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!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

For your eyes only..or so it seems

I have seen a lot of charity communications recently. On trains, bus shelters, cross tracks, on-line and even mailings - and there have been several occasions where I have had to ask the question 'Was this tested in its final format and media before it was produced'?

Obviously by that question, I think the answer is in some cases NO - otherwise I would assert that the design, the fonts, the colours used would have been very different. Equally I know that for some media it is easier to do than others i.e. place your mocked up press ad in an actual newspaper to see how it looks. But my point is more about putting yourself in your supporters shoes and trying to view your communication from their perspective - quite literally view it.

So, what is the value of a piece of a communication if people are not able to fully engage with the piece being displayed because they can't read it without standing right on top of it, or with letter copy without squinting or holding it in front of your face? I would answer, in some cases not as much as the cost of it.

Of course everything looks lovely on the screen of a mac - and I know how much time and work goes into producing it - but the shame is more that that work comes to nothing if it doesn't have the impact it could of had in its chosen execution.

You then have to wonder about the assessment of this creative if it fails... are you disregarding something because the delivery and execution of that message is at fault?

And from a potential supporter perspective - if something is difficult to engage with i.e. read, or even see, your work isn't seen, and people won't be able to do what you are asking them to and then doesn't it just become more communications 'noise' in an already noisy market place.
And doesn't that make all of our jobs more difficult in the long run?

Anyway, it is just something to think about the next time you are getting some creative produced.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Do you know what you are selling?

I was struck by the headline of a recent commentary piece on the return of Oddbins off-licence to the High Street. Which stated "Staff need to know what they're selling" [as a prerequisite for any future survival], and this made me think of the importance of our own personal knowledge of our cause and organisation.

Each person that works for any organisation at some point is a spokesperson or representative for that organisation in the outside world. Thus it is probably useful to be able to speak with some knowledge on all areas of the organisation's work and not just the area you specifically work on.

So, as something that may help assess your own position, ask yourself this question - If your supporter care team (if you have one) passed on to you the latest supporter query to a recent fundraising activity or campaign ,would you personally be able to answer it?

And coming back to my original point, if you were given a more general query about your organisations work would you be able to answer it confidently ?

If you do not answer with an emphatic yes, then it could well be that you want to try responding to some supporter queries and see where your knowledge gaps may be.

As an aside, in a previous work life I was the supporter care function as well as the fundraiser, planner and a data person in one role. I know that in bigger organisations where there are supporter care departments that often that level of knowledge or skill is not specifically required from us. But whether it is part and parcel of your job or not - it probably should be a skill we all have.

In the end it can only be of benefit to you, your organisation and any future supporter you may well meet. It is nice to be prepared after all!

Thank you as ever for stopping by.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Can you have too much of a good thing?

In short - yes. Is that a bad thing? Again - it can be.

I think it is vital that supporters feel that they have had the choice in what they receive after all they are more likely to look at them if they are not wondering 'why the hell am I getting this'?

And with the sheer amount of communications people receive these days, I think that this mindset is helpful. The issue then is of course, 'I have agreed to receive this but are they relevant to me?' The other challenge is then I think getting the balance right in terms of frequency.

As a supporter of a charity that, put it bluntly, I adore and can do no wrong in my eyes... well sadly they are starting to and part of this is because I am getting too much feedback.

Yes - I know! It sounds mad - but it is true. For me the constant notifications that there is a new update waiting for me is actually making me feel.... guilty. Every time I look at my email and see the subject lines still bold as unopened emails it makes me recoil.

I know this is not their intention and in the past their off-line feedback has been wonderfully gratifying on all levels. But right now with a new notification of an update generally once a week, sometimes more it is getting to the point where I can't and in fact won't go and view it.

What is the damage I hear you ask? Is there any harm? Would I give more to the next appeal to assuage my guilt? Is it such a bad thing? Well to me it is. My relationship with this organisation is not based on guilt - it never has been.

Did I sign-up to receive the updates? Yes, I did. But what is interesting is how I am starting to change my view on how the organisation works. Whereas before, the feedback felt it was reporting on a success hard won and significant, now the constant updates feel merely like a churn of case studies.

Thankfully, the damage thus far is that I have changed my preference and have opted out of receiving these updates entirely. Partly because there was only those two options: to receive or not - which is a shame in itself.

Interestingly, as I was writing this I found this abstract about the under provision versus the overprovision of partner support in the success of marriages, and it reminded me that people's relationships with the causes they support are very similar to a marriage and it's probably good to bear that in mind.

Thank you as ever for stopping by.

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.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Are you assuming your supporters can't read?!

Of late I feel I have walked in to a phase of poor customer care (as you may recall from a previous post), and sadly it hasn't stopped! What is worse, it has either been (1) a disregard for me as a customer or (2) under the guise of 'rewarding' my patronage but not. Both can be equally as bad.

Thankfully, these examples are not from the not-for-profit sector, but I felt compelled to type away here mainly because it would be the easiest thing in the world for us to fall into such a mindset - you may even be doing it already without realising it.

Today, I will just talk about issue 1: The disregard for existing customers. With the constant obsession with recruiting new customers / supporters over caring about the ones you already have, I have been stunned by my ISA provider offering a fantastic rate on a new ISA only to learn that it is not available to me, just NEW customers only! Did they think I wouldn't notice? I did, obviously.

For me, the significant thing about this example is that as many charities are continuing to primarily focus on the recruitment of new supporters, I am not sure there is enough awareness and thought given to how these new recruitment campaigns or offers are being perceived - not just by the potential supporters but by existing supporters too?

So, if you think any of your recruitment offerings could provoke any of the following responses from your existing base - then it might be worth thinking about doing something about it:

  1. That's good, but I don't receive that
  2. I am not sure I like the direction the organisation seems to be going
  3. That looks like a great project / work, but it's the first time I have heard about it. Why?
  4. This looks like a complete waste of money. Is this how they use my donations?
  5. I didn't think they did that.. I'd much prefer to support that...
My point is essentially any of the above thoughts could undermine a supporter's commitment to an organisation ... so just bear that in mind when new communications are being developed and maybe ask yourself some of these questions:

  1. With in this is there anything new that we could use to proactively share with our supporters?
  2. How could it be adapted to 'appeal' to our base? (not necessarily asking more of them)
  3. Which of our supporters are interested in that area of work? How could we get them involved?
  4. Are we offering an inducement in our recruitment that would be of interest to our existing supporters or will it potentially make them think we are not valuing them?
These questions are not exhaustive, but you get the idea.

Obviously where campaigns have been developed in an integrated way from the outset then the role of your existing supporters and how you will communicate to them will be a clear part of the plan. But I think the same exercise and thought process needs to be in place no matter how big or small the campaign. Whether it be a full on regional multi channel campaign or just a single insert.

Assuming that your supporters can not read and therefore would not notice what you are saying, could be quite a risky approach. Or put it an other way, by factoring in your supporters in everything you do, will make you see all the opportunities to enhance those relationships and potentially doubly benefit your recruitment activities too. That seems like a good deal to me.

Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Does having a customer services department mean you're failing?

I am being a little provocative with that question, but after calling a customer service department of a well known bank and coming off the telephone more frustrated than when I initially called, I decided that essentially the fact that many organisations have customer service teams means that they are acknowledging that things will go wrong at some point with their product or services. That they will let someone down.

But rather worse that that, I realised that many 'customer service' departments in the event of service failure actually do not have the people, systems and policies in place that actually put the customer or supporter first. In short we have a long way to go with customer care.

Before I go on, I am not basing this on just one farcical experience but it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

So 4 principles that to me would make a huge difference:

  • Actually listening to what a customer/supporter is actually asking for. Don't presume you know because someone starts a sentence in a certain way. From my recent experience I repeated the same thing several times, to several different people because the people I spoke to presumed to know what my issue was before taking the time to let me finish.
  • Tailoring what you can deliver. A big bugbear at the moment is the total inflexibility of certain companies in the face of absurdity. Though on many occasions you may not be able to give people exactly what they are asking for - it shouldn't just be about what you want to give them. There has to be some flexibility and indeed some license for customer care people to use their common sense and discretion. The people dealing with your customers / supporters every day need to be empowered to do the right thing.
  • If an organisation does mess up and someone calls to raise it, offer solutions to the customer or supporter. Far too many companies when they mess up then expect all the work to rectify the issue to be done by the person already inconvenienced. Even better if you know you've messed up proactively contact them and offer solutions.
  • Finally and this could be a little difficult, but where possible you should have a rule that if someone causes the problem / complaint then they are involved in rectifying it. From past experience as the person responsible for mailings etc but also speaking to the people who called with complaints or just upset, it was an invaluable experience. As a result, I knew the reason behind every communication and message that we sent and could explain that to anyone who called. As a consequence many supporters who started calls irate and upset finished calls happy and with some understanding.
This is not meant to be exhaustive in any way. There are libraries full of books about customer care. These are just nuances which to me would make a huge difference to even the most efficient customer service outfit. Because it is about people at the end of the day, and being able to resolve problems so well that it isn't the complaint people will share but your fantastic service.

Thank you for stopping by :o)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

A place in time

One of the biggest challenges we have as fundraisers is building empathy. Bridging the experience gap between the situation of our beneficiaries and that of our (potential) supporters. It is a hard thing to do particularly if you are highlighting scenarios so far removed from another person's day to day reality.

'Can you imagine...' only gets you so far because for many the mental stretch from where they are now to another situation is too much.

That's why I really liked the idea behind 'A place in Time' A short film produced by Angelina Jolie. The concept of which was to simultaneously film several countries at 12 noon on a set day for just 3 minutes.

Though the film reads like the who's who of Hollywood the idea of different people or communities sharing the same moment in time (or three), creatively, has legs particularly in raising awareness of the stark differences that exist. Whether in portraying poverty across the world or the disparity in just one country. The difference in the lives of women across the globe or showing the difference between someone living with a disability and someone who isn't. The options are endless.

It doesn't have to be a big budget production.. but could be one useful way of bridging the gap for new supporters and your work, and for existing ones, an interesting way to feedback. Or even a great way to get supporters involved by sharing their own moments in time to help others see the differences and thus helping us to make an even bigger difference in our work.

Thanks for stopping by. :O)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A walk in the clouds

It is always interesting to see whether people say what they really mean or really mean what they say and some times in order to do this we have to read between the lines. And that is no different when it comes to the letters received from supporters. Both those praising your organisation and those being critical.

That's why I like word clouds. Obviously they are not an exact science but what they do do is visually show emphasis or rather frequency of any string of words you choose to enter. As a result they can be useful tools.
  • If you use them to scan your supporter comments each month. They could highlight some interesting trends: what supporters are liking, what they're not, themes, word's they are associating and using to describe your organisation and thus you will be able to see whether the prevalent words match what you think you are communicating.
  • As a filter to see how supporter focused your own communications are. Is the biggest word that appears in the copy word cloud your organisation's name rather than those words relating to your supporters or the beneficiaries of your work? If so, your copy could probably do with a little bit of work.
  • See whether your social media conversations are highlighting your organisation's priorities? or are multiple tweets and facebook posts concentrated on too many themes or one less than supporter engaging topic?
As I say, there is nothing scientific about them, but the clouds can show up some surprising things - things you and your organisation may want to act on or at least delve a little further into. Obviously, they are no replacement for a genuine supporter focused strategy or indeed a clear communications plan but they can help show how much you might need to develop those things or revisit what you have - which can be no bad thing.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 25 February 2011

My lovely virtual bear hug...

This is the wonderful 'thank you' communication I received from WSPA. A Bear's life saved because of my support.

On my 'tingle o metre' it ranked pretty high. It brought a tear to my eye, a smile to my face and a sense of pride in what had been achieved for Chowti and the other bears who have been saved from a life of pain and misery.

So what was it about this card that genuinely moved me? And it did. After all, it is clearly a mass produced card, it arrived in a standard windowed C5 envelope, the back of the card was the address carrier - no handwritten outer. On the surface of it, you'd think that actually it wouldn't 'feel' that special, but it was.

Here's why:
  • It was unexpected. Not the success per se - but as I often receive appeals from WSPA and updates through their supporter magazine, I wasn't expecting this stand alone piece relaying this great news. Unexpected and welcome.
  • The execution of it. Despite listing the things above that could be seen to detract from the personal nature of the piece I actually liked the fact that it was a good, honest piece of direct mail. At the end of the day the strongest and most important element about it was the story and the transformation that WSPA and supporters like me had helped bring about. The creative show cased that brilliantly.
  • The photograph of Chowti on the front said it all - beautiful image of a beautiful creature freed from its tormentors. A great photograph paints a thousand words and this one certainly did.
  • It was a 'thank you' and nothing else - not a thank you and... or a thank you but... just a thank you and as I have mentioned before that it is quite a rare thing.
  • It was supporter focused. From the thank you strap line on the envelope, headline on the card, and the short but emotive copy inside. It was about me, the supporter. This came across loud and clear but also sounded very heartfelt. After all, It is easy enough to re-focus copy to include a few more 'yous' than you would normally do but it takes more than that to make it sound genuine and genuinely supporter focused.
  • I opened it and read it - and this is probably the most important point. That is how I know the copy was donor focused and a heartfelt thank you, that the photo was lovely. And that Chowti is now free from pain a suffering.
So why did I open and read it? Since picking up the telephone many year's ago in response to their TV ad, I have never been disappointed. I signed up because I wanted to help end the torture and torment of animals - particularly the bear in the ad. Since then I have never doubted their commitment to what they were 'selling'. They are delivering on what I signed up is as simple as that.

So of course the elements above that made the piece itself great are a good starting point, the harder part is obviously getting such communications opened in the first place. And to do that we need to ensure that we are doing what we say we will and proving it - from recruitment all the way through the on-going communications.

The card now occupies pride of place on my dresser - with photos of my family, friends and baby son. That is how much I loved it.

Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Are your communications coming unstuck?

Imagine if you will a scenario where you have finally had time to properly read the mail from the charities that you support. You are motivated to respond to the latest request for money. You go and get your wallet and fill in the donation form with your credit card details or find your cheque book and write out your cheque. So far so good.

You then go on to enclose the donation form in the Freepost envelope provided and find one or both things:
  • That you need to be skilled in origami to get the donation form to fit into the envelope provided and have to fold it several ways to get it in
  • That after (finally) enclosing the donation form you go to lick the envelope and it doesn't stick so you then have to go off to find some glue or Sellotape
Now this is another pet hate of mine. Because we as fundraisers should be breaking down the barriers to giving not creating them. And though the two issues above are not big things they could in reality make the difference between you receiving the donation or not! And I know because I have experienced them both this weekend.

I wonder, how many Freepost envelopes remain unposted because someone couldn't find or be bothered to find the Sellotape that they were going to dig out later ..but never did.

So please, a little plea. If you are going to provide envelopes to aid response then make sure they stick - just test them yourself. It isn't about buying an expensive envelope it is about providing one that does its job.

As regards the donation form, there has been much written about them, but again, it's about functionality and in the same way you look at what information is vital to capture on a donation or response form and making it as easy as possible for the person completing it - another check is whether it easily fits into the envelope you have provided. Simple.

After all, this is one occasion where 'pushing the envelope' probably doesn't apply.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, 4 February 2011

When cracks begin to show

A little pet hate of mine both personally and professionally is when communications pretending to be personal are obviously mass produced because you can quite literally see the joins!

What I mean by that is that the personalisation i.e. name and address etc is in another font to the main bulk of the email or that the pre
-printed backs of letters do not match the lasered fronts - to me it's sloppy and it can be undermining. Particularly if you have spent time and energy ensuring that the copy and messaging is right.

Now the question is do supporters notice? I can only speak for myself here.. but I do. Does it make me want to cancel my support.. No..(well not immediately) that would be an extreme reaction - but it does make me think about how much care has gone into the letter and thus how much they care about my support.

However, I have realised recently that I am more forgiving of smaller, lesser known organisations than the bigger ones and also on whether the communication is an ask or in fact a thank you.

However, my point is, there is no excuse for such lack of care in supporter communications. Most supporters know deep down that the same letter is going to many people not just them... but we can still make the effort to ensure that the chances of them being reminded of this is reduced.

Such examples as mentioned above are easily ironed out: during the test phase for emails and the laser and proof stage for letters. We just need to care enough to ensure that such things don't go out with such silly errors.

After all we want to inspire and engage our supporters. Not make them question whether we care or not.