Monday, 17 November 2014

A perfect match

Heard of matched funding? It’s when an organisation or person offers to match gifts that donors make with their own donations. When we give £10 to a cause they also give £10 to the cause.
A number of non-profit organisations have made use of matched funding, for example:
I have a digital fundraising idea that puts a twist on matched funding. I want to focus on a perspective that we rarely hear about: the view of the matcher. They gain satisfaction from inspiring others in philanthropy and from seeing their resources multiplied.
But why do we only offer this opportunity to a few? What if we could all lead others in giving?
That’s the core of my idea. I see four stages to it:

Stage 1 - a need arises

Imagine we work for a charity with a focus on global poverty. Zimbabwe is suffering in drought. Farmers are struggling to grow crops for food. Our charity has enough irrigation expertise to help, but needs financial resources to act.

Stage 2  - a donor becomes a leader

Karim has been a donor to our organisation for many years. He gives £50 per month via direct debit. We email Karim, and many others like him, with a question - will they make a donation? Their gift will help these farmers, and provide matched funds that inspire others to give.
It’s March -  one of the months when council tax isn’t due. Karim has some spare money. He is inspired by the need and makes a donation of £300 to our fund for matching gifts.

Stage 3 - a leader inspires others

In October we run a major campaign highlighting the drought and subsequent food shortages in Zimbabwe. We articulate a key message: matched funding is available, so every donation you make is doubled.
Rissa is touched by what she sees. She’s also impressed by how far her money will stretch. She makes a donation of £50, which she sees become £100 thanks to Karim.

Stage 4 - a leader rewarded

We send Karim an automated update about Rissa’s gift. It uses striking graphics to illustrate the impact of his donation. So far £250 of his gift has been used, inspiring gifts of £250 more from nine other people. He’s found this immensely rewarding - he never realised he could lead others in generosity.

That’s the idea: a group of regular donors who discover another dimension to giving, and a group of new supporters who follow their example.

Adopting this approach to matched funding clearly requires more administrative effort than the established model. However, this work can be avoided by building a reusable engine to track the funds and automate the donor updates.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet me.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

10 Twitter/Facebook ideas for Coffee Shops

Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with your customers. Here are ten ideas that you could use.
1. Tweet your opening
How many people know when you open for the day? How many could do with a reminder when they’re tired in the morning?
Example: ‘We’re up and running for the day. Need something to wake you up before work?’
2. Ask your friends what they think of your latest innovation
Don’t panic If you get negative comments. But do look for a grain of truth in them.
Example: ‘Last month we switched our milkshake recipe. Do you love it or loath it?’
3. Tweet a fresh pot of coffee
People know if they hurry along, they’ll get a better-tasting brew. Or when your pastries are fresh from the oven. Or when your chips are freshly fried. Yum.
Example: ‘New coffee pot’s brewed. Roll up, roll up.’
Image: Yagan Kiely
4. Post your music options. Ask customers which they’d like to hear.
Example: ‘Counting Crows, Coldplay or Adele? Which would you like to hear in Ethical Cafe today?’
5. Announce a happy hour when your prices are vastly reduced
Do this when you have produce you’d otherwise throw away. Followers are rewarded with the possibility of a bargain.
Example: ‘Until 5pm pastries are half-price. There’s only 3 left, so move fast.’
6. Ask for customer comments via Facebook/Twitter
People are more likely to be honest when they’re out of the shop. Do highlight the option on the suggestion box.
Example: ‘Tweet your suggestions to @ethicalcafe or send us a Facebook message’
7. Allow regulars to order via social media (or even - gasp - email)
This saves customers time if they’re in a hurry, and grows your relationship with them. Here’s a story of the guy who pioneered this.
They might say: '@ethicalcafe Tall skinny latte to takeaway for 5 mins time please.'
8. Share your bestsellers
If people made the same purchase they’ll feel more connected with you.
Example: ‘This week our customers are lapping up the new Gingerbread latte. Are you a fan?’
9. Post when a regular arrives
They’ll feel valued, and their friends may decide to drop in. Example:
‘It’s early afternoon, and @barnstormed has rolled up. He’s looking productive in the corner’
10. Tweet a 30 minute warning before closing time
It’s your version of the ‘last orders’ bell. Gives people the chance to grab a coffee/cake on their way home.
Example: ‘We close up in 30mins. Fancy a takeaway expresso to aid your journey home?’

And 3 things to remember

Don’t sell
This is about informing, reminding, and interacting with your customers. A sales pitch will jar amongst the updates of their other friends.
We all need friends
It’s all about followers. If no one follows or 'friends you', then you’re talking to an empty room. So, put your Facebook/Twitter details on signs in the coffee shop, on napkins, coasters, etc. Add a plug to your receipts. Whatever you like.
Example: Do you like the coffee? Please like us on Facebook.
How often do I update?
Anything is better then nothing. And nothing is better than spamming.
Do bear in mind the conventions of the channel. Twitter moves a lot faster than Facebook, so you can get away with greater frequency without bugging people. As a general rule I’d say no more than:
  • Twitter - every 1-2 hours
  • Facebook - every couple of days

To go

That's it, go forth and be social. And try to keep the nutmeg away from the IPad.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Jimmy Carr and the ruthless user

Back in 2007 I discovered the 8 out of 10 Cats podcast. It livened up many commutes.

But, it was badly made. Occasionally the audio would disappear from one ear. Hish and crackle were plentiful.


Image: WorthingTheatres

And? Well, at the time I was learning about standards: standards for audio, standards for website construction, standards for accessibility. By day I was hearing a myriad of rules for making better sites. And by night I was avidly listening to a podcast that knew no rules.

You see, most of the time people don't visit sites because they look lovely, or are well-coded, or boast top-notch audio quality. Let me say that again: most people don't visit websites because they look good. Web professionals sometimes lose sight of that fact.

People visit sites to have a laugh. They're out to learn something, or to buy something. They're online to chat with their friends. People like websites that are useful or fascinating.

8 out of 10 Cats was funny. I like to laugh. It was a good match.

We spend a lot of time talking about how to build websites. Isn't it time we talked about how to be funny or dramatic? Couldn't we think about useful things to do online?

Late in 2007 I gave up on Jimmy Carr and his friends. Radio Four had started their Friday Night Comedy podcast. It was just as funny, and didn't frustrate my ears.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Making of the Museum of the Dead

Are panda jokes in bad taste? How likely is the extinction of cats? Are double entendres acceptable in E-Learning?
The Museum of the Dead has been a fascinating, and occasionally troubling, experience. Here are some lessons I learnt along the way.

Chasing a dream

When an idea is distinctive it’s often hard for people to grasp, as they have little to compare it with. Think about Being John Malkovich. I’ll bet that was harder to pitch to the studio than Due Date.


I’ve never seen mock-obituaries used to make readers think (and I’ve gone looking). I can only the odd example of using comedy to communicate a serious issue. And when did you last see a university dabble in twisted Gothic imagery?
All this originality created obstacles for the museum. Some people loved the idea with a passion. Others looked at me with incredulity, pity, and  - occasionally - fear. The approach of The Museum of the Dead certainly closed a few doors.
Thankfully my teammate and I had vision. We could picture the finished website in all its glory. This energised us. All projects require vision, but we need deep reserves to see off-the-wall ideas to completion.
I’ll bet that behind every Edward Scissorhands there’s a director with vision who had to fight a thousand battles. But aren’t you glad Tim Burton did?

Soul music

From the earliest stages we were after a spooky, playful atmosphere. James, our contact with the design agency, decided some music was required. What a revelation! I discovered that music has real evocative power. It makes a huge difference to the user’s experience in an interactive.
But remember - music needs to be strong, varied, and come with a mute button.

Fictional learning

You may be an experienced creator of fiction, but for me, with a career spent in online learning, it was new ground. I’m used to dealing with facts and explanations. A project steeped in fantasy rang all sorts of alarm bells.
Our academic consultants were understandably nervous about this idea. Some of the obituaries were clearly ludicrous - such as the domestic cat. But others, like the koala, were more plausible. How could we signpost the fiction without destroying the world we’d worked so hard to create?
As a university, we have a responsibility to teach people truth from error. I was acutely aware of the damage I could bring to The OU’s reputation.
Eventually my boss came up with a solution. She suggested we ask visitors to guess how much fact was in each obituary. This feature clearly highlights that the Museum of the Dead is a fictional enterprise. The rating buttons also add interaction to a rather reading-orientated enterprise: they force people to evaluate and reflect on what they're read
I suppose we could have made all the obituaries outlandish. But there’s a powerful bittersweet humour in obituaries such as the giant panda and the atlantic cod. The spectre of extinction lurks behind the laughter.

Museum of the Dead trivia

  • It was inspired by...  Tim Burton, Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry
  • It was nearly...  a book - an old iron-bound collection of writings.
  • We had to leave out... the pigeon obituary
  • Did you notice... that the museum is housed within a whale skeleton?