“No one wakes up and thinks they have to give a donation”. I’ve heard that said several times. After a while you take it as read.
Actually the other day I did wake up and think ‘I have to give’. A few weeks earlier an old university friend emailed me about a night walk she was doing to raise funds for hospice that cared for two close friends of hers. Of course I had to sponsor her and donate to the causes that mattered to her. I woke up in a panic if the event had passed. It hadn’t. But my point is I did wake up and think I have to give.
This morning I need to sponsor my cousin who is doing a Tough Mudder for the Dogs Trust.
Clearly many people woke up and just had to give to the Jo Cox appeal (the UK Member of Parliament murdered in June) which has now reached its target of £1.5 million with 44,479 donors in one month.
Which reminds me of another unwritten golden rule: “You have to ask to get a donation”. Or do you?
At SolarAid we added a field to our online donation that simply asks why when people choose to donate. We would get some wonderful answers – some emotional and some rational. One that caught my attention was the increasing number of people who told us they were prompted to give to us to offset their CO2 emissions. It started coming up every week. So we’ve changed our search terms (SEO) to help attract people seeking to give to a suitable cause in order to offset their carbon. We didn’t ask – them they came to us – we’ve just made it easier to find us.
This year at SolarAid we also noticed a lot more inbound leads. Organisations and people who seek us out from hearing our story and are interested in exploring the possibility of a partnership. You know it’s worth your time when people come to you to start with. But you need to be ready to respond. The time they are most interested in you is when they press send on that email – so hearing back even a few days later starts to diminish their level of interest in you.
And we have had an increasing number of significant inbound donations at SolarAid too. My favourite is the church minister from Ayr who called up to say he’d raised some money from selling gift cards. ‘That’s nice’ we said thinking it was a few hundred pounds. Turned out it was £13,000 worth of giftcards. And how did he chose SolarAid? He had heard about us from a school who in turn got involved with a campaign a supporter had started in Scotland for us.
The other week SolarAid had a £25,000 donation from a London City firm as a result of one of their staff buying a SolarAid solar light and taking it in to show colleagues. And a similar amount has been secured by a long term supporter who advocated for SolarAid to benefit from some extra funds their company chose to give to charity.
So question those assumptions we often take for granted. Statements and ‘rules’ like this can be useful but they can also shut off your way of thinking. Listen to yourself when you say them or hear others state them. The rules are changing and we need to change with them.