Making the right call

This blog by Wild Woman Fundraising got me thinking about what goes into the day-to-day decision-making process that fundraisers go through when speaking to supporters.



The telephone (like face to face which Mazarine mentioned in her blog) is also a real-time channel.   So we know first hand how important it is to make the right decisions when asking for support as the response from a supporter is instant and can have a long-lasting effect on a supporters perception of your charity, how much they give and how long they plan to support you.

So what decisions should you make before you make that call:

  • When do I ask? When is the most appropriate time to make a phone call or send a text? Contacting a supporter several times in the same year will probably not go down well, is not best practice and won’t do anything for the reputation of your charity, but contacting them before they do a fundraising event for example may be a pleasant surprise for the supporter, will help drive loyalty and give them a boost to help them raise more money!
  • What do I ask for?  If you’ve asked your supporter to increase their gift to £5 a month and they’ve said no two or more times previously then why make the decision to go back and ask for the same amount again?  Do your research. How has your supporter engaged with your charity in the past? Have they preferred doing an event rather than giving via monthly direct debit for example. Could this help you make an informed decision about how they could help you in the future and therefore what you ask them to do?
  • How do I ask?  Choosing an appropriate channel and delivering your message is really important.   Has your supporter responded better to an SMS ask rather than a telephone call, were they quite responsive and perhaps more interested in a certain aspect of your charity’s work – would it be a better decision to give them an update on this rather than talk about something new?

 All of these things should come into your decision-making process and of course all is underpinned by fundraiser expertise, knowledge and attitude (more on these at a later) which can be driven by engagement and training sessions.


New perspectives on relationship fundraising

Relationship fundraising has continued to be a hot topic and is something we’ve been advocating for some time now.

But now we’re seeing new research and interesting lines of thought, mainly from Craig Linton and Rogare which may change what we originally thought about the whole concept of relationship fundraising, how to use it and when.

Although there’s been some mixed views from both Craig and Rogare; the points raised in findings from Rogare’s –  ‘Relationship Fundraising’ where do we go from here?  and in Craigs follow-up blog  were particularly interesting to read, especially as many of the issues raised we have discussed on our blog previously.   Reading both blogs, my main thoughts are:

  • I agree with Rogare’s point that there is a requirement to apply real critical evaluation of the needs for each audience, engagement and donation type.  A great way to do this is through donor journey mapping.
  • We see trends of donor expectations changing and there is now an even greater focus on supporter care as charities are compared to the corporate sector where customer care has become the one key differentiator between competitors
  • I think we must never lose focus on the beneficiary but giving back to supporters and having a more two-way relationship surely will result in more meaningful long term relationships that are ultimately in the best interest of the beneficiary
  • We know firsthand the challenges of moving to a relationship fundraising model, however we are seeing steps being taken to make that move day-by-day, campaign-by-campaign
  • Craig’s point about trust and satisfaction in every donation is key.  Our donor satisfaction surveys help us understand how supporters feel about the charity in real-time (more on our satisfaction surveys later)
  • We should never think of any fundraising as just ‘transactional’ and the phone is a great way to build and strengthen a relationship with a supporter over time whilst also delivering the objectives of individual campaigns

Craig’s right! It’s all relationship fundraising in the broader sense but there are different layers to what this means in practical terms.

For any of this to work – we need new KPI’s in fundraising that are given the same importance as pledge and value such as life time value, supporter satisfaction, engagement levels, complaints, expressions of dissatisfaction and retention.  These things all need to be monitored on an ongoing basis during campaigns and be built into the campaign forecasting not monitored in isolation.

A positive move to a donor based approach to the business of raising money I think is priceless.



How to map out your donor journey

We’ve been teaming up with Xtraordinary Fundraising lately who delivered a brilliant and very timely session on mapping the donor journey recently.


donor journey

Delivered by Mike Johnston (HJC) and attended by key charities (large and small), world renowned universities and hospitals , the session provided the audience with great case studies from commercial companies like Lidl  and the charity sector; as well as all the tools they needed to map out their donor journey in order to maximise the donor experience and create more personalised relationships with their donors.

You’ll be hearing more details on the donor journey from Mike himself via this blog so stay tuned! In the meantime the storify and slides are available to view now.

If you really can’t wait, then why not get in touch to talk about how you can use the phone to enhance the donor experience  at different stages in their journey then we’d love to chat!  Email with your details and we’ll get back to you


The power of ‘funny’ in charity videos

I love this video by WaterAid and I think it’s such a worthy finalist for The Golden Radiator Awards. 


It’s a great example of how charities can be bold and use humour to get a taboo message across.

As the judges said ‘It’s funny and therefore shareable’.

And what’s more, they’ve used a clever call-to-action to get people to sign a petition at the end. A quick and easy way you can show your support for the charity as soon as you’ve watched the video.



How a simple SMS took my customer experience from good to GREAT!

Just a quick post from me today.

This is perhaps a simple and obvious thing to deliver but a really easy thing to overlook…..


… but for me this personal thank you from one of my regular utility providers really hit the spot.

It was a friendly and informal SMS signed-off by the customer service advisor that I was speaking to – and more to the point, it was sent while  I was on the phone to him – timely!

This simple SMS reinforced that they acknowledge me as a person and that I wasnt just a statistic in a stack of calls he was hoping to get through that evening. And it’s the little touches like these that add-up and make you question whether you want to switch providers at the the end of your contract.




The Challenge Facing Fundraising

What are we going to do?




Much has been written about the challenge facing fundraising: about regulation, permission, respect, putting the supporter at the heart of fundraising strategies, building a new kind of supporter relationship.

As if it was not already hard enough to raise funds to support charities’ programmes, fundraisers can expect a new regulator, new regulations, increased scrutiny, more empowered supporters. But the question that remains unanswered, despite all the words that have been written on the subject, is: how can charities respond to the challenge of the new fundraising world? In real, practical terms, what are we going to do?

Chasing numbers

The problem is that we’ve grown accustomed to chasing numbers. We’re driven by volumes, ROI, retention rates and average value. The vision of a better world, and the mantra that our causes are best served by putting the supporter at the heart of our strategies, can become obscured by the stark figures on the monthly report. We have to chase the numbers, don’t we?

“Visionary companies pursue a cluster of objectives, of which money is only one – and not necessarily the primary one. Yes, they seek profits, but they’re equally guided by a core ideology – core values and sense of purpose beyond just making money. Yet paradoxically, the visionary companies make more money than the purely profit driven companies”

Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies: Collins & Porras

In his book: ‘Obliquity: why our goals are best achieved indirectly’, economist John Kay quotes many examples of companies that succeeded because they focused on their core purpose – making the best aeroplanes, medicines, computers – and of companies that failed because they chased the numbers: profit, shareholder value.

Of course, our ‘making money’ is ‘raising money’. So does this suggest that we should no longer focus on raising money? And if that were to be the case, what should we focus on?

The vision and the mechanics

Of course no-one would deny that fundraisers’ ultimate purpose is to raise money. But perhaps raising money – sustainably increasing supporter value in the long term – is best achieved indirectly.

Ask anyone who works for a charity to describe the organisation’s purpose, its values and why it is important, and there’s a good chance they would give a compelling, passionate and authentic account. But put them in front of the tools of their trade and the transaction takes over: processing a donation, writing a campaign brief, signing off a script.

As fundraisers, our equivalent of ‘the best aeroplanes and medicines’ is ‘the best supporter relationships’. To define that in a way that differentiates one charity from another, we have to look behind the mechanics of targeting, contact strategy and supporter care, important though they are, and explore how each organisation’s values are reflected in the supporter experiences that it creates.

What’s the point of values?

At the recent Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs parliamentary select committee hearing, fundraising chief executives acknowledged that their organisations’ values had not always been reflected in their fundraising practices.

The question that all fundraising leaders must answer is: how can we address this challenge in a way that will be meaningful for supporters?

You can take tactical steps such as reviewing communications and equipping people to tell stories in supporter care encounters, but you need to go further, creating a strategy and structure that drives behaviours that reflect your values.

So what can we do?

There are two priorities:

Authenticity: find ways of expressing your charity’s values through every contact with your supporters, in a way that feels natural to the organisation and the supporter. And ensure that you do this consistently, through every proactive communication and every responsive encounter.

The best supporter relationships:make a long term commitment to creating the best supporter relationships as the first priority, above every other demand that the organisation makes of its fundraisers.

How can you achieve this? There are a number of things you can do. You can define how your charity’s brand values should be reflected in fundraising communications and contacts.You can review all of your communications and touchpoints, to question how well they tell your compelling story.You can redefine supporter journeys in the context of the ‘best supporter relationship’ priority. You can revise your KPIs, so that you measure authenticity, brand consistency and relationship quality, and not just financial targets.

There is no single solution to the challenge: there are many steps you must take. It is a major commitment: to change the way you define success; to believe that this will lead to better outcomes for the supporter, the organisation and its beneficiaries; to devise and implement practical changes.

But today the need for action, not just words, has never been greater.

Gary Hancock


Response to review of fundraising regulation

Pell & Bales warmly welcome the report published by Sir Stuart Etherington’s review today. Following the recent issuing of our own code of conduct we are pleased to see further standards introduced to ensure best practice and exemplary conduct become the norm within the rest of our industry.

Increased engagement between charities and their fundraisers alongside a donor-centric approach to the industry as a whole can only be positive for all those involved in the fundraising process.

The last few months have been transformative for the charitable sector and it is an exciting time to be working within it, Pell & Bales look forward to continuing to deliver for its clients and raise funds for some of the world’s most worthy causes.