Thursday, February 25, 2010

AmeriCares post Haiti response

I've been watching with interest the response of development organizations worldwide in the wake of Haiti. I've blogged about this several times, including tips on disaster response here.

Overall, there's been some good stuff happening from speedy appeals for help, to very thorough and regular feedback. One of my favorites I talked about here recently, a story told by the folks over at Free the Children.

One of the better attempts to bring people closer to the devastation of Haiti has been that of AmeriCares.

Their response has been well orchestrated, coherent and timely.

In particular check out the email I received, as a donor to Haiti, inviting me to a teleconference to hear first hand the gravity of the situation and AmeriCares response.

I listened in to the briefing today. I heard about some of the barriers AmeriCares faced on the ground, like the need to move hospitals outdoors, for fear of aftershocks, and the impending risk of the wet season. They also talked about the 'generation of amputees' that have been created by the quakes, which will have social, psychological and financial implications.

Not to mention that amidst all of this, AmeriCares provided aid to another 41 countries since Haiti. Amazing.

So I walked away with a pretty clear idea of just what has been happening. But I felt there was one thing missing.

A story.

At one stage one of the staff members started talking about patients, but their conversation quickly shifted to operations. Like the photo above, I wanted to hear first hand how my support was helping real people. This felt like an opportunity missed.

Then, less than an hour after the briefing I got this (below - you might need to click on it to enlarge).

Brilliant - an ask for a monthly gift. I'm not certain about the fixed term of the monthly gift - I hope they tested it - but I'm glad they asked for it (this was the second time so far I've been asked to commence a monthly gift since my first donation a month ago).

Nice work AmeriCares. You're leading the way in your post disaster response.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

A quick reminder: sign up here now

Of how you can help me keep in touch with you. As I mentioned a little while back if you provide your email address in the box on the right hand side here you'll get an email each time I post something.

Makes it easier to keep up to speed with what's happening on this site.

Thanks again for visiting.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why you should also ask your monthly donors for onetime cash gifts

The data below proves that the oft talked about and equally oft misunderstood fundraising myth that 'you shouldn't ask monthly donors for additional cash gifts', is just that. A myth.

See below the results of a 12 month cohort test with one of our clients. We split test two groups, the group entitled included received cash appeals throughout the course of the year, the group entitled excluded, did not.

The upshot?

The attrition rates were almost identical - those who received appeals had a lower attrition (Although not statistically different), but disproves the first suspicion people have that mailing appeals to monthly donors will tick them off. Wrong.

Note the figures are in HKD. 1 HKD equals around 0.12 USD.

You'll then see that by including - and asking - the test group for onetime cash gifts, this group generated around $1.2 HKD in additional income - that's almost $100,000 USD. Not bad, huh?

So what?

Mail your monthlies, and ask them for cash (ensuring you don't forget to give them great donor care in between asks). But before you go on, note there are some exceptions to this. Namely that younger audiences (specifically street and sometimes TV recruited) don't respond to cash requests well and I'd suggest testing within these groups, should the volumes allow.

Rock on again monthly donors...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making the most of the 'honeymoon period'

I'm sure you remember the excitement of that new relationship.

You can't get enough of each other, in constant contact, living in each others pockets, wondering what the next encounter will bring, waiting by the phone in anticipation of that call..? Right?

Don't panic or switch to another page on me here, I'm not about to start dishing out relationship advice. The 'honeymoon period' as we flippantly refer to this time when we're madly in love with each other translates to new donor relationships. Well it should anyway.

Let me explain.

In a post late last year I talked about the eight ways to get more by getting it monthly. Here I touched on the post sign up feeling that donors get, when the excitement of the sale has worn off. Perhaps similar to some relationships when we get to know each other a little better.

The key is addressing this, and addressing it quickly.

In fact, at the point of sign up. That means starting with a communication (whether that's on the street, after an online donation, or a welcome pack in the post) that kills off any feeling of uncertainty and trepidation about the decision just made.

The next 30 days (the honeymoon period) need to be filled with communications like this. Two-three times a week, constant reinforcement.

Below is an example of a test program a client of ours is undertaking, in this case a heart research organization recruiting mostly mail donors.

So does this work? It seems pretty intense and likely pretty expensive?

The answer is yes it does and yes it is worth spending the money.

In fact one of the biggest mistakes we can do in this situation is be apathetic about this type of thing. Particularly if you are recruiting decent volumes of monthly donors, it is worth taking the time and investing the dollars to arrest attrition, as very small differences can mean a big payoff in long term value.

Take this example below. This client was investing a lot in recruiting monthly donors on the street (face to face recruitment). You'll see from the graph below that the first 3 months after sign up were the biggest spikes in cancellations. Over the past 3 years they have implemented a series of new contacts, including better sign up materials, video messages to new donors and a regular stream of e-communications.

And it has worked.

Whilst the impact may seem small, what this equates to is a reduction in attrition in the first three months from 21% of donors acquired to 16%. If you were recruiting 10,000 donors a year and managed to keep an extra 5% (500) at an average of say $200 a year that's $100,000 in income, just in their first year of giving.

Not difficult to see that small changes can make a big difference.

So don't be apathetic toward new donor relationships. Make sure they feel the love of the honeymoon period. You'll both feel better for it.


Friday, February 5, 2010

A story about Darleen in Haiti

One thing stands out about this Haiti email from Free the Children. I think you'd pick it up even without the red marker all over it...

Not only does Craig make this feel real... "hours ago I returned from a week in Haiti", but he tells us about Darleen, a 12 year old whose parents were lost in the earthquake. Heart wrenching stuff.

The email isn't perfect (needs a stronger call to action to accompany Darleen's story), but it was the first contact I had from an organization on the ground that shared the story of one of the victims, a real, named person. No doubt there are others, but this was the first I witnessed.

Well done Craig and the Free the Children gang. For your brilliant work, and for sharing Darleen's story with us.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keep design simple

My designer friends may not like this, but the most effective design I have seen in charity communications is usually really simple. (There are times when stuff should be graphically designed of course, but for me simple is best).

As a side note, for my tips on developing appeals and design, check out this earlier post on the nine steps to doubling your appeal income.

By simple I mean authentic, real and often not even 'designed'. Take a letter for example. If you want it to 'feel' like a letter, then make any additional pieces feel like they should be there.

The piece below is a brilliant case in point. It was developed by one of our staff at Pareto Fundraising (not a designer), in around 20 minutes. Done in a really sophisticated tool called Microsoft Word.

The client, the Starlight Children's Foundation Australia, had an important message to tell it's donors. The letter didn't hold back, informing supporters that without a significant boost in income, as a result of tough times, Starlight could not grant as many wishes to sick children as it wanted to.

There was a lot of press about this at the same, so the decision was made to highlight this within the appeal, supporting the gravity of the problem as explained in the letter.

The result?

The appeal doubled net income from the previous year and was Starlight's most successful appeal ever.

The pack pulled no punches. It told it as it needed be told.

Oh, and the design was really simple.