Supporter Retention: Why Email is your best friend

 

email lovel

Recently,  Fundraising Online held their annual fundraising conference #FRO16.

The series covered many inspiring topics around fundraising and marketing for nonprofits and took place over two days. One of the webinars I listened to was the informative session (you can register and download it here) on email marketing by @charitychap, Matt Collins. During his talk, Matt urged charities to become more acquainted with email as it is one of the top online communication channels we do not utilise enough.

Now, my background is Online Marketing so no one has a hard time convincing me of the greatness of email.It’s an effective way to reach out to your audience and has the flexibility to ever evolve along with your communication plan.

You can segment to your heart’s content to create tailored content and test, test and test again to make sure everything is performing at its optimum, from subject lines to CTA’s. During his talk Matt highlighted the success Ecommerce retailers have experienced through email and how charities could (and should) follow suit.

Matt also made provided us with some handy recommendations such as concise messaging, personalisation, clear CTA’s and A/B testing -all of which have proven to improve email performance in other sectors.

How to incorporate Email Marketing into your Telemarketing Strategy

Scratch that, we shouldn’t be thinking of ways to incorporate email into telemarketing, we should be working towards one holistic strategy where email and the telephone go hand in hand. Supporters use multiple methods of communication offering up numerous touch points and opportunities for charities to re-engage, provide tailored communication and most importantly, improve retention. This is something to think about when planning any campaign.

Sarah 

Account Director, Pell & Bales 

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.

 

DECISIONS

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.

Jess

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.

Jess

 

SMS: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single text

pell and bales

(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.

Spenser

Creative Manager

Legacy Fundraising Part 1: Where are we going wrong?

Speaking at conferences recently with Stephen Butler, we challenged legacy fundraising managers to consider whether their current selection models work and whether they are truly able to target their best legacy prospects.

I asked them: ‘Would you have found Pippa?’

 

pippa

Meet Pippa, a fictional character sitting on the database of cancer charity X:

  • She is 48 years old
  • She has no children
  • She gives just £2 a month and has done so for under 2 years (from what the database tells us)

…perhaps not looking like the best legacy prospect?  Let’s consider a few more things about Pippa before we judge…

  • She has a history of cancer in her family
  • Sadly she lost her husband to cancer
  • She believes everyone should leave something in their will to a charity
  • Charity X is her favourite charity
  • She trusts Charity X explicitly
  • She believes without doubt that Charity X will achieve their vision of beating cancer

An ideal legacy prospect? Of course! She is exactly the supporter you want to speak to (for those sceptical about her age – hold that thought, I’ll come back to that next week).

But would your selection model have found Pippa?

The likely answer is no. The problem is, most charities don’t have access to nor do they use attitudinal data.   And the criteria they do use to determine legacy propensity is based on transactional data and giving history, which can be too prohibitive. We are discounting people because they ‘haven’t been on the database long enough’ or they are ‘too young’.

The answer is to start collating the attitudinal data on supporters and build a model around the information you capture. The easiest way to do that is via surveys. (There are some really clever surveys out there, get in touch or follow future blogs to find out more).

Bethan 

Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit …

A  great study by social scientist Adam Grant has just been bought to my attention .  Grant carried out a study on motivation and productivity in a university fundraising call centre in Canada.

He separated fundraisers into three groups and prior to calling they were to;

  1. Read stories written by other employees describing personal benefits of the job (personal benefit condition)
  2. Read stories written by students who’d benefited from fundraising (task significance condition)
  3. Control Group did not read any stories at all

Grant measured the number of pledges and donation amounts one week before the above and one month after. Group 1 performed exactly the same. Group 2 earned more than twice the amount of weekly pledges and doubled the value (donations went from $1,228 a week to $3,130!)

While at the university, Grant saw a sign on someone’s desk that said:

 “Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit – you get a warm feeling no one notices.”

 So he set up a second test to thank fundraisers. One group did the job as normal. The other half were visited by the director of annual giving who said “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the University.” Just 16 words difference between the two groups. The first group (obviously) performed as normal, the second made 50% more calls in the following week!

We definitely see a difference in results when charities come in to do fundraiser engagement sessions with our fundraisers.  We are experts at training, coaching and motivating our fundraisers, but nothing can match hearing appreciation directly from the beneficiaries or thanks from the charity in person. It brings fundraisers closer to the cause and always drives more passionate conversations and better results.

Thanks to Charlie Hulme for pointing me in the direction of this study. You can read more in the bookGive & Take’ by social scientist Adam Grant  

 Thanks for reading, Bethan

Follow Bethan on twitter @bethanalys

 

Searching for a needle in a haystack

…when you could be shooting fish in a barrel?

Acquiring new charity donors has never been tougher – response rates are in decline, attrition is high and costs are rising. For the 1% response we might get from mail, 99% are saying no. For every person that stops on the street to talk with our fundraisers how many walk on by? And then, when we do secure new donors vast numbers are lapsing.

It begs the question, how sophisticated is our targeting? Which group would you target from the two below?

picture1

 

picture2

 

If only we could find whole communities of like minded engaged, socially conscious individuals like this just hanging out on the street corner right!?

Well, maybe not the street corner, but online communities just like this are growing and growing quickly.

In the last 12 months we’ve been working with online community specialists Care2 to identifying prospects who demonstrate particular charitable and philanthropic attitudes and a genuine interest in the cause.

This type of behavioural targeting is far superior to simple demographic targeting. When calling prospects to convert to regular monthly givers, results have been fantastic – as much as three times higher than a traditional cold list.

The other thing we love is the level of channel and message integration on this approach: data is collected online with a campaigning ask, quickly followed with an email (or mail) follow-up and then a phone call taking the ‘prospect’ to ‘campaigner’ and then to ‘donor’ seamlessly and efficiently.

As Tom at the Agitator said of Care2 in the states; it should be a staple in your acquisition toolkit. ‘Very Straightforward.’

Bethan