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Revitalise relationships

How to revitalise relationships

Following this week’s Let’s Talk Community meet-up I host every first Tuesday of the month I was joined by 10 other community fundraisers all asking the same question.

How do we revitalise relationships with our community?

Firstly, let me start by saying I make no assumptions of where your organisation currently sits with the way you implement community fundraising. I have spoken with fundraisers whose work focuses solely around community groups as that’s where their strengths are both individually and organisationally. The suggestions and recommendations we make in these sessions are not one size fits all, but they may help you to shape an idea that will work for your supporters.

So what are they?!

Suggestion 1: Yes we have a plan out of lockdown, but do you know the plans of your community?

Before you get ahead of yourself making plans to reengage with community groups, whether that’s with a presentation roadshow, face to face meetings, or tours of your charities facilities, just stop. Think. Are these plans the right steps to make for my community? Don’t make assumptions, pick up the phone, send an email, write a letter, create a poll on social media, find out what they are planning going forward. The last thing you want to do is plan a 6 month strategy for revitalising the activity of community groups if 60% of them have concerns about external visitors, or are continuing with the virtual meetings. Have frank, honest conversations with your community, ask if you can help. Factor in the circumstances of different groups. What are the demographics, can they socially distance in their meeting venue, will they have to reconsider their meeting venue. Try and find out, make notes, collate those notes and form a plan that works for who you want to attract!

Suggestion 2: Could you consider a general community meeting?

Whether this be online or a physical meeting later in the year or when safe to do so. Think of this as your community fundraising AGM, or “Welcome Back”. Instead of jamming your diary with lots of evening meetings with community groups going forward, could you create one evening, or a number of evenings dedicated to your organisation and invite your community. You could focus on inviting relationships that have fizzled out or struggled through the pandemic, invite those that are always keen to hear from you. As well as those that are already engaged or you’re looking to engage in the future. Your itinerary may be two hours one evening where your guests will hear from you and what’s happening over the coming months, a service user and how they are moving forward past lockdown, and someone in management, either your CEO, Chairman or Trustee. Understand what your key message is for the evening, and ensure you have a clear call to action.

Suggestion 3: Use video to captivate online audiences

This is a tried and tested response to the fear of “Zoom fatigue” or feeling like your audience aren’t engaged. This charity used an already existing video that was 15 minutes long to explain the charities aims and objectives, the fundraiser then opened up for questions and discussion. The video captivated the audience, pulled on the heart strings and was visually pleasing. Everyone was watching! Could you do something similar? It doesn’t have to be a video, it could be a montage of photos and quotes, with a few case studies. How can you put the life back into your online presentations and replicate that emotion you create in a physical presentation?

Suggestion 4: Think about your call to action

Even if you feel you aren’t making much progress with some of your relationships right now, if you are keeping in touch with people I can guarantee you are making progress! It may not be monetary but you are building and strengthening relationships that could have fallen through the cracks. Whenever you are in touch with those relationships, are you including a call to action? Whether that be “can you share this email with your group/ contacts”, or link to a new case study or update on your website. What do you want them to do. A word of advice for this too, don’t always leave the ball in their court to make action, end your communication with a direct action suggesting you will be in touch in a few weeks if you do not hear anything. Create urgency without being pushy.

Suggestion 5: Remember your why!

If you haven’t read it yet, please purchase or borrow a copy of Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This book explains the how businesses most successful leaders have reviewed their communication to reflect WHY you should invest, WHY their product is better. Do you practise this in your communications? Your supporters should know WHAT they can do to help, start your presentation with WHY instead of WHAT? For example, your opening paragraph could be a statistic, fact or statement from your organisation, that reflects why you need their support. Then motivate them with how they can help, and what they can do. Give it a try, start with WHY.

And finally, something we can forget sometimes: Play to your strengths!

If you are great at gaining trust and encouraging people to open up in a phonecall, you have a wonderful telephone manner and aren’t afraid to speak to the answer machine, play to that strength. Schedule time in to your day to phone people, do it when you feel yourself flagging during the day, do something you enjoy and be productive! Conduct a SWOT analysis of yourself, figure out what your strengths are, what new skills have you learnt that could create opportunities, what are the gaps in your strengths/skills that could pose as potential threats/ weaknesses. What can you do to play on those strengths, and improve those weaknesses?

Everything you do now will have an impact going forward. By doing nothing with the relationships you have built up over the lifetime of your time in your position, your relationships will amount to nothing.

If you need further support with any of the above, perhaps you need a session on improving your presenting skills please do get in touch, I’d love to work with you.

Drop me an email on: info@civitasconsultancy.co.uk

The next Let’s Talk Community will be on Tuesday 6th April at 10am and will focus on Schools and Universities. Register here

Join my online community along with over 1,000 other wonderful community fundraisers in the Community Fundraising Network Facebook Group.

Socials:

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Further reading

Start with Why – Simon Sinek – Buy here

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