Friday, January 22, 2010

Zero based communications planning

Zero based planning and zero based budgeting are hardly new concepts.

Quite simply, it's where you start a new period looking at what you're planning to market to your constituents or how much you're going to spend, from a zero/neutral point. In other words, not looking back and saying, well I sent 8 letters last year so that's what I should do this year.

The reason I love the idea of zero based planning is because it rebuts the comment I hear so regularly "We send that appeal in March, because..... that's when it's always been sent".

The appeal should be sent, when it makes sense to be sent. When it's the right piece to be sent. When you have a need to appeal. When you have a story to tell.

Not because last years plan tells you it needs to drop on March 15th.

Now is the time to practice this approach.

Look at your communications plan and work out how much money you need and what you need to do to get it. From there you can work out how many appeals, donor care letters, monthly conversion requests, phone calls, e-comms, postcards, and other touch point deemed relevant that you need.

Of course you need to balance this with what donors will respond to. And herein lays the beauty of the direct response fundraisers who looks at data to help shape the scope of their program.


1 comment:

fi paterson said...

Great advice Jonathon. I am often asked "how many times should I contact my donors" - which is not the right question and your blog goes a way to explaining why.

The need must drive the communicating, not your history of 4 appeals for the past 5 years, is it ok to add another. And being relevant is crucial - adding additional asks or insiting on a specific lodge date when there is no relevance will lose you donors and income.

If you have a clearly defined need, know how you are going to address this need, and can clearly express how much money (or voices, or manpower) you need to raise then you ask until the need is fulfiled. All the while ensuring you take an ask > thank > feedback/care appraoch.