Gifts-in-Wills Manager, Beyond Blue
As a charity providing mental health support, the cost-of living crisis has a double whammy effect for Beyond Blue. Donations have slowed yet demand for our services and supports increases. Like so many charities, we are vulnerable to fluctuations in donating behaviour caused by external factors beyond our control. The question is, how can we smooth these future bumps in the road?
The answer lies in building our gifts-in-wills program now. GIW are about the future, about the long game. They transcend daily financial stresses and transactional demands. They are a way for donors to make a meaningful difference in the future, without impacting their finances today.
How is it changing the way Beyond Blue is fundraising for GIW? It’s not really! Raising aware-ness of gifts in wills is an ‘always on’ campaign. But the cost-of-living crisis makes gifts in wills an even more attractive option for those who have little left over in their weekly or monthly budget for donations.
Spreading the word Now more than ever is the time to be raising awareness and educating our community about GIW. We do this by:
- Including on every piece of donor communica-tion a prompt or checkbox encouraging donors to confirm a gift in their will or to request more information. This includes donation coupons, donor surveys, newsletters and emails.
- Sharing GIW storytelling in annual reports, magazines and on our website.
- Actively championing GIW and the culture of philanthropy both internally and externally. Bringing our executive team and board along on the journey and advocating for the right level of resourcing to build the GIW program.
Appealing to the ‘donors of the future’ The growth of more online tools for ‘life admin’, including online wills, means a growing and changing demographic of future GIW donors. Opportunity exists for us to attract more digitally savvy donors by devel-oping new digital resources, enabling us to share the GIW message to a wider (and younger) audi-ence. Our plans for the next period include updated web pages, a new GIW video, budget for Google Search and paid social, plus design of better digital gifts-in-wills collateral.
Rather than fundamentally changing the way we are fundraising at Beyond Blue in the GIW space, the cost-of-living crisis has helped us state a case for the importance of a well resourced, growing gifts-in-wills pipeline, helping us answer every call for help into the future.
Donor Development Specialist — Digital, MS QLD
Has the cost-of-living crisis changed the way I fundraise? In essence, no. But in a role primarily working with one-off and monthly donors, I’ve noticed some interesting themes emerging in donor behaviours that will undoubtedly test our current fundraising strategy of being the ‘Best at Thank You and Impact’.
Over the past 12 months, we have remained relatively consistent with our approach to our Individual Giving supporters, even introducing our first-ever ‘urgent’ appeal outside our usual calendar of appeals. In FY23, we saw a decrease in our number of individual donors compared to the previous financial year and many other fundraising targets not being reached. We saw an increase in messages from supporters saying they cannot support us right now, as well as apologies from donors making a gift that wasn’t larger. These common themes are being seen across the sector.
My advice? Make the supporter feel like a hero whether they’re sending in a $1000 or $20 donation. Whether they call to say they can’t support you and want to be taken off your mailing list or whether they’re calling to donate for the first time, make them feel important, make them feel special and make them feel like a hero. As my manager, Victoria, has reiterated on many occasions, a great quote from Maya Angelou says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I don’t believe we will see the results of our strategy through this difficult time until we’re out of this crisis. We don’t know when this will pass, but it will. And how you made your supporters feel will be remembered.
National Engagement Manager, Fundraising, Baptist World Aid Australia
Instinctively, my first gut response to this question was no. The current cost of living is not changing the way I fundraise because I am seeing again and again that the fundraising basics still work. We still face the same challenge of delivering effective campaigns on ever-tightening expense budgets and we will always approach communication with our supporters with as much of an understanding of their context as possible. In saying that, there are still some things that impact the focus and approach in the way I fundraise which I’ve had to take notice of in the past 12 months.
For the first time in seven years, we are increasing the amount of our child sponsorship, and by $4 extra per month. Such a jump was not a quick or easy decision. Driven primarily by the increasing costs of high-quality program delivery, another key catalyst for this update came from an unlikely place. One of our long-term child sponsors contacted us to ask whether he could expect an increase from us soon because he understood the rising costs would also be impacting our work internationally. The lesson for me here was a reminder that no matter what global crisis we are facing together, our incredible, faithful, ‘rusted on’ donors are in it alongside us, and they will understand when tough decisions need to be made.
On the flip side, whilst this may not be unique to us at Baptist World Aid Australia, we have seen an increasing trend of less donors giving to our appeals, but those who do are giving more generously. Is this because of the cost-of-living crisis? It’s hard to say, but the difference year-on-year in some cases has been dramatic with our analysis showing the missing donors are those who are more incidental or occasional. So, our attention as a fundraising team this next financial year has turned to improving second and third gift journeys and reactivation engagement activities to improve donor stickiness. But are these new lessons and new approaches? Probably not. Though I will concede they might be more top of mind than usual.