Tag Archives: Fundraising

Direct mail isn’t dead. But then neither is email.

Good news all your ardent fans of a direct mail piece.  It’s not dead.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was as if you read the many blogs and content pieces delivered to our inbox seemingly daily,  you will hear that email is king – and prolific studies of the ROI of emails will be quoted at you.

Having not realised Direct Mail was past its expiry date, you will be relieved to note that there’s also a survey behind this news that it’s not dead, so it must be true.  The renaissance of direct mail (or DM as we lovingly refer to it) seems to be related to several market trends that are happening right now according to an agency that specialises in <drumroll> direct marketing.

What are these marketing trends?

Well, since you ask:

  • We’re all a bit wary of digital – if you’ve tried to get an audience for your Facebook post without boosting your post with cash, you’ll know how much harder it is getting. Ad blockers and algorithms make it harder to get your message out via digital and there’s a lot more email “noise” than there was a few years ago.  In amongst this, our survey doesn’t account for the fact that for most non-profits, DM has never really stopped, or gone away as we might like to mark our returned records.
  • Letters have regained some love – a letter (that’s not a bill) or something through the post that’s not a bill is a welcome thing indeed. With all the digital noise we live with, it seems that consumers have embraced a resurgence back to the old-school tactile brochure and something to have a bit of a browse through. This is certainly true for audiences of over 30 years old – the younger generation finds a catalogue a bit of a fuddy-duddy novelty it seems.
  • And with a click, you’re gone – it’s very easy for a digital customer – or contact – to simply ghost you out – unsubscribe from email or unfollow your social feeds so says this survey.   This point is very true.  I’d argue that this is ultimate data protection for the customer, so is good for them and we must keep putting their interests at heart. From a brand focus though if you’ve got no other way of making contact, it’s effectively killed your connection.  So DM once again becomes a player – especially in the GDPR focused future.

The truth for most non-profits is that DM has always been king. 

The appeal cycle remains a constant stalwart of delivering fundraising success.  Why?  In part, because you’ve got your segmentation down to a fine art, in part because of your demographics (older people like the paper as this survey also quotes).  I suspect that the reason DM is so firmly fixed for fundraising is that there is no way you can risk losing out on essential income by shifting a successful model to a more trial-based dynamic approach.

There is no getting away from the fact direct mail is expensive though and while it still delivers ROI, the rising costs (postage etc) give us reason to question. There’s been a shift towards email in non-profits for e-news, and most of us have a donate now button (which is also occassionally in the e-newsletter), but for many it is an adjunct channel for fundraising, rather than the heart of fundraising operations.  Considering that email is relatively inexpensive,  this is disappointing.

Setting aside the risk element of shifting a successful DM approach to digital multi-channel, why haven’t we made more of a shift to integrating email into our appeals cycle?

For some it is going to be the time that’s a factor – to get the income in that’s needed for operations, it can be a bit of a hamster wheel (newsletter, appeal, social media, event and do it all again).

For most charities though I suspect having the right technology in place is also a factor.  Answer this question honestly, with your charities current tech set up, do you feel confident that you could deliver a seamless customer journey?

So here’s one of the challenges.  We seem prepared to invest significant funds in the infrastructure around expensive direct mail (mailing costs, printing, mailing house files, data cleaning and segmentation … ), what’s holding us back from email?

The reality is that you can deliver great journeys with even the most basic email tools (MailChimp has good functionality if you pay for their Pro edition starting from £150 per month on top of your mailing costs, Campaign Monitor offers smart automation as part of their basic package so cost depends on your contacts – in most cases it is less than MailChimp though). The challenge here is that you may need to a bit more manual work and (technical term here) playing about to get some of the stages where you want them, but it is perfectly possible to deliver a journey via email.

The theory that you can use these to start is very sound – they deliver and work. They work best when integrated with your CRM solution so you can transfer data back and forth. When your programme is proven to be successful, then the business case for moving to a more robust marketing automation solution or marketing platform becomes more watertight – and the investment in this against say the investment in your direct mail infrastructure a lot more understandable.

To get to that point though, we have to do the time.  One commodity we’re all short of.

To prove that email is as successful (or even more successful) than direct mail will take some thinking through for your organisation.

The arguments for email as part of an appeal campaign are strong – cost, relative ease of delivery.  What needs the thought is the segmentation approach – which of your constituents are you going to trial for this approach?   Of course, customer preference could – and should – come in here.

My low-risk suggestion for trialling email appeals is to look at the segmentation that is trailing off via direct mail, the least successful groups.  Or the group you exclude on cost grounds.  Narrow out your audience and trial a small segment in a different format.

You do need confidence in your data and in channels and preferences to do this, but that’s kind of a basic given for all approaches in today’s fundraising and marketing world.  This shift to multi-channel is something that many charities are needing to build towards rather than being able to deliver straight away. Many large scale commercial organisations struggle with it, and they have the resources to push this, so let’s be kinder to ourselves.  Work on data, work on preferences (we’ll have to for GDPR in any case) to get results by ‘baby-steps’.

Keep plugging away at direct mail for fundraising appeals – it still has a key place, but look at where you can diversify the costs and results from shifting to another channel.

My colleague Ian and I spoke about ways to splice and dice our data to start to use it more effectively at the IoF Fundraising Convention in 2016, so you could start by reviewing our slides. Or give us a call to ask about this and how we could deliver something similar for your organisation.

Get in touch

Steps to success with Purple Vision non profit success pack partner, Purple Visiom

Steps to success with Salesforce

This blog by Purple Vision CEO, Steve Thomas, is about the new Non Profit Success Pack.  Purple Vision has been supporting charities to adopt NPSP since we became Salesforce partners in 2010.

NPSP. 

Same acronym, slightly changed name – from non-profit starter pack to non-profit success pack.

A casual observer would be forgiven for suggesting that this change, announced recently by Salesforce.org with much fanfare, is little more than a minor makeover.

The technical enhancements that accompany the name change are comparatively light additions to the established core of the product which remains unchanged. But the change is significant – we believe that this shift  recognises the maturity of (arguably) the most successful software solution ever written for non-profit organisations.

In this way, we regard the Non-profit Success Pack more as a ‘coming of age’ than an ‘upgrade.

What makes NPSP unique and valuable?

Even in the world of charities it is unusual to get something for nothing. But NPSP really is a free gift. Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com, launched the Nonprofit Starter Pack back in 2008 as an enhancement to its previous Nonprofit Template.

Since that time they have supported the solution through substantial upgrades as well as continuous enhancement releases. NPSP can be provided pre-installed with the Power of Us donated licence programme, as well as in open source code from Github.

Perhaps more significantly, by consolidating NPSP as the de facto framework for all non-profits that use the world’s best CRM system, Salesforce.org is paving the way for a whole new phase of development that will leverage its ever-evolving technology platform.

Salesforce today is almost unrecognisable from its origins as (unsurprisingly) a sales management tool. It has become a comprehensive customer-facing technology platform with

The Non-Profit Success Pack continues to provide the essential baseline that enables all non-profits to take advantage of these features with a structured but flexible framework that models their unique needs.

connected-np

This unique approach to donated licences with an open source overlay has helped build a substantial and active community of tens of thousands of organisations that benefit from Salesforce.

With the latest facility for developers, partners, and even customers to build and customise their own apps and features, NPSP will encourage and support a future with even greater diversity, innovation and collaboration.

What does NPSP actually do?

In a nutshell – it’s a special layer on top of the core Salesforce system – a data architecture designed to meet the special needs of non-profit organisations.

The key effect of NPSP is to adapt the Salesforce focus on business-to business (B2B) activities so as to more closely resemble a business-to-consumer (B2C) model that is common to charities.

NPSP sets up structures to manage

  • the relationships between individual donors,
  • their households,
  • the organisations they are associated with.

It also establishes a standard model for

  • creating and managing pledges,
  • donations,
  • recurring gifts,
  • volunteers.

Where next?

NPSP as the standard for quality, reliability and innovation

NPSP was originally intended to provide an entry point for smaller organisations to get started with Salesforce – hence the former name Starter Pack.

Those with additional requirements take advantage of the 3000+ pre-integrated third-party applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, together with bespoke development by a growing cadre of certified developers and partners (like Purple Vision).

Crucially, the success of NPSP means that it is increasingly accepted as the standard model, providing an industry-wide benchmark for organisations of all types, sizes and geographies.

The development focus for Salesforce.org in future is to constantly reinforce the central role of NPSP whilst actively encouraging customers, partners and developers to innovate on this platform.

Examples of this in the Success Pack include new features such as:

  • personal profiling,
  • in-memoriam donations
  • in-kind donations,
  • campaign tools
  • upgrading the user interface to the latest Lightning standard,
  • enabling NPSP for more languages, starting with Spanish, German and French.

Innovating with the security of a solid platform

The flexibility of the Salesforce platform means that customisation is safe and straightforward to undertake, especially with the extensive frameworks for formal accreditation and informal learning and support. With such a large community, developments evolve in all sorts of new directions. This leads to innovative and successful outcomes but also, in some cases, organisations find themselves with a system so heavily customised that they lose some of the flexibility of a common standard architecture.

At Purple Vision we believe passionately in future-proofing solutions so that our clients retain maximum flexibility around their long-term strategic objectives. We strongly support the development of universal standards such as NPSP, which mitigate the danger of over-customisation and we have been accredited by Salesforce.org as one of just four International Impact Partners formally supporting NPSP.

Wherever possible we advocate well-built, proven apps over DIY customisation.

We have tested, installed and supported scores of AppExchange solutions and we know where they work well (and where they don’t), and whether they offer value for money. As the saying goes, we prefer “clicks not code”.

Our solutions almost always involve NPSP, and we have delivered scores of successful solutions that work very effectively within this standard.

For example:

Be a non profit success with NPSP and Salesforce.org.  

Find out more about being a Salesforce success:

Take action – get started with Salesforce NPSP and Purple Vision

Purple Vision NPSP Resources

 

 

Fundraising Tag

No, not a new game,  but maybe it could be?  Antonina Romanova, our german-speaking lead consultant headed to Germany for Purple Vision recently… 

Fundraising Tag

Over 300 representatives of non-profit organisations gathered in Potsdam and Dresden in September for Fundraising Tag. Fundraising Tag PotsdamOrganised by fundraisingmagazine.de, and supported by sponsors including Purple Vision, the days offer a mix of sessions, workshops and networking time.

A fairly standard format, but for us the exciting element was that it was in German and would give us an
opportunity to learn more about our fast-expanding customer base in Germany.

We saw these events as not just an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience but also to learn the needs and and requirements of German organisations and get a deeper  understanding of the technology and tools they use and problems they face in their day-to-day activities.

We’ve all got something in common … 

All non-profits, regardless of where they are in the world share some common factors, but it’s the specific requirements that determine best practices, internal processes, applications and solutions.  These will always be different as they depend on range of factors including market, political and economic situations as well as regulations at a market and government level too.

Of course the other major factor influencing the people, processes and technologies in non-profits around the world is the vision, mission and strategy of the organisation – which will vary widely.

In the exhibitor area of the event we were interacting with Fundraising Day attendees. We shared our experience in non-profit industry, explaining how a proper strategy and a vision in combination with modern technology solutions can lead them to a more successful fundraising and brand recognition. Together with Account Managers from Salesforce.org Christiane  and Lisa, we showed a number of people the power that Salesforce offers non-profit organisations.

Some of the common questions about Salesforce were related to various functionality modules, such as  donation management, contact management, digital marketing, event management, grants, volunteers, data protection and, of course, costs.

A number of people were excited to hear that Salesforce.org grants 10 free licenses. However, a couple of people noticed that if you need a higher number of licenses, than they become quite expensive. I should mention that Salesforce licenses are heavily discounted for non-profit organisations. But them being not entirely free means that resources are actually invested into the product development.

Network and Learn

But Fundraising days are not just about representatives from non-profit organisations talking to the exhibitors who offer various solutions and services. Fundraising days are also about learning and networking. There was a number of sessions and seminars that attendees could attend. Each seminar was dedicated to a specific area or functionality.

fr-tage-1For example, a Purple Vision speaker Klemens Karkow was talking about fundraising for small and medium clubs and associations.

Some other speakers were sharing their knowledge on how to build a successful partnership with corporate sponsors, how to better understand donors, how to work with major donors and how to benefit from social media and e-mail marketing. Each seminar provided not just a lot of content but also gave attendees an opportunity to ask their questions and get answers from the experts.

I have also attended one of the seminars. You can never know everything and I decided to use this opportunity to improve my industry knowledge. I attended a session on Practical Tips or How to Make Friends from Enemies.

It was very interesting to hear all the tips, related to organisation and contact donor journey communication. There were, however, a couple of aspects that made me think on how to bring together time proven best practices and the tendency of donors becoming more and more digital. One of the things mentioned by the presenter was that a research showed that if you send donors handwritten Thanks You letters within 7 days after the first donation, a chance to receive the next donation within 12 months is 16% higher than if you thanks them by email or print a letter and send it per post. I agree that for certain groups of donors, this will be the right approach. But if an organisation wants to attract younger donors, it should also consider other ways. And that’s were a marketing journey with 1:1 communication comes into play.

See you next time! 

I found Fundraising Days to be a great experience for non-profit organisations that could learn best practices, talk about consultancy and technical solutions to exhibitors and discuss their problems and successes with other non-profits.

2016-09-08-dresden-fundraising-tage-2At the same time it was a fantastic opportunity for Purple Vision and for me personally as it allowed us to get a better understanding of our current and future customers on the German market and learn about other solutions offered within it. As we are an independent consultancy, we should keep looking and investigating what tools are available in order to be able to offer our clients the best options.

See you at the next Fundraising Day!

 

 

Antonina is one of Purple Vision’s Lead Consultants for non-profit projects.  As well as being a Salesforce whizz, she also speaks Russian and German (hence being asked to help our German clients) and loves dancing.  She’ll be attending the next Fundraising Tag days in March. 

IoF Convention

Purple Vision are delighted to announce that as well as speaking at two sessions at the prestigious Institute of Fundraising Convention (4-6 July 2016 at the Barbican, London), we’ll be exhibiting too. We’ll be sharing advice and info through our two speakers slots and our booth in the exhibition hall will give you the chance to drop by and ask us questions.

Monday 4 July – 10.30 – 11.30 – Individual Giving Track

Steve Thomas (Chief Executive) and Jonathan Cook (Associate Consultant)

Invigorate your data insights – banish data dreariness

Data is the heart, if not the soul, of fundraising. Recent innovations make data visualisation more accessible, and as a result, easier to use to build genuine, real-time personal donor experiences that drive results. This session will invigorate you to take a fresh look at your data, and reveal new insights to fuel your fundraising. From business intelligence tools through to reports and dashboards we’ll inspire you to action by signposting tools and highlighting approaches for you to follow back at your desk. All without dreary spreadsheets!

Tuesday 14.15 – 15.00 – Digital Track

Mags Rivett (Director of Marketing) and Ian Fairhurst (Senior Consultant, Non Profit)

Email – moving away from the big bang theory towards personal engagement

How do you move from a culture of sending an e-newsletter to personalising content and driving engagement? In this session, we’ll help you make the leap. Our practical tips will provide you with a common sense, no-nonsense approach that will work in all sizes of charity, regardless of budget and tools. We’ll look at what you have got – data, content – and how you can use these to drive activity through very simple segmentation and testing. But it all starts with your vision and ambition.

Join Mags, Keith, Ian and Steve at the Purple Vision stand (stand 31) in the Expo hall of the Fundraising Convention.  We’ll be around to chat through

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Internal barriers to fundraising success – the battle within

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. This is the fourth and final in the current series of blogs.

The battle within – internal barriers to fundraising success

In 15 years working as a fundraiser in charities large and small, the greatest challenges on most occasions were not

  • the economy
  • donor apathy,
  • difficulty finding and retaining good staff
  • having an emotive cause to tell donors about.

The most common –  and energy sapping  – challenge is gaining and retaining the co-operation of colleagues in other departments, senior management and trustees.

Don’t complain – get buy-in

Without emotional buy-in and practical commitment to fundraising from colleagues and volunteers, the fundraisers will always be working with one hand tied behind their backs.

The hurdles can take many shapes. They might include a lack of understanding or disinterest in donor’s needs, to low levels of co-operation when trying to get ‘raw material’ for your case for support. The most difficult to overcome is a wobbly or non-existent business plan, leaving you with no foundation for your case to donor ‘investors’.

I am not here to give fundraisers licence to complain to colleagues.

Ultimately you must work with what you can get. But fundraisers must express their professional needs (the tools you require to get the job done), firmly and constructively.

Time dedicated to creating an environment that is more friendly to fundraising, is time very well spent.

Let’s look at some of the reasons for this strife and some possible solutions.

  1. A misunderstanding of what fundraising truly is

Like a lot of fundraisers, I used to see myself as Robin Hood. Taking from the rich and giving to the needy. This is entirely wrong.

A fundraiser’s skill is in what they can GIVE to a donor, not what cash they can take.

Non-fundraising colleagues may see fundraising in a Dickensian vein – fundraiser as Oliver Twist with a begging bowl.

This view is even more damaging, as it describes a one-way process in which the person asking is totally lacking in power.  Who wants to be a beggar?

Too many charity staff view fundraising as a necessary evil, like having to call the plumber in to unblock a toilet!  No, no, no!

Fundraising it is at the very heart of this thing we call ‘charity’. It’s about making a precious connection between those with a need (beneficiary) and those with the means to meet that need (the donor).

It’s a fundraiser’s responsibly to promote this healthier and more accurate picture. There is no quick fix, but a fun and engaging fundraising induction process, for all staff and volunteers is a great place to start.

  1. Lack of professional respect

Within the voluntary sector, there are two kinds of professionals.

Those that work directly with services users / carrying out charitable purposes (social worker, scientist, teacher etc) and those who do a job in support of that first group (accountant, fundraiser, IT worker etc).

Almost without exception, the first category are looked on as ‘heroes’ within the charity (no problem with that!).

However, ‘support staff’ are too often taken for granted, or in the worst case, seen as a terrible ‘drain’ on income. This is nonsense. Of course overhead must be justifiable, but each half depends on the other to get results. Like two blades in a pair of scissors or two wings on a plane.

Fundraisers should lead the way in advocating for mutual respect across the departments, seeking to influence senior management and trustee behaviour in this area.  Creating ‘buddy’ links between teams can be an effective way to build respect and co-operation.

  1. Lack of commitment at senior level

If the first two factors exist, chances are that this third factor is in play too. It may be the cause or symptom. Either way, if your chair of trustees and CEO do not have much time or interest in the fundraising function, it will struggle to perform.  I say ‘function’ rather than fundraising. All CEOs and trustees are interesting in fundraising performance. Fewer, however, want to get involved in the process.

But involvement is essential. This is because fundraising is very much a team sport. To mix metaphors, there are certain ‘roles’ that have to be played by non-fundraising people. For example, a wealthy donor is going to want to meet the organ-grinder (not the monkey). There are few things more painful, for a fundraiser, that sitting alongside a bored CEO, across the table from a keen major donor prospect.

Then there is the budget round. Enthusiasm for and commitment to fundraising (in the good times and bad times) is essential to get the long-range investment needed to grow income, on a sustainable basis.To use a biblical phase, one should not “muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain”. Or to put it another way, its illogical and wrong to send the team that raise most (or all) of the money to the back of the queue, when resources are being distributed.

In terms of solutions, for those leaders that are not naturally enamoured by the prospect of going out into the world to ask for financial support, my advice is to appeal to issues closer to their heart. Make the connection between fundraising’s success and their pet interest.

 

As a consultant, I’ve worked with dozens of charities, varying hugely in size and cause, but one constant remains – those charities in which fundraising is valued as a professional skill-set and colleagues are well informed and co-operative, succeed.

Learn to love fundraising and it becomes the charity’s heartbeat.

Some recommended further reading:

  • ‘Relationshift’ Revolutionary Fundraising’ by by Michael BassoffSteve Chandler (Robert Reed Publishers) 2010. Simply the best book for debunking damaging fundraising myths.
  • ‘The Porcupine Principle’ by Jonathan Farnhill (pub. DCS) – Equally insightful and entertaining. Clearly explains fundraising’s role in the big picture.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non-profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

3 reasons why we’re ramped up to be at the Salesforce World Tour London

“World Tour date is set”, my contact at Salesforce told me.  The first thing I did, aside from promising to write a blog, is tell all my colleagues so we could all get registered.

The Salesforce World Tour is an annual must-attend for the whole Purple Vision team and one of the rare days we’re all out of the office doing the same thing.  We’re interested in what’s new and exciting in Salesforce and checking out the developments, case studies on show and product demos.  We split the sessions between us and make sure we get as much information as possible.  So it’s a day for our learning – personally and for our business too.  Understandable, perhaps, as we’re Salesforce.org Impact Partners so are invested in the community already.

It’s also a great time for us to catch up with our clients and share some time with them. We always invite the non-profits we’re working with so they can catch up with what could be next for them, learn some practical tips and tricks and meet other users.   For our prospects, it’s a chance to learn more about the platform and tools we’re suggesting they adopt and see for themselves why we keep saying ‘awesome’ a lot.  Everyone quickly learns that it’s infectious rather than an affliction.

It’s good to be on hand for clients and prospective clients visiting the World Tour, especially for the first time.  There is so much going on it can feel overwhelming if you’re not just a tiny bit prepared.   So in preparation for preparing our colleagues and guests, I asked some of the Purple Vision team what they were looking forward to this year.

The conclusion is that we’re pretty ramped up to be there, and there are three key reasons why.

2016 SF World Tour graphic

  1. I’ve heard the hype…  One of our colleagues is new and while she’s got the ‘creds’ (Salesforce qualifications are called credentials) has never been to World Tour event before.  She’s heard stories and is keen to see if they match the reality. We’re pretty confident they will.  The all-singing, all dancing keynote, raft of new stuff, presentations and case studies will surprise and delight in equal measure.  And when you need a time out, there’s always a drink somewhere close by (snacks, did I mention snacks yet?).  The challenge as I said up thread is seeing it all.
  2. Introducing the all-new. Our development team are extra keen to see what’s new.  I find it fascinating to see things we’ve been talking about as trends and concepts become real products and tools that we can use (donor journeys are good example here – we used to do these with bits of string, willpower and a spreadsheet, now we can use marketing automation tools like Pardot and the Marketing Cloud Journey Builder).  But it’s not just the shiny and new that’s interesting, it’s the updates and new features to the familiar that matter too.  There’s often a chance to get your hands on tools and have a bit of a play and a look.  And how are other people using the products and tools?  Case studies offer us inspiration that we can take home and apply when we’re back behind the desk.  We’re quite excited by the non-profit stream this year which includes the RNIB talking about how they’re using Salesforce apps in some quite clever, life changing ways.  I heard mention of Augmented Reality ….  I also heard there may be puppies in the keynote, but might have been wishful thinking.
  3. People, people, people. Salesforce community is more than a product. Salesforce attracts great people and you can meet these people – be they Salesforce staff and partners, fellow Salesforce users, people checking it out but not using it yet, super-admins, developers and the tech teams that build and work with the tool.  The enthusiasm you will feel from the community around the cloud will leave you feeling charged up and ready to roll. If the idea of networking gives you a bit of a cold shiver, panic not.  You have never met a friendlier bunch of people and pretty much everyone is up for having a chat.

We’re all registered and ready for May 19th at Excel and looking forward to seeing you there too

Register: https://www.salesforce.com/uk/events/details/london/

Ps One final reason just from me.  Last year, I got to meet SaaSy – the no software cloud – in person. You’ve made it as far as I am concerned when you’ve got a picture with Sassy for your social feed and I need to better last year’s pic !

SAASY

FundraisingWhite

Trustees with pom-poms

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. This is the third blog in his series. 

Trustees with pom-poms: How to bring out the best in your ‘overlords’

The last article I read on trustees was a bit like a Spotter’s Guide to Rare Birds.

There were descriptions of the pecking ‘Critic’, the deafening ‘Know-it-all’, the shy ‘Quorate’ (just-making-up-the-numbers) and the ‘looking-backer’ with a memory like an elephant. You get the idea. Lots of fun, but not that helpful really.

Perhaps becoming a trustee myself, a few years ago, changed my point of view.  Suddenly, I became a lot more tolerant and understanding of my own trustees when I was doing my day job.  I now had the advantage of knowing what if feels like having to make life-changing decisions with scant information. Or to be more honest – having scan-read an excellent report by the CEO moments earlier in the car park.

The mode trustees operate in can and should flex from meeting to meeting and moment to moment, based on need.

For example, they may need to play the role of

  • Border Guard – enforcing boundaries
  • Ambassador – pressing the flesh at the gala dinner
  • Inspector – holding the Executive to account.

But the default position, in my view, should be

  • Cheerleader – close your eyes for just a minute and imagine your trustees with pom-poms in hand, going rah-rah-rah on the touchline.  Nice idea, isn’t it?  I am not saying trustees should give the CEO and staff an easy ride and praise them unceasingly. But their highest calling should be to encourage and support.

How do you bring these qualities to the fore in your Board?

What’s the driver?

My key advice is to understand what really matters to them, what motivates them to give up all this time for your cause.

Just like ‘normal people’, trustees have an iceberg quality to them – most of what there is to know is way below the surface. People become trustees for a very wide range of reasons. Getting to know your trustees outside of formal meetings is an essential way to unpack some of that. I don’t mean spending hours in the pub (although there’s nothing wrong with that).  It could be spending time with them, visiting a project. I’ve found in the past that long drives present a great time to talk honestly – in part, because there’s less need for eye contact and it feels less like an interview or confrontation.

Knowing what your trustees really care about helps you to frame your communications with them – written and verbal.  There is little point focusing on an area that means nothing to them – finding shared interests offers them a way to become your supporter.

Managing Expectations

Clearly defining what is expected of trustees also goes a long way to avoiding bad habits developing.  The Charity Commission have some excellent resources on the subject.  Beyond the legal obligations, the battle ground then becomes what sits under the ‘executive’ responsibilities and what sits under ‘governance’.

Sometimes it is black and white, but more often there are shades of grey and collaboration is essential.

NB – I have a useful diagram about that and will send your a copy if you ask nicely.

Read body language and react

This is a really useful bit of advice I have been benefiting from for years.

It’s a tell-tale bit of body language that lets you know someone is flexing their authority – Resting Hands Behind the Head with Elbow Jutting Out.  I call it the ‘Cormorant’ (Google for a picture). It’s usually interpreted as a sign of superiority or big-headedness, but it’s not quite as simple as that. It is certainly more common from middle-aged male chairs than any other category of person I’ve ever met or worked with.  In any case, when spotted, I wouldn’t quite say that you should disregard everything the person then goes on to say, but it certainly should set off alarm bells. If the chair and the CEO start doing it at the same time, it’s best to duck for cover!  And perhaps suggest a quiet drink so you can start the process of assessing interests and areas of activity that will have them waving pom-poms for you rather than causing major issues.

In short, poor relations between the CEO, Executive Team and the Trustees can be the quickest way to ruin an otherwise fantastic organisation – we can all think about organisations where this may be the case – either through direct experience or confidential conversations with charity-based colleagues.

Don’t let things fester.

Get expert support to help build a culture of cooperation and cohesion and have your ‘overlords’ waving pom-poms and supporting you every step of the way.

Some recommended further reading:

For a copy of Phillip’s grey areas diagram (described above) please email [email protected] referencing this blog.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non-profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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A handy ‘cut-out and keep’ guide to Vision, Mission and Values

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs.  This is the second blog in his series – more coming soon!  This series – tackling vision, mission and values.  

Your ‘Cut-out and Keep’ guide to charity Vision, Mission and Values (or VMV)

Even seasoned charity professionals can get into a pickle trying to explain the difference between their Vision and Mission statements. Get trustees involved in the discussion and add in Values and Ethos statements and it won’t be long before half the room is tied in knots and the other half is running for the door. But help is at hand!

Here is a short summary of useful definitions, you can cut-out and keep for the next time someone (maybe you) gets into a muddle.

Vision Statement 

A compelling and inspiring description of the difference the organisation will make, e.g. ‘A world in which every child has access to clean water’. This is about your charity’s aspirations and what it hopes to achieve in the longer term; maybe many years into the future. It should infuse the organisation with a sense of purposeful action and motivate others to commit their support.

In the corporate world, vision statements have a bad press – perhaps justifiably. Marketing teams for vacuum cleaners or toothpaste companies may find themselves desperately trying to make the every-day and banal into a ‘noble cause’. As a result, they often create meaningless, glib or even cynical phrases. But in the third sector, a vision for a changed world is what we are all about. So, we don’t need to gild the lily. You can be highly ambitious in your statement, so long as the need you aim to address is a genuine one. Just in case it is not already clear to you, your vision statement is NOT a vision for your organisation (“Operating nationwide by 2020”), but for the change you wish to effect in the outside world.

Mission Statement (or Purpose)

This is a declaration of the organisation’s core purpose. A mission statement answers the question, “why do we exist?”. It may sketch out the core activities you are committed to, for the foreseeable future, but shouldn’t try to be comprehensive or too rigid. However, to avoid too much abstraction, it helps to illustrate with practical examples of what you do. Your vision may change very little over time, but your mission may well need to adapt to account for changing needs, circumstances and opportunities.

Still not clear on the difference between ‘vision’ and mission’?  Try putting ‘ary’ on the end of each. A ‘visionary’ looks to the future and imagines what could be possible. A ‘missionary’ is someone who carried out the work to bring the vision into reality.

Values

These explain what we stand for and believe in. Principles, ideals and characteristics that define the culture, standards and aspirations of the organisation. e.g. ‘Professionalism’, ‘Ensuring Fairness’, ‘Working in Partnership’ or ‘Advancing Knowledge’, backed-up by the beliefs that underpin them and perhaps examples of how they will be lived out, both internally and externally.

It’s hard to be original, but avoid single words like ‘Passion’ or ‘Inspiring’ unless you can define them and make them specific. In reality, no one value will be unique to your charity. Your values ‘fingerprint’ comes from how you combine and define them.Values come from the beliefs held by leaders and founders, which are then adopted corporately.

A clearer expression of those beliefs might sometimes be set out in an Ethos statement; particularly in the case of faith-based charities.

Please don’t plaster your values statements on huge bill boards around the office. If you do, that is a sure sign they have made no impact and never will. Rather, they are for the more subtle processes of staff induction and appraisals and to help to inform your decision making.

It should be a sober thought that the true values of your organisation are those actually practised and modelled by the most senior members.

Changing, updating or adapting your Vision, Mission and Values (or Ethos) statements

If having looked at your vision, mission and values (or ethos) statements you feel that they are not up to the job, then commit to changing them. Here are a few do’s and don’ts:

• DON’T make the error of failing to check back to your charitable objects to see what, legally speaking, you are limited to doing.
• DO have a frank and open debate (trustees and executive together) about the strengths and weaknesses of your current statements and new needs.
• DON’T try to write them ‘by committee’, better to assign the job to a proper ‘word-smith’ in the team. Further feedback can then be taken.
• DO involve staff and volunteers, in test-driving prototype statements, but don’t try to make it a democratic process.
• DON’T use 20 words when 10 will do. In fact, every word has to be able to justify its space.
• DO use the most accessible language you can without ‘dumbing down’. If the statements need further explanation, then you’ve failed.

Tackling miss-matches and gaining consensus

It often helps to have an objective voice in the room, when tackling these sometimes thorny and emotionally loaded topics. I am biased of course, but I would recommend gaining the support of a seasoned consultant to help facilitate this process, to make it as pain-free and productive as possible.

Revising your ‘foundational statements’ should be much more than a cosmetic or marketing exercise. It can be the catalyst for re-invigorating your charity and super-charging your business plan.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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Advice for a new Fundraising Director

Advice to a newly-minted Fundraising Director

Philp R B&W

 

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. 

 

 

Becoming the Fundraising Director of a national charity was a goal I set myself quite early in my career.

Once I attained this ‘lofty’ position, whilst my fundraising skills were well honed, the learning curve suddenly steepened. As the manager of a large department and a key member of the wider leadership team, new skills had to be learnt quickly and some old habits broken.

Whilst I suspect some things in life have to be learned through personal experiences (the hard way) there is room to benefit from the experience and mistakes of others.

My top 10 tips for new Directors of Fundraising

 

 1. Fully embrace your place at the ‘top table’ 

Don’t let misdirected humility and self-deprecation undermine your position of leadership. That’s no good for anyone. You’ve earned this, so don’t be intimidated. Your new peers may have more years experience, but never see yourself or operate as a ‘junior director’. Look into ‘imposter syndrome’ if this tip resonates. Fully play the role you’ve been given. Remember, you are always being watched! Your conduct and standards of behaviour can have enormous effects (positive or negative) on your team and the credibility of the organisation.

2. Consistently sell a vision for your department

Leave no-one on your team in doubt as to what standards are expected, both personal and professional. Deal with transgressions swiftly and consistently. Use a number of methods and situations to explain what success looks like. Be prepared to repeat yourself – often.

3. Really know you numbers (financials, fundraising targets, historical data etc)

There is often a lot of this to remember, so keep a summary with you at all times. Refer to it frequently, until the numbers are imprinted on your mind. Easy recall will enhance your authority within your team and across your peer group.

4. Trust your team of experts

You don’t have to be the guru of every fundraising technique. Hire the very best people you can afford, trust them to get on with their work, but remember you are entitled to question them and expect evidence for the conclusions they come to. Delegate the tasks, but never delegate responsibility for the outcome.

5. Manage upwards effectively

For starters, do follow the old adage of “under-promise and over-deliver”. But more than this, really get to the bottom of what your CEO deems is most important, beyond the obvious of hitting income targets. You need to influence the rules of the game. What could be (objectively speaking) a great year for your department, will not be seen as such if there is a mismatch between goals agreed at the star of the year and those achieved. Don’t allow yourself to be set up for failure by goals or targets that are not realistic and not suitably resourced.

6. Fight for investment in fundraising

Do your homework; build compelling evidence for your arguments. Repurpose those same powers of persuasion you use when inspiring donors to invest. Stand up against those that would starve fundraising, by a misplaced devotion to reducing all ‘overheads’ at all costs. See Dan Pallotta’s excellent TED talk on the subject for encouragement.

7. Use your political savvy

Understanding the political power dynamics within the trustee board is essential (See the last point). You can either be buffeted by them or harness them to achieve your goals and what is in the interests of the charity’s beneficiaries (mutually inclusive I would hope!). The key to this is getting to know each trustee personally to understand what motivates them. It may not be what you expect, or actually what they say it is. You’ll need to discern this yourself, partly based on their actions.

8. Be an internal ambassador for fundraising

Don’t expect other departments to appreciate or even understand what your team does. Get out there and share the good news of how fundraisers support them in achieving their aims. Demand equal professional respect between your team and those working directly with beneficiates. Each needs the other.

 9. Take action now for 2026

It is tempting to focus almost exclusively on this year’s needs. Be brave enough to lobby for the long view. What will the person in your chair in 10 years time be pleased you set in motion? A community fundraising programme, a robust legacy marketing cycle, a management training programme?

10. Get a mentor or coach

You may now be the most experienced fundraising practitioner within your charity. So if you haven’t done so already in your career, you’ll need to look outside to find the people to learn from, challenge you and enable you to reach higher.

11.  Relax and enjoy yourself!

I said 10 tips, but really there are 11 and this is important.  You’ve got one of the best jobs out there, one in which you can have an enormous impact on an important social issue, with people that share your passion.

 My recommendations for further reading:

• ‘How to Lead’ and ‘How to Manage’ two volumes by Jo Owen (pub. Prentice Hall). You’ll never look at management and leadership the same way again. Very practical, very clever, ideal for ongoing reference.

• ‘Four obsessions extraordinary executive’ by Patrick Lencioni (pub. John Wiley & Sons). I fully recommend working through Lencioni’s full works.

‘The Porcupine Principle’ by Jonathan Farnhill (pub. DCS) – Equally insightful and entertaining. Ideal to share with new recruits to fundraising.

Purple Vision and Fundraising

Purple Vision can help with fundraising requirements across the spectrum of technical, people-related and strategic.  Our services include:

We can help with full strategic reviews of your entire fundraising operation, or help you to focus on a key area you’re keen to develop.  We’ve been fundraising consultants since 2003, and our fundraising people are committed and passionate about supporting non profits to grow and achieve their full potential.

To find out more about fundraising services, call Keith Collins – Customer Solutions Director – via 0845 458 0250 or use our online contact form.

Non Profit Starter Pack

What’s the NPSP – Non Profit Starter Pack?

It’s the basic out-of-the-box Salesforce package to help non-profits get to grips with fundraising via Salesforce CRM.

Why Upgrade?

NPSP 3 was released last year. NPSP 3 offers comprehensive updates that make managing a range of non-profit interactions more efficient, and adds new features, too.

Since then, some have upgraded, while others have held back. The reasons for not upgrading are as wide and varied as the non-profits using Salesforce.

  • Time is a big factor since hours in the day are limited, and I’ve yet to meet anyone in a non-profit who sits twiddling their thumbs wondering what to do next.
  • Fear is another. If you’ve spent hours getting your data in shape, and working out how the system works, even training and supporting others to use it too, there will naturally be a fear that an upgrade will change things and you’ll have to start again with the training (see Time).

I think we have to be honest, too ― the path of least resistance is also a well-trodden trail. If there’s no compelling reason to change something, or no immediacy, then it’s easy to ignore it or keep moving it down the list.

All these are, within organisational context, are fair enough. But we think the reasons for upgrading *are* compelling.

Our 3 key reasons why you should upgrade to NPSP 3:

  1. Not getting left behind. Other non-profits have already upgraded and are able to take advantage of the additional functionality. The extra features will help with your day to day tasks, and ultimately mean you will get smarter reporting and be able to make better decisions about your funding, relationships and direction of travel. Don’t get left behind when you could be enjoying additional benefits.
  2. Compatibility with other packages. The Non Profit Starter Pack is just that – a starter pack. As demand grows and more users are adopting it, more third-party developers and members of the community are building add-on packages that extend the Starter Pack. Many managed packages and apps for non-profits are built to be compatible with the NPSP code base, so it’s possible that packages you have or may want to have in the future may not work on anything but the latest version, or may not work optimally on an older version.
  3. Automatic updates. When you’re using NPSP 3, new updates will automatically appear every 2 weeks. Yes, 2 weeks. That’s how fast things can change and develop. These updates will be a mix of fixes and new features. If you’re not on NPSP 3, you’ll miss the automatic upgrades.

If you’re still not sure about upgrading, ask for help. There’s plenty of it around – via the free Power of Us Hub (you’ll need your Salesforce login) release notes and documentation (via the Hub Knowledge Base), as well as the Upgrade Webinar recording.

Alternatively, you can ask a Salesforce.org Partner for support. While you will have to pay for this, it may be the fastest way for you to make the upgrade. Purple Vision is one such partner that you could ask.  We’ve got years of experience of supporting non profits to adopt Salesforce as the CRM of choice – both with the Non Profit Starter Pack and with other managed packages for fundraising, operational and service delivery and more.

What’s included in the Upgrade

There’s something in NPSP 3 for everyone, whether you’re a technical or functional user. Salesforce Administrators can enjoy some smart new features that will make life much easier, such as a Health Check that automatically checks data for inconsistencies and makes sure that settings are still valid.

But the biggest change for admins is the automatic upgrade – bug fixes and releases will just be auto-rolled directly to your Salesforce instance in the future.

Overall, the biggest changes are around architecture – and six packages of code have been consolidated into one single package, making future upgrades even easier. NPSP will also work more effectively with the Salesforce1 Mobile App.

The other updates are around Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities, with a range of new options available to you to configure as your organisation requires. The ability to set a primary contact for each a household is one example.

Make the move today

There’s a lot of extra support for making a move to NPSP 3 in February – (it’s NPSP Upgrade Month – I bet you didn’t have that on your calendar), and throughout the year. Extra support is a good thing and accessing it wherever you can is going to help. Make sure to sign up for ‘office hours’ (dial an expert) and visit the Power of Us Hub Upgrade Group for advice from others doing the upgrade, too.

Resources: