Three words that are not instantly associated with fundraising. Let’s face it, we’re more often dealing with the world’s weighty issues as we try and move people emotionally and inspire them to give.
I CAN, a UK charity that helps children with communication difficulties, has, however put fun, humour and wit at the heart of its fundraising. And I think it’s interesting to look at the new opportunities it’s given them to promote their cause.
Have you had a look at I CAN’s Adopt a Word scheme? If you haven’t, click here to have a look at how it works. You’ll be able to search for a word you’d like to adopt, find inspiration if you're lost for words and see some lucky words that have already been adopted by a celeb or two.
It’s a great way of getting people to engage with the cause. Words are often adopted as gifts (for a year), giving I CAN two potential leads to convert to committed giving.
I also like the way you can buy additional Adopt a Word gifts such as t-shirts, mugs etc. It’s another smart way of raising funds.
Follow @adoptaword and you'll find the fun runs right through to the Twitter stream, with regular word-based riddles, quizzes or facts to get you through the day.
At this point, I should declare my interest as we work with I CAN on parts of their Adopt a Word programme.
In the run up to Christmas, we came up with this advert, which is living proof that raising money via television no longer requires a big budget – especially if staff at your agency are in the ad and bring in the props from home!
We also produced these welcome materials, also on a tight budget, to go to word adopters and people who received a word as a gift.
(Click on the image if you want a closer look)
Fun, humour and wit run through this product (the welcome letter was really great to write). And you can see here how a donor responded to the instructions on how to care for their word (in this case, 'binoculars'). 'I love @adopt a word' - what an excellent start!
When I was looking at the campaign results, I was a little surprised to see that one of the key drivers of traffic to the website was a small advert in the weekly popbitch email, not a communication much used by charities (!)
(Popbitch is, in its own words, 'a free weekly newsletter focusing on satirical celebrity gossip'.)
Which brings me to trying to sum up some of the advantages of coming up a 'fun' fundraising product.
1. A new audience – You have a new way of engaging donors (you often attract younger donors) and are occupying a less congested area of the marketplace.
2. New advertising spaces – You can promote your product in places other charities don't go (see popbitch).
3. Making donors feel good - If your product automatically puts a smile on a donor's face, it's a good starting point for building a relationship.