(with apologies to Lao Tse)
SMS giving was the next “big thing” in fundraising a few years back. The channel has grown and evolved, it’s become a medium for regular giving, and it’s also started to challenge direct mail as the go to medium for attracting new donors.
It is a great way of attracting attention and raising funds, and has uncovered supporters who wouldn’t even open a cold mailing, let alone respond to one, and now almost a third of Britons use it to give.
They’re ready to go, so where are you taking them and how will you get there?
As telephone fundraisers we’re in the perfect position to take these new donors on the next stage of their journey. After all, if you’ve donated by text then giving you a call is the most natural way to get in touch and tell you more; but what are you going to talk to them about?
Now you’ve got their attention, what are you going to say?
As with any fundraising channel it’s important to remember that it’s not the medium, it’s the message. So, are we getting our messaging right?
In the creative team at Pell & Bales we thought we’d start putting this to the test by texting into appeals and then analysing the follow up calls. It’s a great chance to hear theory put into practice, it helps us to refine our approach and puts us in the donor’s shoes. We received calls from two well known international development charities, represented by two different agencies. The calls were well delivered, but one charity’s message engaged us in a way that that the other ones didn’t.
I’m talking, why aren’t they listening?
They’re both great causes, they both do great work, and they were both represented by passionate, articulate fundraisers. So where did one succeed and the other one fail?
We put on our thinking caps and came up with a short list
- Pick up the story where the advert left off – this may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how much charity communication is disjointed, so make sure you establish a connection to the appeal early on in the call. They say that “A picture’s worth a thousand words”, so reconnect them with the image they responded to and you’ve just saved yourself a lot of talking. But do consider the next point.
- Don’t put the donor on the spot – so, what about that advert made you respond? Can you remember?- chances are they can’t (we couldn’t and we were actively trying to remember the details), and they’ll feel awkward if you ask them, so instead, lead them by the hand- “your support helped provide warm clothes for a little boy like the one you saw in the appeal.” Now they remember the advert and you can start asking questions and building rapport.
- Keep it relevant– they’ve texted in response to a 30 second TV ad or a poster with a few lines of text, so how will they respond if you give them a long spiel unconnected to the image they first saw? Reconnect them with the appeal and make sure you keep your story and your asks linked to the same theme.
All of the above may seem obvious, but the calls we received suggested that as a sector we still need to work harder at engaging donors in a way that’s as meaningful for them as it is for us.