Favourites of 2014

Before last year completely fades from memory,

some appeals and promotions I thought stood out

- Larry Matthews


Great leveraging of volunteers: CITIZEN SCIENTISTS

Citizen Science was an appeal from Nature Canada for gifts to pay for the minor costs associated with having volunteers in the field performing various monitoring and educational tasks. The ask amount was $30 to support one volunteer “for the upcoming season.”

Donors are promised “an update directly from our citizen scientists on their activities and findings.” The direct connection between donor, volunteer and results is brilliant, and if handled well, likely to be very satisfying to the donor and volunteer alike. 


A fun surprise on a serious topic: WONDER COW

As everyone knows, World Vision Canada is a powerhouse fundraiser. They also are the very definition of earnestness in fund ​raising – everything is literally life and death.

So I was delighted to be introduced to Wonder Cow – their appeal promoting the value of local biogas generation technology. A clever, simple presentation of the technology, built on the engaging “Wonder Cow.”  I would guess this got the attention of faithful and generous donors who likely enjoyed the idea as much as I did.


A 'thank-you' that makes the case for support:


I was impressed by this “thank you” sent out to people who made a first-time donation when approached on the street or when someone came to their door.  What struck me was the clarity of their case and the discipline with which they made it. The cover and first thank-you (there areat least four!)  speak about survival – the most basic value proposition imaginable. The second thank you specifically mentions the appeal method – “Thank you for stopping to speak to us today.” Third, the entire case is summarized on one panel, including statistics, types of aid, mentioning human rights and asserting that fudamental truth that “Becoming a refugee is not a choice.” Fourth, a real person is used to exemplify the need, and finally, the pamphlet quickly gives examples of what specific dollar amounts accomplish, and deals with administrative costs. All done in fewer words than this blog post. Bravo!      


Integration we should aspire to:


The winter 2012 appeal (I saw it only this year) of the Children’s Center, Detroit - ‘Children should be seen and not hurt’ - reached out and smacked me in the face. And it also turned around their annual fund results. Messaging, imaging, direct mail, email, social media, and donor letters – they describe it as “a seamless, tightly integrated, multichannel strategy encompassing the entire multi-staged communications cycle – from the very first donor touch to the final acknowledgement letter.” Read the case study at this SOFII link to see how it's done. One thing for sure - it begins with a powerful message.


Inspiration in brain-dead moments:



When I feel dull and like I might never have a good idea again, I browse sofii. It offer examples from around the world – like the “Children should be seen and not hurt” campaign above. The title of their occasional event sums up the ethos: “I wish I’d thought of that.”


Customer service done right: BLUE SEA PHILANTHROPY​

Coldest Night of the Year raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in 65 communities across Canada -- $4.9 million since 2011. Their goal for 2015, the 5th year, is $3 million. I'll be sponsoring 3 or 4 walkers (and have walked myself) but what I most admire is what's behind the scenes: the incredible execution of the event across the country by Brian Carney and his team at Blue Sea Philanthropy. Growth in scope and revenue is impressive. Even more impressive to me is the way Blue Sea, which also offers a national Ride for Refuge, serves its partner charities behind the scenes. The Blue Sea commitment to seeing their partners thrive is genuine and compelling. 





I have a soft spot for free-lance writers – I have been one since 1983. The women and men who can cut it alone as writers have my respect and goodwill. They not only have to be clever and write well – they have to sell their services every day.

One of the experienced and still-fresh hands in the business is Alan Sharpe. Over a few weeks he sent out these three postcards to people like us, like the one shown here.

They simply made me smile – and so as an attention-getter, he earns top marks for his offer to win and keep donors through “paper, postage and persuasion.”   http://www.raisersharpe.com/

Faces on a wall draw you in: JUST PLAIN COOL AT YORK U

I’ve had these cellphone shots for a couple of years. But I’ve held on to them because I found the idea uplifting.

While attending sessions in a meeting room at the Schulich School of Business at York University, I noticed the wallpaper was patterned. I wondered about what turned out to be a magnifying glass mounted on the wall. During a break I got up and looked through the glass. I was amazed to see faces, hundreds of them. I walked around the room with my nose inches from the walls covered entirely with portraits of smiling graduates of York University. What a great reminder to all who use that room of what the point of their work is – a veritable cloud of witnesses to every discussion and decision.