Episode 16: Emily Casson – Digital Fundraising Part 2. Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.

Episode Notes

For most people digital communication is now more important than ever, but as a charity how do you make use of the growth opportunities this brings?

In this episode of the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast, Rob Woods is again hearing advice from Emily Casson, the award-winning Digital Marketing Manager at Cats Protection. Emily and her team have found a way to make digital work across the various income streams, helping her charity to grow digital income from £250,000 to around £4 million in under four years.

In this, the second half of the interview, Emily brings more tactical advice to help you understand her over-arching philosophy, which is to be deliberately data-driven, willing to learn and very ambitious. In particular, she offers tips to help you improve your success with email, newsletters and website fundraising as well as what she’s learned about helping teams see charity communication from the supporter’s point of view.

Takeaways

  • PHILOSOPHY – Emily’s team’s motto is “Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.” Everything else they do, and the success they have enjoyed over recent years, is informed by this philosophy.
  • DONOR FOCUSED NEWSLETTERS – For newsletters to supporters, a common pitfall is for each team in the charity to say what it wants to say / promote, which seems ‘fair’ in terms of internal politics, but usually makes the newsletter dull for the supporter and ineffective for the charity.
  • CLEAR CALL TO ACTION – Each newsletter or email needs a clear purpose. What is it that you want the reader to do? If there are 20 calls to action, then the effectiveness of all of them will be diluted by this quantity.
  • DRIVEN BY OUTCOME – Think in terms of the outcome you seek, eg ‘get five people to sign up for the marathon’, rather than activity-focused eg ‘we promote the marathon in the newsletter because we’ve always done that and it would be unfair for the events team to miss out on this communication slot. Eg maybe there is another, more targeted communication channel you could use, that would be much more likely to achieve this outcome.
  • TITLES – Think carefully about, and test, the effectiveness of different email titles. The title either needs to communicate the overall email message, given that nearly 4 out of 5 people will not open it, or it needs to be effective at getting people to open the email.
  • LEARN FROM PAST EMAILS – A common pitfall is to keep on emailing without learning from previous email campaigns. Spend even just half an hour analysing the data, to inform your next email decisions, for instance who receives what, or who is such a committed supporter they deserve a call rather than another email.
  • FIND SOMEONE WHO LIKES ANALYSING – If you’re too busy / rubbish at analysing data, find someone who is good at it. eg Emily recommends internships for students (even if they only stay for one year, it’s well worth it) or some pro bono help from a digital agency one day / month.
  • WEBSITES – Beware blind-spots / the ‘curse of knowledge’, that is, things that make sense to everyone internally but are misunderstood or ignored, in terms of language and functionality, by those outside the charity.
  • TEST – Get eg just three people who don’t work at your charity to try do / find out certain things through your website and pay attention to their honest feedback.
  • INTERESTING – Make your website more involving and interesting in terms of more story content, such as though rough and ready, self-shot films.
  • TONE – All too often charity websites inadvertently come across as condescending to supporters. Aim to be involving / interactive, building a relationship between two parties that care about this topic, rather than as the expert that looks down on the amateur.

Quotes

‘Think big; start small; scale quickly; or fail fast.’

Emily Casson

‘The most important thing is the ‘why’, not the ‘how’. Why do you want a social media post or why do you want to send an email?’

Emily Casson

‘I think sometimes putting rough and ready films on your website can be more effective than polished films.’

Emily Casson

Resources

Check out Episodes 10 and Episode 11 of this podcast for lots of advice from the excellent Lesley Pinder about how to gather insight into your supporter’s world, which in turn helps you improve your fundraising results.

And in Episode 8 of the podcast Tony Gaston talks about using smart phone films to improve your fundraising.

Transcript of Episode 16.

Rob Woods:

Hello, this is Rob Woods and welcome to episode 16 of the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast. This is the show for anyone who works in charity fundraising and who wants ideas and inspiration for how to enjoy their job, raise more money and make a bigger difference. Before we get going with this second episode on digital fundraising with the brilliant Emily Casson, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s been leaving reviews and getting in touch on Twitter and LinkedIn about the podcast. I am so happy to hear that you’re finding these episodes helpful, so thank you very much for letting me know and for spreading the word. And in this episode I’m sharing the second half of my conversation with Emily Casson, who’s the digital marketing manager at Cats Protection. Emily and her team have been achieving extraordinary growth from around £250,000 a year in 2016 to around six million pounds a year, now four years later.

In episode 15 she explained her simple, clear approach to fundraising, which lies at the heart of this success. Her team’s motto is, “Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.” In that episode she gave specific examples to help us better understand how to apply these four ideas in practice and we also spent some time in particular looking at ways she applies this philosophy to Facebook. And in today’s episode she explains how this approach will also improve the success of your fundraising through email and through your website as well as more wise advice about achieving a unified supporter friendly culture where decisions are based on what the donor needs rather than what the various fundraising teams might want to say. So let’s get on with today’s episode. We pick up the conversation as I ask Emily about how her data-driven, ambitious approach applies to email communication with supporters.

This episode of the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast is brought to you by the Bright Spot Members Club. As a practical alternative to one off conferences and courses whose impact can fade all too quickly, the member’s club is an online resource that gives you ongoing access to a whole library of video training courses, monthly coaching webinars and live training events. It’s all designed to help you learn, enjoy your job, and raise more money. To join the 300 fundraisers already in the club, or just to find out more, go to brightspotfundraising.co.uk.

Rob Woods:

Could you tell me in terms of email, what are some things that the Emily of 10 years ago might not have known yet or would have wanted to know in how actually you ended up applying your overarching strategy?

Emily Casson:

Yes, well I think one of the big things I’ve learned about email, and I’ve spoken to a lot of organizations and help them, is a lot of the email particularly newsletters which is something a lot of charities do is focused around internally the charity. So it might be, I mean we need to have this, that monthly newsletter and every different fundraising team have a slot, so everybody’s like, “Oh, I need to have my slot.” And it didn’t matter whether one team had three amazing things to say and the other team didn’t really have any content, that was the structure and that is so common.

A lot of charities, they have that structure in terms of these are the different people that need a slot or these are the different kinds of things we’re going to talk about. We did change that and we did flip it on its head and actually say, okay, from a support point of view. And that would be my top tip for email, but actually think about the person that’s getting it and reading it. What does it look like to them? They absolutely do not care that it was so and so’s turn to have content this month. They want interesting stories. And one of my top tips for email would be look at the subject line, the average open rate is about 24% in a nonprofit. So for all of the other majority of people, the subject line is the email. So either make it absolutely say what the email needs to do with it. Is it a reminder for an event or something like that? Or make it really engaging, so it stands out, so they open it. Try emoji’s, you normally get about 4% bump whenever you use an emoji in an email.

Rob Woods:

Really?

Emily Casson:

Yeah, in the subject line. So, I mean don’t everybody go with a string of emoji’s tomorrow? Use it and that works, and its just something that draws a bit of attention and get people to open the email. Because I think a lot of people still use email wrongly, that the idea of the email is either to impart information or, what I would say, is more to fire action. So your subject line is to get people to read the email. Your email is then to get people to take action. That action might be, think about volunteering, it might be donations, it might be a petition, but that should then be driving traffic to the website. Rather than just the end be like, “Ooh loads of people opened email this month.” And they will say, “Don’t care how many people opened. I care how many people then acted on it.”

Rob Woods:

So, a key thing I’m hearing, which sounds obvious, but I agree in practice, many of us are not clear enough. We should look at any of those emails that we are planning to send out and are we crystal clear what the call to action is, from the body of the email if that message is being sent.

Emily Casson:

Yeah, and I’d think I would say, “What is the call for action, not what are the 20 different calls for action that we all want to put in”. And be really clear, what is the purpose of that email? What are you then going to judge it by? Whereas if you try and put 20 different calls for action, that’s just going to dilute all of them. And test it, because I have many times and I know that, that’s the case and look at the actual email itself that there are certain people that like clicking on pictures. There are certain people that like clicking the big click now button, but there’s also a sizable minority people that like clicking links within the text and they just will not click the big click now button at all. So it’s thinking of really practical stuff like that and looking at the email itself.

I’d kind of bring it back a bit further, think why are you sending that email in the first place? But if you are sending a monthly newsletter because you always send a monthly newsletter, stop. But that might be a bit controversial, but it is very much like, what is the point? It takes a lot of time and effort and unless you can say “right, I’ve got a really clear reason for sending it.” It might be completely justified in terms of, okay, I want to send them to people who support us each month. But actually, have you asked people what they want to get and how often? And that doesn’t have to be a donor survey that goes out, obviously everybody, it can be a really quick and dirty Survey Monkey in terms of asking people. I will add to that, is that what people say that they do and what people actually do, do not match up. But it’s thinking about why you’re doing it and then the actual email itself.

But I love behavioural economics. I’ve just spent the last few months doing an IDM course in behavioural economics, looking at nudge theory and things, and there’s some really practical principles you can use in that. Like whether it’s email or whether it’s website, if you’ve got an image in there with a person and their eye-line is looking up, to the click now button, people are more likely to click it. They won’t be able to tell you why, but it is just a subconscious thing. So I think it is looking fundamentally at your email program. And we’ve changed ours, that when I took over in 2016 we sent 54 emails, but now we send over a thousand different emails campaigns. So we’ve done a lot of segmentation of the data and segmentation is always a word that scares people, but it’s basically putting people in different pots and defining what they want.

So if somebody opens every single email that you ever send them, regardless of topic, these are one of your most engaged people. So therefore, maybe pick up the phone, find out why are they so engaged? Actually investigate that. If somebody’s never ever opening anything, find out why. It might be as simple as it’s a dead email address, they don’t check anymore. Or it might be your content is not that inspiring or you email me too often or something that’s easily fixable before they then stop their support with the charity. So the simple things like that and segmenting based on engagement or segmenting based on level of donor or what they’re interested in. And the beauty of all the digital stuff is the data that you can get. You can tell what people are clicking in. If people are always clicking on your challenge events emails, we now send them extra challenge events emails.

So the majority of our database wouldn’t want to constantly be hearing about marathons and stuff, but there is a core group of people that actually do want to hear about that. So we at the minute, don’t have any fancy preference or anything like that, we probably should have but we don’t. So it is looking at what you can do with the data you’ve got, and that might be as simple as, I send a hundred people a newsletter every month, but I never think to spend half an hour looking at what they’ve actually clicked on. I just do it again next month. And I appreciate the small charities, that half an hour is a lot of time, but it is really worth it if you can then be like, if I make my email program work harder and it will raise more money.

Rob Woods:

So much good stuff there, and again I’ve got more than one thread I’d like to pick up on. The first one is I’ve heard that before, that idea of your classic newsletter being from the point of view of the six departments internally, but absolutely disregarding the point of view of the person it’s meant to interest. Practically speaking, any tips for how you’ve changed the charity culture internally whereby everyone’s happy to go with that. Is it an element to do with the way people are managed, or the way targets are done, so you get to a point where everyone is trying to do the thing that is supporter friendly rather than, now it’s my turn.

Emily Casson:

It can be a big culture shift, if as you can imagine people have been doing that for a long time. So I introduced a digital booking system. So a really simple form, the top thing on that was, what is the aim of your campaign? You then selected which digital channels you would prefer it to go out on. I would then review that and have a chat with you and say, “Okay, you selected all of these that actually I think you can achieve your target and the aim of your campaign by just using these.” So often people would say, “I want email to the entire database.” I would think, we’re not going to do the that, but you said your aim is say recruiting five marathon runners. I think we can achieve that aim by using these channels in this way.

So I think once they saw that, yes they were losing in some cases, that slot, but once they saw that actually that didn’t matter. What mattered was how could digital help them achieve the aims. And once that kind of got through, people were like, “Okay, I get that, that actually I’m not as precious now about having my slot.” Because we used to have a similar situation on social media that everybody would take turns, regardless of content, whereas we scrapped all that and it was a bit of a shift for a while and there were certain users that got less content, but actually eventually they realized it doesn’t matter what volume of content they get, it’s all about, they’ve got targets. They’ve got aims that they want to achieve. Can we do that without flooding everything with various different content?

Rob Woods:

Yes, that makes sense. And in various walks of life, I’ve noticed that the more, it sounds so obvious this cliche, but the more clear you are of your outcome, it frees you up to let go of the vehicle, the “how” that you used to think you were so wedded to, and was the answer. Clearly you are where you want to get to, it becomes easier to be flexible on what you might do, to reach that outcome.

Emily Casson:

Yeah, I think I would say it’s not just the “how,” the most important thing is the “why” and anybody that couldn’t fill in that top box about what is the aim and target didn’t get any slots. Because there were some people that were like, “Well, why do you want a social media post or why you want an email? I could always put it out on email.” And be like, “Think back, we’ve got this new system of thinking why.”

And some people just decided we just weren’t going to do that, if the only reason we were doing it is because either somebody higher up 10 years ago had said, “Can you make sure you get your slot on social and email? It’s not actually useful and there’s a cost attached and getting the assets together and also it’s my time frame.” So there were some things that we did stop doing and I think a lot of charities are like, “But we’ve always done this. People will expect it.” And actually people don’t remember what we’ve got yesterday, let alone last month, but they won’t remember it. And unless you get masses of supporters going to be like, “We really miss that email.” In which case with another clear indication, that email was working fairly well. But I’ll have to admit that’s never happened in all the years I’ve been telling people to stop doing things.

Rob Woods:

I’ve got a question, and it might seem blatantly obvious, but surprise, surprise, the people who are doing best at this make that half hour to analyse the data for what happened last time. But in the real world, the human world, some of us find it hard to be motivated. We might not feel confident about analysing skills or we might be pulled by the more tempting activity. This is hard for you, because I sense its a fundamental part of your philosophy is, ‘why would you not?’ But you must have some internal stakeholders who you’ve coaxed to make more time for analysing data? Any thoughts or beliefs that you’ve noticed help someone do more?

Emily Casson:

The thing that people start seeing the benefits to that approach, that definitely helps. But for smaller charities in the past I’ve just found them a volunteer to do it. So a volunteer can look at all the data and then be like, “These are the top five things that you need to know.” And there are people that just naturally don’t like that bit. I’m very geeky I absolutely love looking in all the analytics and finding out new things, but there’s some people that just doesn’t come naturally. And there’s some people you can coach and help them with it, and then there’s other people that actually, what we want is we want to make the digital campaigns better. If that’s going to make somebody really uncomfortable, doing it themselves and really stress them out, then actually if we can get a skilled volunteer to come in, look at all the analytics, dial it down to a few bullet points, then that’s the best approach.

Rob Woods:

Right. So for many of the small charities, there must be out there someone who cares about your cause or your charity who absolutely has this skillset. That would be a top tip. If this is not your own skill set, what could you do to go and find that volunteer who would enjoy coming in and serving your cause in this way?

Emily Casson:

I think the easiest route is students. The students, a lot of them are doing this sort of research on data, day in, day out. They’re looking for something on their CV. A lot of charities are nervous about it because they might only stay for a year or two. But in reality would you rather have an amazing person for a year that comes in, does it, you then get another student next year, that absolutely works… or a corporate partnership with a local digital company that there are a lot of digital marketing companies out there. And a lot of them do pro bono work, so they will often be like, “You can have one of our analytics guys for a day, a month.” And that’s our CSR program, but for you as a charity, one day a month maybe all you need for somebody to go in and drill and that works perfectly for both parties.

Rob Woods:

Great tips. Very practical. So I think we’ve got time for one more channel in this level of detail. How have you applied your overarching strategy to your website in general?

Emily Casson:

Well, we’ve launched a new website last autumn and something we really looked at was looking at it from the point of view of supporter. Previously, similar to a lot of things, it had a section for each different fundraising team that they kind of did the content for. So from a supporter coming in even some of the language of the headings, they might not see themselves as the corporate partnership’s team or something like that. But from an outsider that it was changing the structure. We got rid of an awful lot of pages because we looked at the analytics and there were some pages that were getting a handful of people per quarter and that was a big thing we looked at, but not being afraid to actually have less content because people will be more focused on it. Because our website, like a lot of charity websites probably start off quite neat and tidy and then over the year’s somebody added that to it and somebody added that to it and all of a sudden it grew into this massive thing.

So I wouldn’t say ours is perfect now, but it’s a lot more data-driven in terms of the orders of the drop downs or in terms of, what are the public clicking on. Some of that is a self-fulfilling prophecy, in terms of what’s got the most prominence and also something that we found is the majority of people don’t just come on your website and wander around and leave as a supporter. The majority of people are coming through to a particular landing page or they want to find out particular thing. So one of my top tips would be, just ask three people completely not connected to your charity that know nothing about it, how easy it is for them to say, “donate,” how easy it is for them to find out information on a particular topic. And how easy is it to find out ways to get involved.

You can pay companies to do this in great detail. Or, you can just get three people. And one of the best ways to do it is pair up with another charity and swap. I would say don’t do it with people internally, because you know all your internal jargon and everything and it might be just asking for really quick and dirty feedback. So, some of it I’ve had before has been really practical in terms of, “I didn’t understand what that heading was so I’m not going to click on that.” And be like, “Oh okay maybe that is something we refer internally, and we know what we’re talking about.” But that completely meaningless to the general public. So I think it is looking at things like that or looking at like how easy was it for them to donate.

There are charities that I worked with before, that didn’t actually have an online donation facility. Their donate page said send us a check, download this form and then send us a check with this form. Absolutely do not do that. But, some of it is really practical stuff in terms of, if they don’t find it easy to donate, they’re not going to donate you. That you need to make it as easy as possible for people to do that. And the best way is actually test it. And test, were they happy with the welcome email they got? Get people to sign up and do it. And I’d say ask people what they think of it and also look at the analytics, which the two things don’t always match up in terms of what people say they do and what people actually do.

But that is a really quick and easy thing everybody can go away do tomorrow and you’ll be fascinated by some of the things that you see. You’re almost blind to your website cause you see it often and you’re like, “Oh we thought that bit really worked.” And then if you get three or four people come by and be like, “I didn’t understand that section,” or “I couldn’t really navigate on that.” Or “I didn’t realize I could click on that bit. Things we’ve had in the past, is like, “I tried to click on that header and it wasn’t clickable.” And we were like, “It’s not supposed to be.” But I was like, if everybody’s naturally clicking on it, we will make it clickable. We will give them that option.

Rob Woods:

Goodness, yes. It’s so easy to become unaware of these blind spots, isn’t it? It takes a level of vulnerability for individuals and a culture to be willing to do that and not be defensive. I think the tactics you’ve laid out are a good idea to that, but anything else you’ve learned along the way to help people let go of their own curse of knowledge?

Emily Casson:

Yeah, I think it is hard because particularly you’ll have to bear in mind people who spend an awful lot of time developing websites, so you have to bear that in mind. My top tip would be don’t take it personally. But if you are taking a data driven approach and it’s all about data, it might be, you know what, I did spend ages doing that page, but it hasn’t quite worked and that’s okay. That’s not a personal failing. That’s you absolutely did the right thing in testing it and trying to get away from being like, this isn’t personal criticism. This is something really constructive and I can use to improve it. And with anything like a website or any digital platform there’s no inversion it’s constantly changing and improving and asking for advice and how you can improve it, shouldn’t be a scary thing.

Rob Woods:

Yes, I had a really fascinating chat recently with Leslie Pinder for the podcast and she also is a expert in how you gather insight to improve the supporter experience. And one of the key things I took from that conversation was how, it’s wrong to think that any of our fundraising or any bit of research is about finding a right answer. However valuable the piece of research, it’s only ever going to take you slightly closer, in the right direction on this journey. And everything she said to me was an embodiment of that philosophy, which I think is and again, because she believes that, and I hear that similar belief system in you. That’s why the beginning of this whole conversation you said to me, it’s about continually testing. Fail quickly and then keep going again. And in that respect, if you believe that it’s easier to not take it personally, but if someone hasn’t got that overarching philosophy it is easier to become a little defensive and for instance really sting.

Emily Casson:

Yes, and I do think there were some projects that have been my baby and I’ve been very protective of and particularly now I’ve got a team I have to let go. And there’re certain things that change over time, like there’s some things that I put in place a couple years ago, whether processes or campaigns worked absolutely brilliantly two years ago, now my team are coming to me and going like, “We want to change that fundamentally.” And I’m like, “I’m okay.” I put a lot of work into it, but it’s not thinking, that’s going to be wasted. I’m thinking, that really worked for a really long time, now it’s not working, therefore I’m not going to hold tight and be like, “No, you can’t change a thing.”

Because my team are actually more pushy than I am in terms of wanting things to be better, that it is accepting that things change over time and things that worked in the past probably not going to work in the future. But, what’ve we learned from them and as long as you think, okay, so what have I learned from doing that or actually what has that enabled us to do while it’s been doing well, then that’s less scary.

Rob Woods:

Yes. When I was studying resilience, I discovered that really resilient people, people who are able to just kind of accept things going wrong, but just keep on going, rather than knocked back for two months. One of the beliefs they tend to have is, I have never failed. If I tried hard, did my best and I learned something. So if there’s any kind of learning whatsoever, it’s incorrect for me to label what just happened as a failure. And I think that again, that’s easy to say normally when things are going okay, I know as well as anyone else, when something’s gone wrong it can be harder to initially practice that belief, but just knowing it at all over the last couple of years has helped me bounce back that bit quicker and value the learning. Cause very often the learning you get from when something is going wrong is much more valuable in the long term than what you appeared to have lost in this particular project itself.

Emily Casson:

I don’t think it’s not about beating yourself up, we’re all human. But like I say, there are days when we’re all like, “That really didn’t work and I’ve really taken it personally.” And like I say, it’s how you bounce back from that. And I think I’m lucky in that, I’ve got so many different projects and campaigns on the go that I haven’t got all my eggs in one basket, that, that’s a massive deal if that certain thing goes right or wrong because there’s all these other things that we can focus on. But like I say, I am human, there will be times when I will not preach my own philosophy and will take it very personally. But it’s how you get past that.

Rob Woods:

So across this conversation, one thing I’ve noticed is you appear to be, if you’re attached to anything, is you’re attached to the overarching purpose, philosophy and strategy of aiming, really being super ambitious. Think big, start small, test, test again, be willing to fail and keep going. That overarching motto, you’re attached to that, more than any, one project more than any one test, more than any one fundraising campaign or any one person. It’s the overarching belief system that drives everything. And because you hold that true and with integrity, that at some level that seems to make it easier for you to do these other things and keep moving forward. [crosstalk 00:27:12]

Emily Casson:

Definitely, but I think even that belief system, we did tweak it last year, so it needs to be think big, start small, scale quickly. And then if I have conversations with people it was actually you need to embrace failing more deliberately. So that’s why we added, fail and learn at the end. So previously it was like no, lets just scale everything up. Whereas we didn’t, like I say I am pretty wild at that philosophy, but I am open to tweaking it and changing it and improving that. I might just make it easier in terms of different channels come and go, different campaigns will come and go, but that’s the overarching philosophy we look to, approach everything with.

Rob Woods:

And interestingly this sounds a bit better, even that in and of itself needs to be testable and improvable. So is there one last idea or top tip that you would observe even if it’s something a tiny bit different to anything we’ve said so far to do with the website, that someone listening whether their charity is large or small, something they could consider doing to help improve their website.

Emily Casson:

I’d say look at the kind of actual content, we’ve spoken a lot about the data and such, and what people are clicking on, but make it engage in content. Make it something really interesting. I love the story telling approach. What story is your website trying to tell? What do you want people to do? And change it around so it’s not all about the charity that make the donor the hero a bit more in terms of it’s not, how can they support the charity, it’s how can we all work together for this particular cause? And look at the language you use, is it very much like, “We are doing this and you could support us to do this” or is it like, “Together we can” and look at the actual content and go through. And my top tip would be get somebody else to do that. We’re too close to our own causes and we know it, but ask somebody else to feedback. Okay, what is the tone? Did you feel that you were being preached to?

Emily Casson:

A lot of charity websites are often like, “We’re the experts in this,” kind of looking down a bit on the general public. Or did you feel that, “I was really engaged, I was really excited about that.” Asking people what emotion they feel when they look at the website, is not something people often do.

Rob Woods:

So get someone else involved because it’s so hard for us to see the wood from the trees. You might say a lot of the same concepts, but are you saying, “We do this, we did that,” or you help this to happen. So look how many times you use the word we? How many of those times could you actually be using the word you and actually devote the supporter for enabling that to happen? And then another thing, I sense more of your content now compared to maybe five, 10 years ago if I looked would be about people out there who care about cats, stories about that, quotes about that, pick images of those people, things they did. There’s more of that content rather than the purely, internally what we did to help this cat.

Emily Casson:

Yes, and I think there’s also a lot more engaging videos and things that previously use to be a download, a lot of PDF from the website. Now that’s all actual content with little practical videos, and little quizzes and little things to get people engaged. It’s much more about building a two way relationship, but it’s not a static website that we want people to go on. It’s like interact with us, get in touch, let us know what you’re doing. It’s transforming that model to be like, we’ve put this content up to actually this is a joint thing we’re all doing together and how can we reflect that on the website?

Rob Woods:

Yeah. And I’m guessing there will be some topics and themes where it is appropriate to find some budget to get those films professionally made, and it will be an era not to. But is it also true that if we’re a small charity and currently we just don’t have any budget to get really smart, productive professional films made. Do you think there’s plenty of things where they could just be cracking on with their own smart phone and doing some versions of this and as long as the topic is right and it’s not sending the wrong signal, rough and ready films for many topics are better than no films at all.

Emily Casson:

I think sometimes rough and ready works better than polished films. That we’ve tested this on Facebook advertising and sometimes the rough and ready kind of self-shot stuff outperforms the nice professional studio. Not always, and the professional studios certainly have its place, but actually people are so scared about doing rough and ready, whereas that’s the content people relate to and get excited about.

Rob Woods:

So, certainly we’ve found in people on our Major Gifts Mastery Programme and corporate fundraisers who practice what we teach, absolutely the same thing. Just the spontaneity of getting some kind of film, you just quickly shot yourself out to that company that you’re working with has an amazing power or more and more of the people I work with, rather than sending a 16 page proposal they’re sending, in fact Tony Gaston who was on the podcast just the other day has a wonderful story. It led to a £50,000 gift and rather than sending long proposal, he sent a one page proposal with links to three 60 second, self shot made in the field. So I totally agree. There are some challenges to do with the times we’re living in but I think one of the advantages is really is sort of lowering a barrier to entry and making it, some things are much easier for the person to do even with little or no budget.

Emily Casson:

Yeah. I think definitely that’s the case and I think as well, every organization has somebody with digital skills and that, we’ve got digital champions across the organization and one of the best people doing that gaming stuff is a camera assistant. And so it’s putting that call out in terms of right who have we already got with our staff and volunteer networks that which quite like getting in some little films. It might not be the obvious person in comms or in fundraising. It might be somebody completely different that might say, “Actually on the side this is something that I really enjoy doing.”

Rob Woods:

Yeah, that’s a great idea. Cause the more you as a team are modelling that and reaching out for them, the more other teams are going to become less sort of siloed in their thinking. And then the more and more that happens, the project gets better because the person with the right skills is doing it, but B, this whole communication and relationships and becomes more holistic across the whole set of tubes rather than people just staying in their box. We need to bring it to a close. If people, I know quite a few people in the Northeast already know you because you spend a lot of time getting out and about and helping in various ways. But if any listeners to the podcast wanted to send you some feedback or to tweet about this or get in touch and ask a follow up question. If you’re on Twitter, what’s your Twitter name or should they go via LinkedIn? What’s the best place that people could reach you or send feedback?

Emily Casson:

Twitter, I’m simply @emilycasson, so I am pretty easy to find and I’m also active on LinkedIn. I mean not surprisingly working in digital marketing, I am pretty easy to find online, but I’m always open to tweets, and LinkedIn messages. And I love hearing feedback and I love hearing people that listen to things I’ve done six months down the line and what they’ve done differently and do, I love hearing other people’s results if they implemented any of these, what has changed as a result?

Rob Woods:

Great. So, yes, if someone’s listening and they’ve, I mean you’ve covered so many great ideas and principles there, but if they listen, if they found it helpful, we’d love to hear from you and in due course once you’ve implemented any of these ideas. Again, that will be a fantastic thing if you could let Emily or I know or both of us. Emily, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I know you’ve got lots of other things to get done probably by the end of the day, so a huge thank you for your time and so many helpful tips and principles and bits of advice for how you do your fundraising and work with other teams as well. I hope maybe we can catch up again in a few months time for our next installment, but for now, Emily Casson, thank you ever so much for appearing on the podcast.

Emily Casson:

Yeah, well thanks for having me on and I hope it was useful for everybody.

Rob Woods:

Yes, it really was. Thanks Emily. Bye.

Emily Casson:

Thanks, bye.

Rob Woods:

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this. The second half of my interview with Emily Casson. If you want to go back to the key ideas we explore in this episode, do take a look at the episode notes in the blog and podcast section of our website, which is brightspotfundraising.co.uk. If you found the episode helpful, I’d be incredibly grateful if you could leave a review or share it with other people so that these sessions can help more and more fundraisers, or if you’d like to hear the whole interview, including bonus content about Emily’s inspirations, other advice and other lessons she’s learned throughout her career I’ve put a video of the entire interview with supporting notes in the Bright Spot Members Club.

If you’re not a member of the club yet, but you’d like to find out more about that whole library of training resources and coaching webinars, you can find out all about it at www.brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join. Finally and most importantly of all, thank you so much for listening. I know that it’s not always easy to make time for your ongoing professional development, but I also know that all the very successful fundraisers I’ve ever interviewed share this particular habit they keep on learning throughout their career. So thank you for finding a way to practice this crucial habit. I hope you have a great week, and I look forward to sharing another episode with you next time when I’ll be exploring the fascinating discipline of experiential fundraising.