Friday, 25 February 2011

My lovely virtual bear hug...

This is the wonderful 'thank you' communication I received from WSPA. A Bear's life saved because of my support.

On my 'tingle o metre' it ranked pretty high. It brought a tear to my eye, a smile to my face and a sense of pride in what had been achieved for Chowti and the other bears who have been saved from a life of pain and misery.

So what was it about this card that genuinely moved me? And it did. After all, it is clearly a mass produced card, it arrived in a standard windowed C5 envelope, the back of the card was the address carrier - no handwritten outer. On the surface of it, you'd think that actually it wouldn't 'feel' that special, but it was.

Here's why:
  • It was unexpected. Not the success per se - but as I often receive appeals from WSPA and updates through their supporter magazine, I wasn't expecting this stand alone piece relaying this great news. Unexpected and welcome.
  • The execution of it. Despite listing the things above that could be seen to detract from the personal nature of the piece I actually liked the fact that it was a good, honest piece of direct mail. At the end of the day the strongest and most important element about it was the story and the transformation that WSPA and supporters like me had helped bring about. The creative show cased that brilliantly.
  • The photograph of Chowti on the front said it all - beautiful image of a beautiful creature freed from its tormentors. A great photograph paints a thousand words and this one certainly did.
  • It was a 'thank you' and nothing else - not a thank you and... or a thank you but... just a thank you and as I have mentioned before that it is quite a rare thing.
  • It was supporter focused. From the thank you strap line on the envelope, headline on the card, and the short but emotive copy inside. It was about me, the supporter. This came across loud and clear but also sounded very heartfelt. After all, It is easy enough to re-focus copy to include a few more 'yous' than you would normally do but it takes more than that to make it sound genuine and genuinely supporter focused.
  • I opened it and read it - and this is probably the most important point. That is how I know the copy was donor focused and a heartfelt thank you, that the photo was lovely. And that Chowti is now free from pain a suffering.
So why did I open and read it? Since picking up the telephone many year's ago in response to their TV ad, I have never been disappointed. I signed up because I wanted to help end the torture and torment of animals - particularly the bear in the ad. Since then I have never doubted their commitment to what they were 'selling'. They are delivering on what I signed up is as simple as that.

So of course the elements above that made the piece itself great are a good starting point, the harder part is obviously getting such communications opened in the first place. And to do that we need to ensure that we are doing what we say we will and proving it - from recruitment all the way through the on-going communications.

The card now occupies pride of place on my dresser - with photos of my family, friends and baby son. That is how much I loved it.

Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Are your communications coming unstuck?

Imagine if you will a scenario where you have finally had time to properly read the mail from the charities that you support. You are motivated to respond to the latest request for money. You go and get your wallet and fill in the donation form with your credit card details or find your cheque book and write out your cheque. So far so good.

You then go on to enclose the donation form in the Freepost envelope provided and find one or both things:
  • That you need to be skilled in origami to get the donation form to fit into the envelope provided and have to fold it several ways to get it in
  • That after (finally) enclosing the donation form you go to lick the envelope and it doesn't stick so you then have to go off to find some glue or Sellotape
Now this is another pet hate of mine. Because we as fundraisers should be breaking down the barriers to giving not creating them. And though the two issues above are not big things they could in reality make the difference between you receiving the donation or not! And I know because I have experienced them both this weekend.

I wonder, how many Freepost envelopes remain unposted because someone couldn't find or be bothered to find the Sellotape that they were going to dig out later ..but never did.

So please, a little plea. If you are going to provide envelopes to aid response then make sure they stick - just test them yourself. It isn't about buying an expensive envelope it is about providing one that does its job.

As regards the donation form, there has been much written about them, but again, it's about functionality and in the same way you look at what information is vital to capture on a donation or response form and making it as easy as possible for the person completing it - another check is whether it easily fits into the envelope you have provided. Simple.

After all, this is one occasion where 'pushing the envelope' probably doesn't apply.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, 4 February 2011

When cracks begin to show

A little pet hate of mine both personally and professionally is when communications pretending to be personal are obviously mass produced because you can quite literally see the joins!

What I mean by that is that the personalisation i.e. name and address etc is in another font to the main bulk of the email or that the pre
-printed backs of letters do not match the lasered fronts - to me it's sloppy and it can be undermining. Particularly if you have spent time and energy ensuring that the copy and messaging is right.

Now the question is do supporters notice? I can only speak for myself here.. but I do. Does it make me want to cancel my support.. No..(well not immediately) that would be an extreme reaction - but it does make me think about how much care has gone into the letter and thus how much they care about my support.

However, I have realised recently that I am more forgiving of smaller, lesser known organisations than the bigger ones and also on whether the communication is an ask or in fact a thank you.

However, my point is, there is no excuse for such lack of care in supporter communications. Most supporters know deep down that the same letter is going to many people not just them... but we can still make the effort to ensure that the chances of them being reminded of this is reduced.

Such examples as mentioned above are easily ironed out: during the test phase for emails and the laser and proof stage for letters. We just need to care enough to ensure that such things don't go out with such silly errors.

After all we want to inspire and engage our supporters. Not make them question whether we care or not.