Connecting donors with the beneficiary

Sofii launched its 23 all time favourite campaigns a couple of weeks ago. I am proud to have worked directly on two of them, but it’s the Baby Boxes for Bosnia campaign that I will always be most proud of having helped create.

In the mid 1990’s, Bosnia was a war zone. Mothers with young babies were desperate for basic essentials to help keep their young babies fed, healthy and safe. Nappies, wipes, soap, disinfectant and feeding bowls. And a cold winter was approaching.

Feed the Children was a small charity that was providing aid to these mothers and young babies. A Feed the Children fundraiser and their agency Account Director donned flak jackets (literally) and visited the programme and came back with a brilliant idea.

For a donation of £30, a donor could provide a box with all the essential items a mother in Bosnia so desperately needed.

That the boxes were real (and packed by volunteers in the warehouse in Reading underneath the offices where we fundraised) helped with the tangibility of the ask.

But for me, the real power was in the emotional connection that we were able to offer the donor to the beneficiary. Donors felt that they were almost putting the boxes into the hands of the Bosnian mothers themselves.

This was made even stronger by asking the donor to put a message of support into ‘their’ box. Some of the messages we received were incredibly emotive and included stories, photos and drawings as well as many messages which were simply from one mother to another. Many times we received messages back from the mothers who had received them which we passed on to the donor if we could. We also published these in our newsletters so that other donors could see them and share in the connection. This was fantastic proof that the aid was getting through.

Rarely do I see a fundraising ask that creates the same level of connection between the donor and the beneficiary as this did. If you’re honest, do yours?

PS please do read the full case study at Sofii where you can also see the larger images!

The fundraiser’s dream – a great ask

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ruth Ruderham at the IOF convention last year. At the time she was at Christian Aid (she has since moved to British Waterways) and she spoke about the Nets campaign that they were successfully running.

£3 will save a child's life

It struck me at the time that the real strength of the campaign was in the ask. For those of you that haven’t seen it, Christian Aid is focussing in on one area of work, stopping the spread of malaria and therefore saving children’s lives. The answer, as so often is the case, is simple – a mosquito net that costs just £3.

What a fantastic ask – I can save a child’s life, I can see exactly where my money is going and I can feel great immediately.

With this ask, they have used lots of different channels. If we fast forward 6 months, you will find me sitting on a train looking at a Nets ad on a panel. It stands the test of time.

£3 buys a hero a drink

Train posters are a great discipline. To tell the story well, the ask needs to be simple, tangible and immediate.

The Christian Aid ad has all of this. There is a really clear need, a real threat, a solution that I can play. And, most importantly, I can see what I am going to achieve.

Alongside it is another that I think has a fantastic ask – buy a hero a drink. Again it’s a £3 text ask. Again it’s simple, tangible and immediate. Again, how could I not do it?

Again, I can see exactly what my donation is going to achieve and I can see the impact that I will have. I feel great!

£3 does something to do with water

Unfortunately, not all the ads I’m looking at are the same. (South West Trains has recently turned my  07:38 to Waterloo into a showcase for these ads recently). I am looking at ads from UNICEF where the ask isn’t clear. To be honest, it looks like they have started from the perspective of how ‘can we make an ad for Roger’s train?’ rather than start with a great ask.

Yes, UNICEF is a fantastic organisation and yes we know they do great work. But I’m left wondering what my money is needed for, what it will achieve and what I will have done if I give. I hope that the goodwill that UNICEF undoubtedly has in bucket-loads means this will be cost-effective, but I fear not.

Recently the Agitator asked us to share our dreams. Mine is simple – that all fundraising will be based around a great ask. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So why do so many of us make it look difficult.

Over the next few weeks, I will blog about what I think the best asks in fundraising are. In the mean time, I’d love to hear what you think are the best.