Friday, 5 December 2014

A cash to committed campaign - and I don't mean Direct Debit.....

As a fundraiser one of my preoccupations is how we can engender the same 'commitment' from cash givers that we get with the regularity of the mechanism of Direct Debit giving.  

Now before any one comments on the over simplification of the concept of commitment or indeed possibly unfair comparison, the point is, we have all seen the slide that shows the second gift rates of cash givers.  They have pretty much lapsed before they have posted their gift or pressed the donate button on your website.

So a while ago I won an opportunity to 'test' an idea I had with Ethicall telephone agency

So, this is an update.

So, 1000 supporters were called, all of which would be in the 25+ recency bracket since their last gift.

The approach was to call them, and essentially ask them without any legally binding wording, whether they would be willing to commit or pledge to support  1,2 or 3 of the appeals Sense mails throughout the year. At best it would provide us with a baseline to monitor and at worst a great opportunity to offer a supporter care call.

So the findings:
  • 291 people agreed to pledge - 255 to all three appeals 
  • On being asked, supporters genuinely pondered the question and it was either all in most cases or not at all. Whereas I thought we'd get a lot of people saying they would support the Christmas appeal only, this was not the case at all. The call, offering a robust case for support, seemed to resonate with the supporters called. For those that refused they seemed happy with the call and could understand 'why' they were called but didn't feel they could commit. For those supporters it was a good opportunity to have a chat, offer thanks and reiterate the importance of their commitment.

For each appeal following the calling campaign, we included as a segment those that 'pledged' to give, as well as those that were contacted but refused and a segment of those that were non contacts to the calling.

Results from last appeal

  • 12% of people who did pledge to the call responded to the  appeal - that was twice the rate of those that were not contacted during the calling campaign
  • Those that were contacted during the call but didn't pledge were also 50% more responsive than those not contacted

Now, it is early days and some big caveats. This was based on a very small number of calls and beyond the recency - there was little further criteria applied in the segmentation.  However, the interesting things to me are:
  • How seriously and considered people's approach was to the pledge - all or nothing and very little in between. People took the ask seriously.  Even when it was easy for them to say yes, I'll just give at Christmas, for example.
  • The response rate of people to an appeal who received the call but didn't feel they could pledge at the time really reminded me yet again of the power of the telephone and the importance of just having a chance to have a positive dialogue with your supporters. 
We are of course continuing to monitor this group, and also looking to find ways to ensure that as many conversations with our supporters take place as possible.  Obviously to our finance team there was questions over the immediate return in that there wasn't one if we had to pay for all of the calls - that being said even if you don't have a huge supporter care team, making sure you try to prioritise supporter care calls is sure to have a positive impact. None of this is rocket science of course, but timely reminders always help to focus the mind I think.

Thanks as ever for stopping by and thanks again to Ethicall for the chance to try out the idea.


  1. Hi Amanda,

    Interesting post as ever and nice to see someone sharing results of something like this. However, I wondered whether you had thought about using a random control group of supporters who matched the overall selection criteria - where you did not supply this group to the agency for calling. This might have helped to interpret the impact of the calling and get over the inherit biases of the 3 groups that you mention:
    i) Those pledging at the call – maybe these people are just warmer to your cause and therefore would have a higher response rate to subsequent mailed appeals
    ii) Those who declined the pledge at the call – as above but in reverse
    iii) Those who were not contacted – there are a multitude of reasons for non contact such as goneaway, not around when the calling was conducted, refuse to answer un-known calls etc all of which could have an impact on subsequent responses.
    If you had a random control you would have been able to see if there was a real difference between those who you attempted to call (as one group) against those who you didn’t.

    Obviously available number may have been an issue. If so, widening the selection criteria to overcome this might have given you a chance to use a control group and hence get some more robust results.


  2. Hi Mike, lovely to hear from you and thanks ever so much for your insight on the robustness. I am aware of its flaws and absolutely when we do it again we will look at making the testing more rigorous. As you'll know, sometimes it is more that you'll know a certain activity should have a positive impact or won't do any harm, but you are absolutely right and next time I look at this I will look at the criteria in more detail. If I am being honest I was a little surprised by how considered people were .. So though not statistically robust it appears to have had a positive impact.