Friday, 1 February 2013

How did you decide who to cancel?

Just the other day I was talking to a friend who had just reviewed her DD commitments to charities and had decided to stop quite a few.  The main reason was financial.  And she was quite honest about that.  So having the chance to quiz a professional woman in her early forties about that decision making process, I took the opportunity.  Not least because as my friend and in an unofficial non survey way, she'd be honest.

Q. How did you make the decision?

"Recency of sign-up i.e. last in first to go...."   Really - why?  "Well I know I haven't made any difference as yet so the loss to the charity is less."

Q. Is that the only criteria? "No - I like to see I am supporting a range of sectors. Animal, health, children etc. So if there are two that are similar then I will decide on how recently I signed up."

Q. What about what you have received from the charity?  "Some of the information and communication I have received more recently have been lovely.  More to try to engage me I guess - I just don't have time to be engaged."  

"Thinking about it I have  probably received very little from the charities I have been supporting since university days - I can't recall any off the top of my head. But my heart is with them I guess."

Q. Why? Now this answer was very  interesting to me. "When I decided to sign-up to charity x I suppose it felt more considered, I didn't have a huge amount of money but I believed in what the charity was trying to achieve.  Over the years it probably works out at several hundreds of pounds of giving but by leaving now I would be giving up on something that I believe and have invested in."

Q. But how do you feel about the relationship you have with these charities?

Q. Yes, you know, on-going communication, how they make you feel, what they are doing and how they are letting you know?
 " I don't know.  I don't really want a relationship - a relationship suggests obligation on both sides.  I am giving my money because I want to and because I can and because of what they are doing with it not because of what I am getting back. I prefer it that way. My reason for supporting is my reason and and because of that I would feel less guilty if I stopped."

Q. Has any of them written or tried to call to win you back? 
 "No - not as yet. Should they have done? Have not heard a thing - but I guess that would be wasting their money to do that."

Now there is a huge caveat with this of course - it is one person, a busy person with a busy life.  I am not going to say that this is representative in any way.

But some key things I have taken away from this are:
  • Not everyone wants to be engaged.  They don't have time.  Now I could take my friend at her word here - but I won't because in reality the level of engagement we need to offer supporters has to suit people's lives.  Engagement is a positive thing - not something that should feel like it is competing with the other demands on someone's life.  More needs to be done to understand and meet this need before we run off and develop complex welcome processes and communications plans. Find out what people want from you.
  • What constitutes a relationship is interesting - not everyone wants to have one with you or rather not in the conventional way.  And I think we have to accept that this is okay. Just be clear on what relationship works for both the supporter and for the organisation.
  • Control over the decision-making process to support in the first place is pretty vital and thus the level of 'investment' people feel they have in your cause.  How do we instill as much control as possible in the process for people? or at least that it feels that the decision is theirs rather than a default reaction to someone not being able to say 'no'.
  • Who is leaving you? When looking at your attrition report - ensure it is broken down by years of support.  We can all get carried away with year one retention rates - but as I have always said I'd be more concerned with the fact that 2% of people that had been supporting my cause for 5 year plus, for example all of a sudden decided to walk out the door. So find out what your monthly attrition is made up of at the supporter level.
  • This should inform what you do about recovery and reactivation.  At the very least with the supporters of the type mentioned above - it would be wise to have a system to identify them and indeed speak with them to find out what made them decide to leave after all this time and if possible to find out what kind of 'relationship' they may want with your organisation going forward.
  • As regards recovery and reactivation more generally - the expectation of supporters could be quite low or may be that as organisations we are not very good at it.  On this basis though there is an argument and an opportunity attached with communicating to someone who has left you - just to have the opportunity say thanks and goodbye for now at the very least.  That way they are more likely to remember you well and positively if they ever want to give to your cause again.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Thanks as ever for stopping by.

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