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.

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