You don’t need me to tell you that charities, and fundraisers in particular, have been getting quite a kicking in the media this summer.
And while a period of sober reflection and introspection is important, an event like IWITOT was a brilliant tonic to remind us of the brilliant fundraising ideas both old and new that can inspire us. It reminds us of why what we do is so important, and why we need to celebrate and learn from the excellence around us.
The brilliant concept of IWITOT is that presenters do not talk about their own work, but instead focus on the fundraising of others. It feels liberating, and it reveals an underlying passion for the sector in all the speakers.
It’s not just a job.
That’s why Paul Amadi’s presentation about Friends of the Earth’s ‘Are we getting it right?’ campaign sent just as charities seemed to be most under attack particularly struck a chord.
— Richard Sved (@richardsved) September 10, 2015
Here was a charity that didn’t hide below the parapet as many others did, but had the courage and showed leadership in reaching out to its donors, with excellent results.
Other themes that came through prominently:
Learn from fundraising history
Going back in time, Matthew Sherrington told us about Oxfam’s fundraising back in the 60s; Simon Burne regaled us with stories and unfortunate impersonations of 19th century Scottish philanthropist William Quarrier; Sam Butler rattled (geddit?) through a history of the collection tin; and Tobin Aldrich spoke about the Foundling Hospital appeal in the 18th century, for whom Handel “invented the benefit concert”. The relevance of their respective fundraising innovations shone through.
Look out for innovative use of technology
Stephanie Drummond spoke passionately about how Penny for London’s contactless donating can reach the millennial generation; Georgia Bridgwood introduced Donate Locate, an excellent interactive app to support homeless people;
Sandy Luther showed us superb “Social Swipe” billboards where the act of swiping your credit card down the middle of the screen to make a donation affected the image on it (eg slicing bread to donate); and Louise Sparkes spoke movingly about Lifeboats’ Launch Alerts SMS texting service alerting donors in real time when ‘their’ lifeboat is out saving lives. But all of these ideas were less about the tech and more about immediacy, and about how charities can reach donors going about their everyday lives.
Run campaigns that reach out to people emotionally
Reuben Turner spoke movingly about Centrepoint’s long-running “Did you see Sophie?” newspaper advertisements: We might miss her photo earlier in the paper, just as we might walk past her in the street; Lisa Clavering told us about how the Dog Trust’s sponsor a dog campaigns builds powerful relationships with dogs (who all have different handwriting, apparently); and Alexandra Aggidis explained how Jack Draws Anything (The little boy with the big art) brought a “warm and fuzzy” feeling to supporters, particularly through tapping into nostalgia; and Ben Swart amused us with the hilarious and touching Help the Oma campaign, where hidden cameras revealed that when an old lady needs help, people do show how great they are.
The message? “You are great, but you don’t always know it. And supporting us will help give you that feeling.”
Laura’s ‘take home’ lesson for us? Gather personal stories, because we all have them, and we identify with them. Tell a story every day. It will resonate.
Humans of New York undoubtedly ‘got it right’ – and we can all learn from their example.
This article was first published on UK Fundraising.