One of the best gifts I’ve ever received wasn’t diamonds, a puppy, or even a teenage mutant ninja turtle playset. It was a humble tote bag. This one’s real special though. It’s huge, I mean, really big. And it was designed especially for me.
It has a distillation of my cliched brand essence emblazoned across it. The things I love. Hackney. Politics. Progress. And cats. (And it’s all in Helvetica. Swoon)
I wear my heart on my shoulder, and carry it with pride. And it starts conversations, with like-minded folks, and with those more sceptical wherever I go.
Full disclaimer: my love of a good tote goes beyond this one present. To me, they could be the fundraising future – or at least an exciting experiment. They occupy a unique place smack bang in the centre of a virtuous Venn diagram that we in fundraising should really be paying attention to.
In fact if a brand or organisation gives me one for free – and it connects with who I am, and who I want to be – they’ve got a walking bill-board for at least six months.
So what happens if you do this? Distill your charity’s essence, its core rallying cry into a message on a tote. And you offer it as a gift for people to carry around.
The people who take you up on your offer – they’re the ones who are ready to wave your placard high. So you start a conversation with them. And chances are, if they like you enough to shoulder your message, they’re going to care enough to get closer to you (maybe even cough up some cash).
In the months ahead, looking at GDPR and listening to supporters, we’re going to be talking a lot more about creating content that people *really* want to read, to watch, to share.
But before then – how about we start with creating something that people really want to wear, and take it from there?
(And in case my impassioned reasoning hasn’t inspired you to get in touch, we’re building an exciting case study to back it all up. In fact, the results we’ve seen so far are *totes* amazing…)
“Добро пожаловать в 20 век”
That’s Welcome to the 20th century in Russian. Because this week feels like we’re looking 100 years back in time.
Reports of concentration camps have surfaced. And the stories aren’t unclosed cases from Nazi-Germany, or investigations into 1940s European governments. They are stories of today. Of camps that exist as I write this.
Hundreds of gay, and possibly bisexual men have been captured, thrown into camps, tortured and some even killed in the Chechen Republic of Russia (Chechnya). The Chechen government not only deny this, but refuse to acknowledge that gay men exist in their country.
So, in the words of the chant that resonated outside the Russian Embassy last night…
“When our community is under attack, what do we do? Stand Up. Fight Back.”
As Fiona and I stood among the crowds, surrounded by pink flowers, rainbows, homemade signs and powerful chants, there was an overwhelming feeling of solidarity. Not only with those standing next to us, but with those who are thousands of miles away, who don’t share our rights. And our freedoms to love who we love and be who we are.
If our goal is to create change, is it always best to ask for money upfront? Probably not. People are sociable. They want to stand (in person or online) alongside others who share their beliefs. Together people are stronger.
Demonstrating and protesting is hands on. It’s in the moment. It is a moment. You might even call it experiential marketing.
For the likes of Amnesty and Stonewall, it’s inherent to their being. But I feel that other charities have a huge opportunity to engage their supporters to stand with them on the issues they care about. It may not create immediate donations, but it could well create long-term relationships, trust, and perhaps most importantly, change.
To show your support, add your name to Amnesty’s petition here…
I have a photo on my phone of my dear and departed dog running along the beach on a sunny day. She looks like she’s laughing and I know she was happy – and when I look at the picture I can feel that precious moment once more. It’s a bittersweet photo, but I’m so glad to have it.
We carry hundreds of those moments with us now – all we have to do is look at our phones. But how you would feel about those photos if you knew you were never going to see any of those people – your family and closest friends – again?
Millions of people across the world have left behind them homes that have since been destroyed. Their loved ones have died or disappeared. They have nothing that is familiar or comforting, until they take their phone out of their pocket.
This article about some work the photographer Alex John Beck has done recently for Oxfam renewed my firm belief that feelings can be manipulated, but they can’t be manufactured.
Empathy is so crucial to fundraising. Paint the picture, tug at the heartstrings, justify the outrage – use any and all available detail to pull the donor into the story and make them feel. And remember that sometimes the killer detail – the one that persuades a donor to give – feels the most familiar.
It is the little things that bring us together, after all.