Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Are you investing in emotional engagement?

I read last week in one of those in flight magazines that the longer you have been in a relationship with someone the less time you are likely to invest in giving a massage. Essentially effort and time put in diminishes. 

Okay, so I appreciate that this is a little bit of an odd introduction but it made me think as fundraisers  how much thought and effort we put into looking after our longer-term supporters compared to the newly recruited, possibly fragile and attrition prone new ones?  

A couple of things though:  I am not saying that the focus on new recruits is not required - it is. And depending on the mix of channels, the retention strategy at point of recruitment is critical.  Also, regards the longer-term supporter.  It could be inferred that as they are still with you after 5, 10, 15 years - that you aren't doing too badly.

However, my point really is about keeping your eye on the overall. The longer-term supporters may be doing OK thank you very much - but could you be doing more to build a greater, more meaningful relationship with them?  And likewise do you understand what is actually being lost when a longer-term supporter decides to leave you?  That's why I am a big advocate of looking at attrition in actual numbers of donors leaving not just the percentage.

From experience, I know that though a retention rate amongst a group of supporters may be solid and strong and they may well keep giving month on month when it comes to recommending the cause to others or doing more they are less likely to and possibly as easily will be able to find a reason to stop supporting you.

You could ask that with a solid and seemingly solid base of income - do we need to worry.  I would say, potentially yes.  If the answer to the question 'Are you investing in building emotional loyalty?' is NO.

Other than reviewing people's immediate response to our communications - and I am sure many a (rash?) culling of house files have taken place because of it - we have little way of determining what supporters think unless we ask them.  Engage with them. Connect with them and that requires time and effort and a focus in your communications and on-going narrative.

There is a lovely piece on fundraising advice from Snoopy - and a lovely point about an appeal being "nothing but a love letter to the prospect". But the challenge is that a love letter is only effective if the recipient can be bothered to read it or wants to, or has a spark of interest in starting or continuing a relationship with you.  
Someone asking you out who you don't fancy in return is actually quite a turn-off.  Or someone being impertinent  enough to assume you want the sonnets of Shakespeare quoted to you when you would rather be watching the Olympics again will not necessarily help the cause.  The work must go into ensuring that those supporter relationships don't get to that point where the romance has gone.

In short - we can't take our long standing supporters for granted. They may require little 'massaging' or may not want it at all - but ask them, speak to them along the way, acknowledge their support and make sure you put in the effort that they deserve and want.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

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