Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shopping in Canada: 'mystery shopping' that is..

No, I haven’t been spending all my time at H&M or wandering down trendy Queen St West. I refer to the recent mystery shopping exercise we have just completed here in Canada.

Over the past three months we mystery shopped 39 Canadian charities using 3 specific scenarios (an attempt to set up a monthly gift, an enquiry about leaving a legacy and a complaint). This follows 3 years worth of similar activity we have undertaken in Australia, NZ and Hong Kong.

The findings will be released shortly at Pareto Fundraising's next Masterclass in Toronto and during a session at the AFP Congress in Toronto (don’t worry we won’t be ‘naming and shaming’ poor performing charities). The focus of these sessions will be partly to look at how we as a sector ‘stack up’ including comparisons with similar studies in other parts of the world, but mainly focused on real and tangible ways to improve the levels of care you provide to your donors, immediately. And let’s face it, with everyone banging on about tough economic times, focusing on those you have, rather than those you don’t, is where your energies are going to be spent.

We’re in the midst of analyzing the results at the moment, but here are some teaser’s to get you by:

· In less than 20% of occasions did the charities mystery shopped actively promote monthly giving as a means for the donor to give (yet all of these charities have active monthly giving programs)
· We (the ‘donor’) were genuinely thanked for our offer to support in around 70% of cases. Which means the Canadian’s are doing better than the Aussies and the Brits, but the question remains, why isn’t this 100%?

Some of this, and more to follow, is pretty frightening (like the proportion of gifts that were never actually set up). But with the glass full, I’m positive that the charities mystery shopped will embrace the need to make change and look to others who are doing well.



John Lepp said...

Interesting post Jonathon. I did the same thing a few years ago and have been reconsidering it again. I noticed that Damian over at is in the midst of a similar experiment. I recall that from one charity I never received a thank you for my gift, or any sort of acknowledgement of any kind (including a tax receipt). Even after following up with a person of that charity who said they would look into it for me - I never heard a thing again. Not good!

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Thanks John. Be great to get you to come along to one of the sessions I am doing which looks in detail at what's happening over here in terms of how well (or poorly) we are caring for our donors. But more importantly, what can we do to remedy it (and have a massive impact on our income levels)? it really is getting back to basics.