Three things that I suggest need to rise from the bottom of the list

–  Written by Dan Geaves, Strategy Director

The end of a financial year can be a tough time for fundraisers. Between waiting for last minute donations and realising what budgets have not been spent, balancing the budget can be tricky.

All fundraisers feel that the pressure to do more with less. This inevitably leads to many focusing on the immediate, and leaving important things until later. As the year progresses this can create issues with budgets. If your Finance Director is mandating the simple principle of “use it or lose it” then here are three suggestions for intentions made, that can be implemented through outsourcing: 

1. Gifts in Wills pipeline drives

Research shows that past support for a given charity is one factor that drives the decision to pick that charity for legacy gifts.  But relationship management programs for individual givers, balancing appeals and donor care, can make it hard to choose when to squeeze in a lead generation maker such as a survey or personal invitation for a living bequestor. This can be made more difficult by a lack of confidence in your charity’s bequest program materials.

If you feel your materials need an update before you can generate leads, here are three reasons to get to it:

  • If your cause is supported by people whose identity or life story has been formed by lived experience of the ‘need’ that you address – then it is especially important that you help them make the decision to make their mark through a gift in their Will. 
  • The audience is shifting. Today, over half (58%) of Australian deaths are from the ‘builder’ generation, born 1925 to 1945,  while 24% are baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964). Over the next 20 years, boomer deaths will  become more dominant, so that by 2040 they will account for 62%.  
  • The Fundraising institute of Australia’s refresh of the Include a Charity brand in 2020 suggests that bigger and better things are to come for the Include a Charity Week campaign in 2021 and beyond.

Suggestion: This is one area where partnering with Marlin can really provide a boost. Our agency team thrives on project deadlines and will help you get ahead with less fuss. 

Our services include strategic planning of lead generation and conversion, creation of surveys, acquisition mailings and program materials, as well as support to plan pipeline management.

2. Improving your digital fundraising capacity

The pandemic really helped shine a light on the opportunity for digital fundraising. Yet many fundraisers still find themselves a little frozen when it comes to developing the capacity of their digital ecosystem to drive fundraising growth. Here are three ways that your technology could be upgraded to help you do more with less:

  • Your prospects and supporters are coming to your site, but many of them will be leaving before they give. If your site only has the capacity to serve one form at a time, you need a new site.  If your IT or digital team is so overloaded with requests that they can’t help you perform A/B tests on landing pages and forms, you need a new site. Fundraisers – listen up – technology is supposed to enable you not paralyse. You should be able to create new forms and landing pages without developers. Without coding, and certainly without breaking the site. 
  • You know that regular giving offers you medium-term growth, but you know that many will lapse if they are not given the right onboarding journey. Since certain supporter behaviours are completely predictable, your response to them can be planned and automated. Introducing triggered onboarding journeys is a great way to lift the retention rate of your supporters because it turns an activity that is ‘always on’ into a development project with an end date. 
  • Maybe you are already running digital campaigns and promotions. Maybe these are integrated messaging wise with your offline channels. But does your reporting help you see the way that those channels combine to drive your donors’ behaviour? Many fundraisers are inhibited by slow reporting that fails to bring together insights from their website with transactional data form their database. Add in social media… and you can end up with three systems struggling to talk the same language. By working on the back end integrations between systems, clear reporting dashboards can be created. It can seem like an overhead expense, but without them you will struggle to develop the kind of insights you need. The good news is that they cost a lot less than changing database systems. 

Suggestion: Your digital fundraising can excel with campaign-driven tactics, but this does usually mean that choices are often made for the sake of immediate agility. The downside of the drive to get up and running is that the test-and-learn approach required to build in-house capacity can suffer.  Without the automation and integration in place there’s only so far you can go.

Marlin’s digital strategists work alongside our digital producers. They can help design technical integrations that bring legacy database systems into contact with your newer digital channels. 

Furthermore they can help you overhaul your entire site. – moving it to a platform that has been specifically created to empower fundraisers and communication managers to create new landing pages and forms, in minutes.

3. Addressing the elephant that causes inefficiency and even hostility

Do you struggle to get fundraising communications signed off by stakeholders in brand, marketing or leadership? 

If so you could be suffering from a lack of investment in fundraising communication guidelines. Many charities develop style guides. Some  go on to create some guidance on tone of voice but very few really carve out an empowering agreement for how the need to support an organisation can be represented.

Brand people don’t usually get fundraising, and fundraisers usually don’t get brands. There was a time when silos could co-exist side-by-side, but here are four reasons why the pressure for barriers to fall has mounted :

  • The changing environment created by COVID created room for most charities to prove they could work with agility. As the pandemic passes, why would anyone want to go back to slower development cycles?
  • As the use of digital channels grows, the teams involved are hybrids of fundraising specialists and channel technicians. They need the authority to test approaches, without the fear that a member of the Board will ask “why did I see this on Facebook?” What safety guarantees are you giving them that help them understand where the boundary is?
  • Peer to peer events offer an exciting way for communities to be activated, yet their success is built around clarity such as an end game, or solidarity to the beneficiaires. Since the campaigns are so visible their messaging bumps whole-heartedly into stakeholders who may have typically left discreet direct channels alone. 
  • The community and businesses appealing to that community are seeking ways to express their identities. Yet few Australian charities have discovered the power and benefits of a clear value proposition that identifies why they should be picked. Brand trust research is revealing that a lack of distinctive long-term positions is leaving the public to determine preferences by  “seeing the charity’s citizenship in action.” If you aren’t supporting beneficiaries in Australia, or your work is less tangible than an assistance dog or air rescue vehicle, you need to agree how distinctive you really are.

Suggestion: Fundraisers… you need to get your hands on your charity brand. If there is a chance it will get in your way then lead the charge to change it so that it doesn’t. Marlin can undertake brand strength analysis, help create value propositions that support fundraising; refine visual and verbal guidelines or of course do the whole thing from scratch. 

There are of course a plethora of reasons why things fall from mandatory to nice-to-have. It is, I hope, obvious that Marlin doesn’t judge. 

But as the end of the year approaches, make sure you have considered whether there is merit in re-assigning unused budgets from FY21 towards activities that have shifted down the to-do-list too many times. By shifting expenditure towards outsourcing you can commence work that will bridge two financial years, with benefits that will last for many more.

Talk to us today to see how we can help you use up your left over budget.