Native Austinite who is working to live, but love to work for something greater than myself. Currently doing that as a Senior Account Manger at Convio, Inc. I primarily work with our Public Media clients.
Posted by Jonathan Weldon at May 17, 2012 06:40 AM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment, Fundraising, NPtech
There have been a number of posts recently about the power and importance of donor thank you letters. Some have come from my incredible colleagues here on the Connection Cafe, especially Rachel Muir's "7 Ways to Say Thanks" and Cheryl Black's "Girl Scout Cookies" posts, and I have to mention yet another great article by the Agitator team reminding imploring people to test, test, test even when it comes to the thank you, but when I received this thank you update email from Charity Water, I couldn't stop thinking about it.
While I received an email thanking me at that time, their purpose was a simple update on a gift I made about 6 months prior to their Water Forward campaign. In case you're wondering, Charity Water "invested (my) money with local partners, Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Ethiopia and Pump Aid in Malawi, to build and rehabilitate freshwater wells and spring protections for people in need." To top it off, they let me know that once the projects are complete, they'll send a project report similar to this one informing me on the final outcome.
Color me impressed.
It reminded me of an experience I had when I was a high-schooler raising money for a community service trip to Ecuador with Amigos de las Americas. I was responsible for raising the vast majority of the total cost of the projects, so I took to letter writing, car washing, lawn mowing, baby sitting, just about whatever I could (legally) do to raise money as a 15-16 year old kid. When it was all said and done, I had a ton of thank you letters to write. I took to the seemingly overwhelming task, and if I remember correctly, finished just before the trip started.
Once home, my parents suggested that I write yet another thank you letter to update the supporters about all the latrines that were built, the toothbrushes that were distributed and all of the other accomplishments that their donation made possible. I responded as any typical teenager would by saying I didn't have enough time and did everything I could to avoid it. After a few weeks (months?) passed, my mom responded by giving me the most memorable birthday gift of my life: a box of monogrammed stationary. It made the point and I turned around those thank you letters as quickly as possible.
So I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank Charity Water for doing such a great job with their donor stewardship program and showing all of us how it's done. Rather than a box of monogrammed stationery, another donation is likely to materialize in their future.
Posted by Jonathan Weldon at Dec 07, 2011 04:02 PM CST
Categories: Constituent Empowerment, Fundraising, Social Media
In case you haven't noticed some odd looking facial hair over the last month, November, or as we like to call it Movember, is Mustache Growing Season. Movember is a "moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health.” This all started back in 2003 where a couple of friends in Australia, where a Mo is slang for mustache, decided to grow a mustache and raise money for some good causes. All proceeds raised during Movember go to the causes it supports, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG (read this article if you’d like to learn more about where the money goes). Here at Convio we had 17 team members donate their faces to men’s health and collectively we raised over $5K (not to brag but I finished first on our team, raking in over $1800). This blog post is about my month long experience of raising awareness & money for men's health, as I grew my Mo.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the power of embarrassing oneself for the greater good. Yes, the mustache itself was ridiculously embarrassing, especially in the first few days of growth (maybe weeks?) but seeing that this was my second year, I had to take this one step further. So I challenged my supporters to help me exceed a fundraising goal of $1500 by promising they could put a cake in my face if I exceeded my goal.
If you have ever asked yourself, "Do challenges change donor behavior?", I can attest that they in fact do! I literally saw the average donations jump from around $25 to $50 almost immediately after the challenge was issued. (I've also inspired my co-worker Corey Pudhorosky's NTEN fundraising efforts so check out his embarrassing fundraising efforts for another great example). Similarly, I had the great fortune of having a matching grant from a colleague, the awesome Betsy Gressler, who matched dollar for dollar all donations up to a certain date. Again, donations spiked during that time frame as people took the opportunity to double the impact of their donation (or perhaps they were thinking about the cake's impact on my face?).
The beauty, or perhaps horror, of growing a mustache, is it really is a conversation starter. Whether I was talking to old friends or new acquaintances, I was constantly explaining the story behind my new facial growth and thus spreading the world about Movember & consequently men's health. I also took to Facebook, Twitter & my Movember MoSpace where I was able to solicit pledges directly, post regular updates of the Mo growth and find funny ways of challenging people to donate. Even people who didn't donate were educated via my updates regarding the importance of men's health and maybe even scheduled a wellness check with their doctor.
Ultimately the lesson I would give any NonProfit focused on peer-to-peer fundraising would be to find ways of empowering your supporters to not only raise money on your behalf but have some fun at the same time. Men's health, and specifically prostate cancer, isn't usually something you want to laugh at, but we only live once and if you can find a way to do good while having fun, you're going to give your constituents, and those you support, something invaluable, a big smile and a good story.
On road trips as a child my dad would frequently joke that if we drove long enough we’d eventually find a pledge drive on a local NPR station. Later in life, when I traveled extensively for my job, I’d call him when the town I was visiting was in pledge and my wife, who travels for her job, loves to do the same with me.
Personally, I love pledge drives, (no not because I’m hoping to complete my collection of NPR Travel Mugs) but because there are so many great examples and unique ways that the Public Media stations are reminding, sometimes imploring listeners, to support the amazing work they do. By no means is this an exhaustive collection, but here are few favorite examples that I've seen recently.
Clearly we have to start with the Alec Baldwin pledge drive promos that hit the air in 2010. According to the website, “Alec Baldwin told producers at WNYC that he'd be willing to do some promos for the upcoming Fall pledge drive, and suggested getting Ira Glass involved. So Ira and David Krasnow and Rex Doane wrote and produced several spots featuring Alec and a bunch of public radio hosts and announcers.” If you haven’t heard these yet, they are flat-out hilarious. But the beauty is they gave NPR a great way to make fun of themselves, all while still making a larger point: Support your local NPR station.
Speaking of local NPR stations, my station KUT-FM, did a great job of promoting sustaining giving during their most recent pledge drive. We all know the importance of building a strong base of sustaining givers but for many organizations, the question is how. Part of KUT’s answer was to promote it heavily on-air, in their direct mail efforts and online, but here was the kicker for me. They are entering sustaining donors into any and all drawings for the rest of the year. So anytime KUT runs a promotional drawing, their sustaining givers will be automatically added. The idea was a huge hit as they added a large number of sustaining givers to their membership (my wife and I included in that group).
As for a totally new idea and not technically in pledge, as far as I know, KQED is the first and only station to offer a GroupOn to build their membership base. I’ve reached out to the team that implemented this offer for additional details but haven’t heard back by ‘press time’. Despite that, what I do know is they have 531 new members from the offer! Considering the list file that GroupOn possesses, as well as their web traffic, in my opinion this was a great way of building their membership base leading up to their pledge drive.
So are there any amazing Pledge examples that I missed or should know about? And I can’t be the only person who loves pledge drives so let me know what you love (or hate) about pledge drives.
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