Thursday, October 29, 2009

Funding - times are changing and we need to keep up

Recently published an article about how a Corporate Deal Sees War Memorial Last Post Ceremony Sponsored. The article seems to be somewhat negative about the idea of companies supporting the War Memorial Last Post ceremony - favouring instead Federal Government funding. It seems to assume that the sponsors will "festoon the Australian War Memorial with logos". This seems a very narrow view that assumes a lack of consideration and respect by sponsors. Surely it would be logical to believe that a sponsor will publise its support of these kind of institutions in a manner that will not offend (otherwise it negates the purpose of the sponsorship).

I would suggest that the author of this article is living in the past and still believes that the national government will not only fund war memorials but also his pension. I'm here to tell you that times have changed and the goverment does not have endless funding. It is imperative that organisations wanting to secure their long term future look to private funding initiatives such as sponsorship.

What I also found interesting is that the article states that more than 87 companies including Qantas, Coles Myer, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, News Limited, BHP, Boeing, Rio Tinto, Fosters and Telstra sponsor galleries and other displays at the national memorial in Canberra. They even quoted that the eternal flame is brought to visitors by the Australian Gas Association under a $50,000 deal. This suggests that there are still sponsorship funds to support these kind of institutions - but as always these will only be acquired and retained by those organisations who can provide value to their sponsors.

Forecasting Membership Levels

UK membership expert Sue Froggatt has put together an excellent report on forecasting membership levels. If you are interesting in understanding the statistics that will enable you to better track and manage your membership statistics please click here for more information.

8 tips for a successful fundraising gala dinner

I've been to more than my fair share of gala dinners, gala balls and other gala events lately. Some have been fabulous. Others have been simply horrendous (and by goodness I hope you know who you are!).

A successful gala event is one where the delegates have a great time, the sponsors achieve their aims, both delegates and sponsors want to return ... and you have generated bucket loads of cash to put towards your programs. Achieving just one or two of these will not give you a successful event.

As both an organiser and a perennial delegate, here’s a couple of tips on how to ensure a successful event ...
  1. Don’t mass market the event – Don’t just do up one flyer, send it to everyone and hope the registrations will roll in. I receive at least 10 invitations to gala events every week. I only to accept those where I’m approached personally by someone I know or when its caught my attention because there is something “unusual” about the event.
  2. Invite the right people - You will have greater success in generating delegates who are able to spend more money at the event by selling corporate tables (generally or 8 to 10). People who are coming along for “free” (the guest of the corporate) are more inclined to spend as they haven’t put out any money on the evening as yet. The best corporate to approach are those who rely on maintaining good relationships with their existing and prospective clients – such as accountants, lawyers, etc. With the right relationships in place you can sell the majority of tables before you've even confirmed the venue.
  3. Have a process for developing your amazing mailing list - You will have more success maintaining a relationship with 200 senior people who each have the ability to buy at least one table than maintaining a relationship with 10,000 people who might by one or two tickets every couple of years. You will already know a couple of well connected people. Call them and personally enlist their help. Let them know that you are putting on a fantastic event that will give them an opportunity to show their clients are really fun night. Ask them to commit to a table ... or two. Since you already know this person it should be relatively easy. Once the deal is done (and you have either taken their credit card details over the phone or organised to send them an invoice) ask for their help. Ask them if they can recommend another three people who might be interested in taking a table. Do it in a fun way ... you’d be amazed at what you can get away with by putting a cheeky grin and a chuckle at the end of a sentence. Then you call the people whose names you have just received and repeat the process. Keep going until you've sold out the event. You then have a brilliant list to use for all future events. Speaking of which ...
  4. Keep detailed records - Keep a database with the full contact details of each person you call – along with detailed notes for future use.
  5. Let people know what to expect on the invitations – Let people know what to expect. The invitation should at least include: the type of event (cocktails, dinner, ball, etc), start time, finish time, dress code, venue address, phone numbers, prizes, auction items, etc. The more information the better!
  6. Don’t gross me out – I don’t want to see dead or dying children, animals or people. I’m trying to keep down my food. Make your gala event inspiring. If you do need to illustrate the cause use an engaging speaker. There is a huge difference between touching the hearts of an audience and making them vomit.
  7. Find out what the sponsors are looking for – Sometimes someone will sponsor an event because they just want to meet one person. You can give them an amazing return on that investment just by seating them at the right table. You need to understand why your sponsors are there and ensure they get value to keep them coming back year after year.
  8. Provide opportunities to donate – I can’t count the number of fundraising dinners I’ve been to where there was no easy way to donate. Put envelopes on the table with slips of paper that enable people to make a credit card donation, run a silent auction, run a live auction, make it fun to donate, pre-arrange for someone to make a large donation ... on the condition someone else matches it. The possibilities are endless! Use as many as you can!
The list above is not exhaustive - feel free to add your own tips (whether learned for running or attending these events) in the comments section below.

Why charging for online content (mostly) won't work

Judy Shapiro has written a great article about how charging for online content doesn't generally work, but using online content to develop a community can lead to profitable revenue streams ... click here to read more.

Hillarious photo - giant association fail!

I loved the photo below that Ben Martin found on Failblog ...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nonprofits and Social Media - Seth Godin's Comments and the Huge Response that followed

Seth Godin (famous social marketing blogger) wrote a blog not so long ago called "The Problem with Non" (as in nonprofits). He talks about how ineffective nonprofits have been in using social media to achieve their objectives and how most nonprofits are afraid of change. On the Midstream Corrections blog you can read the original post as well as find links to the barrage of responses...

Why your sponsorships aren't selling

Sponsorship is hot right now - for those who are providing real value to their sponsors. If your sponsorships aren't selling following could be some of the reasons why:
  • The Economic Downturn - Sponsors are still out there. But the economic climate means they are looking at proposals carefully to judge the return they are getting. Are you delivering a real return back to your sponsors?
  • Wrong focus - Your proposals should NOT be about what the sponsorship income will help your organisation achieve. They should be about how sponsoring your organisation will help the sponsor achieve their objectives. Trying to guilt the sponsor into partnering with your organisation will only offend.
  • All those other organisations competing for the same sponsorship dollar - There are a lot of organisations out there competing for sponsorship income. Competition is part of this industry. Get to work on ensuring that you deliver better value than the rest.
  • Too much time in the office - Building relationships is an integral part of generating sponsorship. If you aren't out there networking and engaging with your existing and prospective sponsors then you are creating opportunites for your competitors to get the edge. Get out there!
Feel free to add any other reasons in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to acquire multiple high-value, long-term sponsors

Sending out mass emails for sponsors doesn't work. If you are serious about gaining and retaining long-term, high-value sponsors you can do so far more easily and cheaply through following this simple proven process:
  1. Identify which industries you wish to seek sponsors - think about the people who would like to contact your members. Be creative.
  2. Select the top three organisations in those industries you would like to partner with.
  3. Identify who you need to talk to inside each of those organisations.
  4. Identify the outcomes each organisation would be looking to achieve from partnering with your organisation (annual reports are great for this!).
  5. Call the contact within each organisation and say "We've identified you as a key player in our industry. Our newly developed products have been designed to make you more successful. If we send a proposal through will you take the time to read it?" Generally about 80% of people will agree to read the proposal. Remember you aren't selling sponsorship on the phone (you wouldn't buy a new car on the phone). The purpose of this process is to get the meeting.
  6. Produce a high quality proposal tailored specifically to their needs which demonstrates how you can help them achieve their outcomes. Send it through within three days of them agreeing to recieve the proposal.
  7. Call them 7-10 days after sending in the proposal. Ask if they have any questions and if you can come in to discuss the proposal. If you get the meeting you know they are keen. It then comes down to negotiating the details.
We know this process works because we use it every day to generate sponsorship income for our clients in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. If you would like more information on how we can assist you please email me on or give me a call on +61 (0) 401 648 533.

Why resigned members won't tell you why they've left

I found an article called "Why I cancelled my gold membership" and it sent a shiver down my spine. The author wanted to resign his Xbox Gold Membership. First, he outlined how difficult they make it to resign. Then he admits that he knew they would ask him why ... and the fact he had no intention of telling them. He then goes on to say that he is willing to share his reasons with the rest of the word. And he proceeds to do just that ... in detail.

Most people are not comfortable sharing negative opinions directly with the entity or person they have that opinion about. For example, if I were to ask you what you thought of me then you are unlikely to turn around and say "Frankly I think you are a skanky ho." Few people operate like that.

It is important to understand why your members resign. Tracking the true reasons for this may enable you to identify serious issues that will cause your membership to further decline. It is essential that you have processes in place to ensure your resigning members share their true reasons with you.

Posting them a resigned member survey is not the answer. If they don't care enough to renew why should they care enough to return the survey. Only those who really hate you will do that. The others will forever remain a mystery.

Telephoning and asking is better than posting a survey. But if an organisational representative is calling you will still encounter that resistance to truly share the reasons why they are resigning.

A phone call from an independent representative works better. That person can be a paid consultant or one of a group of members who have volunteered to make those calls.

How do you find out why your members resign? Is it effective?

Monday, October 26, 2009

American Chamber of Commerce shows how NOT to handle the press and members

The American Chamber of Commerce has not been having a good time of late ... and below you will find the video to prove it.

First of all, they've taken a position on climate change that is at odds with a number of their bigger members. This has caused a fairly public stoush with some members including Apple (who resigned their board position and membership as a result of the issue). On October 9 the Enterprise IT website published "What's in a Membership?" talking about the chamber position and the issues being cause by their stance. In the meantime the chamber insisted that they were simply representing the views of their 3 million members.

Then on October 13 Mother Jones exposed the fact that the chambers' membership numbers were closer to 200,000 in The Numbers Game. Things weren't looking great.

By the next day the Mother Jones reported that the US Chamber Reduced Numbers 90% immediately following publication of the article - despite not making any comment to address the allegations. While an argument could be made to say that the chamber represented the local chambers and their members, this argument was damaged when local chamber members were quoted saying that the American Chamber doesn't represent their interests and they have no membership connection with them.

Then, to top off an amazingly bad run, corporate pranksters "The Yes Men" held a fake newsconference where they claimed to be from the American Chamber. In that news conference they announced that their stance on climate change had changed. However halfway through that newsconference someone from the chamber runs into the room. This is all captured on video. What I find astounding is the way in which the American Chamber representative handles the situation. In terms of the guy impersonating the chamber he doesn't do too badly. But he lets himself down at the end when reporters start asking for his card - and he refuses to hand out cards until they tell him where they are from. Did he intend refusing a card to a media outlet that he doesn't like? Click here to read the article. Click here to watch the video.

Wow ... this organisation seriously needs an intervention! Or at least some training on how to better manage the media and communications with stakeholders!

The Death of Membership

Scott Briscoe’s started an interesting discussion regarding his perspective that membership is dying as a model on the Acronym website. I've provided my views in the comments section (as have many of the top membership thought leaders in the world) and if you rely on membership in any way the article and comments are well worth a read ... read on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free Online Membership Statistics Calculator

I've been working with LCubed (a fabulous web development company) to develop a free web-based tool that enables membership organisations to work out their membership statistics (retention rate, growth rate, average tenure).  We've just gone live and I'd love to hear your feedback. Here is the link: