Friday, December 12, 2008

Know any charity that might want marketing help?

I honestly believe that charities should be jumping all over web 2.0 stuff.

The personal marketing they need to do could not be more perfect for this stuff. I've written before about this. But have I actually offered to help anybody?

Sadly, no.

I used to do a fair bit of volunteer work. These days I just tend to talk or write about it. I've decided I'm going to actually do stuff. I haven't decided what charity yet but will contact a few in the next month and offer my marketing services. I have a couple of charities in mind, but feel free to suggest. If you know any non-profits that would like a hand, send them my way.

So I'm using this post (and future posts perhaps) to jot down my initial thoughts on what all non profits should be doing. As I'm sitting here writing, I've this feeling that my recommendations below are all very obvious, ordinary and somewhat simplistic. They are certainly not original. But why are many charities not doing this?

Anyway, I'd like to help a charity do the following:

Get personal.
People don't give to organisations. They give to people. And research suggests they give to individuals. For example, let's say you are raising money to provide special school classrooms for children with disabilities. Introduce Ireland to some of the kids you are helping. Let everybody hear their own unique and sometimes tragic stories - "Meet Kirsty, a six-year old suffering from...". Find a way to help us really understand the pain, suffering, frustration and fear that six-year old Kirsty goes through every day.

Break out your goals into smaller, bite-size ones
. Ones we can all understand and grasp. Don't just tell everybody about your organisation and the stuff you typically do. Explain how many new classrooms you need. Or how many special-need teachers you need to hire. Help people understand. Show us all how a new custom-designed classroom can help Kirsty. How it can make her life better. How it can save her life.

Tell everybody exactly how they can help. Get into specifics. For example, if you want people to donate money, ask for it. How much do you need? Don't be general. Ask for an amount. And explain where an individual's money will go. Explain that if you get 12 more people to donate €100 each, six-year old Kirsty is sorted for another six months. There are ways to ask that can increase the amount you raise.

Not everybody can donate money. But what else can they do for you? Can they pass on your message? Can they volunteer their time? If so, again be specific. Do you want one hour of their day? Do you want them to post something on their blog or facebook page?

Thank people. A lot. And thank them some more. Help them understand how they have changed or improved an individual's life. About 10 years ago, Conor Byrne (a good mate and very talented fundraiser) and I raised some money to bring two families away for a much needed holiday. Halfway through the holiday, we sat the kids down and got them to write postcards to the kind folks that had made their holiday possible. You can't but smile when a badly written postcard arrives from sunny Spain, from the eight-year old inner city girl you helped.

Use web 2.0.
The thing I like best is how all the web 2.0 tools makes it easier to connect and interact with others. And this is where charities can come into their own. People give to people, so connect them. Connect donors with the very people they are helping. Who is not going to help eight-year old Kirsty when she and her mother tells you her story? When she is the person responding to comments and questions. And connect donors with volunteers.

Most of this stuff is either free or very cheap. All is needed is your time.
  • Start a blog. Not even a website. A blog. It costs nothing. Except your time.
  • Using the original example, introduce the world to Kirsty, her family. And to all the families you are trying to help. Sounds a bit scary I know.
  • Show us the schools that need special classes. Where are they? Make some videos.
  • Embed Google maps into your blog and pinpoint the schools in it. So we can visual them. So we can see where they are, compared to where we live.
  • Add information about each school. So when I click on the pin, I can read about each school. Let us know how much money you have raised for each school. Update us each time you raise money.
  • Upload pictures of the schools. The teachers. The classes.
  • Make lots of videos. Get the teachers, the kids and their families to make the videos. No need for anything expensive. Handheld camera will do. A good camera phone might even do it. Upload on youtube. No need to host or pay for hosting. Just embed into your blog.
  • Ask for families, teachers (and kids if possible) to write posts. Let us hear their thoughts. Their struggles. Let us hear the daily journals.
  • Upload photos, drawings, pictures of their pets. Poems. Songs.
  • Find interesting content across the internet and link to it. Not just about your charity. About kids. About happiness.
  • Thank everybody that helps. Regularly. Drop them personal emails. Comment on their blog. Post on their bebo page.
  • Start a facebook page. A bebo page. An ammado page. Start twittering maybe. Although only do any of these if you willing to invest the time in them and not let them go with regular updates. But this applies to your blog anyway.
That's it for the moment. I feel myself beginning to ramble:) I'll come back to this again though.

Please feel free to suggest more stuff - or a charity that I should contact.


Lisa said...

That is good advice Paul. And I like reading that you actually did it when you organised the holiday.

Someone told me last week they got a blood nose when taking part in a penalty shoot out for autism. The shoot out raised €14K, so I was able to tell him the blood nose was a third of a speech therapist for my kids's school. And in the first quarter of this year, my little girl learned to say 3 word phrases, thanks to that speechie being hired full time.

Is that what you mean?


Paul Dervan said...

hi Lisa. Yes. By the way, I heard people were very interested in how your use your iphone with your kids. Do you have a video of this? Sounds facinating.

Anonymous said...

Paul, great offer and for charities that you dont end up helping some good "how to" advice there.

You may be interested in the site Give List...a resource of ways to support communities and causes this holiday season that don’t necessarily require writing a cheque.

nedsmck said...

Well done Paul, great advice and a fantastic offer. I can recommend a good charity that could really benefit.
Making it personal has real impact but is something many charities dont do.

By the way, companies shy away from telling their customers about the good, charitable activities they do - maybe a topic for another post?

Daniel Oyston said...

Great post Paul. I actually blogged recently about how in Australia the charities have banded together to use actually use web 2.0 to help raise money.

Check their the website at and if people are interested in my on my experience with it then check out my post here

Anonymous said...

Excellent article Paul and very timely too. I am helping one of the attendees of the Social Media Starter Course promote an online poetry competition that is raising money for MAG, the landmine charity.

The idea is that people from around the world submit poems into the MAG Poetry Prize, each paying £6 to submit an entry.

The neat thing is that the poets themselves judge the entries and not a panel of judges. They also have a Facebook group and MySpace page for the competition.

I blogged about it and linked to your post early today:

I like your suggestions about using video to personalise fundraising campaigns. Do you or any of your readers have any suggestions on how the MAG Poetry Prize can grow legs on the web?

Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

So have you picked a charity yet?

Paul Dervan said...

hi. I've contacted a couple so hopefully something will come of it.