Friday, 30 December 2011

What can we learn from Santa and A Miracle on 34th Street?

It's Christmas time and setting down to watch 'A miracle on 34th Street' is bit of a tradition - but what I noticed this year was the business strategy that was developed for the fictitious department store and all because of Santa's honesty.

"If we don't have it, we'll find it for you" - sounds a little Harrods I know, but the point is that Santa tells people where to shop and indeed where to buy the toys and gifts at the best prices and as a result the manager receives wonderful feedback from its customers.

"Santa's telling everybody where to shop. If you don't got it, it's too expensive, he's saying where to get it at the right price. Tell Santa he made me a Cole's shopper. I'm coming here for everything but toilet paper. Any store that puts the parent ahead of the buck at Christmas deserves my business. Tell Mr. Cole his Santa Claus ought to get a raise."

Now, I know it's just a film and equally, some could say a risky business strategy - but though a fictitious example, I think there is something that we as fundraisers and communicators can learn from it - not least to be a little more giving and dare I say more supportive of our 'competitors' and more mindful of our supporter's needs.

So, if a supporter calls to fund a certain project which your organisation doesn't have - would it be the worst thing in the world to refer them to organisation x, who you know do work in that area or on that theme? Would that be better than trying to create something that isn't best for your organisation and may cost more in servicing than the value of the contribution itself? It could work very well if you have reciprocal arrangements already established for example.

If there is a campaign going on from another organisation, that is working to do what your organisation is also trying to achieve - then what's the harm in actively endorsing the campaign within your organisation and amongst your supporters?

If you are an 'admirer' of a great campaign or initiative from another organisation (even if it doesn't match your mission and aims), what would the harm be in tweeting about it - or liking and sharing on Facebook to your organisation's 'friends' or 'followers'?

As a supporter I would find it bold and refreshing. As a fundraiser I may feel a little anxiety. Should I not be trying to protect my supporters?

But in truth we all know that our supporters support other organisations, (often several), not just our own so why should we not be the bigger organisation and be proactive in highlighting the good in what other organisation's are doing. As individuals we do - even as professionals, twitter posts are full of admiration and support of what colleagues and peers are doing. I am just suggesting something on a slightly wider scale.

Let your supporters see you as caring more about what you are trying to achieve, i.e. ending poverty, curing illness, stopping cruelty to animals and children rather than your income figures and the benefits could be great. I am not suggesting going over board but I think there are times when such an approach could be mutually beneficial and valuable.

After all in the film, Cole's Store found their income went through the roof and won some amazingly loyal customers into the bargain! So who needs Santa?

Thanks as ever for stopping by and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Christmas tale: Does it matter who signs your letters?

I am asking this question mainly rhetorically but also to serve as a reminder.

The reminder part is that, though we know that the signatory of a communication should be selected because of relevance: to both the supporter and to the issue being raised - I think we can sometimes fail to focus on choosing the right person to deliver the message and instead just go with what's gone before.

Does it matter, does it affect response? I am sure it does because ultimately it is what that message makes someone feel and do that is important and the signatory, though a mere name at the end of a letter is essentially the story teller at the end of the day.

I know this is all obvious stuff - but I was reminded very strongly of it recently.

I am having Christmas early this year because some of the people I care about most will not be with me on the day. I could have called them and invited them - but instead I sent a card, with the photograph of my beautiful son on the front and the invitation came from him.

Would my family and friends have come anyway, sure they would. But the invitation coming from Noah was just more special. They all called to say yes, and to comment on the lovely invitation. It made them feel special and it engendered a stronger feeling than my call would have done.

So back to my initial question - yes it does matter. Will it affect response - not always (depends on the communication), but it will have an impact on how the people receiving it feel and that is just as important.

Thanks as ever for stopping by and a very Merry Christmas!