Friday, September 12, 2008

Qantas and getting on with it in tough times.

Recession proofing, economic downturn, tightening your belt.

All terms that we are hearing daily at the moment. Regardless of which part of the world you are in. And we are not immune to it here in Canada.

But as I plan to fly out to Australia in a few days, one iconic Aussie company has got me thinking about the best way to tackle tough times, whether its economic instability or other. I’m talking about our national air carrier, Qantas. Now whatever you think of them, they are bloody resilient!

In the last few months alone they have dealt with a rupture in the side of a plane which forced an emergency landing, countless other mechanical failures, not to mention escalating fuel surcharges. Not surprisingly, Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon has come out on the front foot stating that all of these “incidents were unrelated” and that “there had been no significant change in Qantas' rate of reported incidents over the past two years”.

But what shows even greater resilience, and where I think charities should follow suit in difficult times, is their view to advertising/spending. They just get on with it.

I have had no less than 4 emails from Qantas in the past two weeks telling me things like “South America is now closer than ever” and that I should “Grab a Great Deal on Domestic Flights - Sale Ends Soon!” Now I have plenty of travel planned over the coming months and South America is on the cards for next year, but that’s not the point. The point is they faced tough times head on and went about their business.

To back this up, as always I try and illustrate using real and relevant data. When I attended the Institute of Fundraising convention recently in the UK, I listened intently as Jonathan Barker from NFP Synergy talked about research his company had done into the effects of an economic downturn.

The data from the charities included in their study showed that whilst there was a slowdown in fundraising growth during times of negative GDP movement, there was still voluntary income growth. You can see the relative slides in the attached link.

NFP Synergy

And I’ll bet that those who grew more were the ones who carried on as per normal.

Now I’m not suggesting to be frivolous and make decisions you wouldn’t typically make, but just crack on with it. And equally as importantly, now is the time to really focus on genuine donor care with our existing donors, responding appropriately and respectfully, with genuine thanking and relevant and timely communications. Getting back to basics and servicing the lifeblood of our organizations (our donors) properly.

I bet you Aussies out there didn’t think you could learn something from Qantas now, did you?

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