Monthly Archives: November 2011

Plan your story

I’m a bit of a fan of the work of Plan, ever since I used a Plan funded toilet when I was in Ethiopia.

Plan UK work with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. The majority of Plan’s voluntary income is from child sponsorship, I was amazed to discover that donors can go and visit the children and communities that they help and are encouraged to share their stories. From the Bramelds in Ghana to Cathy’s trip to Zimbabwe Plan are doing a great job of connecting people just like you and me to the cause by demonstrating the difference that sponsoring a child can make, not just to that individual child but to the whole community.

With so much reliance on income from one fundraising stream, it seems that Plan are looking to diversify. Their newest campaign is called “Plan your story”. It is an online video application that takes your key information from Facebook to create a personal story of your life and how it may have been impacted if you did not have a birth certificate. It aims to put you in the shoes of the millions of girls around the world whose births are not registered, for example you are asked to consider being married at the age of 14; as an inability to prove your age could result in being married off whilst a child. It is part of Plan UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign and aims to test Facebook as a platform for raising money, gain insights on what works and what doesn’t –from an online fundraising perspective and gain a greater understanding of Plans’ online audience.

So I gave it a go. I was uncomfortable with giving an application access to my information on Facebook, especially with all the media coverage about privacy. I still am anxious about it, but decided to do it anyway as I was curious to see my story.

While I waited for my story to load, there is a counter on the screen that showed me the number of people born without birth certificates while I was waiting. Nice touch.

Then accompanied by emotional music, I saw my story unfold. Using my images and information on Facebook, I was asked to remember what it was like being at school, studying for exams; exams that many girls are excluded from taking, the exams that change a path in your life. I was reminded of the friends I made and not forgetting the time I got a detention for chewing gum. I loved the page in the book that showed an album of my friends profile pictures. However when asked to picture what life would have been like without certain people, selected at random from my friends list, it didn’t work for me as they were people I do not know very well, so their non-existence would not have made an impact at all. If there is a way of selecting more active friends, that would have worked, or perhaps it’s a lesson for me to take my own advice and reconsider the friends I have on Facebook. 

One page reminded me that some people are not able to express opinions; they don’t have a voice, and then linked to my latest status updates. Great idea although somewhat ashamedly my latest update was,

‘There is a prawn at the bottom of the escalator at Angel. Think he is too small to hop on. Hope he is ok.’

It talks about your first crush; how did they know about my crush on George Michael in 1987? and asks you to imagine, at that point in your life what it would have been like to have had no choice but to marry a stranger more than twice your age or older, like thousands of 14 year olds without a birth certificate are forced to do.

I really like Plan your story and whilst there is room for improvement, its leading the way in showing how Facebook can be used to help donors feel a personal and emotional connection to the cause, which is what fundraising is all about.

I felt quite moved by this application (prawn aside), it did make me consider the life choices that I have been lucky to have. It made an emotional connection as well as providing solid facts and figures and there is a clear ask for a donation. Did I make one? Of course. I want to know how you are going to steward me….

The app is streamed in real-time so I can’t link you to mine, but you can try for yourself here or check out this sample. I would love to know what do you think?


Great minds think alike

Those lovely people at the Institute of Fundraising London have given me some free day passes for their conference in London on 23 and 24 November. That’s next week!

It’s a first class conference with lots to learn for fundraisers of all disciplines and levels. Check out some of the great speakers here.

So if you want to bag yourself a free pass tweet me @lucyinnovation in 140 characters or less to tell me why you should go. Be sure to include the hashtag #ioflondon

The best tweeters, in my opinion, get the pass.

I have until 5pm on Friday to decide.


Have we amazed you?

The zip on my very very favourite pair of winter boots broke this week. It was devastating, partly because I had to walk round with one cold foot for a day and partly because no other boot in the shops would be as good.  These boots are perfect.

I knew I couldn’t replace them, (physically or emotionally!) so I investigated getting them mended. My local shoe mender took one look, inhaled quickly over his teeth and shook his head slowly, and said, “no. we don’t do zips here”. He suggested I tried some other shoe mender ‘in town’. *

So yesterday, when ‘in town’ I made another attempt at solving my cold foot challenge. The two shoe menders at Charing Cross Station were closed for lunch. In my frustration I remembered someone telling me about how good Timpson were, so I looked on my phone to see if there was a shop nearby.

I wish companies would think about how people are accessing their websites now. Stood in the cold waiting for the data to download and then trying to navigate reams of information on a little screen just to find a list of stores isn’t a great experience.

Anyway, I found a Timpson, I called them to find out exactly where they were and spoke to a friendly guy who gave me directions. Ten minutes later when I arrived he greeted me with a big smile and remembered the phone call.

Steve the Manager and I chatted about the devastation of boots breaking. To be fair I’m not sure he really felt the pain, but he made a valiant attempt which I appreciated. We also discussed the weather; we are British that’s what we do.  He explained the process to mend the boot, and why it would take 2 weeks and that he would call me personally if there was any problems.

On the counter I spotted this. Timpsons campaign for better service.

The first question; Have we amazed you? Actually you did, because your service was good, partly emphasised because most places give decidedly less than amazing service, plus you were actually open when I needed you.

£250 incentive; this is interesting. I don’t give feedback to be put in a prize draw. That’s not an incentive for me. I’m writing this and sending off my postcard because Steve did a great job and should be recognised for that.

We know that personal recommendations are key to making purchasing decisions so the ‘would you recommend a friend /colleague?’ question is a good one.

I think there was a couple of things missing; perhaps seeking to learn if anything didn’t amaze and suggestions for improvement.

I also question whether there should be a line about how they will use my data. As much as I loved the service I don’t want you to get in touch with me. (unless its Steve to talk about my boot.)

The branch number wasn’t filled in, so if I don’t write which branch amazed me how will Timpson be able to feed back to that amazing branch?

I’m impressed that there was a feedback card in the first place. It’s amazing how many customer-facing businesses don’t actively seek feedback from the people who are the key to their business success.

I was talking to a friend recently about how he felt about seeking 360 feedback from clients, which he does at the end of every piece of work. He felt apprehensive. Especially as part of his service was to give feedback to fundraisers on their work, he felt concerned that an invite for feedback could be ‘pay back time’. I don’t actually think that is the case, but understand his apprehension.

So it can feel a bit scary, but if you don’t seek feedback, how will you know the amazing things you are doing that you could do more of? And as importantly, how will you know where to make improvements?

When you are giving feedback, do consider the impact it will have. Always tell people when they have done a good job, and always tell people when they haven’t, but take care to be constructive and thoughtful. Telling someone they are rubbish with no explanation isn’t ok. It’s just plain mean.

So get over the fear and make giving feedback and seeking feedback from customers, clients, donors or colleagues a habit.

Without feedback it’s hard to become amazing at what you do. And you all deserve to be amazing. Right?

Your thoughts and feedback welcome…

*’in town’ being central London

I love infographics

I love infographics. I love infographics so much that I’ve written a blog about them.

An infographic is short for ‘information graphic’ and is a visual representation of information data or knowledge. They are the perfect tool for presenting complex information quickly and clearly.

How much information do you receive on your average day? For most of us it’s more that our brains can process. As we become increasingly connected through use of mobile and online technology our attention spans are becoming shorter as we try to process increasing amounts of information. As we flit from task pretending ‘multi-task’, the ability to filter information is becoming more and more important.

So the task for anyone getting their message to stand out amongst all the background noise is becoming harder than ever. I think infographics are a good way to grab attention and they tend to be shared widely via digital media. This blog by Mick Dee provides some good examples of how infographics work and some tips for developing your own.

So given what a great tool an infographic is for expressing complex issues in a compelling way and demonstrating impact, I am surprised that more charities are not using them. Infographics can showcase a charities expertise, demonstrate their view in a wider political and social environment or could be a way to thank donors or keep them up to date on progress. They provide visual clues on the cause and can bring a sense of fun where appropriate.

Howard Lake has been collating examples of fundraising infographics here. My favourites include;

Leeds University’s Alumni & Development Team have presented the results of their matched giving campaign in infographic form as a thank you to the donors who gave. It will appear on the back cover of the next donor newsletter. Brilliant.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have some interesting infographics, including an interactive one on it’s campaign to end malaria.

Charity water and eNonprofit Benchmarks Survey are both making good use of infographics to communicate their messages. Click on the links on the images to see in more detail.








So next time you have a message to get across to donors, supporters, volunteers, staff or the general public, bin the lengthy word document or email, and think if using an infographic will work harder in cutting through the background noise to enable you to get the results that you want.