Two weeks ago I posted a blog expressing my concern about Canada’s Federal Conservative government attack on charities. The response to this blog was overwhelming. All supportive. And frightening.
Dozens of people in the non-profit sector told me they wish they could speak out against the Canadian Revenue Agency targeting on non-profits. But they were afraid if they did, they would be audited. They were intimidated and that’s what Prime Minister Harper seems to want.
It appears that the Federal Conservatives are more interested in silencing voices, than listening to a variety of opinions on critically important issues. But Canada needs democratic participation and dialogue to address many social problems. And we need everyone contributing to make a difference, especially non-profit staff that have significant expertise in helping people and protecting our environment.
My blog was reprinted in two popular online publications. And my Global TV interview was seen by a large audience, with thousands of re-postings of the online clip. Take heart non-profit staff, the public is interested in this issue.
First the Federal conservatives silenced the scientists. Now they are trying to silence non-profits. We can’t let them get away with this abuse of democracy.
We teach our children not to bully. That’s much harder when the Federal Conservative party embraces bullying at every opportunity.
Consider their most recent attacks on non-profits -specifically environmental organizations.
The government is using the Canada Revenue Agency for political reasons – threatening specific organizations that the federal Conservative party does not like, for political reasons.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has lumped legitimate Canadian charities in with terrorist organizations. This is untrue. Unfair. And damaging to these non-profits. And I believe it's something that the public needs to protest in the strongest way.
By publicly identifying and throwing suspicion on seven non-profits that are active around environmental issues, the federal government is trying to silence all other organizations that work on these issues. And in fact, silence any non-profit that advocates for social change.
If the federal government gets away with this type of narrow-minded intimidation, we'll soon see similar attacks on activist food banks, mental health organizations, development disability non-profits, etc.
As you can imagine, audits are incredibly expensive and disruptive to non-profits. It's a form of harassment. It is simply bullying.
The CRA audits distract an organization from their mission, and costs them an incredible amount of money and time having to deal with the audits. This of course also wastes donor dollars.
I believe that the great leap forward in philanthropic giving will not be new techniques to convince major donors to part with their money. Nor will it be different kinds of special events or more targeted mail.
I believe that the leap forward will come when people realize how wonderful giving is, and how they will personally benefit, as much as those they help.
When this happens, donors will give 100 to 500% more than they do currently. I've seen it happen.
A few years ago, I wrote a book with a friend, Azim Jamal. The book is called, “The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All”. In the spirit of giving, we decided to give all royalties to non-profits.
The book turned into a number one bestseller in Canada and the USA. However, what was much more exciting was the impact the book had on some people.
Here's a story related to the book (and one of my all-time favorite stories):
A friend of Azim's, Ashokji, gave away hundreds of copies of The Power of Giving to people in India.
In response to one of these book gifts, he received the following note:
‘My dearest Ashokji,
It is with deepest gratitude that I write this letter to you. Thank you for sharing with me the wonder of the book "The Power of Giving".
You are no stranger to the unfortunate circumstances which befell my family a year ago. The passing of both my parents within a span of 15 days of each other was a blow that would have been very difficult to recover from if it was not for the love of friends like Sumanji and yourself. My wife Neha and I have been constantly inspired by your kind words and my interactions with you always leave me nourished, fulfilled and uplifted.
Would you like free advice on how to retain more donors?
Frank Barry recruited 14 North American experts to help show you how best to keep your donors. You know it's great to acquire new donors, but unless you keep the donors that you have, you’ll never grow your program.
I wrote the chapter on monthly giving. And as we all know, this is simply the best way to keep donors renewing every year.
Now I'm sure you'll know many of the ideas in this e-book. In fact, you might even know almost all of them. But the core question is: are you and your coworkers practicing them? My belief is that one of the most useful things you can do with this book is to share it with your co-workers. Especially the ones who don't want to do what is necessary to renew your donors.
I'm pretty sure that if your CEO reads this book, it will help them make more strategic decisions. And that will mean more donors will continue giving to you.
Here's a link to get your free copy: http://www.npengage.com/online-fundraising/donor-retention-fundraising-ideas/
PS I'll be teaching a donor retention class about monthly giving at the AFP International conference in San Antonio on Monday, March 24th. If you make to the conference, I hope to see you there.
In 2013, our client Dr. H Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation asked us to develop and execute their year-end email campaign.
With HMA’s Digital Strategist, Scott Baker, at the wheel, we developed a three-part email series.
Our goal was to remind donors about the needs of cancer patients over the holidays. We also wanted to encourage donors to make a gift in time for their 2013 tax receipt.
We know that Canada Post’s recent announcement about the pending changes in home delivery service have lots of folks in our sector understandably concerned and confused.
Here’s a summary of what we know, and what our assessment of the impact will be. For a more detailed discussion, please do get in touch.
What we know:
- The 1/3 of Canadian households that still receive mail at their door will be converted to community mailbox delivery over the next five years.
- The price of Lettermail (ie. the price of a stamp) will go up dramatically from 63 cents to $1.00 when a single stamp is purchased. Customers who buy stamps in booklets and coils will pay 85 cents which means, of course, that it is wise to shop in bulk. Anything you do through a mailhouse should be at the 85 cent rate, as they buy in coils and booklets.
- However – and this is important – the price of Admail will only go up by the amount it was already scheduled to according to the 5-year plan released about 2 years ago, which is about 2-3 cents. This is important because the vast majority of direct mail which we do for clients goes out by Admail (either Addressed or Unaddressed). This means that the cost of your bulk direct mail drops will remain relatively unchanged but will increase yearly in January.
What do we think about it? :
- Well, we do have concerns about the extra burden on seniors who will now have to leave their homes in all kinds of Canadian weather to visit their mailboxes. But in terms of how this will impact your donor program …
You may be receiving our company Christmas card in the mail soon, if you haven't gotten it already! All of us here at HMA would like to wish everyone a wonderful and joyous holiday season.
You may have noticed that the card also doubles as a "Spot the Difference" game. If you think you've gotten them all and would like to check your answers, or if you'd like a little assistance in figuring them all out, click the image below to see the differences!
*SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING AHEAD*
Seeking to revitalize Oxfam's long-standing holiday campaign, HMA sent donors a piece of unbleached, ethically sourced cotton cloth in their mailing packs, asking them to fill it in with their message of hope to people living in poverty around the world. The response was fantastic. The campaign surpassed its target for donations, and Oxfam received hundreds of heartwarming messages of courage like you see here. Our intention is that it will give inspiration and comfort to Oxfam partners and clients, to know that people back in Canada are supporting them and thinking of them.
As Lynne blogged back in December, the response to the Oxfam Threads of Change campaign was fantastic. We recieved over 500 beautiful, handmade squares from Oxfam supporters all over the world. Now comes the fun part-putting it all together.
Almost all of the squares received were done on unbleached, ethically sourced cotton and had unfinished edges.
Many of the squares contained images or messages that ran right to the edge of the square, which necessitated having to ‘zigzag’ each square to another piece of cloth that allowed the squares to be sewn together without losing some of the images.
Fabric supplied by Oxfam from their partners in Malawi, Nigeria and other locations was then cut into 6” squares and each message square was sewn (zigzag stitch) onto the larger piece. In addition, to provide some visual highlights, some squares from the extra fabrics supplied by Oxfam were cut into 6” pieces to be included in the final assembly.
Once the squares were ready for assembly, each square was individually sewn, square by square, to make a row of 5 pieces as one row. Once 5 rows had been assembled, (and ironed along the seam to make the seam lie flat) 5 rows were joined together to make a block of 25 squares.
We thought this AFP blog post was so important it should be reposted on our blog. Thank you Andrew Watt for writing this.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Posted by AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt, FInstF
Impact vs. Overhead
Talk to almost any donor about what’s important when they give, and the answer will be impact, change and positive outcomes. Donors want to know that they’re making a difference—that with their chosen charity, they’re making real change.
It could be how many people are taught to read, or how many acres of wetlands are saved. There are any number of ways that charity’s outcomes can be shown.
You can be certain, though, that impact will NEVER be successfully demonstrated by fundraising and overhead cost ratios. Fundraising and administrative expenses are not a guide to effectiveness, performance and impact, yet they have been the key measures that supporters have been encouraged to use for years.
That’s why the recent open letter written by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance denouncing the “overhead ratio” as a valid indicator of nonprofit performance is so important. It’s one thing for charities and fundraisers to make the case against linking ratios and effectiveness. But we are not used to hearing these three organizations putting forward that same line, and even pro-actively decrying the “Overhead Myth.”