I’m excited about stickiness at the moment. I think it will be important if you believe in holistic fundraising – where different parts of your fundraising programme connect.
Let me give you some examples. A weekend stall at a summer festival led to one of SolarAid’s largest ever trust donations. How? A former volunteer came by our stand and learned of our new goal to eradicate the kerosene lamp. This conversation led to an application to a trust some 9 months later. Yet in our accounts the income will show against trusts and the income from events will look rather small and costly. Another example, is how a donor to a BBC radio appeal has since engaged his local community speaking at churches, schools and rotary clubs. It turns out one of his congregation is founder of a corporate we are about to partner with. That radio appeal had much more impact than the donations we received.
What do I mean by stickiness and why is it important?
I propose stickiness is the amount of income an area provides another.
So say your fundraising events line looks like this over the year. Income of £15k with a cost of £10k. Compared to other areas it has a low ROI, a small net income, and is seen as costly for what it brings back. Events use a large amount of time too. But if you can track back the ‘stickiness’ of events that nudge relationships forward, start a conversation etc, then you can look at it in a different way. So a grant of £200k that came as a result of that stall you ran in the summer means the stickiness of your events line is x 20 i.e. £200k from £10k investment.
This is not just soft crediting – or rather it takes soft crediting to a different level and ensures you actually use that sort of information and make decisions on it too.
But to measure stickiness you need to log those conversations. Which of course is great – because by measuring it will actually make you do more of them. That’s the funny thing “if you want something to happen – measure it” is the saying. And by measuring it you will start to look out for those connections.
Of course you’d keep stuff that is sticky – often the very areas that are up for the chop if looked at in the blinkered view of direct return on investment. Equally I would be very wary of anything that isn’t sticky, that doesn’t contribute to other areas of your programme or benefit from the stickiness of a different area. That suggest’s it is isolated. I find that a fundraising programme will truly sing when it is holistic and all joins up.
Looking back on what has had a knock on impact in SolarAid, sticky stuff tends to be:
- Activities that lead to quality engagement such as face to face conversations – such as that summer stall
- Being able to convey your story in a memorable way – such as the radio appeal
- Conveying your story so it’s passed on by others leveraging the social capital with their network of contacts.
An example of the something sticky we do at SolarAid is sell solar lights in the UK and US at a premium price with a donation towards our work in Africa. It’s taken a lot of work, importing the lights, setting up a distributor etc. They make a small amount of income for us (which is growing) – but as important they are helping spread our story. Last year we had a donation of £5,000 from a new donor and when I called to thank him and ask why he had chosen to support SolarAid he said a friend of his had bought a solar light from us and told him about our mission. So that £15 sale had indirectly led to a £5,000 gift and a new donor. Now we ensure with every light we sell our story goes with it by asking people to “add a tag’ so the story stays with their light.
Having stickiness should help counter that “silo” mentality that fundraising often refers to. By openly measuring stickiness and emphasising its importance you will be encouraging cross team working, and perhaps even cross department working, because of course there will be activities outside of fundraising, such as PR and campaigning, that are sticky too.
So I am going to try and measure stickiness at SolarAid. For stickiness I think you could read making your own luck – because it’s through stickiness those seemingly unconnected opportunities will come out of the blue.
We seem to have been very lucky at SolarAid.