadership and development are the mainstay of appeals, but other staff, board members and volunteers must work collectively to drive the effort.


2. Events

Events are an exciting way to expose your campaign. Hosting an event can be challenging; however, consider these methods to increase success and profitability. Develop different types of events appealing to many levels of donors to maximise attendance.

  • Fun-Allow your guests to be amazed while creating a fun environment. Building experiences that generate a buzz will sustain attendance for your next affair.
  • Creative-Develop a unique atmosphere and treat guests to out-of-the-box encounters that everyone will remember. If possible, include a theme that will heighten the originality and allow guests to get involved.
  • Customize-Be resourceful, and make sure your event is mission-focused. Details, small and large, should mirror your organisation’s purpose, and guests should feel aligned with your message.
  • Committee-Build a committee specifically to increase ticket sales and recognise their efforts on your social media posts, website and printed collateral. Developing a name, such as “Friends of the Festival,” will intensify their purpose, strengthening their drive and increasing exposure. They are your advocates and should feel appreciated.

Every event serves the same purpose: face time with your donors while exposing your mission. Bonding with prospects and donors is imperative, whether it’s formal or informal, to deepening your relationship. Donors tend to let loose at events and become carefree while enjoying the moment. This is your pathway into their world, allowing for an easier stewardship process.


3. Stewardship

Each donor is unique and no two like to be stewarded the same way. Your interaction and communication plan will need to be broad and diverse. Stewardship is the key to successful donor retention. It’s easier to keep a donor than to acquire a new one. Ensure your stewardship plan is impactful through acknowledgement, designation, notes, communication, and low-cost touches.

  • Acknowledgement– Recognise gifts within three days of receiving since a delayed response can be perceived as an insult. Some donors prefer to remain anonymous, while other donors might want the publicity to go toward their company, but one thing is constant: All donor requests should be respected. Acknowledgement levels mostly fall into three categories: major gift, mid-level gift, and lower-level gift. The amount for each category is customised to your organisation’s donor base.
    • Major Gift: Phone call and thank you letter
    • Mid-level Gift: Personalised email and thank you letter
    • Lower-level Gift: Thank you letter with hand written note
  • Designation-Ensure that each donation is used to the fullest intent of the donor. Restricted or unrestricted, it’s imperative to honour the donor’s wishes.
  • Take notes-Every organisation has turnover, but keeping detailed records will guarantee donor satisfaction. Appropriate software will help your development staff succeed.
  • Communication-Keeping donors engaged is simple! To sustain your donors, make sure to follow-up on how their funds were used and remain in communication. When a donor can physically see a difference, they are more likely to give a second time, third time, and eventually become a recurring donor.
  • Low-Cost Touches-Acknowledging milestones in your major donor’s lives is an inexpensive way to keep the connection alive. Send them a birthday card or congratulations on a new family member, for example. Every time you contact your donors, it shouldn’t be about money. Let them know you care and want to share their experiences.

Your annual campaign is your primary route to raising the funds necessary to accomplish your organisation’s mission. With careful planning, other benefits will arise throughout the year. Campaigns expose your mission and lead to greater awareness in your community and in the news. This is your most important campaign of the year – remember to engage your donors and share stories of positive impact.

Can Non-Profits Really Raise Money With 5Ks?

According to the Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study, 5K events are struggling to recruit participants and raise funds. Revenue declined by 13%, participation decreased by 12%, and online fundraising was down 19%. 5Ks have been historically difficult to raise funds through, but they seem to be having a particularly tough go of it lately. Are we as fundraisers failing this group of constituents? Are our runs sub-par? And why can’t we ever seem to get these runners to fundraise?


With the number of people participating in 5Ks decreasing and the number of available events increasing, individual events are seeing significant participant declines, which would explain the 12% decrease we saw in the P2P benchmark report. From a revenue perspective, participants in 5Ks are stereotypically not very good fundraisers. Only 14% of them raise funds online, as compared to 31% of walkers and more than 60% of cyclist and endurance event participants. Let’s look at the top three reasons why this type of event doesn’t inspire as much fundraising as the others.


  1. Walking is not much of a hobby: Most people who participate in a fundraising walk don’t sign up because they really enjoy walking. They sign up because they have a connection to the cause or because someone asked them to. They aren’t fantastic fundraisers, but more than twice as many of them raise money compared to 5K runners.
  2. There is no implicit obligation to fundraise: The majority of cycling and endurance events require a certain level of fundraising to participate. From the minute you sign up, you know you need to raise funds.
  3. There is less of a personal challenge involved: While a 5K would be difficult for many, a 5K is not an intense challenge on the same level as a long-distance cycling event or half-marathon. Those events take more of a commitment both physically and from a fundraising perspective.


To combat this, below are some bold ideas, not for the faint of heart, to bolster the performance of your 5K event.


  • Put “scarcity” to good use: Did you have 200 runners last year? Limit the field this year to 200 runners or less and make sure everyone knows it. The marketing principle of scarcity utilises the appearance of a shortage to sell more. The fear of missing out will push more runners to your race.


  • Generate more funds through registration and upgrades: According to the Benchmark Study, 38% of 5K revenue is derived from registration costs. Other types of events count registration fees as only 6% or less of their income. Rather than maligning this fact, it could be time to exploit it.
    • Increase your registration fee: You can either do this across the board or increase the fee at pre-determined points and advertise the fee schedule, making sure that those signing up on the day of the race pay the most.
    • Charge a premium for upgrades: VIP parking, no wait portaloos, pre- and post-race meals (donated), racing jerseys, and other wearables can all be offered to participants prior to and on the day of the event.
    • By increasing fees and concentrating on upgrades, you do enforce a consumer culture for your event vs. a fundraising culture, but if you’ve been swimming against the fundraising tide for years with your 5K, it might just be time to accept it and generate income any way you can.


  • Utilise a fundraising commitment: After all, you are putting on a safe, fun event for more than just the sake of a good run. You are trying to cure sickness, end hunger, or advocate for the homeless. Your work is important and it takes money to realise your goals. Allow your 5K runners to be a part of the solution and double down on fundraising.


If your 5K is faltering and has been for years, it could be time to take a bold and fearless approach to your event. Could one of these options work for your event?


But what happens when you have an event that is BOTH a walk and a 5K? Chances are, the event was designed to satisfy a larger amount of people. Perhaps it started off with both options in the beginning, or maybe one was added in an attempt to stem losses and/or generate more revenue. The problem with that, to oversimplify, is that runners run and walkers fundraise. As we have already explored, these two types of participants are very different and it is incredibly difficult to make fundraising/marketing decisions for an event that is trying to cater to both. If you are unable to separate the events physically, try to separate them from a marketing perspective. Offer two different website, registration, and communications experiences for each group. At the very least, ask during the registration process if they plan to walk or run and plan your communications to these two groups accordingly.


As we get ready to analyse 2016 P2P events, it will be fascinating to see how 5K data relates to the latest 2016 Running USA study when that is released as well. Stay tuned for the 2016 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study!

The Art of Impact

View and download the presentations here.


On March 1st, Blackbaud hosted the latest in its ‘The Art of…’ series of evening thought leadership events. ‘The Art of Impact’ was a fascinating evening focused on demonstrating impact and outcomes as a non-profit organisation. The audience of non-profit leaders heard talks from two experts, followed by a lively Q&A.
The speakers:
Matt Stevenson-Dodd has been CEO of Street League since 2010. He’s committed to total transparency in reporting the charities successes – and where they could have done better.
David Hounsell is Head of Impact at fundraising consultancy Aleron, and was formerly Evidence and Impact Director at The Children’s Society.
Here are are some of the highlights from our speakers’ talks:


1) The charity sector is brilliant at storytelling, but…

…many charities could tell their stories more powerfully. A good story needs a good ending – an outcome if you will – and it should be the tangible, real-life impact. Take Kids Company as an (overused) example. A charity that boasted a CEO so full of life she seemed like a fictional character; a charity which spread positive messages through powerful PR and high-profile relationships. But the ignominious collapse and lack of real results hit on an important point in the sector. Sure, we can all spin a story, but when the hard questions are being asked do we have the answers? Or as Warren Buffet once said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked.”

2) Is spreading the good news the same thing as spreading the right news?

Charities are quick to come to the conclusion that, for example, they have helped 80% of the people who went through Progamme X, or that over 1,000 16-25 year-olds were positively impacted by their work in the last 12 months. But what about the missing numbers? It’s great to share the positive stories we have, but can we really rebuild trust with the public by acting like all we do is good; that there is never anyone left behind? Street League took a seriously bold step with their last Annual Report, deciding to lead with their shortcomings. Instead of focussing on the hundreds of people they had placed into full-time employment, they led with the 109 people that they couldn’t help this past year. Admittedly, the board was nervous leading with this but agreed it was the right thing to do. Matt explained the consensus that “As a charity, it’s important to be open and honest, show the public that you can improve, and most importantly that you are trying to improve.”

3) ‘Outcomes to Impact’ is a journey

David advised the group to be under no illusions that the transition from storytelling to measuring impact is a long journey. But it’s something the private sector does well, continually reaping the benefits of being able to show their impact effectively; the stock market being an obvious example. This kind of thinking would be a significant change in mindset. At The Children’s Society, David was told it would be five years before he saw any real impact. He pointed out that this is what will scare some charities off – why invest valuable money, time and effort into leading a huge shift in mindset and processes to wait five years to see the results – particularly in the current media climate.
Matt gave us his own case study of this journey, at Street League. He explained that being able to show your impact is an ever-changing process, from measuring participation as ‘impact’ to moving onto measuring tangible outcomes. This was the real turning point for Street League, after which they were able to say with utter confidence that they had helped a specific number of people.
– Compare: “14,000 people were helped by Street League over three years, with:
– “14,000 people entered a Street League programme, of whom 11,000 completed the course, 6,000 went on to have a job for six months or longer, and 1,000 were unaccounted for.”
How much more compelling, transparent and – frankly – honest is that?
After ‘Outcomes’, naturally, comes ‘Impact’. This is when Street League really homed-in on who they were helping, to drive better decision making:
1) By researching various socio-economic factors across the UK they came up with measurements. For example, they applied different measurements of success to someone who stays in a job for three months as compared to someone still employed after 12.
2) Second was Big Data, already a buzzword in the jargon dictionary, but something that all non-profits need to harness. Big Data is often misunderstood, but it simply means being able to gather the data that you have and learn from the picture it presents. For example, a charity who focusses on youth unemployment may look at data from the region where they work, and learn whether unemployment has got better or worse. And from that, decide whether it is the right thing to continue to focus effort in that location.
After their talks, David and Matt led a Q&A during which the floor opened up to a discussion. One line from Matt really stood out: “If we as a sector want to see a real change in mindsets and being able to show our impact, we should invest as much money into our measurement teams as we do with our finance teams.” This provoked some debate of course, but the underlying point is a challenge to the whole sector. We aren’t holding impact in the same degree of importance as revenue. It’s all well-and-good to increase revenue by X% for the three years running – but has that actually made any difference?

6 Trends That Will Impact the Charity Sector in 2017

We’re just a few weeks in and already 2017 is shaping up to be a roller coaster of a year.

With the constant changes, innovations, and breaking news impacting the sector, staying focused on the work that matters will be key for all of us. To help us navigate, Blackbaud leaders and industry experts came together to weigh in on what’s coming for the sector and what’s needed to best steer our work through 2017 and beyond.

Read More

7 Habits of Highly Successful Technology Partnerships

When you decide to integrate new technology in your organisation, you may have a good idea about what you want that technology to do, you may even have leads about who makes it – but how can you be sure you’ve found the perfect partner to initiate and implement new solutions for your organisation? In a sea full of options, the seven characteristics below will help you identify a reliable partner who will help you reach your goals.


  1. Stability – You can find a lot of pop-up shops on the market. You may really like what they have to sell – especially at that great price – but there is no guarantee that they will still be around in a few months. You may get started with this partner, but will your bargain partner be there to see the project through to the end? Make sure you take into consideration the stability and market longevity when you select vendors to work with.


  1. One-stop-shop – Some say that we can’t find everything we’re looking for in one person. That doesn’t have to be the case when looking for a partner to implement technology. Instead of a variety of siloed teams working independently – look for one cohesive team working together for you. When things go wrong you only have one number to call, and when things go right you only have one big hug to give.


  1. Invested in your success – Any good partnership is about give and take. When looking for someone to work with, make sure they are more invested in your success than they are in fulfilling their own sales quotas. Find a partner that looks at your success as a measure of their own.


  1. Proven track record – No one wants to get stood up. Make sure you are selecting a partner with a record of success. Don’t be afraid to do your homework to know who you’re associating with. Ask for references and look at their past project successes. Also look at their failures – this tells even more about how they’ve handled and resolved tough issues so you know what you’re getting when you enter into a partnership.


  1. Deep arsenal of best practices – Practice makes perfect; the longer you work on something, the better you get at doing it. The same is true when it comes to implementing technology solutions. You may only go through a project like this once or twice, but your implementation partner should have done it hundreds of times. Look for a partner who has refined their approach over time and brings a wide knowledge base informed by past successes. Your ideal partner should have a defined methodology and should be willing to adapt to the specifics of your organisation’s needs.


  1. Open to collaboration – If your organisation has a standing relationship with other vendors, it’s important for a new partner to know how to incorporate that relationship into their work with you. Find out if your potential partner is open and willing to collaborate when needed. They’ll need to be able to work with any additional partners that you may have to help make your organisation’s vision a success.


  1. Reliable and supportive – It’s easy to maintain a partnership when times are good, but the best relationships are those you can depend on even in the worst of times. You should expect that any vendor you purchase from will stand by and support their solution with an in-house body of experts. Then, you can rest easy knowing that you will get the support you need when you need it, from the very beginning. But most importantly, the relationship you build shouldn’t end when your project goes live. You need to feel confident that your partner is in it for the long haul and will be there for you as your needs change over time.


In your next search for a great partner, ensure a successful implementation by keeping these seven characteristics as benchmarks for a partnership that will be sure to please.

7 New Year’s Resolutions for your Non-Profit

Well, it’s approaching another new year and we’ve all resolved to get fitter, read more, learn a foreign language or get PADI-certified and go scuba diving with manta rays off the coast of Ecuador.


So before January slips by completely, we thought we’d share with you Blackbaud’s top 7 New Year’s  resolutions that every non-profit should be keeping in order to make 2017 the best year yet for your organisation!

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How to say ‘Thank You’ to your donors

I admit words come easily to me; I’m comfortable talking or writing. (I won’t get into what I’m not so good at—some confessions are best left unsaid). Even though I constantly preach about the importance of the ability to say “thank you,” when I sit down to write another monthly receipt letter I sometimes wonder, “Am I just repeating the same things over and over? What can I say that feels brand new to the person reading it?”

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Is your website ready for 2017?

With end of year fast approaching, it’s likely that your non-profit is making plans for 2017. No matter your mission, having a website that inspires action is crucial to the continued advancement of your cause! This begins with understanding your audience and what’s important to them. The experience your organisation provides online must be one that converts. And every pixel counts.

Does your website provide an experience that converts interest into action? Ask yourself these questions to see if a website redesign should be a part of your plans for 2017:

1. Is your website responsive?

Responsive web design started its takeover of the Internet in 2011 and has since become a necessity. Your donors and activists want ALL of your content on EVERY device, and responsive design is the only way to achieve that. If your website is not responsive, it’s time to redesign!

2. Are your images large enough?

Thanks to today’s technology, your website visitors can see more clearly than ever before. Our screens keep getting larger and support higher resolutions and your website should take advantage. Click around on your site and evaluate the sizes of your images. Do you have to squint to see faces? If you want to get down to the pixels, your images should be at least 400 x 250px. You may need to go smaller to display a list page full of thumbnails and teasers, but most of your images should be big and beautiful. Also, for your large banner images, consider filling the full width of the screen. The most common screen width for desktop/laptop computers is 1336px, so you can go pretty wide. Full-width images are a nice way to break up content on your site and add a modern flair.

3. Do you have a lot of nested navigation?

Every site should have a main navigation component, and many sites need a section navigation component to help visitors get to each page within a section. For example, an “Our Work” section may have individual pages describing each type of work your organisation does, or an “About Us” section may have pages for Staff, History, etc. Things start to get complicated when there is even more navigation below that. So in the above example, let’s say your Staff section had even more pages for Executive, Marketing, Development, etc. I’d call that overkill. The trend these days is to have more content on each page rather than have tons of really short pages that users have to click around to find. If your site has a lot of these menus within menus, it’s probably time to redesign.

4. Do you have a lot of old, outdated or infrequently visited pages?

If you’re trying to assess your website needs, a content inventory is always a good place to start. By taking stock of your content, you can get a clear picture of what pages/sections you can retire. A quick way to look at a page’s popularity is to have your Google Analytics account open as you do your inventory. Pull up a list of content and then search for each page as you go, recording the page rank as part of your inventory. This way, you can be sure you don’t get rid of any popular content.

Finally, I’d add that it’s a good idea to redesign your website every 5-7 years. If it’s been longer than that for you, you may want to make it a priority. I hope these questions and tips will get the conversation started at your organisation!

Are you maximising the potential of peer-to-peer donors?

John Bird explores how technology is innovating the Peer-to-Peer supporter journey.

“The word ‘integration’ is a dull one and turns off the less technical-minded fundraiser. But it belies an opportunity to allow data from every P2P campaign you run to automatically sync with your CRM, providing a near-instant 360-degree view of donor activity.”

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What is the Cloud?

“The ‘cloud’ is simply a metaphor for the internet. It originates from when the internet was drawn in manuals and graphics surrounded by a cloud shaped bubble.”


So what’s cloud computing then? Cloud computing is when you save and access your computer’s information or programmes over the internet instead of using the memory of your PC or office server. And a cloud based service is any programme you either log into or access over the web – think your Gmail account, Spotify or Netflix.

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Share the Risk and Reap the Rewards

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” – W. H. Auden


I’ve spent most of my career in business development and have worked with organizations of all shapes and sizes, both for-profit and not-for-profit. From this vantage point, I’ve observed that leaders of social impact organisations tend to be risk averse. This is because they feel pressure to maximize their time and resources on achieving the immediate needs of program service delivery. Often this pressure is increased when funders restrict resources to specific short-term projects.

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3 Steps to Lasting Participant Retention in Peer-To-Peer Fundraising

If you’ve been in peer-to-peer fundraising for any length of time, you don’t need a study to tell you how valuable repeat participants are to your event and your non-profit. But from the looks of the data and the declining retention rates for walks and 5Ks, we all need a refresher on what matters when it comes to people coming back year after year.

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How to build trust, be playful and achieve more

Do you ever feel that when you arrive at work, you leave a bit of you at the door that you collect on your way out at the end of the day?


In our desire to be professional, successful and climb the career ladder we have a tendency to leave our authentic selves at the door. And in my experience, the majority of the organisations we work for perpetuate that overly professional culture with the expectation that we do serious work at our desks to achieve serious target-driven KPIs.

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Going Digital? Five Things to Consider Before Making the Move

Let’s face it: as people working, socializing, and communicating in the 21st century, we are almost always connected to the internet. While many of us have “gone digital” in our personal daily life, we can’t always say the same for the organizations where we work. In a world where most people have some kind of smart device, or several smart devices (you know who you are), within arm’s reach at all times, it seems only logical that digital is the best way to reach donors, right? And yet, diving in without a strategy for your digital marketing—or a limited strategy that doesn’t fit holistically with your current marketing channels may not reap the rewards you hoped for.

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Practical Considerations as a Small Charity Thinking about CRM

As a small charity considering investing in new software, you have conflicting priorities. You’ll likely have a smaller budget to work with, but still need to deliver on your mission and meet the expectations of your board.  Meeting all these criteria is sometimes very difficult and so many organisations find solutions that fit certain requirements like cost, but with that end up sacrificing quality and service.

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How to Build Meaningful Relationships on Social Media Using the 80/20 Rule

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about social media it’s this: It’s all about human connection. Virtually every social media platform was first created for and because of human connections. Facebook was started to connect friends in college and grew to connect families and friends. Twitter began as a way to connect with influencers. Social media gives us the opportunity to show up, be seen, and connect with other people.

However, the question remains, how does a nonprofit connect with real people on social media?

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How to let it go – Embracing the Change

Automating manual or complex processes can involve substantial organisational change. Be it the efficiency saving which allows you to save on staff costs, or the increase in effectiveness which allows your team to reach even more supports with the same effort.


Our previous article, From Manual to Automatic talked about some of the advantages and gave an example where change was going to be particularly tough.

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Fundraisers – Be Positive!

Blackbaud’s Rob Gethen Smith gives his thoughts following this year’s IoF Convention.


The headline message from this year’s IoF convention was, “Let’s be positive!” It’s been a tough year and significant challenges lie ahead, but the fundraising community remains strong and resolved to grow income through creativity, tenacity and by nurturing talent –  and of course by putting our donors first. Indeed these were the key themes of the opening plenary. In memory of Tony Elischer, the panel lead by Ken Burnett gave us 27 great things we could learn from Tony.  Ken summarised the future neatly:  “It’s been a tough year for fundraisers but it is Donors and Fundraisers together who will drive fundraising growth.

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Unlock the Door to the Right Funders with a Powerful Grant Strategy| Part 2

This blog is the second in a three part series that will focus on the tools you need in order to build a comprehensive grants seeking program. Today’s topic will outline a 6 step process to grants research.

You need to fund a project. But, first, you have to identify the right grant maker for the project. Developing a set of project descriptions to guide your funding research can help with this process. With this information, you can also establish an overall grant strategy which will, in turn, guide you in setting up your grants calendar for the next 18 months.

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How to say ‘no’ to rubbish fundraising ideas

If you work for a charity and are involved in supporting fundraising in any way, then you are a fundraiser and an awesome one at that.

In order to know what fundraising awesomeness looks like, and when you have achieved it, you must have clear measures.

All fundraisers need to know and agree what they are measured on. For example it could be a combination of response rate, average gift, cost to raise a £, $ or €, lifetime value, retention rate … and the list goes on.

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Email Testing: Four Simple Steps

Are you testing your email messages (subject lines, time and day of send, etc.)? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your results.


Email has a unique advantage over direct mail. You can immediately see what worked and adjust your message on-the-fly, if necessary. And while you may have a hunch about the best day or time to send email, testing validates (or disproves) your theory. It really allows you to make data-driven decisions.

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Most People Don’t Care About Your Cause


As the Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, I have to keep my ear close to the ground when it comes to the latest trends and innovations in the world of marketing. However, anyone – from marketing professionals through to the general consumer – would have had to have been living on Saturn’s smallest moon (Mimas, if you’re wondering) for the last couple of years not to notice the most significant shift in the way that marketing is done these days.

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How Can Your Charity Demonstrate Its Impact?

Over the past few years the terms ‘outcomes’ and ‘impact’ have been heard increasingly across the charity sector and being able to demonstrate them is now vital. Funders, supporters, volunteers, trustees, and a numerous other stakeholders are now, more than ever, interested in the impact your charity has.

Not just what you do but what changes you make as an organisation. So, how do charities demonstrate their impact and why is it important?

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4 Actionable Steps to Make SEO Oh So Easy

Digital technology is increasingly playing a key role in engaging donors, and in 2015, around 7.1% of overall fundraising revenue came from online giving—with a 9.2% growth over 2014. And in the arts and culture nonprofit space, digital fundraising saw a 8.3% increase year over year.

With digital fundraising trends on the rise each year, your online presence is more important than ever.

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3 Easy Ways to Amplify Your Welcome Series for New Supporters

By Maureen Wallbeoff – VP of Firefly Partners. She provides a people-focused, collaborative influence to all things Firefly.

Last month we wrote about the 3 steps to creating a Welcome Series to effectively on-board new constituents to your organization. Today in part two, we’ll focus on ways you can kick it up a notch! So you have a welcome series—that’s great. You’re already one step ahead of many other nonprofits. But a one-size fits all welcome series may be leaving out some powerful opportunities to engage. For most organizations, new constituents come in all shapes and sizes. They enter your database from multiple engagement pathways and have wide-ranging experiences (or no experience at all) with your organization.

In a world of Amazon and Google, constituents have come to expect a tailored online experience.

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Managing a Volunteer Programme

The Community Life Survey tells us that 29% of adults in England said that they had formally volunteered at least once a month in the previous year, and 44% said that they had volunteered at least once in that year. If applied across the UK, this equates to 15.2 million people volunteering at least once a month.  Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and lifestyles; they will bring different benefits to your charity and will have different needs.

Volunteers are amazing people who bring new skill sets, life experience, energy and perspective to an organisation.  Since they give an irreplaceable gift of time, it is only fair to plan a programme of exciting and meaningful projects for them. 

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The Millenial Running Study: Turning Their Miles Logged into Your Mission Spread

By Marssie Versola

Last month, a fascinating study was released called the Millennial Running Study.  Well, fascinating to me anyhow – being that I fit in both categories, and have made it my life’s work to encourage people to turn their passion for running into a catalyst for doing good in the world.

Something powerful happens when you connect fitness with fundraising.

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6 Tips for Legacy Fundraising

Gifts in wills should be a part of every fundraising strategy for several key reasons:

  • The return-on-investment is enormous. Occasional correspondence and a few event attendances could lead to a four- or five-figure bequest.
  • People in the UK are often worth more than they think when they pass away. That residuary legacy could turn out to be worth more than they (or your legator) expect.
  • Maintaining a portfolio of legacy pledges can help ensure a long-term pipeline of income for your organisation


So how do you go about setting up a legacy fundraising programme?

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Toddler Syndrome – Why your charity needs it.

“Successful Charities have Data Teams with Toddler Syndrome”

If you have ever spent more than three minutes with a toddler it is extremely likely that they will have asked you the short and sweet question, ‘Why?’

Toddlers are learning about their world, testing boundaries and have no fear or filters when asking questions (I recently overheard a toddler on a bus pointing at a well-built gentleman ask her mum, “Mummy why is that man so FAT?” The mum was mortified, the other people on the bus found it hysterical and embarrassing in equal measure and the well-built gentlemen was apparently deaf).

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Engaging in the Moment: Leveraging Technology for Good

By Andrew Troup

When was the last time you were unexpectedly and unreservedly inspired? How about deeply immersed in an experience— actually present and engaged? What made that moment so special and so memorable?

In today’s world, where our devices seem to blur the lines between personal and professional, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual moment we are living in.

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Emerging Technologies You Should Keep an Eye On!

Year on year we’re amazed at all of the innovative and ground-breaking advances technology brings to the charity sector. Having the right tools in hand can make or break a campaign, and with the speed at which new methods appear it’s as important as ever to try and stay ahead of the curve.

Here are some of the exciting new technologies that we believe will make an impact throughout the rest of 2016.

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Go figure: Assessing Fundraising Performance in Small Charities

By Janine Edwards, Head of Learning & Business Development, The FSI

One of the key strategic responsibilities of a Trustee Board is to ensure their charity has sufficient resources to pursue its aims and objectives.  Linked to this is the duty of prudence – ensuring that the charity’s funds are used responsibly. When it comes to fundraising, Trustees and staff teams need to ensure they are assessing how much of a return they are getting on the time and resources that are invested in fundraising.

So, with this in mind, what should charity fundraisers, CEOs and Trustees be considering when assessing their fundraising performance?  Janine Edwards from the FSI considers some Do’s and Don’ts.

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Making Corporate Fundraising Work as a Small Charity

By The FSI

The corporate sector is full of opportunities for small charities to take advantage of with many companies looking to increase their support for the sector through gifts in kind, expertise and volunteers, and even funds. However, competition is high amongst charities of all sizes for this support.

It is important to remember with this form of fundraising that you will be developing a business relationship with them and will have to highlight the benefits to the company of working with you.

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Make Every Trust and Foundation Application Count

By Conchita Garcia, The FSI

We all know how difficult it can be to compete for precious funding, so how can your charity give itself the best possible chance of making a good impression, and make every application count?

Well, one way is to anticipate some of the questions funders may have about your organisation, project or finances, and address these directly in advance.

At the FSI I have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of amazing small charities in our free Trusts and Foundations course and the following tips have been taken from some of the questions I am asked most frequently:

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Have you thought about Gift Aid?

Have you thought about Gift Aid?

It’s estimated that around £750m in Gift Aid is left unclaimed each year in the UK, so it’s clear that more advice is needed to help charities claim the money they are entitled to.   Over half of charities in the UK do not claim Gift Aid, as it can be a complicated process.

According to a report by nfpSynergy, since Gift Aid was introduced in 1990, only 2% of charitable income is currently made up of Gift Aid Donations.

The report also states that one of the biggest concerns for people signing off on Gift Aid when they make a donation is that they don’t know if they pay enough tax and are scared HMRC could reclaim the gift aid amount directly from them.

But now, to make things easier, charities can register for Gift Aid and can now make claims online.

Out of the 70,000 charities registered for Gift Aid, over 50,000 charities have signed up to Charities Online, HMRC’s web-based facility to claim back tax on donations. The biggest claim made online so far by a single charity has been for £3.7m.
Here at Blackbaud, we also have a  Gift Aid Service to help charities when it comes to making Gift Aid declarations. The service includes:

  • Creating a clear audit trail for peace of mind, allowing easy access to valid Gift Aid Declarations
  • Protecting Gift Aid income received over the years, with minimum exposure with HMRC for repayments or penalties
  • Uncovering missed opportunities
  • Expert advice on how to implement, manage and leverage Gift Aid

The software we use was designed in collaboration with HMRC, and along with our expert team this gives you full confidence in making your Gift Aid claims.

You can read more about our Gift Aid Services by clicking here.


Lesson 1: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Why telethons?

red_phone_for_TelethonTelephone fundraising works: if organised smartly, telethons may become your institution’s main source of recurring income. They are one of the most effective tools for raising donor participation levels, and an invaluable way of building relationships and gathering prospect information for the future. Telethons also have a surprisingly inexpensive cost-to-benefit ratio.

Central to every successful telethon are the callers – the students or recent alumni who embody the raison d’être of your school. It is precisely because they are not professional fundraisers, nor tele-salespersons, that they deliver formidable results. Students make the need for financial support direct, real and alive.

Nearly every call should deliver a positive result, whether financial or otherwise. In a well-run telethon, 30-75% of those reached may make a gift, compared to 0.5-7.5% from a carefully written appeal letter. Good telethon calls allow for much more flexible, personalised conversations: they can inspire non-donors to make their first ever gifts and motivate existing contributors to give more.

Telethons also deliver positive non-financial results. They help engender community among alumni, parents and the student body and provide a platform for stewarding existing supporters and bringing distant alumni closer to the school.

Telethons should not induce guilt – instead they succeed by making it as easy and compelling as possible for each contact to donate. Unlike a mailing campaign, there is the opportunity for dialogue, where the caller can discuss the case for support, answer any queries, and learn if and why the contact may have concerns, before responding personally.

A final result of any telethon is the key new information that can be gathered. Calls help to: improve relationships with your school; identify new prospects; update details and communication preferences; elicit career support and mentoring; identify interest in your legacy programme, and more. Above all, they empower your school with insights into the passions and interests of future major donors and highlight factors that will need to be addressed to fully harness their support.

Resourcing the telethon – and whether to have external support

Many schools decide to hire external consultants to assist in running their telethons. Established consultants know how to train enthusiastic and motivated callers and provide vital extra manpower and specific soft/hardware to aid telethon data management: both may alleviate the risk of your development office becoming over-stretched.

Good consultants can, however, cost upwards of £10,000, depending on the extent of their involvement and their reputation. As a middle option, some schools elect to have just the telethon software component provided externally. Each institution is different: determine the right balance of external support and internal investment required to deliver success at your school.

Telethons require meticulous data management and can create a large amount of paperwork. The right software and hardware can help your telethon to run smoothly and efficiently, whilst also providing you with more real-time insights into progress and areas of growing risk and/or opportunity.

Regardless of the method used, each piece of data requires careful checking before migrating into your primary CRM/contact database.

Crucially, the questions of both software and consultants are a matter of determining whether your school has sufficient resources, manpower and experience to manage all of the aspects of a successful telethon internally.

Whatever options you select, remember that a successful telethon will necessarily generate a substantial demand on your team. You will ultimately be responsible for the cleanliness and utility of the data you hold, and for guiding your institution to the need for a high-quality case for support. Do not hire consultants thinking that they will remove your administration altogether: instead, an excellent consultant will provide you with very useful support and software for your training and calling, share from experience what approaches most commonly work best, and help you to understand and meet the timelines and deadlines involved.

Continue reading with Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1

Preparing for the telethon
At the outset, determine your goals for the telethon. Sensible planning will ensure that benefits are maximised and expectations are clear. You require the full backing of your school in order to succeed, so bring everyone on board very early on in the planning process.

Make it as straightforward as possible for contacts to give to your school, minimising the time and resources needed for chasing pledge fulfilment and keeping down the unfulfilled pledges at campaign end. Set up the capacity to process credit/debit card donations, either by obtaining a Merchant Service directly from an Acquiring Bank or by registering to a third-party online provider, such as Charities Aid Foundation. In both cases, for a minimal fee you will be able to take single gifts immediately over the phone. You may even be able to process credit/debit card donations directly through your database. Ensure that any payment solutions are certified compliant to PCI DSS standards.

Just as importantly, your office should acquire the facility to accept Paperless Direct Debits (PDD). These enable you to sign up customers for Direct Debit collections over the telephone, internet or face to face. This procedure can take several months but once authorised you will be able to accept regular gift instructions, removing the need to send standing order gift forms in the post to pledgers. To receive Originator status, Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service (AUDDIS) authorisation and PDD authorisation you require a sponsor: if you have BACS to administer your school’s transactions, then your bank may sponsor you to run PDDs through the same software. You will also need to agree wording of your call script, advance notice confirmation letters and giving forms, and to demonstrate that your database is capable of producing the required electronic files to process Direct Debits in this manner. An alternative to BACS, favoured by some schools, is to appoint CAF or another external provider to set up, process and manage PDDs on your behalf.

Once you have a timetable for your telethon, it is imperative to prepare thoroughly. Firstly, ensure that your CRM database is in excellent condition. You require accurate contact details and the ability to effectively segment data. Data cleansing can be time-consuming for many schools, but there are external data enrichment services available which can advance this process.

The next step is to select your contacts. Include a good proportion of your top prospects and previous donors to give your telethon the best chance of success. Aim to contact a relatively consistent mix of donors and non-donors between years, so that you are including some previously unengaged contacts to cultivate new relationships. The benefit of year-on-year consistency also aids reporting post-telethon, so that accurate comparisons can be made between campaigns to determine the most successful techniques.

It is similarly important to know whom to exclude from calling. It is not permissible under law for a school, or any other charity, to make marketing telephone calls to numbers registered with the UK Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS) – a UK-wide ‘do not call’ register – without explicit opt-in consent from an individual for the specific method and purpose for which you wish to contact them.

Ideally, pre-determine ask amounts for each contact. One of the strengths of a telephone call is the ability to negotiate and, to do this, the initial ask amount should be ambitious. Teachers may willingly give £25 per month and investment bankers £1,000 or more per year, but if your callers start with lower ask levels and the contact says yes right away, the callers cannot easily then switch to a higher ask. Unless a contact is in a profession with irregular income, the initial ask should nearly always be for a regular gift.

When determining ask amounts, in addition to obvious employment indicators, try to consider each contact’s wider picture. The ask should reflect both determinants: age, career and residence, but also previous giving history, attachment to specific appeals, previous responses, whether they have made many visits back to the school, and any other relevant factors.

Since your callers will be at the heart of your success, it is important to select the right people. Outstanding callers have been known to raise as much as £30,000+ over a two-week period. What typically works well is to have a balance of loud, outgoing, bubbly ‘chatterers’ and quieter, more reserved and sensitive ‘listeners’. After all, no two contacts are the same and different people prefer different types of conversation.

The final task is preparing the two types of post or email communications (each with variations) that contacts should typically receive as part of a telethon. The first is the notification sent shortly before the telethon to inform contacts that they can expect to receive a call from the school, both to share news and to invite their support. This pre-telethon notification can be a letter, email, postcard etc. The second set of communications are those to be sent to each contact immediately after their telephone call takes place, to follow up what was agreed. Segment these according to the response – e.g. tailoring based on whether the result was a paperless Direct Debit, donation by credit/debit card, pledged regular gift, etc. It is well worth accompanying any letter directly from the school with a tailored thank you card from the individual caller.

Unless they have already made their gift and just need to be thanked, it is usually preferable to enclose a donation form with every follow-up package. Together, the form and follow-up communication should encourage people who said ‘yes’ over the telephone to fulfil pledges; people who were unsure or said ‘no’ to reconsider; and people who did not pick up to add their support to the telethon.

The training

Training will be the most important days in the process. There is a great deal of ground to cover and it will require an attentive group of callers, and informed and well-versed trainers who can create excitement about the campaign.

Perhaps the first task in the training is to address the taboo – to shake out any misconception that this is unwanted cold-calling or telesales and to inspire belief and confidence in the callers. Explain why calling works. If the callers believe they can be successful and have an enjoyable time in the process, then they probably will.

Callers need to be fully aware from the start of the wider picture and they should fully understand exactly why there is a need to fundraise for the school. It is important that the callers understand the telethon’s broad aims. Emphasising the importance of pledges should help to minimise the occurrence of callers missing out on impactful gifts by conceding too readily. Similarly, minimise the likelihood of calls concluding with a maybe by getting them to focus on persuading each contact to pledge an exact/minimum gift amount that is more likely to be fulfilled.

Next, the training should move to the stages of a good call. There is no such thing as a perfect ‘script’ but some key phrases provided by the development office might stand the callers in good stead. Take callers carefully through each stage:

1. The greeting and the reasons for the call
2. Rapport and intelligent listening: Identify possible conversation topics and discuss useful open questions. The callers’ aim is to help contacts to remember that their school is a living, thriving place with real people in it.
3. Building the case for support and making the ask: By listening carefully the callers should be able to match the school’s case for support to the contact’s interests and make the ask in a very natural way that flows on from this rapport.
4. Negotiation and tackling common objections
5. Thank you and closure: Emphasise the need to repeat everything clearly so that neither person is in any doubt as to what has been agreed. This includes confirming the amount and the details of their donation, whether Gift Aid can be applied, whether they are happy for their name to be listed as a donor, and any payment details.

The training should bring out the importance of listening to and understanding why a contact might be saying no and then addressing their concerns thoughtfully and confidently. Each contact should ideally be asked three times – typically at decreasing levels, without ever being rude or forceful. They should not, unless prompted by the contact, ask more than three times within a call.

Finally, conclude training by getting in as much practice as possible. Here is your chance to see how each of the callers copes under pressure – with the supervisors and/or other callers watching them take on a typical call. The primary purpose of these practice conversations should be to inspire confidence and fluency in the pupils, so it is important to give encouragement to them as well as to highlight areas to improve. The more practice calls a caller makes, the better prepared they will be for the real thing.

Click here for Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2

The calling

If the preparation and training have been rigorous, then the calling period itself, whilst busy, should be very enjoyable. Your role will primarily be to supervise the callers, to ensure gifts are processed appropriately and securely, to administer data entry/transfer onto your CRM database, and to ensure that any problems are quickly resolved.

Assign a number of alumni or parents to each caller. Every contact should have his or her own software-based record (or printed record sheet), which lists all details on them which might be of assistance to the caller. Match callers to contacts according to shared passions, interests and experiences. This might include hobbies, sports, clubs and activities; the subjects they studied; their House within the school; their teachers; their background and demographics; and their (intended) study or career paths.

Get the callers on the phone as quickly as possible each evening: they will probably be nervous until the first call, so it is better to encourage them to do this almost straightaway.

There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between having a fulfilling conversation that is not rushed and ensuring that you do not keep the contact on the telephone for an unnecessarily long time. Typically a call of 15-30 minutes is sufficient, unless the call recipient indicates that they would prefer a briefer or a more in-depth conversation. Similarly, there is a fine balance between getting callers back on the phone quickly after each call is completed: a rule of thumb is that each caller should only be off the phone for 5-10 minutes between completed calls.

After completing a conversation, the caller should immediately note as many relevant details as possible about what was discussed and agreed. Information is power! Good note-taking helps write a more personalised postcard, letter or email to each contact after their conversation, but also makes the job of calling them easier and more enjoyable for future callers.

Your calling software or CRM database should allow you to pull reports on success levels. Initially try to hand out call recipients with low-to-medium ask amounts, in order to inspire confidence in the callers early on. Distribute the bigger ask amounts to specific callers as soon as you are confident that they can handle them; do not leave this process too many days into the telethon, because larger prospects will often be the most difficult to get hold of and may require numerous attempts before being successfully reached.

Identifying your best callers early on is key. It will enable you to match them with the wealthiest or most challenging call recipients, thus ensuring that other callers who are struggling to get good results do not take on your most important prospects.

Nonetheless, do not show a lack of confidence in your weaker callers. It may be that some of your students are better at making affinity or thank you calls, or encouraging support from contacts with low giving potential. Alternatively, they may be able to assist in other ways such as with data-checking, or writing thank you cards. Bear in mind, too, that less successful callers can improve with the right support. Simultaneously, if a caller is receiving few regular gifts, then the caller may be switching to a participation gift ask (e.g. £10-20) too quickly. Extra training can involve focusing on addressing the first no by identifying and responding to the specific objection(s) and then re-asking at half or quarter of the original amount. It can be as simple as sitting them next to another caller who is particularly skilful, and asking them to listen in on that student’s next call.

Always include a proportion of thank you calls in your telethon. Stewardship is a fundamental part of any successful regular giving programme: these calls do not include any ask, so they are also great for a caller who is lacking confidence about the negotiation. The return on investment from these calls will also come through higher renewal and upgrade rates in future years.

As the calling period progresses, ensure that the callers are continually motivated. Start each session with a brief update – use visuals and guest speakers to create excitement, humour and buzz in the calling room. Reward them with prizes for regular gifts, large single gifts and high participation, and spend money on food, drinks and other treats. Chase targets. Let callers know on a daily basis what percentages they are hitting, what causes they are helping, and what the overall running total is. Be supportive and understanding whenever a student has a bad call and make sure they know that they can stop to chat with a supervisor about their experience.

Inevitably, a number of contacts will not be reached because of lack of time, inaccurate phone numbers, or holiday clashes. When working out whom to call next, callers should prioritise renewals, upgrades and wealthy contacts, and de-prioritise those which have thus far resulted in multiple answer phones or reaching other parties instead.



Utilising your earlier preparation of templates, get the lengthy process of generating letters, processing gifts and entering call results and information onto your CRM database underway from day one. The first golden rule is, wherever possible, to follow up each call with a letter or email within 24 hours, whilst the conversation is fresh in the contact’s mind. This maximises the likelihood that a pledger will fulfil their gift and maximises the appreciation that a donor who has already made their donation will feel in response to their thank you.

The caller’s follow-up should be tailored to include any additional information requested; check each one before it is posted to ensure it is personalised and engaging.

The second golden rule is, wherever possible, to enter the updated data from your calling onto your CRM database within 24 hours. This matters, as there may be incoming correspondence from the alumnus in the days after the telethon and you need to know the latest information when responding.

Accuracy is foremost. Each postcard/letter must be carefully checked, with pledged and fulfilled donors prioritised. The call notes gathered must be entered onto the database without errors or offending information, so that it is possible to pull up required information easily. Tempting to record everything in one place for ease will not be helpful in the long run when it comes to effective reporting and segmenting. Remember that this data is amongst the richest and most valuable you will hold, and over time can lead to much more effective mid-level and major giving programmes. At the same time, be aware that contacts can request to see a copy of their own personal data held on your system at any point and UK Data Protection laws obligate us to respond, so it is essential to phrase all updates appropriately.

Produce reports both during and after the telethon to analyse the results. Have sound daily processes and do not forget to flag up important issues and respond to bespoke actions quickly. Your telethon software may be a key asset for this, especially if it has built-in financials and dashboards. You can use these analyses to demonstrate to the governing body the benefits of repeating the process. Remember to report results back to the callers too. Not only do they deserve to hear the fruits of their labour, it should also help them with their CVs and encourage them to participate again in future. Of course, also share the successes of your telethon with your alumni, parents and friends to inspire yet others to give.

Not everyone will fulfil their pledges quickly and some will not fulfil them at all. Credit card gifts and Paperless Direct Debits help keep these to a minimum by enabling supporters to donate immediately over the phone to the caller. But for those who pledged to make their donation at a later date and then do not respond, it is usually necessary to chase them. It is well worth reminding and encouraging these contacts, through letters, emails and/or telephone calls. Only in very rare instances will pledgers complain at this persistence – usually they respond rather apologetically!

Click here for Lesson 2

Lesson 4: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2
Click here for Lesson 3


To get the most out of telethons, your institution should invest appropriately and balance the short and longer term objectives. Remember that you are also indirectly educating your pupils and staff to become ambassadors and donors in the future. Of course, there can be no greater springboards to a successful telethon than by having both an inspiring case for support and an active, relevant and engaging alumni relations and parents programme and community already in place at your school.

Think of future years and don’t just go for the quick buck: engage appropriately and target your constituencies to maximise returns over several years’ worth of telethons. This means: investing in longer fulfilling conversations; utilising your larger prospects and donors; incorporating thank you calls as well as solicitations; and cultivating a wide pool of contacts to extend beyond just the current reach and focus of the school. Don’t merely plan for year one; instead try to set good prospects and expectations at the outset for continued investment in year two and onwards.

Above all, aim high: telethons do work and they work best when asks are bold and the cause and targets ambitious and inspiring. Motivate your callers and build up as much team spirit as you can. Similarly, motivate your development office and your governing body. Most of all, motivate your alumni, parents and friends. Promote your telethon in your newsletter or magazine and email bulletins, through social media, and on your website. Report results back to them frequently. Let them know how their gifts are being spent and the impact that they are collectively making. Regular giving is a culture that prospers over time. In order to bring sceptical alumni and parents on board, continually demonstrate that the calls are as much about engagement and sharing impact as they are about fundraising totals. Build the sense of community throughout.

Consider including metrics around relationship-building as part of each telethon, so that this point on engagement is made more clearly. Build metrics around the data enrichment/cleaning and prospect identification benefits too. How many future legacy opportunities arose from the telethon? How many new donors gave £1,000 or more for the first time? How many high-net-worth individuals (CEOs, directors, barristers, investment bankers, surgeons etc) were identified? How many gave more this year than last year? What impact did calling have on event attendees in the six months after? How many new sign-ups for the boat club email list did you obtain? How many new volunteers did you identify for your mentors programme? What other qualitative data on contacts now flagged as prospects did you capture? And so on.

Fundraising does need fine-tuning. There can be a big difference between a badly-run telethon and a well-run one, with your own time investment and any consultant support making a real difference. Enhance the telethon with supporting strategies, perhaps by sending out a personal information form beforehand to gather more up-to-date contact and other helpful details. Make sure to ask for telephone numbers on every event invitation RSVP and gift form too, as that grows your pool for next year. Ensure you collect the accompanying consents: formulate a structured plan for potential touch points where phone and email consent may be obtained, and make your print and online statements simple, prominent, explicit and positive enough that people will opt-in. A comprehensive CRM database is perhaps your greatest tool towards these pursuits – it is vital to preparing for, executing and then following up your telethon, and also for harnessing the longer-term benefits that this investment in personal contact derives for you.

If you follow sensible guidelines then you should expect an excellent rate of return. A typical telethon costs as little as £10,000-£20,000 to run, much of that being wages to callers and software and mailing costs (the telephone bill itself should be relatively low). Donations meanwhile typically reach between £50,000 and £200,000, and in some instances much higher. Above and beyond this there are the priceless non-immediate benefits discussed throughout. With your institution’s backing and good preparation, a well-run telethon will pay dividends many times over.

Missed the beginning? Click here for Lesson 1

What’s your Excuse?

I am still shocked when I speak with people in the not-for-profit world and hear some reason why they are not yet investing time developing their brand and communications with a wider audience in the social media world. It’s usually one or more of the following:

“We’ve tried social media and it didn’t work”

You’ve developed a Facebook page, posted links on your website and haven’t yet delved into the world of Twitter because you didn’t get floods of traffic or any interest after a relatively short period of time on Facebook.

What I would say is you haven’t ‘tried’ social media. It’s not a magical advertising tool and it’s certainly not something that will be developed overnight. Building an online brand takes consistent use and is not a place for posting press releases or news of your events. It’s a two-way tool for communication, finding and building relationships, ‘overhearing’ what others are saying about themselves and subjects that are important to them. Focus on your relationship goals and over time, used correctly, social media can enable the message of what you do to others.

“We’re not tech savvy”

Many smaller not-for-profits have limited resources and skills, you may not even have people in your office who know how to create an account on Twitter. It’s going to be a learning curve but the internet provides a great deal of information on this. Get comfortable with the etiquette, vocab, customs and best ways of working. You’ll learn there really isn’t a lot to it!

“I don’t care about social media”

I’m most interested in the first part of this sentence. You need to care about what’s going on out there, what millions of others have hooked onto – this wonderful world of social media. It’s chit-chat, small talk and profound thoughts, nosiness and careful consideration. This is how humans are engaging in each other’s lives, reaching loved ones from millions of miles away to those the other side of a crowded room. If you can communicate in person, you can communicate through social media – and you should care!

“Our donors really aren’t into Facebook”

Make sure that if you are making this excuse you’re not underestimating your stakeholders!
I hear lots of stories from friends about their parents/grandparents/aunts etc. requesting to be their ‘friend’ on Facebook. These are the older generation, those who didn’t grow up using computers in the classroom or a mobile phone when they left the house as a kid. If a social media strategy isn’t right for your audience now, ok, but your audience are people and people use social media.

Email Testing – Four Ways to Improve

Are you testing your email messages (subject lines, time and day of send, etc.)? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your results.

Email has a unique advantage over direct mail. You can immediately see what worked and adjust your message on-the-fly, if necessary. And while you may have a hunch about the best day or time to send email, testing validates (or disproves) your theory. It really allows you to make data-driven decisions.

While direct mail may involve considerable effort and planning, an email message may be written a few days (or hours) before being sent. And while it does require a few extra steps, email testing doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Here are 4 easy ways to get started testing your messages:

1. Subject Lines: Your message is competing against daily deals, close friends, and social media alerts in an inbox. Testing subject lines will help you get by the first round of cuts. It’s also the easiest way to begin testing.

2. Day of the Week: You’ll find different research on the best day to send an email. MailerMailer found Sunday has the best open and click-through rates. eROI indicated Monday. MailChimp found Saturday and Sunday get the most click-throughs. So what’s the best day? Whatever your readers tell you. Use this research as a starting point, but test until you find which day gets your best results.

3. Time of Day: Many studies have found that morning is the best time to send email. MailChimp indicated 6-7am yielded the most click-throughs. MarketingSherpa and eROI found 9am resulted in the highest open and click-through rates. To find your ideal time, test these and other morning time slots to see which is most successful with your audience.

4. Stories Within Appeals (& Other Content): It’s difficult to have success without good content. So, continue testing content until you find what resonates with your readers. In your next email appeal, test two different stories. See which one generates the most click-throughs and conversions. Learn from it and repeat.

Start Testing Today

So, how can you start testing immediately? For your next email, send one subject line to 10% of your list. Send another 10% a different subject line. Wait 48 hours. Send the winning subject line to the rest of your list.

What have you done with my money?

When was the last time you contacted your donors and specifically informed them of how their donation has helped your cause or been put to great use? No doubt you’ll have some heart-warming examples that showcase how successful fundraising has made a difference to an individual, family or a community’s life? Please share this with your donors at least once a year, more if you can, they’re just dying to hear – why wouldn’t they? You are the stewards of their donated hard-earned cash.

Prepare the story by setting the scene

How dire was the situation? What was it that led your organisation to be involved in the case? Get quotes from individuals involved and pictures to really help set the scene, particularly if there’s a great after-shot to go with it.

Your organisation’s involvement

Who? When? Where? Why? Was it all because of one person or a group of people? Allow individuals or these groups to shine when telling the story.

The outcome

The success story. The part that will touch the hearts of your donors and lead to them being proud to be involved in your organisation. The story may well be passed on by word of mouth when chatting with peers.

Remember, be concise.  Don’t ramble on and switch donors off reading it before they even start.


Tell them that continual donations make this work possible. You want to give them the opportunity to give again or give beyond their usual regular contribution and a reason for doing so!
If you able to answer the question ‘What have you done with my money?’ you’ll be able to retain and grow your base rather than see them slip away.

Why we love small charities

With the FSI’s annual Small Charity Week taking place this month, which kicked off with ‘I love small charities’ day and the launch of their #ILoveSmallCharities campaign, the team here at Blackbaud thought we’d tell you why we love small charities too!

There are so many reasons to love small charities, that it’s hard to know where to start, but underpinning everything is entrepreneurship and big hearts. Small charities are ideas driven and creative, with dogged determination to really make a difference. They are the lifeblood of the not-for-profit sector!

Employees and volunteers of small charities have a genuine affinity for their cause, and what always prevails is their endless passion. I want to tell you about an organisation that I have worked with recently, who epitomise what it is to be a small charity.

I first met with Foundation For Jimmy back in February, and from the word go I could see and really feel how much this charity meant to everybody involved. Foundation For Jimmy was set up by Barry and Margaret Mizen following the tragic murder of their 16 year old son Jimmy in May 2008. Instead of allowing themselves to be beaten by his death, they were determined that something good would come of it.

Foundation For Jimmy is a small charity working to make young people safer, giving them support and direction, to discourage and prevent criminal activity and aggression. Ultimately, the Foundation seeks to establish and involve young people in becoming pro-active change-makers themselves: building a legacy of peace in Jimmy’s honour.

“Peace is not a destination, it’s a journey. Will you join us?”
Barry and Margaret Mizen, MBEs

Those who I met at Foundation For Jimmy were all wonderfully engaging and it was plain to see how important this charity is to them, and of course to all of the young people who they work with. In line with the training and support that they offer young people, many of whom volunteer for the Foundation and work in the office during holidays and weekends, I was fortunate enough to meet one of their young volunteers, with a bright future because of Foundation For Jimmy. That’s what it’s all about! They all get their hands dirty, working directly with young people, being the face of the Foundation in the community, with schools and local businesses, promoting what they do and raising awareness and support, all with a big smile on their faces.

This really is a testament to the front line work that small charities are involved in. It’s not just about a job for these people; it’s about overcoming obstacles to combat problems, piece by piece. Every charity that you can think of was a small charity once upon a time, even those household names and international giants. Let me tell you readers … size isn’t everything! Let’s hear it for the small charities, working their socks off to do amazing things!

Follow us on Twitter to read more about Small Charity Week @BlackbaudEurope

Why should small charities be in the spotlight?

After much anticipation, the time has come. The week we have been preparing for is finally here. Small Charity Week, which is run by the FSI, is upon us and we can finally launch our We Love Small Charities campaign!

For the last ten days we have asked our eTapestry customers to write to us telling us “Why Should Small Charities be in the Spotlight?”

And really, we shouldn’t even have to ask the question. With the Charity Commission revealing in September 2014 that 159,174 out of 164,987 charities have a turnover of less than £1.5 million, small charities make up the majority of the not-for-profit sector.

So what have we learnt from our small charity customers?

They might be small but they make a HUGE difference.

Either competing with big charities or as a niche organisation and the only resource of its kind, it can be difficult for small charities to get their voices heard. But with the help of their supporters, passion and commitment, they make the world a better place, and can often see direct results of the work they do.

Small charities have the most amazing staff and volunteers.

Anyone running an organisation knows of the importance of dedication to succeed and make a difference. Staff members working for not-for-profits do an amazing job, and small charities are often lucky enough to build true families with their staff but also with their volunteers and donors. It is because of staff’s dedication and the precious time that volunteers offer up that makes change possible, and for small charities to deliver on their mission.

Because they are smaller they need to be more efficient and effective.

Limited funds means small charities can’t afford to spend the way larger charities do and buy lots of advertising and publicity. The money they get needs to be funnelled straight into the cause they are working for. But having limited funds doesn’t mean they can’t achieve, it just means they have to work better and more efficiently. Imagine working with such confines and still being able to deliver on their promise? It’s all down to keeping focus on their vision and believing in what they do.

Small charities are key to every community; providing much needed support where otherwise there would be none.

Whether immediate surroundings or working for a community internationally, small charities are working around the world to meet local needs that would otherwise go un-met. With the flexibility afforded to smaller organisations, small charities can react quickly and efficiently to problems they encounter around them, often because they work from within the local communities they are looking to help.

So let’s celebrate small charities this week, and help spread the word about what they do, so that they can keep up the amazing work for years to come.

Follow us on Twitter to read more about Small Charity Week @BlackbaudEurope

How to be a Fundraising Rockstar

Are you like me and wondering where the year is going? We’re fast approaching the mid-year mark and perhaps you’ve not yet been able to maximise on your fundraising in 2015 or, maybe you’re ramping up for events for the coming months? Whatever position you might be in, I thought I’d share a summary of some helpful tips and advice in one easy to reference article. Of course if you’d like more detail, do look out for how you can register for some of our free webinars being held this year.

Successful fundraising begins with a campaign, but what is a campaign and why do you need them?

A campaign is a series of activities or events that has a timeline and a goal. A campaign might be a number of planned emails; it might include an event to focus specifically on your top or most wealthy donors. It’s a clear pitch and proposition to your donors and supporters, the delivery vehicle for your persuasive message. It should share your gratitude for their past support, show them what’s been achieved with previous gifts and inspire them to give again. Campaigns can also be an excellent opportunity to find new donors.

The Basics and How to Get Started

Initial questions you should be asking:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How are you going to accomplish your goals?
  • Which communication channels will be used?
  • What resources are needed?
  • Who will execute each step?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What timeline and benchmarks to set for the life of the campaign?

Then…Equip yourself with Four Basic Tools of the Trade

Website – Where donors can go to read about your organisation in more detail, access up-to-date information and see how donations have been used over the past year to make a difference towards your mission. Did you know that more than half of donors get their information about their favourite charity via their website?

Donation Page – Aesthetics are important: do not underestimate the power of your organisation’s brand. Gifts are larger if given through a branded donation page rather than a third party provider. Think about the donor journey and making it easy for them to donate, and be clear about why their gift will really make a difference.

Reports – If you don’t have the luxury of a fundraising database then analysis of your data might be time consuming and not at all reliable, but make it simple. Where are you now and where do you want to be by the end of the campaign period? Analyse your average gifts and see if you can achieve a higher average by the end of your campaign. Report on hits to your website and the number of social media shares. Use what you can to measure where you are at the start and how successful your campaign has been at the end with points in-between.

Email – Target and optimise your communications. Did you know that over 60% of emails are now read on smartphones and tablets? Think about setting your emails up so that text is larger and links are clear in the text. Don’t make emails too large in size, so keep photos and graphics low resolution to avoid slow download of your email. Do segment and personalise your emails so that the right message gets to the right people.

Until next time… Happy fundraising!!

What is a CRM system? A quick guide

“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.” Wikipedia

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not just a database but a strategy; an improvement in the way you manage customers and, in the not-for-profit sector, your donors, contacts and supporters. It can underpin a new fundraising strategy, consolidate disparate IT systems (perhaps even multiple spreadsheets), reduce costs and automate processes as well as improve your knowledge of, and contact with, your donors and supporters. A fundraising CRM system is built with the
not-for-profit in mind, providing tools to make fundraising easier.

Why should I consider a fundraising CRM system?
Perhaps you are having difficulties keeping accurate records of your supporters, spending too much time on administrative tasks, or aren’t able to send out consistent targeted communications to your contacts. To solve these problems it’s always important to get the basics right so you are able to not only sustain, but grow your charity. A fundraising CRM system can help you achieve this.


A fundraising CRM system consists of four parts:
1. Relationship Management
2. Fundraising
3. Marketing and Communications
4. Reporting and Analysis


1. Relationship Management
Recording all your information about a supporter in one place means you are able to draw a 360
degree view of them, which in turn helps you to build a stronger relationship with them over time. A
fundraising CRM system makes seeing the history your not-for-profit has with a supporter quick and
easy, and provides you with the information you need to determine how loyal they are as a donor, or
what their particular interests in your organisation are. Knowing this information will allow you to create
more targeted and personalised messages so you are able to build a better, stronger and longer term
relationship with them.


2. Fundraising
Not-for-profits need to rely less on grants and statutory funding, and diversify through individual giving
and events. A fundraising CRM system manages the end-to-end processes and automated actions
for you, such as integrated online giving pages and gift processing, meaning less time spent on
administration. Keeping an accurate record of Gift Aid and automating monthly giving payments helps
make donor relationships your priority.


3. Marketing and Communications
Sustaining and developing your organisation will mean that supporter relationships need to be
cultivated. Being able to send consistent communications that are targeted and personalised, lays the
foundation for a more loyal supporter, protects your brand and builds trust. By keeping track of the
communications you send to your supporters, you can ensure that duplicate, or mixed messages are
not sent out.


4. Reporting and Analysis
An integrated fundraising CRM system provides quick and easy reporting at the click of a button.
You can also save even more time by scheduling reports to come straight into your inbox. Dashboard
tools provide quick statistics on how much your campaigns have raised, who your top donors are,
and which approaches work best for you. Pre-configured reports allow you to quickly access detailed
campaign analysis, manage your duplicates and much more. With the ability to design your own
reports for review or export, all bases are covered.

What can a banker teach a charity?

When it comes to the world of banking, the words ‘charitable’ and ‘giving’ don’t immediately spring to mind, so what – if anything – can the not-for-profit sector learn from the financial sector?

At the CFG Annual Conference in London last week, Steve Harris, who spent 15 years working in the financial services industry, explained why he turned to the not-for-profit sector to seek a more worthy career. After having a baby daughter and realising he would one day have to explain how his job working with hedge funds allowed him to help people with a lot of money have slightly more money, he decided to turn to a career that would make her proud.

He is now head of financial planning and analysis at Scope, a charity that exists to make the UK a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else, and he hasn’t looked back – “So far I haven’t actually been shouted at and no one’s thrown any computer equipment!”. He shared with the audience the top pieces of advice he has taken away from working in some of the country’s major banks and how they can help in the not-for-profit sector:

1. Data is really important
Steve said that the banking and trading world is all about the data you have, and banks spend millions of pounds making sure their data is better than the next organisation. It’s not to say that charities should spend all of their money on data, but it is important to properly use, track and analyse the data you have.

2. Nurture the talent in your organisation
Steve explained that working in the banking industry showed him that banks are never afraid of throwing money at good people – but more than that, they are great at realising where talent lies. Charities should identify the key individuals they have, who will drive the organisation forward, and realise that these are the people that need attention. After being asked by a member of the audience how to retain talent when often resources are low and there is no extra money to offer, Steve suggested to ask people what they want. It’s not always about the pay packet, and charities may be able to offer different opportunities and experiences to their most talented employees.

3. Don’t be a commercial enterprise, but adopt commercial principles
Steve disagreed with the concept that charities should think more like commercial enterprises to succeed, but thinking in a more strategic way and having commercial focus could help. Charities can consider their donors as investors, and it’s essential to be sure they are taking the money from the investors and using it in the right way.

Scope is a charity that exists to make the UK a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. To read more about the work they do, click here.