digital giving trends


Interesting trends in digital giving

The recently released 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report reveals some encouraging trends for digital fundraisers. Thanks to Michaela on Fancy Guppy for unpacking the most pertinent.

Ignore Facebook at your peril
In the report, which surveyed more than 4000 donors in 95 countries, 25% of donors said they were inspired to give by social media, with Facebook being by far the most influential, outstripping Twitter (the next most cited platform) by a clear margin. 75% of donors said that social media is a primary news source for keeping up to date with organisations they care about. So the time you invest in keeping your organisation's Facebook page fresh and relevant is more than worthwhile.

Saving time
Interestingly, a further 25% of donors said fundraising events inspired them to give, while 21% responded to emails. Although fundraising events have a major role to play in creating awareness as well as raising funds, no one can deny that organising an event requires a huge investment of time and staff. Compare this to the time it takes to create a Facebook post or email – and digital fundraising looks even more attractive!

Donors prefer to give online
Even older donors indicated that their preferred giving chanel was online (59% – against 19% who said they preferred to give through the mail). However, it must be noted that the survey on which the report is based was conducted online, so these results represent the views of an internet-savy group, who have access to the internet and are comfortable using social media and email.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is very popular
In the last year, 33% of respondents have donated to a campaign where an individual has created their own online fundraising campaign to raise money for an NGO or nonprofit. Peer-to-peer or 'challenge' fundraising is popular across all age groups of donors – encouraging news especially for smaller, less well known organisations which lack the budget or staff to manage big fundraising campaigns of their own.

This is just a small 'taste' of some of the emerging trends revealed by the report. To find out more, download the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Reort here.

social media marketing


The "hidden" dangers of Facebook advertising and remarketing

Many non-profits are turning to Facebook to promote their cause or appeal, and it makes perfect sense. With over 2 billion active users worldwide spending an average 20 minutes on the site, Facebook is certainly where the eyes are.

But never forget that, unlike traditional media such as newspapers, radio or TV, social media audiences have the power to choose whether or not your adverts appear in their space. If your messages are not relevant, appealing or interesting, your audience may react by 'hiding' or even blocking individual posts or everything you, and other non-profits like you, post.

Facebook statsUnless there is a complaint, which Facebook will act on and report to you, you won't know this is happening. But you should be monitoring your organisation's Facebook page for 'unlikes' and 'hides'. If you notice a trend like the one pictured here, where there are more 'unlikes' than 'likes' leading to a net loss in your audience, you need to analyse what's going wrong and fix it quickly.

What are you doing wrong?
You may be posting too frequently – or conversely, not often enough. How much is too much? There's no magic number – every organisation is different and it depends a lot on what you're posting. If your posts are all about you – or worse, all about your needs (give, give, give!) you should probably cut down on both the number of posts per day and the number of days in the week when you post. If you're sharing popular content (that has some relevance to your cause), genuine news, or helpful information (for e.g. the Heart Foundation could post early warning symptoms of a heart attack or stroke), you can get away with more frequent posts.

The future is remarketing ... or is it?
Have you every visited a website and then noticed ads for that site following you wherever you go on the Internet? It's all possible through some clever technology called remarketing, which places a 'cookie' on your device when you visit a website but fail to take the desired action (eg. buying a product or downloading an e-book). The cookie then triggers specially targetted advertisements to display on other websites you visit within the Google or social media networks. Marketers claim it's a highly cost effective tool, and it may well push someone who's undecided into making the purchase. But ...

Maybe it's just me but I keep noticing instances where remarketing is a complete flop. Like when you research a hotel for your next holiday, choose one and make your booking, only to have the 'losers' follow you around the Internet in a fruitless effort to secure your booking. These hotels and their special offers begin to look a bit desperate and pathetic, which is surely not the image you want for your brand?

Even worse was my recent experience with FlySafair, after I took up their offer of a cheap flight to Jo'burg. After paying for my luggage to accompany me, I realised that my cheap flight was not. Cheap. In fact, the return flight on Mango (with bag included) was considerably less.

I probably would have forgotten all about it by now, except that FlySafair pops up wherever I go on the Internet, with more offers of cheap flights. Every time I see it, it serves as a negative reminder of how I was taken in. As a result, I have developed a massive dislike of their perky pink and turquoise logo and can honestly say that I will probably never fly with them again.

The problem is that, clever as the remarketing technology is, it cannot figure out why website visitors do what they do. Until it can, those ads are about as welcome as a telemarketer who won't take No for an answer!

give yourself


Inspiration for fellow fundraisers and other South Africans with soul

According to a report on fin24.com, South Africans bucked a global trend of giving less to become more charitable in 2016 – despite the tough economic climate.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index rated South Africa the 24th most charitable country in the world.  South Africans rated higher in the categories of ‘helping a stranger’ and ‘volunteering time’, but less so when it came to ‘donating money’. All three categories were combined to produce the overall score. Our 2016 score was higher than that achieved in 2015, indicating that more people are getting involved in charitable causes.

As someone who’s been involved in fundraising for most of my professional life, these stats are a balm to the soul. When I first started out (some 30 years ago), people referred to my work in direct mail as ‘begging letters’ – often accompanied by a sneer. As if it was somehow shameful to invite others to contribute towards the dream of a better world. So the shift towards more and more people wanting to get involved in charitable initiatives, is really heartening. I’m especially inspired by individuals who don’t just volunteer or contribute to worthy causes, but who take it one step further and start their own projects which are deeply meaningful to them.

Stephan Ferreira is one such person. Although he had previously been involved in charity work, it was only after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 that he decided he needed to do something more.

“The idea of death did not scare me,” he writes on his Facebook page, Charity Begins With Me. “But I knew I wanted to leave behind something worth remembering before I officially kicked the bucket.”

He decided he would give hungry children from an impoverished informal settlement a small lunch on Sundays. For convenience and economy (and because kids like them!) he decided on a hot dog and juice, with an apple to keep them healthy, and some marshmallows – because they are kids and they deserve a little joy in life.

Stephan is now feeding 800+ children every Sunday! As well as holding down a full time job and collecting donated food items and other basic necessities during the week. If that is not a shining example of how one person can make a difference, I don’t know what is.

More inspiration comes from another Facebook page, I Have a Name. There's a blog too.

I’m not quite sure who’s behind it, but the page invites you to ,“Come with me on a journey … the stories and names behind the faces of everyday South Africans living their life in your neighbourhood, on your streets.”

It comes with the disclaimer that the author is running the page in her/his spare time while juggling family, kids and work. I Have a Name is not an NGO nor does it accept monetary contributions. The goal is to inspire others to break down barriers and help, by taking up contact with the people featured, to encourage a radical change of perspective, and to inspire hope for South Africa's future. “We share this country with a lot of big hearted, generous people who want to make a difference,” says the author.

In complete contrast, Siyabonga Africa is not a small start up initiative – it’s a large, thriving non-profit doing incredible work. I was lucky enough to visit recently and see their baking initiative. Unemployed people from the local community are taught the basics of bread making and baking and then use these skills to start up small home based bakeries of their own. Some are employed in the organisation’s own bakery – which supplies hundreds of low cost loaves to the community. It’s a win-win situation offering employment and the opportunity to feed families with top quality bread at a lower price than commercially produced loaves.

Visit siyabongaafrica.org.za for more about the incredible work done by this non-profit.

Please share stories of organisations and individuals that inspire you. We all need more good news!

attributes of successful fundraisers


Volunteers get stuck in on last year's ICC (International Coastal Clean up) Day. Photo: North Glen News

Spring cleaning – every little bit helps

Last Sunday's stroll along Durban beach turned into a mini beach clean up after I found myself incapable of walking past a disgusting tattered plastic bag embedded in the sand by my toes.

Half an hour later, we had collected a bursting bag full of plastic rubbish – from supermarket bags and packets to bottle caps and drinking straws, all of which cause havoc with the marine animals, seabirds and fish that call our oceans 'home'. We don't know how many die after ingesting plastic ... we do know that floating plastic resembles food but is indigestible. It forms a lining in the stomach which prevents real food from being absorbed, and sea creatures literally starve to death.

But with an estimated 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean, what good could picking up a few pieces of litter on Durban beach possibly do? Well, just imagine if every beachgoer visiting every beach in the world did the same thing! If we were all aware of the need to dispose of rubbish responsibly, we could begin to turn the tide (excuse the pun!) against this shameful destruction of our seas.

Within hours of returning from the beach, I picked up an email to sign a petition to ask one of our popular supermarket chains to stop wrapping whole fruit and vegetables in plastic. Apparently nearly 13 000 people have already signed the petition, so it will be really interesting to see if the store concerned rises to the challenge.

If you'd like to add your name to the petition, please click here.

attributes of successful fundraisers

5 characteristics of enduring fundraisers

During the pre-workshop introductory session at a recent SAIF workshop I presented, I asked the question: "How many of you have been in fundraising for five years or more?" Of the 30+ delegates, not one raised a hand. The 'oldest' fundraiser had been in her position for four years. Most of the other delegates were completely new to fundraising.

It was a stark reminder of the high attrition rate among people in this field. And yet, I have many colleagues who, despite the challenges, have remained in the profession for ten, twenty and more years. So what is it that they have, that sets them up for success?

1. They're passionate about what they do
People who do well at fundraising believe strongly in what they are doing. They see their work as an opportunity to make the world a better place and their commitment keeps them going when people who lack this belief and conviction give up. As a young advertising copywriter, I entered the fundraising field by accident when Terry Murray asked me: "What would you rather do? Use your time and creative skills to convince people to buy Surf rather than Omo – or for something important like preventing animal cruelty ... helping blind people acquire mobility and literacy skills ... or ensuring that hungry children get something to eat today?" Talk about a life-changing epiphany! If you're not passionate about your organisation's work, find another organisation that does inspire you.

2. They see the bigger picture
If you think your job as a fundraiser is all about money, you may not be heading for longevity in your career. Yes, your success will be measured by the income you secure for your organisation and you will get enormous satisfaction from reporting year on year growth. But sooner or later you will inevitably hit a slump. Successful fundraisers measure their efforts in terms of the number of people or animals helped, environments saved, wrongs put right, etc. They understand that the money they raise is only the means to an end – and by focussing on the end results, they make their job far more rewarding.

3. They're tenacious
All the enduring fundraisers I know have this quality. They are not easily discouraged and they keep on going when others give up. Hand in hand with this quality comes ...

4. They don't take rejection personally
If you spend your time asking people for money, you are going to have to get used to hearing the word, "No." But when it's an organisation or individual who has supported you in the past, someone you know perosonally, or someone you were counting on to say, "Yes" - it can be very difficult to remain positive, or even gracious! Successful fundraisers are able to separate themselves and their cause from the rejection. They understand that most of the time, a "No" has nothing to do with them; it is the result of the donor's own circumstances.

5. They keep on learning
Any job becomes boring if you keep on doing the same thing, year after year. The reasons people give may not have changed since the dawn of time, but the tools and techniques available to fundraisers are constrantly evolving. Successful fundraisers read books and attend conferences to learn from others' successes, and are not afraid to try out new options.

Thank you

Power of appreciation

Isn't it lovely when one of those little gems pops up in your mailbox ... a few sincere words of thanks for a job well done? Especially if it comes out of the blue from a client you've been working with for a while.

Receiving one of these uplifting messages earlier in the week – and basking in a few precious 'feel good' moments - I started wondering why we don't take the trouble to say, "Thank you," more often. It costs nothing but a few minutes to draft a brief email, letting a colleague, client or supplier know you appreciate them. Yet it can really make their day! Not only that, human nature being what it is, you can be pretty sure that the next task this person undertakes on your behalf will be done with extra enthusiasm and pleasure. If we all said, 'thank you,' more frequently, we could create a much more pleasant and co-operative working environment!

This started me thinking about the people who donate to our organisations. If ever anyone deserved heaps of appreciation it has to be those who part with their hard earned cash in the hope of making the world a better place. But are we really showing them how much we appreciate them? Do we even acknowledge their support? And if we do, are our words of thanks sincere and genuine, or just standard auto email responses and form letters churned out by the thousand?

Most organisations thank donors when the cheque or credit card payment comes through. And that's the least we can do. But I wonder how a donor would feel if he or she received a letter of appreciation, an email or thank you card completely out of the blue ... just to let them know you are thinking of them and thankful for their support in the past. I'm willing to predict this would create a stronger bond and increase the likelihood of further support!

Wordpress sites under attack

According to Wordfence, the security plugin we use on our Wordpress sites, an average of just over 30 million brute force attacks (login guessing attempts) as well as 7.2 million complex attacks (attempts to exploit a security vulnerability) took place every day during June 2017 on the websites they monitor.

Sadly one of our clients' sites fell victim to hacking earlier this year, which taught us a lot more than we ever wanted to know about the 'baddies' out there in cyberspace. The site was both defaced and, more alarmingly, SQL injection was used to secretly infiltrate the database and make changes to some of the functionality of the site.

Fortunately, we were able to remove the defaced pages almost as soon as they occurred, thus reducing the potential damage that might have been caused by a loss of donor confidence in the site. Fixing the database and preventing further breaches though took a lot more effort and some sleepless nights!

Regardless of what security measures you have in place, hackers are continually looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit. The latest relates to a method attackers use to find a WordPress website within minutes of it being installed for the first time. As the legitimate installation is in progress, the hacker runs his/her own script to install a back door and resets the site so the site owner doesn't know it's been compromised.

Another way of compromising a Wordpress site is by quietly installing a malicious web shell, which takes over and executes all kinds of malicious scripts and behavior. In essence, writes Andie La-Rosa of Wordfence, "Your website has been broken into, hackers have made themselves at home on your server, your bandwidth and storage space have been stolen, and you’re none the wiser".

Unfortunately, owing to their popularity, Wordpress sites are most at risk of malidious attacks. If you have a Wordpress site, it's vitally important to ensure that the core files are immediately updated whenever a new version is released. You also need to ensure that you are always running the latest version of your theme file and all plugins. Brute force attacks can be countered by choosing good usernames and passwords. In 90% of the attacks I've monitored, hackers use "admin" as the username. They also frequently try the organisation's name or email address as the username or the password.

When it comes to passwords, length is more important than complexity. According to Stopthehacker.com, “It takes only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is six characters long. Add two extra letters and a few uppercase letters and that number jumps to 3 years. Add just one more character and some numbers and symbols and it will take 44,530 years to crack.”

Technology changes - fundraising doesn't

With all the digital tools and widgets, it's easy to forget everything you know about fundraising. The truth is, people won't give to your organisation because you have a really cool and interactive website. Or because you have a huge donate button on every page.

They give because you make them feel something – sad, angry, frightened, guilty, obligated – or because they want to be part of a group ... to look good among their peers ... or for religious reasons, because they believe it is the right thing to do.

Using your home page to tell visitors all about your organisation – your mission and vision, your achievements, your projects, your credentials, your team – may seem like the logical thing to do. But you only have to visit a commercial website like Woolworths – where the focus is all on the visitor and what they might want to buy – to realise that you need to shift the focus from your organisation to your visitor. People are interested in themselves first and foremost, and you need to immediately answer the question, "What's in it for me?"

What's in it for the visitor is, of course, the chance to do something that will make them feel good about themselves. Human beings are programmed with the desire to help other people or animals. To be kind. To help put things right that are wrong. All you have to do is show them how.

Often you can do this by telling a story about someone in need, or about a hero in your organisation who has done something inspiring. And of course, you should never under estimate the power of a really good image. Pictured alongside is one of my all time favourites by Reuters/Daily Mail UK, on the death of Nelson Mandela. You cannot look at the picture and not feel the grief and shock of the moment.