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.

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