Anthea Iva

The Director of Redstone Marketing asks three
nonprofit executives for their perspectives.

Olga Nikitina, Acquisitions Manager

Royal Flying Doctor Service,
South Eastern Section

What I would do differently is actively bring our attention back to our longer-term strategic plan, transitioning from the reactive mindset which was required to navigate the last two years of the pandemic. 

Over the past four years at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section), we have been working to build a significant pool of new regular giving donors to support our ambitious growth strategy. As part of that strategy, we have recruited a talented and passionate acquisition team to boost individual giving revenue through direct marketing channels. 

We hit the ground running just before the pandemic began and have done exceptionally well during the last few years, despite all the challenges, pivoting and adjustments that we had to do across our fundraising programs because of bushfires, pandemic and floods that hit Australia.

During the COVID-19 restrictions, we had to put our face-to-face fundraising program on hold multiple times and invested more in telemarketing and digital channels during this period. Although we already had significant diversification in our programs, we faced higher acquisition costs per regular giver and limited scalability. It was challenging to achieve the same volume of new regular giving donors through other channels, and it took us some time to go to market with other campaigns which were not in our plans.  Looking back, we had to take a very reactive approach, planning with uncertainty, moving budgets and starting additional campaigns. 

It’s critical that we switch back to the proactive mindset by developing a new strategic plan that is based on the learnings of the past two years to make us more agile and prepared for future challenges. 

What I will do the same is continue to invest in my team’s professional training and development, continue to strengthen the partnerships with agencies that helped us to stay on top of our targets during the challenging times, and continue investing in the acquisition programs, including our F2F program that came back stronger than ever after the pandemic. Don’t be stagnant with what you are doing — keep testing and innovating. 

Natalie Shillitto,
Fundraising & Marketing Manager

Wesley Medical Research

Things I will do differently next year: Plan all year round We all get to a certain point in the year when we have to ‘plan strategy’, however, I’m going to aim to do this throughout the year and make sure the operational plan aligns. Or change it! We all had to pivot during COVID-19, and I think we shouldn’t just roll out planned activities if they are no longer relevant or aligned.  

Simplify campaigns I often have grand plans for multi-channel/multi-wave fundraising campaigns but then there are competing priorities, stretched budget or limited capacity within my team. I’m going to simplify and then slowly build our capacity for more complex campaigns over time. 

Take more time for professional development I have often put this on the backburner. I’ve realised from attending a couple of webinars recently that it’s not ‘taking time away from my work’, it actually helps me to work smarter and implement better processes. 

Create more fundraisers I’m going to invest in people we already have in our team and build their skills. We should all be trying to create more fundraisers!

Invest in the building blocks first Build strong foundations first rather than trying to retrospectively squeeze in processes or best practice. Things such as establishing integrated data processes or taking the time to properly design a website rather than a Band-Aid approach. 

One thing I won’t change is the passion I have for the work that I do. One of my managers once asked me why I had “fire in my belly”. I’ve thought about this, and I think it’s because I believe the work I do is important, and I’m driven to make a positive impact on the world around me. I’m not only doing a job — I’m proud to tell my kids what I do, which is improving the world through research, advocacy and health services which make a difference to people’s lives. 

Tracey Deakin,
Fundraising Lead

Hello Sunday Morning

I work for the small but mighty health charity Hello Sunday Morning, an organisation that has transformed from a grassroots movement to an established health service that helps people change their relationship with alcohol. 

Fundraising has not been established at HSM, so I’m lucky enough to be in an exciting test and learn environment. I helped launch our very first fundraising campaigns, including our regular giving program, an adventure trek with Inspired Adventures and we are currently preparing to trial our first Christmas Appeal. 

With so many firsts, and unknowns about our community of supporters, our fundraising results will really determine what I do differently next year. We have been off to a great start, but the last few years have taught us to be agile, and that our plans can change. In this environment we should all be looking to do something different, or at least re-evaluate existing programs and channels. 

Here are the three things I’ll be doing differently next year.  

1. I’m going to take more controlled risks. I’m going to take advantage of being in a small charity where I’m able to act, test, learn and adapt faster. 

2. Test our assumptions sooner rather than later. If you don’t, you can waste a lot of time giving donors something they don’t want, or care about.

3. I’ll fiercely protect our fundraising from inflation. We’ll strengthen our case for support, we’ll keep asking our donors, and keep thanking them for their support. We must be very clear that we are also impacted by inflation and have vulnerable people that rely on our vital services. 

The one thing I won’t change in my approach to fundraising is something that has always served me well, which is the KISS principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid.