Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Starting a charity? ...Keep it simple

The early years journey of a charity can be a fist-shaking experience, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the endless support that organisations can provide NFPs today. Many start-ups have the same questions, and although there’s no blanket solution, often you find that keeping it simple is a start. The following three steps are a guide to the very early years, after that, there’s Pro Bono OR! Come see for yourself…. http://www.theorsociety.com/Pages/Probono/HowcanORhelpyou.aspx

Define your aims and objectives
Although crowd-funding is more popular than ever, gone are the days that charitable objectives are simply a monetary figure. Charitable engagement has grown from the face-to-face fundraising that we all swerve to avoid in the high street, to creating punishable challenges like trekking across Africa in your undies with nothing but a pencil and a rubber duck! If we expect the community to hop on board with our out-of-the-box events then we need to make sure our purpose is clear. Aims and objectives don’t just have to be facts and figures, let us know the real reason you’re dedicating all of your time for this particular charity, or this particular cause and event. Making your aims personal and precise is the best way to make digital communication induce empathy. Making your aims clear is the best way to retain the attention of your audience.  
If you’re early on in the start-up journey then go ahead and be honest with your every intention. Let me know that the first four months will be spent refining a fundraising strategy, or that the six months after that will be working towards effectively measuring impact. The sooner you’re up front, the sooner the community can either signpost you all my known contacts, or they hop off the train because you’re not heading for a destination that they can see themselves ending up at.
So what if you have all of the motivation and you know qualitatively how you want to achieve, but you can’t quite seem to create a visual for others to see? If that’s the case then it’s time to cut that picture up, back into the smaller pieces you originally used to make it. We do this by making SMART targets: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely; and I cannot stress the ‘realistic’ enough. A large amount of charities lose funding, discounts and corporate backing because they fail to meet their targets within the first 3 years of set up. You’re better off meeting lower targets that failing to over-achieve. Ego should be removed when setting aims and objectives! 

Be a social media guru
Lesson number one: learn to separate professional and personal social media. More importantly, look away once in a while, before it consumes you. Social media will be the death of us all. I’m speaking from experience. During my time living in Australia, I was walking in the CBD on weekday lunch break (something we in the UK aren’t partial to, because we’re ‘too busy’) and as I was approaching a crossroad, stupidity unfolded right before me. A woman was walking whilst peering down at her phone, she considered herself too busy to even look before crossing the road. Of course that didn’t give the bus coming up behind her much time to stop, so I ran into the road and pulled her back to the pavement. Dignity isn’t a word I use often and this occasion was no exception. Not only did I get clipped by the bus, but I managed to trip up the curb and was used as a landing pad for the nice corporate lady in a suit. The smoothie that was in her hand was now providing new colours on my top. The fact that I dislocated my shoulder saving that woman, only to have an absence of thanks, is not the point. The reason that woman risked her life was because reading her social media notifications was more important that the 12 tonne bus heading her way. It’s possible to be SMART with your social media use to, it’s just a case of defining the aims of your use:
  • -                 Aim to build a network – There’s no better phrase than ‘I know a guy.’
  • -      Increase your reach by intentionally reaching out to people you think might be interested; but don’t be afraid of not hearing back from a stranger who hasn’t yet earnt your respect!
  • -          Use meta-tags – The internet is a great invention that everyone uses but no one understands. Meta-tags provide specific information about a page including content description, author info and key words or phrases. Use this to extend your reach to people who may not have necessarily taken interest at first glance.
  • -          Be authentic, not robotic – Don’t post information you think I want to hear. Post information you want me to hear, then tell me why it’s important to you.
  • -          Use the internet site appropriately – We all shake our fists at the 140 character capacity that twitter allows, so instead of trying to Shakespeare your post up, simply signpost. Signpost to your website, to your blog, to your stats and figures, or to your gallery that shows just how great the people you work with are. Be smart with social media platforms.
 Elaborate on your call to action
Call to action can be used as both motivation for a message receiver, as well as a marketing term to show next steps to an audience. It’s all very well using social media to signpost me to your website but don’t waste it by not finishing my journey for me. Now that I am on your website I want to know what’s next. I can see what you hope to achieve and when you want to achieve it by, but now I want to know how you intend to do it. More importantly, where do I come into this? A call to action tells the customer what you want them to do. The actions are simple:
-fill out a form
-re-post a blog
-attend an event
-register for info
-fill in a survey
-buy something
-find out more…

A call to action should be simple, clear and interactive. You may be a small charity, but now suddenly your audience understand both your wants and your needs. Isn’t that what we all want in life?


For more info on how Pro Bono can help with: 
  • Strategic planning/review
  • Impact measurement
  • Process improvement
  • Data analysis
  • Business planning
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Options appraisal
  • Decision making
and more! Please get in touch with hope.meadows@theorsociety.com