Friday, 20 August 2010

For the record it's Mr and Mrs (or Ms)

Now for fear of sounding like a boring 'new parent'- the one thing that has become even more important to me is the idea of the family unit, what that means but also what that could achieve. And here, I am talking in fundraising terms.

From experience, I know that joint records of Mr & Mrs or even Mr and Ms often behave in a different way to Mr or Miss in the singular, possibly because of the joint nature of the relationship and dare I say the bank account.

In truth though, I don't think we pay enough attention to the joint units on our database - either in the way we identify and target messages or in a way that actually appeals to both parties.

For many charities the only acknowledgement of the two entities on a communication would be 'Dear Mr and Mrs Smith,....

As fundraisers, I think we are missing a great opportunity to engage both parties equally, or at least find out a little more about the dynamics of these joint records and what they would like both collectively and as individuals.

By being more proactive at looking at the life stages of those families on the database would allow better tailoring of the offers made. After all, as time passes and families become 'empty nests' or retire people's attitudes and indeed approach to giving changes as does the amounts of money that people have to donate to charities and good causes.

It may be a little direct, but I think there could be an argument for sending a well crafted letter to Mr and Mrs (Smith) and asking them if we could do more to appeal to both their needs and interests or even adding something on the welcome questionnaire that caters for joint records. I can't see it doing any harm and if done right could be really appreciated as good supporter care.

It is of course likely that Mr Smith has different interests to Mrs Smith based on their own life experiences - but they share a portfolio of giving so we do have the power in the ways and what we communicate, to influence where we are on their list of support by ensuring that we show impact and offer strong feedback.

If we can appeal to both parties individually and as a couple then we improve our chances of ensuring that we are number 1 on their charity list - obviously the aim for all of our supporters.

Monday, 2 August 2010

What would Goldilocks have done without 'just right' ?

While in godmother mode recently, I was strolling through the children's section of a book shop and there was Goldilocks and the three bears.

As my adult self flicked through the book I was reminded how much I loved that book as a child (probably because I love bears), but I remember thinking to myself what if there wasn't a 'just a right' for Goldilocks? That there was only two beds to choose from or two bowls of porridge for her to try? Would she have chosen any of them or just left - or is there always a 'just right' whatever the range of choice or is a decision made irrespective?

However, I was reminded of my Goldilocks thought recently while reading a really interesting book by
Dan Ariely called Predictably Irrational. Essentially, first part of the book explains the idea of relativity and how decisions are based on how the options we have are presented in relation to others.

Now many a marketing offer is based on this psychology - and if you look out for them they are quite obvious - like subscription offers, but how much of this psychology do we try and test in our fundraising?

Recently raised by Craig Linton on twitter asked the twitterverse for ideas around the revamp of his organisation's donation form. He received some suggestions and recommendations. Now I was one of the people that offered up my ten pence worth - on the basis of the importance of a strong case for support being linked to the ask prompts - but would 3 prompts result in a 'just right' scenario for supporters better than 5 prompts?

Equally - how we present a regular giving ask in a script or mailing i.e. 'for less than a cost of a news paper...' or 'for the cost of half a chocolate bar you could...' etc how effective are these comparisons in helping supporters see the relative worth of the ask in real-life context? After all they are still very well used but are they actually effective?

I would be really interested to know if anyone has actually done any real testing on this in their fundraising recently - if you are happy to share.

Thank you.