Thursday, 9 December 2010

Did you miss me?

Following on from a tweet I broadcast a few days ago - I thought I would just explain myself a little and caveat it by saying that just because I am in fundraising myself - it doesn't make me any less forgiving.

I received a 'reactivation' letter or putting it in layman's terms a letter asking me to resume my support. No bad thing. Getting supporters back is part and parcel of a fundraiser's role - though I have to say personally, more effort should be invested in keeping supporters in the first place. But proceeding with the assumption that 100% retention is impossible, what we do to try and get people to support us again or indeed convince them not to stop, is a very important activity because:

(1) If it is successful then you have another supporter giving time, money and hopefully word of mouth endorsements
(2) If it isn't successful but done well, you will have left your supporter with a nice, non-guilt inducing feeling and thus if they are able to support again in the future they probably will remember the lovely experience and you will be top of their list
(3) If executed well, you will have the chance to learn a great deal about what is pleasing to your supporters and in this case what isn't, so you can potentially fix issues any problems that are undermining the supporter experience.

So, back to the letter. In my case, At the heart of the problem was that the organisation was generalising. Now if you have a database of supporters in the hundreds and thousands then obviously this is a danger but one that needs to be considered as it could be ultimately detrimental to what is trying to be achieved.

"Miss Santer, it's not the same without you" - was pretty much the first line welcoming me as I opened the envelope. A lovely sentiment and one that I would hope to be true - but the fact that I had only made one payment before cancelling and the letter took several months to arrive just made me wonder.

And I think that is so often the problem with some reactivation / recovery processes. They are implemented as an admin function with computer generated letters selected en mass - and while they remain as such rather than being an intrinsic part of the retention strategy, the process will probably never be as successful as we want it to be.

So some suggestions:
  • Dig a little more deeply into the data - it will tell you much of what you need to know. Who has supported for many years or just one month, the value, the frequency, what else they did during that time if at all... that way you can choose the appropriate messages and also the channel to contact them by.
  • Accept that some supporters may not resume regular payments - however, do monitor their other behaviour because they could be supporting in other ways - nothing more damaging than sending a we've missed you letter when they have been campaigning and giving to one-off cash appeals all the while.
  • Instead of assuming that someone cancelled by accident and didn't realise it (would account for a very small %) - start from the point of view that it was your organisation that somehow let them down. Which is more likely to be the case. And then try and establish dialogue to find out what the problems were and if at all possible try to address them.
  • If you just try to get supporters back without understanding why they left in the first place you are essentially just asking supporters to return to the same unfulfilling experience as before. Why would anyone return for that? Just more of the same! And even if they do resume, how long will they remain giving before they stop giving again?
  • Also look at extending reactivation process beyond direct debit non-payers - appeal givers not giving again is equally a big issue that should be better understood - yet reactivation processes in the main seem to focus on lapsing/lapsed regular givers rather than other types of supporters.

In short, use the data to send appropriate messages, if at all possible find out why they left and if it was a problem offer to resolve it, if the supporter doesn't resume regular support and that is their only support then send them a lovely thank you and 'au revoir' letter that way you leave them with a lovely sentiment. And if they have cancelled their support make sure you check their other history - communicate accordingly (mail, telephone etc) acknowledging that you know their support extends beyond a DD and how wonderful that is. That to me is a better use of personalisation.

Like any other communication - reactivation processes should be about segmentation. Who you choose to contact, by what method and with what message and caring why people are leaving you and taking the time to find out and address the causes.

Taking a little time upfront with the data will mean you can better focus your efforts and communications in the reactivation cycle and even if it doesn't result in better results immediately - the positive experience given to your departing supporters is more likely to secure their support in the future. You are just laying down the ground work now!

As an aside. The reasons for my cancelling in the first place will fill another post another time.

Thank you for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Just some thoughts to improve on something that is already great (IMHO)

I love receiving emails from Lend with care letting me know that £x amount has been repaid. Not because I am getting my money back (would gladly donate it anyway) but because the repayments are symbolic of the achievements of the people I am supporting - ultimately it signifies success and that is a wonderful thing for Akoua and for me, the person investing in her dream. Powerful stuff.

So, how can one improve on near perfection - well I have a couple of tiny suggestions which will hopefully be taken as helpful supporter feedback:

  • As the money is credited back - it would be great to be able to re-invest the money to assist another entrepreneur - even if it isn't £15.00. Obviously £15 is the minimum at point of sign-up but does that have to be the case when you have already started to invest? I appreciate that the aim is to encourage further investment - but hot off the back of a lovely email informing me of a loan repayment I would like to be able to click and just re-donate the amount in my account to another person even if it isn't a full £15.00, after all that is what the email suggests I can do. Of course, there are probably wireframe restrictions that I am unaware of or of the policy behind the £15 minimum - but I can tell you, it would just aid the momentum of giving and re-giving and would generate more in the longer-term.
  • I have seen the tweets from @kindaAngels that updates followers on who needs funding - and how far they have been funded thus far. Now this leads me onto my other suggestion. On the site there is a funded page which shows the many projects 100% complete. Great. But although there are a list of entrepreneurs with the '£ amount remaining' listed - for those with little time - it would be brilliant to see a scroll of projects near completion on the website i.e. 75% plus - that way people can swoop in and choose to add the final instalment required. This in itself would appeal to certain people - either time poor or those that want to be the person who makes the final payment. It would provide another way to select who to support and would also be a very motivating one - particularly if twitter people like @kindaAngels tweet "Akoua is 99% funded and needs just £15 to make her dreams a reality".
Anyway, love the site and what it is helping people like Akoua achieve. And my suggestions are purely coming from a user point of view - things that I intuitively expected - and thus thought I would take the time to share.

Keep up the great work!