5 top tips that I learnt at F&P 2017

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Written By Athina Antarakis

Fundraising speed dating

There’s nothing like getting out of the office for a couple of days to catch up with old friends and past colleagues, chew the fat and absorb some wisdom from some of Australia’s – and the world’s – top fundraising minds. Even though the emails might be piling up back at HQ, the annual Australasian Fundraising Forum (or ‘F&P’ to most of us) is always worthwhile attending, and this year was no exception.

If you didn’t have the time to get along to it, never fear – we’ve compiled our top 5 takeaways for 2017 (and you can check our post from last year here).

From Martin Paul

Martin Paul from More Strategic always has a few gems to share with the audience. And the fact that he and his colleagues are privy to the opinions, motivations and tendencies of literally thousands of Australian and overseas donors courtesy of their research and focus group activity means these gems are always backed up by hard data. And Martin does love a chart.
This time, however, he also talked about the more touchy-feely aspect of donor engagement and retention. He provides this handy list for charities to use for their stakeholder communications.
• Use personalisation – show you understand who I am
• Make an emotional connection – who you know, what emotion drives me
• Make it easy for me to support you – no complicated forms or convoluted payment processes
• Prove your impact – at both a macro and micro level
• Give me a voice – provide me with the opportunity to let you know what I’m thinking, and listen to what I have to say
• Give me a connection to my tribe – help me feel like ‘I’ve found my people’

From Pareto & Red Cross

If there’s a phrase that makes it from the conference into the fundraising vernacular, it’s going to be ‘strengths-based messaging’ (SBM). Hard to say, even harder to achieve. It’s the notion proffered (and tested) by Pareto Fundraising and Red Cross that we don’t have to always be the voice of doom and gloom.

Showing our beneficiaries in a positive light, and making more of the positive impact donor support can have, can work – but a word of warning. The Red Cross tax appeal  was well-executed, integrated across multiple channels, consistent in its messaging, and had powerful storytelling at its core. Perhaps most crucially, it had buy-in from on high – which meant it wasn’t watered down at the last minute.

Strengths-based messaging is not unprecedented. Indigenous Community Volunteers has been using a banker pack for several years that promotes the positive side of supporting communities who are taking charge of their own futures; and charity: water uses a form of SBM – showing positive impact – to superb effect in all their digital collateral.

If you were inspired by the idea of SBM and want to try it in your next appeal – by all means, be brave. But make sure you have all your ducks in a row before going all out.

From Francesca Boardman

Francesca Boardman from Inkpot gave several presentations. The key takeaway for me (echoing Martin’s advice above) was to take every opportunity to talk to your donors. Above all, LISTEN to what they have to say. It’s good donor care, and you will glean snippets of information and key insights which you’ll be able to use for appeals and other donor communications down the track.

It’s an approach that Moceanic’s Sean Triner and Jeff Brooks have been pushing as well. They recommend using a survey as a tool to find out more about your donors. You can read more in a recent blog on the topic.

From Stephen George

There were several presentations focused on Bequests at this year’s F&P from Good Leader’s Stephen George (and Francesca from Inkpot). These sessions were timely, given that so many charities seem to be getting the message that bequests are a crucial part of their fundraising mix. Fundraisers who are serious about shoring up their charity’s long-term viability are onboard wiht bequests. Stephen and Francesca had plenty of great tips on how to do it right – the one that resonated with me on the day was the list of ‘simple words that make [the idea of leaving a bequest] accessible and normal’:

  • Consider – would you consider a gift
  • Leave – Leave a gift, leave a legacy
  • Gift – that’s what it is
  • Future – Look to
  • Small – A small share
  • Share – A share of the estate
  • Family – Family first
  • Remember – Look back with nostalgia
  • Commit – A promise to give
  • Thank you – Every time at every stage

From Paul Bailey and NeurA

And finally, I loved the idea from Paul Bailey and Grant Simpson of a ‘playbook’. Their playbook is a readable, engaging, practical play-by-play of how the NeurA fundraising program works. And they use it to get the whole team from frontline staff to board members on the same page. Genius.