President’s Message

“Being better at what we do.” How’s that for a trend to follow in 2015. I think it’s the rise of better management tools and techniques that will make the biggest impact in 2015. Whether it’s the balanced score card, strategy map, journey mapping or whatever approach we’ve brought across from the commercial sector, it means we are finally getting done to the hard work of connecting the dots in our organizations. It’s not about kicking another direct mail piece out of the donor but having a thoughtful journey map and back end to truly love, keep and nurture the donors we find.
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posted on Feb 03 No comments yet

President’s Message

We know events matter in fundraising. Our studies of generational giving in three countries shows that across all generations, people participate in events or give to those who participate in events. Whether it’s Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers or Matures, events are central to supporting charities. But we’ve done one thing to events that is now unacceptable: placing them in their own event silo with very little connection to other areas of giving or engagement.
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posted on Nov 18 1 comment so far

President’s Message

Fundraising is culture. And that’s why so much fundraising happens in the last few months of the year. The religious-cultural construct concentrates our minds, empathy and activities to helping others and we naturally give a lot to the charities we care about. If fact, we give up to 60% of our charitable dollars for the year in the last 3 months. It’s important and that’s why Emma Cosgrove from hjc has a few important things to say to you about how hjc can help you with your year-end, holiday giving. Read More →

posted on Aug 22 No comments yet

President’s Message

I am all for new methods of helping organizations better focus their marketing and fundraising efforts and the rise of the ‘user persona’ is getting a lot of attention.

The user persona is a creative director’s dream come true. The process to come up with a series of fictionalized ‘characters’ takes imagination and therein lies the possible weakness of using user personas.

Here are my 3 key ways to avoid the most common pitfalls when crafting and using personas:

1. ROOT a persona in both qualitative and quantitative data. The behaviours and characteristics of any personae groups MUST use data sets, analysis and survey answers to craft their behaviours. If you aren’t doing this, you are using personas that are relying more on the narrative imagination of Stephen King versus the empiricism of a Sir Francis Bacon.

2. TEST the personas through data and results. You can’t use personas and not track whether they actually improve results. There is a strong academic/research body of work that strongly criticizes the user persona model because it is not often rooted in empirical testing. It may be that personas perform poorly in comparison to classic RFM test groups. You need to test to find out.

3. PRACTICAL implementation plans to test user personas can be difficult. You need to think very carefully through how a persona can be properly tested. It’s not easy working with ‘fictional characters’ in the real world but you have to figure it out.

My gut tells me that user personas are helpful in testing for marketing campaigns BUT if they are being driven by clever, creative people and not driven by data, analytical staff then you are going to be let down by this technique. Drop me a line at if you want to talk more about this.

posted on Jul 30 No comments yet

President’s Message

The Age of the Smart Phone

Mobile phones are quickly becoming the main interaction point between donors and nonprofit organizations. Who knew so many people would use smartphones? Certainly not the founders of Blackberry. They discounted the rise of the smartphone in the general population 5 years ago. It’s now estimated that their global market share will soon approach a new low of .03%.

That’s enough to focus every nonprofit in Canada and elsewhere on smart phones and engagement. In our groundbreaking study of Next Gen donors in Canada last year, it was found that already, 24% of Gen Y donors make smart phones the main way they interact with charities and 19% of Gen X donors make smart phones the main way they interact with charities.

Take a look at the case study of the Ontario Lung Association  and see how responsive design helped get the word out – and make engagement more successful.

It’s time for all charities to invest in, and properly leverage, smartphones. This isn’t a bandwagon. If you’re not convinced, just look at Blackberry.

posted on Jun 02 No comments yet