What should we ALL be doing better in 2012?

Traditionally January is a time for reflecting on how to do things better in the year ahead.  Certainly the fundraising world is an exciting place to be right now and we’re looking forward to being right in the middle of some great new projects – and to writing more about them here!

For now, though, there are a few key things that we hope to see more of in the sector over the next 12 months.

Fundraiser stewardship

Across the sector much work has been undertaken recently to engage and develop supporters.  It’s brilliant to see charities putting real spend on their loyalty programs, on mapping out journeys and producing more tailored comms plans – now, we would urge anyone in the sector to put focus on embracing their amazing fundraising teams.  Many of the charities that we work with are already helping to deliver increased support and engagement to our teams – from creating fundraiser newsletter, talks on current projects, or even simply coming to meet and debrief with them, to writing individual thank you notes – and even a thank you video from an A-list celebrity!  These sorts of things are fantastic in encouraging dialogue from the fundraising teams, and there are so many benefits to that.  Frontline fundraisers have a connection to supporters that no-one else can match – and can provide amazing insights and observations that can shape and develop campaigns.  Embracing this will help improve creative messaging, deliver stronger results – and provide a direct method of feedback on what supporters are really saying.  We never underestimate the value of our fundraisers and a little extra time and effort goes such a long way.  We will continue to push forward in this area and we look forward to telling you more about it!

Using the phone in new ways

As the saying goes: “never before has change been as fast as it is today; it will never happen this slowly again”.  Fundraising is an ever-changing world and everyone in the sector has a duty to their supporters and beneficiaries to keep up.  We are proud to be helping our clients to push on and develop new ideas and strategies for their fundraising.   One thing we’re very excited about is the potential of our brand new operating systems to deliver more integration.  As more channels are becoming commercially available than ever before, the sector is looking to deliver joined-up communications and we will be doing just that in 2012.  The telephone is an amazing channel and delivers outstanding results – but having the ability to integrate SMS, email and the phone is something we’re really eager to push forward with.  And the sector’s renewed focus on supporter engagement is music to our ears.  Non-fundraising calls to supporters are more in demand than ever as the increased lifetime value that a more engaged and interested supporter will give is demonstrable.  As high-attrition channels have become more and more crucial to fundraising programs, we are using the phone to reduce attrition.  The results speak for themselves.  Supporter retention is more and more important as acquisition tactics have changed, and we look forward this year to helping more charities increase their engagement with their supporters.

Testing and analysis

In itself testing isn’t a new idea – it’s been fundamental to everyone working in fundraising to enable development of new ideas and new programs, and will continue to be so.  This year will be a bit different for Pell & Bales.  We are undertaking some research in partnership with Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang – two leading academics in the field.  We will be looking in particular at how social networks and identities influence the success of fundraising requests and the quality of an individual’s giving experience.  This will include work to deliver controlled testing environments – notoriously difficult within a call centre!  The findings will be published later this year.   Additionally,  our new calling systems mean that data from our 3m+ calls every year is now available in one database, giving access to more analysis and insight than ever before –  insights that we are very much looking forward to talking with the sector about,  and using to help develop fundraising ideas and strategies.

Sharing more

Last year, we found new platforms to share information on – launching our Twitter account and the Pell & Bales blog, and in 2012 we will be using these platforms more to tell you what we’ve seen in the sector, along with our learnings, insights and observations.  Our post last year on lessons from the fundraising floor was enjoyed by many and received some fantastic feedback, and we’re looking forward to bringing you much more insight directly from our fundraisers, and from the millions of charity supporters we speak to every single year.

What do you think?  Are we focusing in the right areas?  We would love to hear your opinions on what we’re talking about so please do let us know – by commenting on blog pieces, or messaging us on Twitter – what you think, and what you would like to hear more of from us.  And please get in touch if you would like to be involved in helping to shape any of these projects!

2 thoughts on “What should we ALL be doing better in 2012?

  1. As a telephone fundraiser, we are an important part of the fundraising process as intelligence gatherers. When speaking to supporters, the common themes they talk about are the number of phone calls they receive, the number of charities they support and how they want to give the same amount to everyone.

    Coming from a customer service/contact background, the telephone fundraising role has the potential to be more than just a six minute call to raise extra funds for the charities.

    I do have some ideas that may be a bit controversial however here goes:

    1) For the benefit of supporters, let charities cross reference databases and identify supporters who are giving to multiple charities.
    2) Promise supporters if they are willing for charities to share their information they will get one phone call per year that services all the charities they support.
    3) Supporters can decide a) If they would like their donations to be split equally, or b) Portion donations how they see fit as a %
    4) Charities could plan their telephone communications in conjunction with their mailouts. On a recent campaign a number of supporters had pointed out they had received a mailing requesting for more funding and where a bit perturbed to have received a telephone call on the same day.
    5) I have also thought about matching the demographics of caller to donor. Would older donors be more comfortable and receptive to speaking to someone of their own demographic?
    6) We could also identify the best time of day to call. Most people who have a mobile phone will invariably answer it wherever they are, however when a charity calls, they cannot take the call as they are generally at work, so what is the point of spending money to speak to someone who is unavailable.
    7) We check addresses during the call regardless of whether or not the supporter upgrades or comes on board with a new charity. Keeping up with address changes also means the charities waste less money on communications that are returned to sender and their message will reach the target audience the first time.
    8) I notice that some records we have are out of date. It is embarrassing and upsetting for some people to be told a donor died 5yrs ago.

    What is needed is a better customer relationship management system. This does not mean a whole new bit of software needs to be purchased, we need to use our current systems for maximum efficiency before deciding to spend.
    If the charity is only allowed to contact and speak to their donors once on any campaign, then we need to make the most of the opportunity to check all contact details and ensure they are up to date.

    • Thanks Amanda, there are some interesting points here. Some charities have worked together on specific programs where there is joined up calling, such as Gift Aid for a consortium of charities, but the level of collaboration that you’re talking about is something else entirely!

      Completely in agreement that good database management is absolutely essential to ensure supporters’ contact details are updated – most charities that we work woth are always trying to improve this side of things but it can prove challenging. There are definitely also challenges throughout the sector in terms of overlapping programs, supporters who give in different ways receiving multiple approaches but we are seeing a big drive from the sector to try to aviod this where possible more and more.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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