Category: Fund-raising

Improving LabourStart’s fundraising – some thoughts

I’ve had a discussion with some of the senior correspondents and have also triggered a discussion on the e-Campaigning Forum mailing list, have learned a few things, and wanted to share some thoughts.

First of all, our current quarterly fundraising campaign is going poorly.  We’ve raised just £1,534 even though we’ve mailed to our English, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, German, Hungarian and Indonesian lists.  Our message therefore has reached 100,045 people who have donated an average of 1.5 pence (£0.015) per person.

This has to be understood in the context of what are actually rising donations to LabourStart — we’re up 30% compared to where we stood two years ago.  Many of those donations are from unions — local, national and global unions.

But we need to take some steps to improve our ability to raise money from the individuals who support our campaigns and who are on our mailing lists.

Basically, it comes down to two things — though I welcome suggestions for more:

First, I will now return to an annual appeal for funds rather than a quarterly appeal.  That way, people will be getting 20 or more campaign messages from us over the course of a year before they hear from us asking for money.

Second, based on the extraordinary success story of Greenpeace UK, I will embed a much more prominent and clearly branded donation form on the “landing page” people see when they sign up to a campaign.  Apparently, the best time to ask people for donations is when they’re actually supporting a live campaign.

Raising money for LabourStart – reaching out to a wider audience

SECOND & FINAL UPDATE FOR TODAY: After 6 hours the total is £661.42; this does not include a number of people who requested details for bank transfers. 

How does this compare to previous efforts?  As I wrote in January: “In the first few hours of our quarterly fund-raising appeal, we’ve raised over £1,500. We’ve had 35 donations so far in 5 different currencies, and pledges of more to come.  By comparison, in our previous appeal (October) we managed to raise £2,985 in the first 3 days — and £2,188 of that in the first 21 hours. In July we did poorly, raising only £1,844 in the first 10 days online. And last April we raised about £4,050 in the first week of the campaign. So it’s a good start …”

UPDATE: After 1 hour, we’ve gotten the message translated into 2 more languages (German and Hebrew), so it’s gone out to 90,117 people.  Of those, 16 have already responded and donated a total of £145.77.  There were several requests for bank details for bank transfers, and at least two of the donations were the first of new monthly payments.

For the first time in a very long time we’re reaching out to all of LabourStart’s 120,000+ supporters in a fundraising appeal, which is going out today.

All of our recent appeals have gone out to “power users” — people who’ve signed up to several of our campaigns — but this time, we’re reaching out to everyone on our list (pretty much all of whom will have been campaign supporters).

Please do what you can to spread the word and encourage your union to make a substantial donation to LabourStart.

Here is the text of the appeal:

The first three months of 2014 have been a very busy time at LabourStart — and we expect things to get much busier in the next three months.
In just a few weeks, we’ll be holding our largest and most ambitious Global Solidarity Conference ever, in Berlin.
We launched new campaigns in support of sacked call center workers in Morocco, garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, public sector workers in Peru, pilots at Russian airline Aeroflot, Colombian union leaders facing attacks, and jailed trade union leaders in South Korea.  We ran a short and successful campaign demanding that charges be dropped against trade union leaders in Fiji.
We participated in, and covered for labour media, the trial of public sector workers in Istanbul.
We published a second book in French (on the global labour movement) and are preparing our fourth book in English, which we’ll launch at our conference in May.
We have new editions of LabourStart in Hungarian and Hindi.

We’re just about to launch our web app — allowing you to view LabourStart on any smartphone or tablet.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.
LabourStart has become an invaluable resource for the international trade union movement.  
But it costs money.  We pay rent for an office in London, employ a small staff in the UK and in Germany, and have mounting expenses maintaining our websites and mailing lists.  
Obviously we get no money from big corporations and governments.  We rely on you, the people who support our campaigns, who understand just important our work is.
I’d like to ask each of you to consider donating at least $25.00 US (£15.00; Euros 18.00).  If you can give more, please do.  Whatever you can afford will be appreciated.
Please click here to donate — and then please share this message with your fellow union members.
Thank you very much.

Are we feeling lucky?

We never actually win anything, but in recent weeks we’ve submitted LabourStart to three different competitions.

The first and most important is the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights.  Every year we’re a candidate but we’ve never won.  There were 14 nominations this year and the committee will announce a winner on 25 April. The prize is NOK 500,000 (approx. EUR 63.000 / USD 84.000).

Second, this year we entered a new competition, the Care2 Impact Award.  The prize is £500 and the winner will be announced on 10 April.

Finally, we’ve pitched LabourStart this year to win the Why I Chose .org prize for $5,000. The winner will be announced sometime after 31 March.

The weeks in review – 7-20 February 2014

berlin-logo-300Berlin conference:  We’ve made lots of progress on a wide range of issues, most of the work having been done by the organizing committee in Berlin.

We’re now up to 352 registered participants from 58 countries with the largest groups coming from Germany (77), the UK (49) and Nigeria (31).

Because of the very large number of people who’ve signed up to come from Africa, we’ve actually done a mailing to all of them and have recruited some new correspondents.  We’ve also been warned that some of these will not be representatives of genuine independent and democratic trade unions and are showing caution in who gets invitation letters (to get a visa into Germany).

Because of number of registrants we did consider moving the conference to a larger venue, but the majority of members of the organizing committee decided to stick with our current venue.

We’re still putting together the agenda, organizing solidarity housing for the 147 registrants who requested it, working on the visas, dealing with interpretation into the various languages, and much more.

Only 3 months to go!


  • It seems like we’re about to launch a new campaign in support of workers in Korea — details coming soon.
  • We were going to close down the Sri Lanka campaign today, after three months, but IndustriALL has requested an extension.
  • We received a lovely email from the union at the Labatt brewery where our campaign helped them win their very long strike — and we emailed our entire list about this win.
  • We also received a message updating the Huber Ballesteros campaign (see below).
  • We closed two campaigns — Mexico and a UK-only campaign but haven’t gotten updates back from either union.  It’s very important that unions which request campaigns from us report back to us on a regular basis and particularly when a campaign ends.

New language: We now have LabourStart in Hungarian — with some news already added by our only senior correspondent who speaks the language …

News interface: Now available in Italian for our Italian-speaking correspondents.

MailChimp: We’ve had our first mailings done by users other than me (which I need to approve) and these have been successful.  It’s great to share the load here.

Donations: I’ve now fixed the donations page so that if you’re donating in US dollars, the USA becomes your default country; if in Australian dollars, Australia is your default country, and so on.  This had been causing problems for some Americans trying to donate by credit card via PayPal.

The week in review – 10-17.1.14


  • The Cambodia campaign is doing very well — after just a week, we’re up to well over 10,000 messages sent, making it our second largest current campaign (Kazakhstan is the largest).
  • We just launched a campaign yesterday in defense of Colombian unions; it picked up some 4,300 supporters in the 24 hours online.
  • We closed the previous Colombia campaign just in time after it ran for three full months.  Huber is, unfortunately, still in jail.

Berlin 2014:

  • I participated on Saturday in a very good meeting with four members of our organizing committee in Berlin.  Gisela and I also agreed a number of changes to LabourStart’s German language page, some of which have been done.  These include some new pages about LabourStart, a registration form for new correspondents, and so on.
  • The total number of people registered is now 280, up 20 in the last week.  Of those, 59 are from Germany and 42 from the UK (meaning that of those 20 new ones, 7 come from the UK and Germany).
  • I wrote to the more than 100 people who’ve requested help getting a visa to clarify once again that we cannot help with airfares and to ask for some more details; about 19 have responded so far.
  • The TUC is offering us a room to convene a meeting of people from the UK who have registered, or are thinking about coming to Berlin; we’ll hold this in February.
  • We’re doing a lot of targetting of specific countries; Tom is doing some work focussing on the closest neighbours to Berlin: Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
  • I contacted the ITUC two days ago asking for a meeting when I’m in Brussels but no answer yet.
  • I fixed the link to the conference on our home pages in all languages — it now points to the right place.

LabourStart Books:

  • Dan Gallin has sent us 12 essays with 3 more to come; we’re exploring new ways to produce this as we’re not happy with CreateSpace’s service and will probably use Lulu (who did our calendar).  Our aim is the get the book out fairly quickly and certainly well in advance of the Berlin conference.


  • I continue with weekly mailings; this time, I aimed to encourage yet again inactive correspondents.  After 24 hours, we saw a result — a 10% increase in the number of correspondents posting news (up from 78 to 85 this month) and increase in stories (up by 326 in just one day — the previous daily average was just 167).
  • We added several new correspondents this week.

French LabourStart:

  • We continue to make progress, having made at least half a dozen fixes this week.  Some of them are small fixes to all languages and are contributing to making the site more useful for non-English speakers.

Canadian LabourStart:

  • I moved some things around on the page at Derek’s request; it looks better now.

Country pages:

  • I’ve fixed the search, which now always brings up the new pages.
  • I’ve also created a search on all languages, which we had on the old site but hadn’t preserved.


  • It’s been a week since we launched our quarterly appeal to “power users” (people who’ve supported 3 or more campaigns in the last year).  Results have been good — we’ve taken in just over £4,000 in donations this week.  This is similar to how we did last April, and probably better than the two appeals since then.


  • I’ll be travelling for most of the next two weeks — all of next week in Istanbul as a guest of KESK, to participate in the opening of the trial of their activists.  The following week I’ll be in Geneva and then Brussels.  This may mean slower response times to emails, but I hope you’ll all understand.

Quarterly fund-raising drive gets off to a good start

In the first few hours of our quarterly fund-raising appeal, we’ve raised over £1,500. We’ve had 35 donations so far in 5 different currencies, and pledges of more to come.

By comparison, in our previous appeal (October) we managed to raise £2,985 in the first 3 days — and £2,188 of that in the first 21 hours. In July we did poorly, raising only £1,844 in the first 10 days online. And last April we raised about £4,050 in the first week of the campaign. So it’s a good start …

The message went out to 22,560 people who have signed up to 3 LabourStart campaigns or more in the last 12 months. This is about 10% larger than the list we used in October.

The weeks in review – 1-10.1.14


  • We’ve closed the Korean teachers’ campaign and will soon be receiving a report back on the results.
  • The Cambodia campaign, launched yesterday, is taking off very quickly — already considerably larger than the Carnival (Crown Holdings) campaign launched a week earlier.
  • We’re now running our first campaign ever in Ukrainian.

Berlin 2014:

  • I’m off to Berlin tomorrow with Tom to meet with the organizing committee.
  • At the moment we have 260 registrants for the conference, 54 of them from Germany, 40 from the UK.
  • We’ve updated the database adding a number of new fields to begin recording where people will stay, their flight details, contact phone numbers, etc. This information will be added by the conference organizers.


We’ve just heard from Dan Gallin that he’s assembled the texts for our next book, which we can now begin to produce and sell.  This will be LabourStart’s fourth book.

Mailing lists:

We had a problem with Sendy, trying to resolve it with help from them.

French edition:

Derek and Andy have made several suggestions for improvements which we’ve begun to implement.


  • We’re about to do the quarterly fundraising mailing to people who regularly support our online campaigns.
  • I’ve also written to all our correspondents about the Svensson prize (having already told our entire list about it) and fingers crossed maybe this year LabourStart will be considered for this.


We now have a Vietnamese English-language newswire at the request of our comrades in Australia, and it appears on the website of the committee to protect Vietnamese workers.

News database:

We’re adding additional languages to allow new correspondents to post news without having to deal with an English interface. The Finnish one is now ready and others are on their way.

The week(s) in review: 22 October – 14 November

I’ve not been updating this regularly enough, but a lot’s been going on over the last 24 days.

Berlin 2014: I just returned from a short visit to Berlin where I met our organizing committee.  The conference opens in a little more than 6 months and so far we’ve got a venue (Ver.di headquarters), an organizing committee, a registration form and a blog full of information — so far, so food.  Please make sure to register if you plan to come.

Kiev 2013: We had a very successful meeting of LabourStart correspondents (and potential correspondents), and our first ever rock concert last week.  See details below.  Followup has included the translation of additional pages into Russian, and signing up some new correspondents.

Firefox OS book: This was published on 24 October; sales so far have not been as high as expected, but we have sold over 140 of them.  If you’ve read the book, please make sure to post reviews to Amazon.  If you don’t have the book, please order a copy now.

The LabourStart Calendar 2014: We need to work harder to promote sales.  We sold 164 last time I reported to you, and in the last 24 days — just 11 more.  Please do what you can to promote this.

Intern: We have hired Tom Harris, who began work 8 days ago.  Edd continues to work with us one day a week.

Campaigns: Last time I reported, we were at 10,100 messages for our most recent campaign (Colombia); in the last 24 days we’ve picked up about 800 more.  We closed our Peru campaign.

Donations: We’ve received substantial donations from the FDHT in Geneva and the RMT union in London.

Upcoming travel: In December, I’ve been invited to speak about online campaigning at a conference in Freiburg, Germany.  In January, Tom and I will go to Berlin for another meeting with the conference organizers.  At the end of that month, I’ll be in Brussels to help the European Trade Union Institute plan a course — initiated by the German national trade union center DGB — on the subject of unions and the net.

The week(s) in review: 10 – 22 October 2013

firefoxosbookcover200Book 3: Now completed, published, and waiting for the first paper copy to arrive before we officially announce it.  A draft web page is already live — — and will be improved before launch, probably tomorrow.

Intern: We have a shortlist of five intern candidates and will interview them this Friday.

Berlin 2014: I’ll be visiting Berlin next week, meeting with our organizing committee there plus others.  We should be able to launch the conference website by then, and begin online registrations.

This is how you promote LabourStart: See below for the table Derek set up at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) convention where he’s been selling our calendars and books and making great connections for LabourStart.

Colombia campaign: After just 8 days, this is our second largest campaign ever, with just over 10,100 messages sent — over 100 of them from Colombia.

Calendar sales: Continue to be disappointing, but growing slowly.  In October, we sold just 30 copies of the calendar; in September, we sold more than four times that number — 134 copies.  I continue with weekly reminders via social media, and we mentioned it in a recent mass mailing.  We’ll continue with this in the hope that as 2014 approaches, people will begin to buy their calendars …

Blog action day: I used this to help promote some of our campaigns — but there’s no evidence it helped at all.

Donations: We received once again a large donation from LO Norway.

Newswires: I checked to see if there was a problem with one of our French newswires — there wasn’t, and with one of our Finnish newswire — there was, and I’ve not yet been able to solve the problem.

The week[s] in review – 23 September – 10 October

Campaigns: We launched two new campaigns – in support of striking workers at Crown Holdings in Toronto, and in support of the Korean teachers’ and public service unions, threatened with deregistration by their government.  The former is up to over 7,300 messages sent, and the latter, after just a couple of days, is already up to just under 6,800.  Following the release of jailed Canadian trade unionist John Greyson in Egypt, we were able to close down the campaign.  We also used one of our mass mailings to promote the IUF’s campaign in support of jailed independent trade unionists in China.  The UN workers campaign, with nearly 14,000 messages sent, is our largest current campaign, and one of the largest we’ve ever done.

Calendar and Book Sales:  In its first month, our LabourStart wall calendar for 2014 has sold 144 copies, an average of about five per day.  I did another push this week which generated only two new sales in two days.  Book sales totalled 1,664 as of earlier this week — with 959 of those being the campaigning book in English.

Book 3: Jeremy Green and I have completed a first draft of our book on Firefox OS for Activists.  We’re making some final tweaks today and tomorrow and hope to have it ready on Monday.

Public events: I spoke at the European Trade Union Institute seminar in Brussels on lobbying the institutions of the EU last week; the ETUI purchased 30 copies of our campaigning book.  Last Saturday, I spoke to nearly 100 activists from UNISON Wales in Cardiff, and sold all 10 campaigning books I brought with me.

Berlin 2014: While in Brussels, I had a chance to meet up with ITUC staff to discuss coordinating our efforts.  In Berlin, meanwhile, we’ve set up a meeting at the Friedrich Ebert foundation for the day I arrive, later this month.

Fundraising: I did the quarterly appeal to our power users, and the mailing this time reached 20,164.  Ten days into the previous appeal, in July, we’d raised only £1,843.72.  This time, we’ve raised £3,191.93 in the same period — a gain of 73%.

Intern: We received about 40 applications for our internship; we’re completing the shortlist today and tomorrow and will do interviews within two weeks.