Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Fundraising in a recession

Everyone seems to be whining about how hard it is out there, instead of finding things that will work.

Ollie, an old pal and sometime reluctant fundraiser has just sold his Golf Shop business. Worked well for years as he's a bandit and could do a lot of business on the course but with the recession has sold up and moved on.

He's now importing "Borsalina" merchandise*, to sell to up market bag and luggage shops. "He must be bonkers or on class A drugs" I hear you say, moving into luxery goods in a recession???

Well actually top branded goods are still selling. Not perhaps in the volumes of two years ago, but there are still loads of WAGS out there needing their new £500 accessorised bags, boots or whatever. It's the £50 bags that have stopped selling.

Fundraisers have some really interesting opportunities to position their products and activities very carefully. Retailers and consumer product companies knowm that when volumes are down you go for higher margin items. Why would that be any different for charities? Let's get innovating and doing some deals with the companies still making money.

* Rather neat little gismos that keep your expensive bag or laptop off the floor (and away from beer spillages or thieves) and hooked under the table where you're sitting. They, of course, match your branded bag!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Am I alone?

Am I alone in thinking that the Institute is missing a trick (again). It's one thing to ask for poor examples of direct marketing materials (and I see a few). But surely as the arbiteurs of excellence in fundraising they could be naming and shaming poor practice all round?

I'm not talking about stuff that might lead to complaints we've already got the FSRB - hurrah!

No I'm talking about the cringe making telephone campaigns, crap ads and even worse brochures that have no case for support and even less reason to give. What about a site for a wall of shame? MPs need not be alone.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Fat Cat (or perhaps Pig) Bankers

Just had a supposedly targeted flyer through from MBNA offering me (with a half decent credit rating) 19.9% APR on a supposed new deal!!!!!

Hello, is anyone in? The bank rate is 0.5% which means any bank with a half decent credit rating (OK I agree there aren't so many of them now) can borrow Bank of England money rather cheaply. How much mark up do they need? That sort of increase is nothing short of a loan shark.

Charity affinity cards have, it seems, been out of favour for some time, though some are still making useful money through existing users. So what about "A new deal?"
A nice ethical bank like the Co-op getting together with a syndicate of nice helpful empowering charities working in the community and launching a new card which promises an ethical approach. That is, if you can afford the repayments and are not deep in debt, you get a single digit interest rate on loan or outstanding balances. Still a hell of a profit for the bank and the charity(s).

New opportunities to trade and help the economy.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Managing Expectations

Talking with some of the fundraising students on the part time MSc course at London South Bank University yesterday about fundraising management. We agreed that sometimes it's the expectations that are the hardest thing of all to manage. From trustees who ask "How long will it take to raise your salary" to the supporters who ask, "What, you get paid?"

Great expectatations can be a heavy burden (think of Linus in Charlie Brown who says "There's no heavier burden than great potential). And so, one of the most important lessons fundraisers can learn (and give their teams license to say)is the ability to say NO! It can of course be moderated.....No, not unless we invest more, or stop doing something else - but essentially managing unrealistic expectations.

It doesn't come easy to those used to being optimists and whose glass is always half full. Never the less it's a powerful tool used sparingly.

Friday, 1 May 2009

I don't believe it!

Talking with Sue Hind Woodwood yesterday who admits to being a GOF and we couldn't help but bemoan the fact that all the evidence suggests those organisations who survive recessions and prosper most afterwards are those that do not cut investment in people. That is whilst you might, because of reduced cashflow be forced to make savings, you don't through away the loyalty you've built up amongst staff, volunteers and supporters, by ignoring the need to continue developing staff, relationships and reputation. And anyway what are reserves for if not a rainy day? I've news for those refusing to dip into reserves. It's pissing with rain outside!

Even Victor Meldrew would get that one.

Got a pal Peter Bishton cycling back from Greece to Worcester (he cycled out in 2007). Check out www.returnfromlesbos.blogspot.com Nothing earth shattering about the technology but last time he raised £2000 for his chosen charity and this time, I suspect, will be more. Just another volunteer eventer? Well I bet his chosen charity (ActionAid) hadn't cut back on their communications to him!