As part of our continued ‘Deniz’s Digital Surgery’ series with Deniz Hassan, lead of the global digital fundraising team at the UN World Food Programme and founder of Clockwork Pie, the UK's first digital fundraising agency, in this latest blog Deniz responds to a query around managing expectations around digital – a key issue for fundraisers with the fast tracking of digital over the last year.
My CEO wants to double our targets in digital fundraising without increasing our budget. His rationale is that because we are a ‘Covid relevant cause” we will continue to grow income online without investment. How would you approach this - we’ve done well online this year (mostly people just coming to us) but I am not sure its sustainable. I have to make a case to him that he’ll then (maybe) take to a board meeting in April. Help!
Hi Kate, as ever with these things there are a shed loads of answers for a tonne of different situations this could be. It could be good, bad or plain ugly.
Let me run you through a smattering of interpretations:
Your CEO has done a full audit of your digital activities against your organisational plan and has a decent understanding of how it fits together. They understand the factors that underpin the current performance (I'm assuming it's below expectations or else you wouldn't have been asked I guess!) including internal resources/skill and external trends and patterns relating to COVID etc.
So, frankly, if you've got the cash, got the skills and the opportunity is there and proven, then it's totally fine and responsible to up those targets. As a fundraiser, you should by all means sense check it and feedback, but otherwise just get out there and raise money. Personally, I've always enjoyed a stretch target (within reason!).
Ok, so CEOs aren't immune from navel gazing and some probably know their midriffs pretty well by now. So yeah, if it's the case that he's “seen loads of organisations raise loads more money” and he thinks you'll be able to simply shoehorn a vaguely relevant COVID ask into your digital programme, it's not gonna happen. A year ago....well perhaps...if you were quick off the mark. Now, not a chance. The market is flooded with organisations doing this, which means media costs are skyrocketing and donors are getting bored. It's weird that he's asking you to make a case for something you don't agree with. You might wanna ask him to make the case to you first!?
Your digital fundraising programme isn't really hitting the mark, you're falling behind with your IG income in general and your CEO has open his Excel file named ‘IG Budget 2021’ and put in some numbers in the 'digital' column that makes the whole sheet look better, so he can avoid the shoeing from the board for a bit longer. If this is the case, you've got no chance. Grab the gin, have a big sigh and put your best foot forward!