Q&A with World Vision National Director Jody De La Cruz on Fundraising Strategies

Q1: Your foundation has been helping 30,000 children through some 17,000 regular donors. What fundraising strategies have proven effective for you?

A: World Vision in the Philippines took the bold step of seeking donations from Filipinos inside malls. We were actually the first NGO here in the country to do this. Our staff asked mall-goers to “help a child go to school by donating P450 a month.” It was a simple question but the message was close to Filipino hearts.

We had to drum up hype for the organization and make more people aware of our programs. Our staff also served as first donors and we engaged influential personalities to be brand ambassadors. We asked them to sponsor kids and speak on our behalf. We expanded our donors’ database by partnering with banks for our direct mail appeals. We also set up a mini call centre to take care of our growing donors.

We needed to build and strengthen relationships with our donors and business partners. We just continued to concentrate on our best practices so we could focus on our target markets and keep their trust. It started with a few but highly trusted people and corporations but then the support expanded and it helped boost the corporate sector’s trust in the organization and its programs. We provided them with opportunities for deeper involvement, and at the same time focused on learning new initiatives from local and international fundraisers.

Now, we are continuing to explore three significant market opportunities — digital marketing, mainstreaming of corporate social responsibility and the growing interest of grant institutions for disaster management. These developments help us diversify our funding sources to ensure financial sustainability.

Q2: What scheme was the turning point that accelerated many more donors to World Vision and why?

A: There is no single turning point for us. The growth of donors was propelled by several factors.

We make sure that our sponsors enjoy the experience of giving. We make it easy for them — now they can just sign up anytime on the web, give through credit card, and track their donations online.

But more importantly, we want to make our donors feel confident that their money goes to where it is intended. We want to make them see the progress their donations are making fortheir sponsored children and their communities. The relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored child is crucial for us — we make sure that they communicate through the latest digital tools.

The more donors we get and keep, the more people spread the word about our work and programs. Our vision is for every child to live a full life — and we could not do that if we do not have donors who give wholeheartedly because they find joy in giving and transforming lives.

For our business partners, we step up efforts to tailor fit our products with their core business and in meeting their requirements. We are accountable to the beneficiaries we serve.

Q3: How many percent of your donors refer other donors? Are you happy with this ratio?

A: 30% of our yearly sponsorships come from our existing sponsors either through referrals or upgrades (sponsors adding more kids to sponsor). We want to increase it further and draw more supporters.

Q4: Who is the typical target market? How do you look for your target market? Why should they donate to World Vision instead of other causes?

A: Most of our donors are professionals with families. We make it a point to study our market and to find out who best responds to our appeals. We track donor engagement by analyzing characteristics of donors, and learning what drives their ‘giving behaviour.’ We then make strategies to increase donor loyalty. Now, we go to where they shop, we read what they read, and use social media to our advantage.

People should donate to World Vision because we believe not only in the value of giving money to the poorest and most vulnerable children but more importantly, in empowering them so they can help themselves in the long run.

The money is used for programs that do not only monitor developments at the grassroots level but also in training and allowing them to take part in finding solutions to their personal and community concerns. The key here is sustainable and holistic programs for the children and their families.

We make sure that when we leave our area programs and sites, the children and their families are already strong enough to support themselves on their own.

We also want to show people that sponsoring a child is easy and it is life-changing for both the child and the sponsor.

We build long-term relationships with our partners and we give them a way to stay in touch. We also remain transparent. Every non-profit organization is called to a higher standard of transparency because donors want to know where their money goes and we do that by putting our financials front and center. Showing donors how their money is used can have a huge impact on donor engagement and long-term retention. People want to know how we’ve made a difference.

Q5: How do you ensure proper care is given to your children beneficiaries?

A: We have people who monitor our children beneficiaries. We ensure the children’s well-being; we make sure we work with community leaders so the children are well taken care of.

The children serve as ambassadors of the community. If their concerns are well-addressed, we are hopeful that progress and development will continue in the community.

Q6: How has World Vision been able to create a trusted brand all these years?

A: We value the relationships we create with our donors. Trust certainly does not happen at the first handshake or website visit. We think of donations and funds as links in a greater chain, extending far down the road, instead of a mere one-time transaction. We think of ways for the relationship to grow deeper. Promotions, social media, newsletters, and dynamic video content have done wonders for engaging our donors.

We want to be more innovative than ever, especially with the focus on measuring impact. We want to have more creative solutions to deal with the needs of the community. We study and reconsider our program models. We constantly evaluate how we can engage our funders and partners to ensure a deeper level of engagement. In this way, we move beyond our comfort zone to embrace new strategies to reach our goals. But being innovative does not mean deserting our history, but rather leveraging what has been done to achieve greater impact. As a Christian organization, we remain true to our vision and strategic focus to work for the sustained well-being of children.

Q7: With the increasing number of NGOs and foundations engaging in mass marketing, corporate engagement and local fundraising, what would be World Vision’s edge?

A: First off, we do not see other groups as competitors, they are our allies and partners in fighting the vast problems of poverty in our country and around the world. Ultimately, we are all contributing to the global development goals which not just the UN but humanity has set for us, to address poverty together.

But what could really be our edge? We could have not reached where we are now, without the experience and lessons we had to learn and unlearn along the way.

So, we say have become ADAPTIVE enough as an organization — we listen, we take risks and courage, create lasting relationships, and we keep our promises and goals.

Secondly, our wide LOCAL PRESENCE and programs nationwide show that we truly mean business. We do not just visit communities but we stay and work alongside with the poor until they have become self-reliant and sustainable.

Lastly, we focus on the IMPACT of what we do as a child-focused agency. It’s not just about the millions of resources we raise to help people. Often times we report our impact by the numbers, but we often forget that these are all about the changedlives of children and the communities. We may have all the best strategies to raise funds or encourage people to sponsor children or communities, but our ultimate joy is the many lives we have actually touched, and we have thousands of stories from our sponsors, corporate partners to the communities we served, who can tell that on our behalf.

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