Tag Archive | "social media"

Does 5% make Justgiving a digital friend or foe for Charity

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Does 5% make Justgiving a digital friend or foe for Charity


I have always considered justgiving to be one of those truly inspired and yet oh-so -simple, ideas that the Internet brought with it and one that has become fairly synonymous with its sector i.e. charity.

My first words last weekend, when my sister asked me to sponsor her to do a fun run, were ‘just email me your justgiving page details’. Imagine my surprise when she said she would ‘put my name on the form’…yes, believe it or not, she actually had a piece of paper and a pen and, horror of all horrors, NO JUSTGIVING page! I had no idea that people still did that and if I my memories of calling in the debts on those forms are anything to go by, she will be years collecting up her pledges, just as I was when I attempted my sponsored silence about 25 years ago.
However, collect her cash or not, what I hadn’t thought about until a recent chat with a charity who shall remain nameless – and why would I, I usually simply tick the ‘Gift Aid’ box and move on, was the 5%. I guess if I had thought about it I would have known and indeed felt it fair enough that justgiving received some kind of admin fee for their trouble and enterprising idea, but 5%? This seemed to be a bit of a hornets nest.

5 % of the circa £25 million donated via justgiving in this year’s London Marathon is, now, let me see… yes, £1,250,000. That is quite a lot of money diverted from charity even before we move onto the admin costs of the charities themselves. And, it seems that the normal card transaction fees are outside of this charge, making the 5%, or 5.75% if you include VAT, quite a hefty sum.

So, my question is this, is it wrong? justgiving are set up as a profit making private enterprise an d in answer to their critics state that “Fundraising costs in the UK [...] between 15% and 25% (source: www.charityfacts.org). So Justgiving’s 5% represents excellent value, especially for smaller charities with limited resources.”

I don’t know what to think about this. It is a dilemma and if I am honest, if I had thought of it, I would a) be fairly well off and b) doubtless be justifying my fee on the basis that some 5000 registered charities benefit from the £340million or so channelled through justgiving.

However, it seems that the gripe from charities is that not only do they have to pay the 5%, they also have to accept the rise and rise of justgiving as a charity brand in its own right, taking limelight from their own brands and marketing efforts. A whisper tells me that there are a couple of new entrants who are charging less than justgiving and allowing charities the option of white labelling their online fundraising tools.. so who are they, does anyone know? will they be the ones to level the playingfield and is there really a problem here, or is this a storm in the charity digital tea-cup?

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Increase the Appeal of Your Cause

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Increase the Appeal of Your Cause


Donors are trimming back their spending and choosing more carefully what they use their hard earned dollars for.  When the going gets tough, non-profits need to be focused more on the donor than normal and think about how their donors think.  Following these simple steps will have a big impact on your organization’s next appeal.

1.    Be transparent.

Donors are more conscientious of their spending.  In your communications, clearly explain how their money will be used, and how it will improve the organization and its community.

2.    Establish donor options.

It’s a common industry practice to base your donation amounts on past giving and add in increases.  In today’s economy, consider scaling back the percentage increase you build in to make your ask amount appeal to everyone—even if their personal circumstances may have changed.  Remember: the goal is to renew the donor as well as increase giving overall.

3.    Build community.
Instead of a gala or auction, find creative ways to integrate your community service events with fundraising.  Attending events that involve tickets or products may not necessarily be the best choice with the current economic climate.  Donors can see how their donations impact their community if you invite them to take part in a local-level event with a fundraising twist.  Make it possible and affordable for donors to join you in your community events; get them washing a car, or have a donor family build a gift basket and deliver it in person to a family they’ll support.

4.    Expand your business-side donor pool.
Socially-conscious businesses can a big part of any non-profit’s donor strategy—especially when impacted by a slowing economy.  However, not every industry is going to be affected, and it is worthwhile to start looking beyond your current contributors.  You may find untapped resources that are able to make a large gift.

5.    Use volunteers.

While a downside to a lagging economy is unemployment, this can be advantageous for your organization.  There are sure to be many who can no longer show their support financially; however, volunteering their time may be appealing.  Plan for an increase here, and think about community clean ups, craft fairs and other ways to embrace an increase in volunteers.

6.    Use social networking sites.

You can use Facebook as a tool to promote volunteer opportunities, online giving and more.  Understand how social media works, and embrace technology when it is going to work in your advantage.  You can also conduct a CRM data screening, and discover who is active on different social networking sites.  All of this information can be utilized to support and grow your own social networking program, such as creating a MySpace group for different areas of interest and participation.

7.    Give thanks.
No matter how small or large the donation, send a thank you letter or make a telephone call.  Donors will appreciate the outreach and are more likely to think of you during the next appeal cycle.

8.    Keep in touch.
Communicate with your donor pool beyond the appeal.  Send a monthly newsletter, birthday card or an update about how an event went.  This keeps the donor personally interested in the cause.

The economy will always change, and there will be good times and bad.  Now is an important time when non-profits have to think creatively and pay attention to details in order to continue serving the community with the same gusto of previous years.  These tips can help organizations connect with donors, build lasting relationships as well as reach appeal goals.

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Do Facebook and Twitter make us ‘bad’…?

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Do Facebook and Twitter make us ‘bad’…?


Do Facebook and Twitter really make us bad? There was an article in the Metro on April 13th that says it does… According to London’s free paper:

‘Fast-paced modern media, such as Facebook updates and news feeds on Twitter, do not give us time to reflect and could make us indifferent to human suffering, according to a group of researchers.’

I also recall an article, around the same time, that suggested the same, after a landlady saw video posting of her flat being trashed by the tenants – the implication being what? That without the advent of the internet and video streaming, the party would never have happened?!

I think it is worth reminding ourselves that people come in good, bad and indifferent flavours and that each and every medium can be used to demonstrate or enhance those traits.

Twestival would be a clear case in point and cmash and the case studies hosted here are testimony to the fact that social media can, and does create and contribute real and measurable social good, in ways and with reach that would have historically taken obscene ad budgets and mountains of precious trees for snail direct mail.

Covered in the Guardian, there is clear and compelling evidence that people can, will and want to use new social mediums for good, the success of Twestival being clear. The Guardian writes:

The team’s (behind Twestival) 10-page guide on how to hold a Twestival has inspired Twitterers in every continent, franchising the charity event.

Volunteers have found venues, offered design services, put together maps and found drink sponsors for all 175 official Twestivals. There is even a Live Aid-style Twestival radio project called Twestival FM which aims to raise $200,000 through donations for music downloads from artists including Bloc Party, Erol Alkan and Imogen Heap. See here for full aricle

Surely to suggest that a medium can ‘make us bad’ is nonsense? And yet, perhaps those of us in the world of social media should simply see the accusation as a compliment, being one that has been levied for years at television for years?…

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Will Facebook save an Old Oak Tree?

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Will Facebook save an Old Oak Tree?


I am lucky to be part of the alumni of the University of Bath’s School of Management programme ‘Responsibility and Business Practice’. We have a simple, effective and early incarnation of social media that serves us well…

We share an email list for all alumni and it creates a live and dynamic forum between us that reaches a Global and very powerful business and personal community that together tackles challenges both great and small. This time, the communication was about just one tree and it read:

Dear RBPers

A beautiful and ancient tree in my local town is going to be cut down -
the council claim it is a threat although it shows no signs of disease
or instability – in reality we believe it is for convenience and
parking. If you are on Facebook (anywhere in the world) please join the
group ‘Save the Crewkerne Luccombe Oak’ so that we can show that people
everywhere care about ancient trees more than extra parking spaces. If
you live near enough go and see the tree in Crewkerne and add a message
of your own.

Many thanks


One of the response, less than 2 hours later, is below…

Hi L

Here are some ideas:
1) Try to get a TPO on it – Here is a link about how to get a Tree Protection Order granted (although if you are up against the council, not likely):http://www.naturenet.net/trees/tpo.htm

2) Use the planning system against them – Find out the name of the case officer in the planning office, make a formal request for information from the planning department to see the planning consent documentation for the tree removal – stipulate that you want this information IN ADVANCE of the tree removal and that you are taking legal advice on the status of the removal as this is an ancient Oak and their activity could be illegal (this is of course to put the wind up them). cc. the leader or mayor to all correspondence as well as the environment dept, communications dept and all local councillors – public servants and politicians get spooked when they see other people have been copied in, especially their bosses. Liberally use words and phrases like ILLEGAL, AGAINST GOVERNMENT POLICY, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESMENT, PLANNING AND COMPULSORY PURCHASE ACT 2005, etc.

3) Ask what status the land around the tree has on the Local Development Framework (formerly Unitary Development Plan), if it is earmarked as green space, then there will be little cause for removal, and the council are possibly acting illegally, if it has been earmarked as development land, I would investigate this further to see if there is a developer interested

4) The environmental case for saving this tree includes this key point a mature oak helps mitigate against flood risk as it will draw up over 50 gallons of water a day – in an age of flooding and climate change, the council are taking an environmentally irresponsible decision which could harm the long term future of the area

5) Write to all local councillors to request their official view, request the attendance list at planning committee that decreed this
6) Write to the leader of the council and if you have an elected mayor
7) Obviously write to the local papers
8) Look for a famous champion – any local celebs? Try Felix Dennis – he loves trees. Make a film with them – post it on Youtube
9) In all your correspondence let councillors, planners, environment officers know that they could be cutting down over £500,000 worth of council owned amenity – see proof that Surrey valued its ancient oaks at that price http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3347278/Ancient-oak-in-Surrey-tree-valued-at-500000.html
10) Get my mum involved – she scares the beJaysus out of all who try and fell trees and will gladly tie herself to it – I have copied her in, expect a call!
Good luck!


A great deal of information and support duly disseminated in the press of a button, one mother ready to tie herself to the Oak and a Facebook group that widens the reach beyond Bath Alumni and into the wider tree-caring community of the Uk and beyond. The power of social media garnered to save the mighty oak and battle a system at odds with its own interests perhaps? I will update you with the results…

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Can Social Media build a viral ad budget in 48 hours?

Arguably, the most cost effective and speedy way of spreading information (and disinformation) is now via social media.  But can we build a climate saving viral ad campaign budget in just 48 hours?

Social Media channels enable us to engage with others who care about a cause and to therefore promote change, through the building of awareness amongst a wider population. As with the BBC charter, one way to engage is to Entertain, which Al Gore’s early Inconvenient Truth and the more recent follow-up starring Pete Postlethwaite in ‘The Age of Stupid’,  have both sought to do in the name of halting dangerous climate change.  The former movie was a little ahead of the social media curve, but the latter of these two was a largely viral movement seeded out by those who worked in the industry and aimed to see Age of Stupid hit the big screens across the world. If there was any doubt as to his own commitment to the cause then this interview in which star of the show, Pete Postlethwaite offers to hand back his OBE unless change comes,  is fairly concrete –  see his challenge to Ed Miliband here

It seems to me that the average person in the street tends to approach climate change moving through the various states of: 1) abject denial, followed by 2) sheer panic upon realisation of the magnitude of the problem, and then 3) often settling back to another denial focused around a refusal to accept personal responsibility.. a “what can ‘I’, one person do, in the face of such a monumental task?” ethos, that is frighteningly mainstream, if completely understandable.

However, through entities such as EcoTube (the Green version of Youtube with over 850 films online about issues facing our civilisation today) we can all now disseminate video and other information to increase understanding and build momentum in the face of an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and inertia that threatens societies ability to act to halt the worst of climate change.

We can create action through social media even for those who wish to engage no more deeply than a bit of curbside recycling, the odd Fairtrade cup of coffee, a few taps on the keyboard and a £1  coin…yes, even if that is you, you still have the power to create meaningful social change for the Global good – just hit ‘forward’.

There is an NGO group, Avvaz, who have created their own rapid response climate television ad, spoofing the world’s largest oil company ExxonMobil’s own advertising. Their request is that you join their campaign to raise the ad budgets to take this ad live: “If we can raise just $100,000 in the next 48 hours CNN and other stations will run our ad on high rotation for the President’s entire climate meeting. With $200,000 we can buy even more airtime and continue this vital campaign at strategic moments. :

Will they do it? Watch this space….or donate a £1 to the airtime and view the ad here

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Why Should Charities Get Involved in Social Networking?

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Why Should Charities Get Involved in Social Networking?

Social networks are relatively new vehicles for communication, and, more recently, commercial trade and promotion. It’s important to remember that it’s the users who are driving the evolution, not the organizations behind the networks. The brands that have most successfully engaged with this audience are those who understand what social network users gain from  sites such as MySpace: what they find valuable, what they are prepared to share with their friends and how they want advertisers to acknowledge and reward them are key.

Charities/NGOs/Advertisers can learn from brands (from one-off fashion designers to high street mobile networks) who are using social networks as environments for audience building, trendsetting, entertainment and commerce. Whether it is Pepsi enlisting contemporary British musicians to guide MySpace users through new music or Grime emcee, JME selling over 32,000 T-shirts promoting his MySpace profile; social networks represent enormous opportunities for major brands to sell and market themselves.

But importantly it is quality, not quantity that counts. Brands with a diverse online presence risk sending mixed messages so must consolidate their digital efforts to optimise impact within social networks. Time should be spent using search engine options to ensure awareness of profiles; search engine optimisation should be leveraged to ensure prominent search results (ie: the top of the first pages of search results); and, like websites themselves, social network profiles benefit from being consistently managed and maintained.

  • To communicate easily and for free with friends and family
  • To organise social life quickly and efficiently
  • To access entertainment (radio stations, video clips, indie TV channels, music videos, comedy, poetry, blogs etc…)
  • Discover new talent, products, social trends

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Web-based media and its potential to change the Global Consciousness and halt dangerous climate change

We have the technology to deal with climate change, but it is a crisis of consciousness that we must now address.

People can change each others opinions using information and argument more than ever before. The potential of web-based communications between people may be able to deliver the revolution or revolutions, of consciousness that avoid us cutting the throats of the next generation. To quote Churchill:‘ The odds were great; our margins small; the stakes infinite.’
A great many people are going to make a great deal of money out of climate change because the business case for keeping yourself and your children is equal to the entire assets of consumers in aggregate.
Our cherished tradition of putting an ‘x’ on a piece of paper every 5 years is redundant. Democracy has been, at this crucial moment, usurped by events. Politicians cannot possibly respond to the climate crisis in time, but, the World economy can be turned on a dime through the voting power of the consumer.
Every dollar, pound or yen is a vote for the Corporation. I predict, with confidence, that giant new consumer movements will soon develop…but nobody yet knows how…..

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Targeted Fundraising & Social Networks

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Targeted Fundraising & Social Networks

One of the scariest things about social media is that it happens with or without your permission. While a lot of NGOs and businesses are leaving digital on their to-do list, the public are out there actively looking for information, sharing views and discoveries on social networks and blogs. This isn’t a bad thing, and often it’s for the greater good, as in the case of Intelligent Giving, a website given over to Independent ratings and reviews of charities.

According to the Intelligent Giving, there are 180,000 charities in England and Wales, 20,000 in Scotland and 5000 in Northern Ireland. Of these, I estimate that most are niche or dormant with only around 5000 charities fighting for a share of the public interest. When it comes down to an individual level (a specific donor), depending on their personal interests, there might be fewer than 20 charities that are of special interest to them. 

This makes finding targeted donors for fundraising even more important and original approaches essential to differentiate your organisation. So how and where do you find them?

This is where social media can really come into it’s own. Thousands of Facebook groups are unofficially given over to supporting charities and thousands more social destinations and blogs are only to happy to evangelise on behalf of their favourite charities to their readers. These are people publicly stating their willingness to help you. Not all will give donations, but some will and others will lend support.

Google can help find them and so can addictomatic.com or search.twitter.com or numerous others. But if you’re not already a participant in social networks, don’t just charge in – that would be like walking up a to a group fo people and interrupting their conversation. This is no place for pushy face-to-face fundraising techniques. Watch for a while, get a feel for what’s going on and judge if the people will be receptive and decide what to ask them for (support, idea, donations, action, volunteers…).

Social Media allows you to reach out to your grass-roots supporters on various networks, so you might want to look at nurturing relationships within those networks, giving them news ahead of other places and asking them for the right kind of help.

One obvious, cheap and easy route would be to seek out the popular bloggers with interests that align with yours and ask them if they’ll add a link or promote a fundraising campaign. Remember you’re dealing with a person, not necessarily a business, so be polite and not too pushy – if they are willing they’ll be flattered and agree quickly without a big sales pitch. Bloggers tend to work on a more personal level so you’ll need to nurture and manage the relationship, keeping them informed so they get scoops and news or exclusives. If they convert just a small percentage of their readership to act, you’ll have just completed you’re first bit of digital fundraising ROI.

And if you do it right, with a transparent, coherent digital / social strategy, the right people will start to find you.

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Save The Children’s Facebook Campaign

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Save The Children’s Facebook Campaign


As part of an ongoing social media strategy, Save the Children UK commissioned a Facebook app that invites people to “donate your status” to raise awareness.

One of the key features of Facebook is a “what are you doing now” status that updates your friends automatically. Your friends’ statuses (stati?) are displayed on your log-in page, to keep you informed, something now known as ambient intimacy. Unsurprisingly this feature is most commonly used for telling your Facebook friends what you’re up to but it’s also a great way to disseminate information and spread the word, and when the organisation is one as trusted and respected as Save the Children people have no problem signing-up.

The admin side of the app allows Save the Children to update the information and automatically push it out to everyone who has already donated their status.

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10 Tips for NGOs on Twitter

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10 Tips for NGOs on Twitter


Last year you couldn’t get on the bus without overhearing someone talking about Facebook. This year it’s Twitter’s turn to be centre of attention and not without good reason. Twitter is all about connecting with people and like any conversation you have those that dominate it, others that join in and many that just listen and grunt approval occasionally. The problem is, for a lot of people, it’s a bit like turning up to a party and not knowing anyone; you feel self-conscious and don’t know what to say.

So I’ve put together this little introductory guide to help you get into the Twitter mindset so you can, at least, give it a spin and see if it works for you and your organisation.

Later on we’ll be following this up with more detailed and specific guides to monitoring, engaging, utilising the data from Twitter but those are all for another set of posts.

Twitter takes time, but Twitter gains value over time. Using Twitter is a bit like being in love: no-one can tell you how to use it, you just have to find out for yourself. It would be wrong for me to suggest rules and you don’t have to abide by these recommendations, they are presented purely as a good kick-off to get you into the flow. From then on, just have fun.

1: Monitor discussions and relevant issues

Once you’ve signed up, Start out by doing a search. There’s tons of services for searching Twitter users and messages and these are just a few.


2: Identify and follow the most influential and interesting Twitter users in your sector.

Follow them and, while you’re at it, look up your friends and colleagues. You’ll probably be surprised who is on there.

3: Add a bio, a link, upload a pic and customise your page

You can’t expect people to follow you unless you tell them who you are and what you are talking about. There’s just enough room for a short description in your Twitter Bio so use it; explain what you’re doing or, if you’re representing an organisation or campaign, use it to describe your activities. You can also put some more text onto the background image if you really need the space or want to brand it.

Add a link to somewhere useful too.

4: Create a voice for your organisation that is relevant.

Perhaps you want to inspire debate by asking pertinent, open-ended questions or maybe you want to inform about issues. It’s up to you which tone of voice you use but avoid going into rants or being rude. A rough rule of thumb is: If you wouldn’t say it to your other-half’s mum, don’t say it on Twitter.

5: Be patient.

There are techniques to build loads of followers quickly but you really want quality not quantity. Having 50,000 people who aren’t listening to you is not as valuable as 100 advocates who will evangelise your cause.

Post often with relevant and interesting messages, respond and engage with friends/folowers and you’ll grow a stronger following.

6: Engage with your audience

If you post interesting stuff, people will want to talk to you about it. Twitter is two-way communication so don’t be surprised when people want to talk to you or ask questions. If you have a large following you won’t be able to keep up, but that’s OK as long as you explain that occasionally, especially when you notice the 100 messages you haven’t responded to.

7: Look in the Mirror

It’s not a pleasant experience but, every once in a while, check your profile page. There you can see all the tweets you’ve posted and can get an idea of just how funny, interesting or informative you have been. You may be surprised but you can assess, adjust and improve accordingly.

8: Get an App

The easier you make it for yourself, the more likely you will post messages more often. There are tons of tools for Twitter which mean you don;t have to to the website everytime. TweetDeck is one of the most popular desktop tools and there are apps for iPhone and Blackberry amongst others.

9: Don’t just repeat the same information

As a charity / NGO, the chances are that your followers are actually interested in what you have to say. They really want to hear from you, especially if they’re a donor.

It’s quite common for people to post the latest blog article or retweet (forward) an interesting titbit and there’s nothing wrong with that but if that’s ALL you’re doing, then you’re not adding any value to your followers and they’ll stop paying attention.

10. Checkout HashTags

You’ll often see words like #PRfail #uksun #earthday #apprentice

They are known as hashTags and you include one in your tweet to make it easier for others to follow that topic (try searching for one of the above hashTags on Twitter). They’re also used for fun and games and all kinds of stuff so look around and you’ll soon pick it up.

And Finally, Don’t obsess

A few years ago it was MySpace, then Facebook, now it’s Twitter. Next week it might be something else so if it doesn’t work out for you, don’t worry. There’ll be something else along shortly.

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