Founded in 1959, the Heart Foundation is one of Australia’s top charities, with hundreds of employees and volunteers serving all over Australia. Heart disease remains the #1 killer of Australians (as it is of Americans) and the Heart Foundation works tirelessly to reduce heart disease and save lives.
One of the ways the Heart Foundation raises donations is through school fundraisers, like Jump Rope for Heart.
The way it works is the Heart Foundation will reach out to a Primary school, typically a physical education teacher or principal, and see if they are interested in running the program where students will jump rope for a period of days, with various techniques, and in exchange family and friends will donate money to support them.
The program has been around for 38 years but recently the Heart Foundation team employed a new strategy that has taken donations to a whole new level.
Instead of a few thousand dollars per school, with a new strategy in hand, the Heart Foundation recently raised $46,000…from one incredible school.
How the Heart Foundation used personal video to raise $46,000 from one school
If someone can see your face, hear the tone of your voice, or observe your body language on video, they can connect with you on a more human level.
That's why for the Jump Rope for Heart campaign the Heart Foundation decided to go beyond standard emails, text messages and phone calls, and use personal video emails to engage with their fundraisers.
As part of their strategy, Alex from the Heart Foundation team made a series of thank you videos for the top donating kids from each school. Here is an example sent to the parents (but addressed to the heroic jumper!):
As you can see, Alex genuinely took the time to really get to know Amelia’s situation and personal investment in this cause and it shows in the video. Here is the response he got:
The enthusiastic reply demonstrates that if you take the time to get personal and connect with donors, you will find that they open up too. What's more, the connections Alex makes with the top donors will drive more advocacy and more donations down the line.
But the Heart Foundation didn’t stop with just thank you or gratitude videos. They also started to use Bonjoro around engagement, and the results were phenomenal. They started to record videos for kids actually showing off skipping moves or encouraging them to try challenges.
Here is an example video:
What is amazing about this video from Monique is she is actually jumping along with the kids! What an authentic way to bridge the gap and establish a real connection. The kids LOVED it! Look at the response:
And what does it mean for the bottom line? With a few hours a week of effort, donation amounts, donation frequency, student engagement, and number of participating students all increased substantially.
And the final result? $46,000 of donations from one single school!
Okay, one more example, because we had to share this crazy jumping technique from Jason (evidently this is called “the pretzel”):
Notice how in the end Jason shows his time of 11 seconds and then challenges the kids to see what they can do? It’s a video like this that keeps the challenge fun and keeps the kids excited about it.
The more excitement the Heart Foundation generates for the kids, the more they will continue to talk about it, want to participate, and ultimately the more donations that will trickle in.
Why are the Heart Foundation's personalised videos so successful?
It's worth pausing to think about why Heart Foundation's strategy with personal video is so successful. Here's why we think they work so well:
The videos are fun
Let’s start with the obvious. The videos and approach they take is fun. People want to receive and share the videos. They “gamify” the experience so that people look forward to getting involved and instead of a dry, basic jump roping video, you get some real personality across.
For your charity, think about ways you can create engagement and fun around your cause.
The videos leverage personal context
In the videos thanking the top donors, you see that the team really takes the time to get to know the recipient. It’s not just a generic, “Thank you so much for your donation” but instead there is real time investment in each successful donor. This shows a level of customer care that is impressive for the donors and makes them feel like more than just a number.
Successful charities include their top donors so they feel a part of the community, and that solidifies their connection to the cause.
They stand out
The average person gets about 120 emails every day, with many vying for them to take action. Even when the cause is something people care about, it can be exhausting. Personal videos like those above allow a charity to reframe the relationship. Notice how none of the videos are pushing people to “Raise funds now!”. Instead they are adding value by teaching something, showcasing the real people behind the charity and taking an unexpected approach.
A famous marketer, Seth Godin, in his book Purple Cow talks about the value around surprise. Essentially he uses the example of, if you were driving down the road and saw a cow you wouldn’t think much of it. But if you saw a bright purple cow, you would stop, take pictures, tell your friends. This concept definitely applies to personal video (as you can even see from some of the video responses pasted above). People want to share and show others!
What can your non-profit do with personal video?
If you are a non-profit and you are thinking about how you can glean similar results to the Heart Foundation, here is your blueprint to success:
Test personal videos in your next challenge
If you are already running challenges like Jump Rope for Heart, try and leverage personal video is a similar way to how the Heart Foundation has done it here, and let us know how it goes. My guess is you will be reporting back with positive results.
Get to know your donors
This one is huge. The more personal context you gather on your donors, the stronger you will be able to make the relationship over time. Invest in your donors! Invest in learning about them through events, meet-ups, heck, you could even start a book club with them. The point is, donors are the lifeblood of your organization and they are an integral part of your community. But every relationship has two sides. Make sure you are holding up yours so it doesn’t end in divorce.
Use levity/Have fun
As charities we often tackle serious problems in the world. It can seem like their isn’t room for “having fun” as part of the process. But in fact, even in the darkest of times, laughter and joy can be one of the most powerful allies humans have. So take a step back and think about how you can add “fun” in to your day to day. Maybe it’s sharing a funny article with your community. Maybe it’s sending a “meme” (that’s what youngsters are all about these days right?). Or maybe it’s just laughing with them about the absurdity of 2020. Whatever it is, make it human and make it personal.
Take the time to connect
The secrets to the Heart Foundations success aren’t magic or a “special trick”. Personal video is a channel by which they are creating connection, but the heart of what makes their strategy work is just investing time. The team is taking time out of their day to make something personal and compelling for their donors and that is the essence of why they are succeeding.
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If you've been inspired by the Heart Foundation's story, why not try personal video yourself?
Raise more funds, and develop lifetime connections with a few simple videos sent to your own donors.