Thursday, 25 August 2011

My thoughts on Ken's blog.

What a good read, Ken Burnett's latest blog post is. And if you are remotely involved in street or door-to-door fundraising then it is a must read.

There was some great ideas and here are a couple of thoughts from me.

1. Righting what's wrong is the hard bit. The impression of street fundraisers rightly or wrongly has been tarnished. If you are not in the market to support charity or the featured charity then you feel you are running the gauntlet just trying to get a sandwich at lunch time.

However, if you are in the market to support a charity you often don't really have the time to 'spare a few minutes' when you are approached. So in order to provide some flexibility, how about the street fundraiser offering appointments. 5-10 minute slots where people can arrange to come back later and have a chat at a convenient time.

As with any thing, you will have some people just using it as a get out, but I think the offer could make a real difference to people who really don't have the time when they are approached but who could be interested. And also it could change the dynamic from a person feeling 'signed up' to them feeling they have made the right choice. The difference between conscription and volunteering.

2. The approach needs to recognise that not everyone is an auditory learner. An obvious statement. But I don't think it helps that much of the street approach is based on conversation and often actually a one way conversation. There were many ideas in Ken's 50 around livening the information up with use of ipod videos, sound recordings, street performance etc but at the start of this, I think there is something in trying to ascertain what type of person you are talking to in the first place to identify what mode of communication will best motivate them.

3. What are you offering? I really liked the ideas around tailoring messages so as well as by gender this could recognise regional differences, or localising campaigns around most generous supporters. The options are endless - and further proof that one size does not fit all and neither should it.

4. The other aspect around the offer is the urgency. Like any fundraising channel, if what you are putting out there is just another ask to support a worthwhile cause while not answering one of the most important supporter questions in fundraising 'why now' then it won't work any where near as well.

To me that is one of the big issues with Street fundraising it appears as a treadmill or conveyor belt - the urgency is just around supporting the on-going work. Great work it may be, but there is often no real urgency or imperative for the supporter. The one thing I do know is that most charities genuinely need support so relaying that case for support in a motivating and attention grabbing way should not be that difficult but is also vital as a point of differentiation.

Reflecting on the fact that I was signed up to an environmental charity around ten year's ago by a street fundraiser. As I wandered out for lunch I had no thought about the charity or wanting to support them. I was stopped by a guy who may or may not have looked like a model, but all I know is that he talked with passion and a genuine knowledge of the work. How did he get me to stop? He asked me if I had seen the news that day and talked about something that was topical. I had seen the news and that was it - I knew I wanted to help. It was relevant to me, it was current and it very much followed the news agenda. I am still supporting them.

Finally though, the importance of a retention model cannot be underestimated. And that should apply to any and all recruitment campaigns not just those with a perception of high attrition rates. Equally, it isn't about creating some elaborate communications stream for the first 6 months that everyone is breaking their necks to deliver only for supporters to merge into the standard programme. It is about making sure your standard communication plan for all your supporters is relevant and delivers on what they need in order to keep them engaged, motivated and supporting.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Cheque it out!

As someone who writes the occasional cheque - the news and debate around them being phased out was of interest. Mark Astarita's comments also struck a chord - many charities are hugely reliant on payments via cheques and considering the future without them should be something we all start investigating.

Now, I have credit cards, and most of my charitable giving is done via direct debit - but usually when I give additional sums to appeals, I tend to do so by cheque. I can't answer why exactly, but I actually like writing them.

So my own behaviour got me thinking about people's choice of giving mechanism - and also raised the question 'Does the method of payment options offered have an impact on what people will and won't respond to?'

For example, simply put if you are promoting an on-line offer to people who include supporters who predominantly give by cheque are you wasting everyone's time? I can't answer that with any facts - but it made me wonder. After all isn't this just about another layer of tailoring and understanding of supporter behaviour that we should know?

Obviously at the very least we should all know how our method of payments breakdown in relation to donations..5% cash 45% cheque etc. so we can all understand the potential danger presented by the phasing out of cheques. The next step be would be trying to find an alternative that offers some of the security and reassurance that many people feel cheques provide.

At the moment though, I am not quite sure where the debate is - but with the abolition of the cheque guarantee card already happened there is very little security or confidence in retailers to accept the future of the cheque looks bleak - that is unless the fundraising community steps in?!

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Monday, 8 August 2011

"Do you think they'll want my £30?"

I can't stress enough how important it is to get and use supporter feedback. And even better live feedback from people you know. As usually it will be more honest, free flowing and dare I say more useful.

At the weekend, a friend of mine was mid process of filling out a donation to a charity he supports regularly. He had barely skimmed the appeal letter before getting out his pen to donate. So far so good. Then across the kitchen I heard "do you think they'll want my £30?"

As a fundraiser, I was stunned by the question. I stopped what I was doing and walked over to him. I looked at the donation form and could see what he meant.

In bold black on the donation form was £100 and £150 and other. Now at that point a couple of things occurred to me:

  • Obviously an attempt to upgrade the gift value (very valid and often very effective)
  • Project featured in the appeal was £100 so hence the lead amount
  • Could totally see what the charity was trying to achieve and have used such techniques many times

However, what this approach didn't take in to account was how the supporter would feel.

In this case, it could be that the approach was a little heavy handed?

Upgrades can be based on a number of hooks - a good strong project is one way, also basing the increase on what a supporter has given in the past with an incremental increase built in (my friend usually gives between £30 and £50 pounds to this charity - but every time they ask). Also, a combination of the two and these are just a few ways of doing it.

People may have differing views on this and I would welcome other people's thoughts. But to me though the case for support needs to be strong and thus overt, the tactics employed should possibly utilise a little more subtlety. After all, should the supporter realise what you are doing? Should the technique create such confusion / dissonance? These questions probably should be asked of all techniques we employ.

As for my friend - he continued to give his credit card details - but as he popped the donation form in the BRE, he joked "Well, I am sure they won't send it back!" "Of course they won't", I replied. "They'll really appreciate it." trying to reassure him. But I was a little saddened that a standard technique had been executed in such a way that had potentially made a generous gift feel like a lesser gesture. And I think as fundraisers, we all need to be a bit more mindful of that.

As ever, thanks for taking the time to stop by.