Sharni McLellan, who is the new Regular Giving Manager at St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, is excited to be creating the organisation's first formalised regular giving program. Lise Taylor reports.
How did you first get into fundraising?
After a volunteering trip to Nepal in 2007, I decided my working life should mean something, that instead of investing my time in a corporate or retail brand I would apply for roles where I could put my marketing skills to better use, and a few years later a role came up at World Vision.
Who and what shaped your early views on fundraising?
A friend in Montreal, Canada, was holding an event to raise money for an orphanage in Nepal and inspired me to do the same thing in Melbourne. We agreed to meet in Kathmandu and to volunteer our time to help and distribute the funds where most needed within the orphanage. This process, from reaching out to potential donors to actually delivering the donation to where it was most needed, helped form my early views on fundraising and donor care.
Tell us about your current role.
I have recently changed roles and am now the Regular Giving Manager at Vinnies Victoria. We have not had a formalised regular giving program in place, so this is a new and exciting project that I feel privileged to be a part of. I have really enjoyed spending time delving into brand workshops and formulating our regular giving strategy and communications plan. We are looking forward to rolling out our new program and seeing the creative concepts taking shape this year.
What have you learned about yourself since getting involved in fundraising?
I have learned that it is such a reward to be able to work in fundraising, to know that you are a part of positive change. You gain a much deeper understanding about the challenges that life can bring, which can change your outlook and helps put things into perspective.
What is the most interesting/successful campaign you have been involved in?
At World Vision, using insights from external research, we found that child sponsors wanted their sponsor child to learn more about Australian culture, so we adapted our direct mail pack based on this feedback, which resulted in $11.2 million, an increase of $400,000 from the previous pack. One of the most fulfilling campaigns I worked on was at On the Line, a mental health organisation. We launched online counselling for MensLine and ran some ads promoting the service on Facebook that resulted in an increase in men reaching out for help at a critical time in their life.
What are your key goals for the future?
To continue to learn more about fundraising, particularly in the digital/social space. And to continue to make a positive difference and raise vital funds for where it is most needed.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you during your career?
I went for an interview to what I thought was an event coordinator role for animal research. During the interview I was asked to put a snake around my neck and then pick up one of the chickens running around, which I thought was just a little bit odd. It turned out to be blind filming for a comedy TV show!
Tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I can speak Chinese (Mandarin) and have taught marketing and business in Beijing, Hangzhou, Luoyang and Nanchang.
What are your five top fundraising tips?
1 Test, and test again The best way to find out what works is to invest in testing, which will give you solid insights for future campaigns
2 Invest in collecting stories Donors want to be inspired and hear about the impact that their donation has made and how the recipient has benefited from the donation.
3 Analyse your data Your data will provide you with invaluable insights and these will be the key to your future fundraising/marketing strategies.
4 Listen to donor feedback Your donors are an extension of your team and listening to them helps you understand why they support your organisation, and enables you to provide them with the best donor care.
5 Increase your knowledge on best practice fundraising The fundraising landscape is continually changing and it’s important to keep on top of fundraising tactics and channels that work.
Sharni is presenting the Vinnies Builds Significant Social Media Community for Future Donor Pipeline session at F&P's Digi.Raise Conference on 21-22 June 2017. For further information or to book click here.