Part 2: Donor Loyalty.. How to reduce donor attrition by a third in 3 minutes

As we discussed in last week’s blog a 10% increase in donor loyalty today would enhance the lifetime value of your fundraising database by up to 200%!

At Pell & Bales we’re doing exactly that – helping our charity clients increase loyalty by at least 10% in one 3 minute conversation.

In the last 18 months we have developed a solid approach to loyalty calls that’s reducing attrition savings by a 3rd in the immediate few months after the call, delivering a year 1 ROI of 3:1 and breaking even by month 3.

In fact, for every £100 spent c. £1,000 is generated in year one income!

And that’s just measuring the savings in attrition. Beyond that there are other rewards to reap from enhanced loyalty & engagement. One client has reported a 50% increase in response to a subsequent event ask and another reports a 30% increase in response to an upgrade ask.

How it works

  • Design a call that is about the donor – not about the charity and definitely not about fundraising or the charity needs. The aim is to make giving feel good, rewarding, involving and impactful
  • Allow yourself a budget, time and resource to have a real conversation with supporters
  • It’s not so much about what you say, more about how you make donors feel: listen to what they have to say, let them visualize and contextualize the impact of their gift, inspire them. Make them feel part of the bigger picture, the solution, and reinforce that their vision is your vision; that you will deliver on your promises, on your joint mission
  • Create a check list of known drivers in loyalty and commitment and address them through conversation (we use Sargeant and Woodliffe research, gathered supporter insight and our own research here)
  • Weave anti-attrition messaging into the conversation: be flexible and accommodating – offer payment holidays or even downgrades where appropriate
  • Encourage multiple relationships and a greater involvement and increased interaction in the cause (but don’t ask them for more support)

Why it works

No other channel offers the personal human interaction of the telephone. Loyalty is about relationship building, but how are you going to do that if you can’t hear what the other person’s saying? The phone allows a supporter to tell you what’s important to them, to ask you questions and to build rapport in the way they just can’t do with a piece of paper or video.

Third Sector’s latest ‘Giving Trends’ research says that the telephone is the most effective way to solicit donations. Now we know it’s also the best way to retain and nurture donors.

A conversation like this sets the tone for the relationship between you and your supporter.  Calls work particularly well when placed early on in the donor relationship. With the most significant attrition happening within months 0-4 it is advisable to place a loyalty call before their first Direct Debit payment has been made.

Results by recruit source

Across multiple clients and various data sources we consistently see a reduction in attrition, post call of c.1/3rd

And while the effects of the call do start to taper off a little over time, there is still a lasting impact 16 months after the phone conversation!

Look out for further blogs where I will explore Sargeant and Woodliffe’s  ‘key drivers of commitment’ (Service Quality; Risk; Shared Beliefs; Learning; Personal Link; Multiple Engagements and Trust) and how they can be translated into your donor communications.

In the meantime if you’d like any more information about how to drive donor loyalty email us via 


Part 1: Donor Loyalty… The answer to our problems????

Now more than ever, spurred by the negative scrutiny of fundraising in the UK at the minute, many are hailing the need for proper relationship fundraising, the need for listening to and nurturing our supporters and to focus on retention and a two -way conversation – rather than pushing out one -way messages that alienate our supporters.  

At P&B we’re firmly in the Pro-‘Donor Relationships’, Pro-‘Donor Loyalty’ camp . Below I repost a blog from 3 years ago which I feel is timely to republish; when the public complain about the frequency of charity communications could it be because all our communications are the same, that we are always asking for money and that communications are always about us???  Well, as we said a while back,  there is a different approach.

Sorry if you’ve already read this – it is our most read and shared blog of all time after-all. Which begs the question: why aren’t we all doing more of this type of fundraising?!

Donor Loyalty: Raising Money without Even Asking for It 

Few can argue with the fact that loyalty is important. In the UK, depending on how they are recruited, up to 40% of new monthly givers will lapse within months of signing up. Attrition rates have never been so high

Couple this with the fact that donor recruitment is ever more challenging and expensive and many charities simply can’t recruit donors as quickly as they are falling off the file. We are facing the very real threat that donor bases and income will start to shrink.

The sector really must move on from talking about ‘driving loyalty’ and start doing it. We must hang on to the donors we work so hard to recruit.

The concept of actively driving loyalty is nothing new, the likes of Sargeant and Burnett have been producing brilliant research and theory on this for years. And you only need to look at the commercial world and witness that they shifted from a focus on single transactions to relationship and loyalty marketing as far back as the 80’s

Increased loyalty will not only reduce attrition but drive commitment, increased response rates, average values, multiple engagements, and legacies. Sargeant calculates that

A 10% increase in donor loyalty today would enhance the lifetime value of your fundraising database by up to 200%!

But how many of us are doing much more than a bit of stewardship: sending the odd thank you letter and an annual newsletter?

Studies show it costs ten times as much to recruit a new donor today as it does to retain an existing one. So why isn’t this reflected in the way we spend our resources and allocate budgets? It would seem the sector is failing to really focus on retention and instead we are just increasing how much we spend on recruiting each new donor. But what else can you do?

We could take some lessons from the commercial world.

Let’s look at the phone for example;

A whopping 38% of all outbound calls made by commercials are either loyalty or customer satisfaction calls. In the NFP sector such calls account for less than 1% of outbound activity!

In the commercial world products are consumer led, driven through customer insight, surveys and research. I’m pretty sure the brainwave that was Direct Debit giving wasn’t born from a huge rush of supporters demonstrating a real desire ’to give regular reliable donations’ or a need to show how ‘committed’ they were. In fact, when we talk to donors about giving in this way many still fall into the trap of talking about why direct debits are so good for the charity.

Another thing the commercial world does very well is the use of Risk and Reward. If I don’t use my Air Miles Sept 2013 I lose them. If I shop with Sainsbury’s again before next Monday I will get £10 off my weekly shop. Where’s the hook to get people donating again? Who really cares and will anyone really notice if I cancel my gift?

Finally, while the rest of the world is already embracing multi-channel integrated communications and interacting with their consumers our fundraising teams are still working in silos, and our donor communications and ‘journeys’ are pre-determined even before they sign the dotted line, regardless of their preferences and interests.

I could go on and on. In summary there is so much more we could do. We need to measure how donors feel about their support; we need to make it easy for them to give (and no that doesn’t just mean Direct Debit); giving needs to be rewarding and fun; we should acknowledge and reward loyalty; we should offer supporters more control and choice in their giving; we need to listen to our supporters, interact with them; we need to build trust and prove impact; and service should be impeccable.

Later in the month I will explore this further and share with you our approach to ‘Loyalty Calls’ – something which we are finally starting to see charities invest in.  These calls produce a year 1 ROI of 3:1 and you don’t even have to ask your donors for a thing! One client is generating £1,000 net income per 100 contacts without asking for a single penny!

If you want to know more about donor loyalty email with a short message and ‘ donor loyalty’ in the subject header and we’ll get back to you!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


We’re recruiting…

We’re looking for a passionate, world class Account Manager to join the growing team at our London HQ.

You will manage a portfolio of charity clients large and small, including many of the UK’s favourite charities, supporting them across a diverse range of programs from Acquisition, Loyalty and Legacy fundraising and anything in between.

With over 20 years experience and our first £BILLION for charity under our belt, new team members can expect to experience unrivalled development and career progression working within a forward-thinking, innovative environment.

The lucky candidate will find themselves working in a true fundraising environment full of passionate people dedicated to innovation and excellence. This makes working at P&B a fun, buzzing, dynamic, sometimes crazy but ultimately rewarding place to work.

If you have fundraising and client servicing super powers to share, are passionate about changing the world, thrive when working in a fast-paced environment and are a strong team player then drop me a line at with ‘Account Manager London’ in the subject line and we’ll send you more details about the role and how to apply.

We’re on a mission to save the world here at Pell & Bales and now you could be part of it too.

Closing Date: Midnight 1st October  2015 




We’re recruiting for …

… a stellar Campaign Planner to come and work on several of our largest charity accounts. Could this be you?

It’s a very busy client facing role so you’ll need to be calm under pressure and have experience of fundraising, direct marketing or project management. You’ll also be a great communicator with strong project management analytical and time management skills.

So what will you be doing?
Responsibilities include managing the key processes to develop and deliver effective campaign strategies, leading and influencing client strategies through analysis plans and sector insight and evaluating final campaign performance to ensure learning is taken forward by the client and wider business.

Sounds great? 
If you have some or all of the experience above then great you’re definitely what we’re looking for! Ultimately though we’re on the look out for passionate, dynamic individuals that are inspired to design and deliver the world’s best fundraising campaigns for some of the UK’s best loved charities.

What’s it like at Pell & Bales?
With over 20 years experience and our first £billion for charity under our belt, new team members can expect to experience unrivalled development and career progression working within a forward-thinking, innovative environment. Don’t take our word for it – check out all of these great people that started their careers with us – we must be doing something right?

Get in touch?
Email with ‘campaign planner role’ in the subject header and we’ll send you a full JD and details of how to apply, closing date is Wednesday 8th July 2015 

We’re on a bit of a mission to save the world at Pell & Bales and now you could be part of it too.


Response to telephone fundraising press coverage

This morning P&B’s operations were subject to an article in The Sun covering telephone fundraising.

Despite the accusatory tone throughout the article it concludes “There is no suggestion Pell & Bales did anything illegal. Indeed, the company is scrupulous in instructing its employees to stick to acceptable practices”. We are deeply concerned about the way in which this article represents our employees and processes, taken out of context and portrayed with a cynically provocative spin. The fact that the Sun admits there is no wrongdoing on our part is testament to our training and coaching staff who are acknowledged in the industry for their excellent standards.    Pell & Bales refutes in the strongest possible terms any allegations or insinuations of wrongdoing; We work to guidelines set by the Institute of Fundraising’s Codes of Conduct and are a leading member of the Fundraising Standards Board.  We adhere to the IOF code and work to the standards of the TPS Assured scheme.

Pell & Bales is proud of its longstanding relationship with our clients and our track record in helping to raise money for some of the UK’s most worthy causes – over £1bn in the last 20 years. Our service provides a vital form of communication for charities and a key tool in keeping their supporters updated on campaigns and progress. Indeed we are in the process of driving proposals on regulatory changes to the sector which will root out inappropriate actions of the very few, which tarnish the good work carried out by the overwhelming majority.

The investment we make in training our people, treating donors fairly and ensuring compliance is adhered to, have validated our approach as the leading telephone fundraising agency in the industry with the highest quality standards. Pell & Bales is a sector leader in regulatory compliance and transparency and has a proven record of achieving the best results for our clients within these parameters. We take any attempt to tarnish this record very seriously and will be conducting a thorough review of options and potential legal recourse.

Stop taking selfies and get to know your donors

A couple of weeks ago Reinier Spruit posted a great post on the 101Fundrasing blog. He highlights the need to spend more time and effort learning about our supporters if we are to really drive retention;

“… We’re all taking selfies. It’s all “Me, Myself and I“. But we’re looking the wrong way… we should be taking pictures of our donors. All those snapshots will tell us a story about who they are and what they want…We don’t take the effort to really understand them, talk to them, let alone track their feelings about us!”

So, how do you ‘take pictures’ of your supporters? Here’s a few simple ideas for starters;

  1. If you use direct dialogue fundraising then go along to the phone room, join the teams on the street, at events and on the door steps in order to listen to your supporters and meet with them. Do this regularly. I am constantly amazed in how little time some charities invest this
  2. Ensure those same teams don’t just deliver you results and new donors each week, but insight too. Have an agreed process for this
  3. Set KPIs for donor satisfaction levels. Collect and monitor satisfaction (by email, mail, phone or SMS)
  4. Review and manage your supporter communications against a set of ‘retention criteria’. What drives satisfaction, commitment and trust, and how good are your communication at driving those things?  

Read Reinier’s full article including the inspiring vision for his retention fundraising here



Legacy Fundraising Part 2: Are we targeting donors too late?

Most charities are targeting the over 60’s in their legacy programmes.

But is this too late? Firstly it depends what you’re looking for. Undoubtedly you’ll find more legacy ‘pledgers’ in the older segments on your database.  For one, they are more likely to have written a will.


legacy blog part 1 graph 1


And of course it’s important to understand who your legacy pledgers are in order to aid forecasting and also to ensure you can nurture them.  But  isn’t the real potential for a legacy fundraiser in speaking to those that that haven’t yet decided what charity to leave a gift to;  those that haven’t yet written their final will?

Look at the graph below.  A study by Xtraordinary in 2012 shows that more 23-49 year olds are considering leaving a legacy to charity than the 50+ age group. At 70+ the percentage of people considering a legacy gift drops significantly.


thinking about what they will leave

This is something we’ve seen when speaking with supporters on the phone too: the graph below shows a clear decline in interest with age. The older the donor the less likely they are to be open to consideration, to change their will.


2nd graph


The lesson here is to start the legacy conversation earlier,  before your supporters have written  their will, before they have decided which charity[s] to give to.