Composed by Michael Norton, co-founder of Buzzbnk, the crowdfunding platform for social ventures. This is part one of a three part series.
Just Give Me the Money: learning from Bob Geldof
Live Aid was a rock concert organised on 13th July 1985 in London (Wembley Stadium) and Philadelphia (JFK Stadium) by Bob Geldof. It had more than 60 artists participating and an audience estimated at some 400 million people in over 60 countries. Viewers were urged to donate money for famine relief. In the UK, there were 300 phone lines for people to make credit card donations. The phone number and also the address where viewers could post their cheques came up on screen every few minutes. After 7 hours of rock, only £1.2 million had been pledged. Most viewers thought they were watching a free concert with some of the world’s most famous singers. Geldof was extremely disappointed. “Don’t go to the pub tonight — stay in and give us the money. There are people dying now, so give me the money”, he furiously screamed to the camera (although people remember it as “Give me the fucking money!”). With a really good cause which was matched by Geldof’s obvious passion plus the fact that he directly asked people to give, the money began to roll in. In the end around £150 million was raised for famine relief from the Live Aid concerts.
LESSON 1: You have to ask
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. The money doesn’t miraculously appear. So:
• Get into the habit of asking
• Enjoy asking. Do you like doing this? If not, why not? And what are you going to do about it, as you’ll never be good at fundraising? So learn to love asking, or find others to do the asking for you.
LESSON 2: Understand the fundraising process
Fundraising is not about extracting money (with difficulty) from people who are reluctant to give. It is a process of:
Informing them which leads on to
Exciting them and then
Giving them an opportunity to invest their money in something which excites them
Providing them with some good reasons for giving their support. And then…
Asking them to give, pledge or otherwise commit.
But this is only the first stage. As you then need to…
Say thank you
Engage them or involve them somehow in what you are doing
Build a relationship with them
Encourage them to give more (and more often), do more and find more
Many people believe that the best thing is to ask more and more people (frenetic fundraising). But in fact it is better to ask people more effectively so that they decide to give (use your brain, so let’s call this phrenetic fundraising), and then to invest more time in building a long-term relationship with them so that they become regular and substantial givers.
LESSON 3: Become a donor
By giving, you will begin to understand the giving process, and learn the lessons so you can ask more effectively. So…
• Pick a few charities to give to.
• Think about what motivated you to give.
• Take a look at how they ask people to support them. Is this done interestingly? Effectively? Memorably?
• Think about what you want in return. Are whether you are getting this.
• Think about how they thank you and try to engage you in their work.
LESSON 4: Ask specifically for something
Much fundraising requires two decisions by the donor:
• Whether to give in the first place, and…
• How much to give.
It could be embarrassing to give too much; you could be seen as mean if you give too little. So ask them a question with a single answer: “Do you want to give this much – Yes or No?”
• You can ask people to give at several different levels (as we do with Buzzbnk campaigns). Then they decide whether to be a Cheerleader, a Mover or a World-Changer. But they know that if they do this, others will be doing the same.
• Show them examples of other people giving. Different examples, so that they can see themselves reflected in the examples. These can be actual or hypothetical.
• Link the level of giving (if there are several different levels) to a different name or return for what is given. Theatre friends schemes are great at doing this.
• Have a top level which is quite high, as this will encourage people to “move up”. Even if they don’t give at the top level, it will make the lower levels seem “better value”.
LESSON 5: Understand the concept of the “Donor Pyramid”
• Get people in at a low level, and…
• Move them up to giving and doing more, and…
• Get them to become regular and more substantial givers…
• Then they might think of making a big gift or leaving a legacy when they die, which could be quite a substantial sum.
Being a donor is an evolving relationship. Seek to turn people from donors into enthusiastic supporters into co-venturers with you.