With the Institute of Fundraising’s 2016 National Convention moving to the Barbican, it was fitting that music played a key part across the three days – from the uplifting playlist that greeted delegates before each morning’s plenary, through to the premiere performance by the Convention Choir on Wednesday morning.
Howard Lake’s ‘Tip of the Pops’ on Monday afternoon – part of the UnConventional Track – carried on this theme. Half chart show, half ‘Mock the Week’, delegates were played what can only be described as an eclectic playlist of songs and asked to share any tips or fundraising stories that came to mind.
The topics covered were as varied as the music – there were tips on legacy fundraising, relationship fundraising and fundraising strategy; opinions on telephone fundraising, the Fundraising Regulator and the behaviour of some charities; and stories about how participants got into fundraising and where they draw personal motivation and inspiration.
We even got to see Ian MacQuillin dance…
Unconventionally for a conference blog, I’m not going to write about the tips and ideas shared in the session.
Howard has shared short videos:
Instead, here are five tracks from Howard’s playlist that didn’t make it into the session and some (tenuously) associated fundraising thoughts:
1. ‘Nessun Dorma’ from Turandot – Puccini
Made famous by Pavarotti and the 1990 World Cup, Nessun Dorma originally comes from Puccini’s final opera, Turandot. While most see this as a story of tormented love in ancient Asia, it is actually an opera about relationship fundraising. Two thoughts in particular stand out.
The first is the importance of making someone feel special when it comes to asking them for commitment and loyalty. Early in the opera the hero prince asks his father, the disposed king, why one servant has remained loyal to him when all others have abandoned him. The answer – the prince had once smiled at her and made her feel special. Are you taking every opportunity to make your donors feel special and more likely to show you commitment?
The second thought is the importance of personal values. In the opera, as in fundraising, the ability to match someone’s name to the values they associate themselves with is the difference between marriage and being axed (financially in fundraising, literally in the opera). In a pressure situation, would you really know the values that a donor holds most dear?
2. Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles
The ballad of a new, shiny medium killing off a much-loved, trusty stalwart. Last week the channel on every fundraisers lips was Snapchat. This week I suspect attention will turn to Augmented Reality, following the success of Pokemon Go.
While advancements in digital technology (including the progress made in the production and sharing of video) provide great opportunities for fundraisers, it’s important to remember that they are just channels for reaching people. Your starting point should be your target audience, not a new tool or channel. If your target audience doesn’t use a certain channel, or if they prefer other channels, you have to question whether it is right for your organisation to be investing in it.
3. Requiem in D Minor – Mozart
Mozart’s Requiem was the last piece of music he wrote. The mysterious nature of the work’s commission led to Mozart believing that he had been poisoned and that the Requiem had, in fact, been commissioned for his own funeral.
As a result, Mozart had the opportunity to write his own musical eulogy – a wonderfully life-affirming thing. However, for those of us lacking the musical skill (as well as ready access to soloists, choir and orchestra) we have to find another way. Leaving a gift in your will is one such option.
As author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth wrote in The Daily Telegraph for the 2015 Remember a Charity in Your Will week:
“The great joy to be had from creating a will is that it allows you to choose the memorial you most want for yourself”.
Does your legacy programme suitably promote the huge personal benefit that writing a will can have for the donor?
4. Push a Little Button – Ninette
Singer Ninette Hartley and songwriter Tony Hatch really were ahead of their time – this ode to digital fundraising was first released in 1966.
“They’re always inventing something fine,
Which is fully automatic and it saves you time,
Someday soon we’ll all be very rich,
Earning our money with a master switch.
You push a little button and it’s all done for you,
Easier than saying A, B, C,
The world’s gone mad just pushing little buttons
But what about you and me?”
The musical warning to fundraisers is far from subtle – while the convenience of digital channels can be positive for fundraisers and donors, an over reliance on automatic processes and little buttons can bring about the end of us if we are not careful.
5. Got My Mind Set on You – George Harrison
Following his time as “the quiet Beatle”, Harrison went on to have a successful career as a solo artist. While some mistake this song (originally recorded by James Ray) as a love song, the “You” in the title actually refers to a major gift prospect.
While Harrison is keen to make the ask and secure the gift, he reminds himself (and us) that it takes spending money, patience and time to build the relationship and “to do it right”.
Join in when you know the words
With 43 tracks on the playlist there are plenty more sources of inspiration. Pick a song and suggest a fundraising tip or story in the comments section below. Alternatively, suggest new songs for the fundraising playlist.