JFDI

This is an acronym I use quite a lot.

It isn’t that hard to work out its meaning. I’ll give you a clue. A rather well known sporting brand coined the term ‘Just Do It’.

We simply added another word. Finish (ahem).

You get the drift.

Whilst I’d like to claim I always have a JFDI attitude, it’s been my experience that whenever we really put our foot to the floor, on all cylinders – despite the pain, results follow.

Some of the most effective and successful campaigns I’ve been involved in have happened in the shortest time, with the least time for “planning”.

12 weeks campaigns condensed into 7. Responding to emergencies in less than 24 hours. Turning a new idea into a live campaign in a month, when conventional wisdom says it should take 10 weeks.

One specific fundraising project I worked on trebled net income from the previous year, done in a month less than it would ‘typically’ take. Frankly, we didn’t have that extra month.

Doing this usually means blood, sweat and often quite literally, tears. I was reminded of this in the last few days as we went live for one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on. Exciting, yes. The cause of upheaval? Most definitely.

It’s early days but I’m confident this particular campaign will be a ‘stormer’.

Why is it that just getting it done so often really is the best way forward?

I think for two reasons:

1 There is no time to second guess yourself. You back your initial instincts and plough ahead

2 “Planning” time becomes doing time, and there is something to be said for working to a strict deadline. We’re humans, we love deadlines (hence why they work so well in direct response).

I’m not suggesting every project you work on should be on a whim, involve staff meltdowns and escalating blood pressure, but in the right environment JFDI can be the way to go.

Jonathon

Silence is deafening

But whilst I haven’t had anything to say here for a little while, I’ve managed to contribute some thoughts over at the blogs of some colleagues.

Phyllis Freedman asked me to share my 20 cents worth on the lack of planned giving innovation in our sector. Here’s my take.

John Suart asked me to share my views on what’s right when it comes to spending money on marketing/fundraising. Here’s my take.

Thanks Phyllis and John for broaching such provoking, yet necessary topics for us as fundraisers. Helping us continue to raise the bar.

Jonathon

Ikea and charity websites

What should they share in common? No, it’s not that they give guys (including me) cold sweats and a nauseous feeling. That’s just Ikea.

Incredibly focused. Corridors. Hard to get out.

It’s easy to get caught up in aesthetics and design when redeveloping your site. It isn’t rocket science. Up to date news and stories, easy to navigate, not cluttered, coherent explanation of what you do, use of imagery and video.

Again, make it hard to get out. Keep me in there. Make it clear what you want me to do. You can take me off in another direction, but keep coming back to the same spot.

Remember the corridor. Remember Ikea.

Jonathon

Getting some end of year cash in the door

There have been some really good posts floating around the last few days focused on practical tips for your end of year push.

So, how do you get that cash in the door during the festive season? For many, the lifeblood of our organizations.

Rather than reinvent the wheel I’m going to re-hash an old post, ten copy tips for your next appeal.

However I’ll add the following suggestions to give you the best chance to maximize cash gifts right now:

– Tell me the single most important thing (SMIT) that you need to tell me at this point in time. No superfluous information, no distractions. One thing, one thing now.

Add some extra layers to your end of year push. Consider: pre appeal conference calls for a select group of donors, pre and post email “sandwiches”, post appeal phone calls (a nice reminder that the end of the year is approaching and we have not reached our target).

Promise to feedback post appeal as to the impact you’ve been able to impart. Then do it. Early January is a wonderful time to reflect on a year gone, and look ahead to the stuff that needs to happen this year.

Don’t sugar coat your appeal. Similar to point 5 in my earlier post, your job is to bring those who care (donors) closer to those in need (beneficiaries). We are not moral gatekeepers, we’re fundraisers. Tell it as it is.

Good luck getting that all important cash in the door. And please, share your experiences.

Jonathon

What I wish I knew

A colleague tweeted the other day asking what as a fundraiser do I wish I’d known/done early in my career?

I’m not one for regrets, but racked my brains to think of some of the things that may have helped knowing when I stumbled into the fundraising world. Mainly:

– I wish I’d got my hands on the Tiny Books of Fundraising much, much earlier. They’re called Tiny for a reason, but chock full of nuggets of information that are priceless and lay the foundations for what fundraising is all about.

These are a must read for any colleagues that work with me as part of their induction.

Likewise, Ken Burnett’s Relationship Fundraising. A real gem.

– I wish I’d understood that what people say and do are two very different things. It didn’t take me long to figure this one out, but knowing that “I won’t read/respond to/give to that” doesn’t necessarily correlate to response is a handy lesson to learn.

Ask yourself, how many statements do you make about things that you plan to do that you actually follow through on? Apply the same logic to fundraising. People simply respond to darn good fundraising, not just what they think they will.

– I wish I’d asked more people more tough questions. Show me some rubbish things you’ve done. Talk to me about the biggest screw up you’ve made. The worst performing campaign. There’s lots of chest beating that happens, we’re all guilty of it. But I’d rather work out how to avoid common pitfalls than simply look at muscle flexing and storming campaigns.

– I wish I’d realised how important it is to be disciplined with what you do, avoiding loads of distraction. I’m not suggesting stifling innovation, but I would encourage doing what works, and do it really well. Remember what pays the bills.

Ok, I’m starting to feel a little like a kid penning their Christmas wish list. I just wish I’d written this post a few years back.

Jonathon