Thursday, May 27, 2010

Surprise and delight

I had dinner at a lovely restaurant in Vancouver tonight.

As I sat waiting for my food, the waiter appeared with a dish 'compliments of the kitchen'. I think he was more taken aback by the look on my face than I was by the gesture.

I can't remember the last time this happened I'm thinking. In fact I don't think this has ever happened to me? It certainly took me by surprise, and delighted me no end.

The dish was small, but really nice. Yet the act significant. After that the food tasted better, the service seemed exceptional, and of course I left a decent tip. Well, big for an Aussie (we aren't great tippers).

I sat there wondering how often charities 'surprise' and 'delight' their donors? I racked my brains thinking of how charities can have this effect on their supporters.

How can you surprise?

- By showing, sending or talking about something we've never heard before.
- By saying thank you, or giving feedback, just because 'you can'. When I least expect it. And not attached to an ask.
- By asking me to 'do something' occasionally that doesn't involve opening my wallet.

So how can you delight?

- By reminding me why it's gifts like mine, however small, that have a cumulative effect. Again, when it wasn't expected.
- By using inclusive language that makes me feel part of a special group.
- By finding ways to genuinely bring me a step closer to the work I support.

It's fair to say I'll return to the scene of tonight's dinner.

Surprise and delight. A simple concept with significant impact.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Where do online donors go?

As part of our benchmarking study recently, we were asked to look at the subsequent behaviour of new onetime cash recruits.

In other words, of donors that are recruited online, where do they go once 'on board'? What about DM donors? Do they follow the same stream or veer off into other vehicles.

Here's what we found:

- DM recruited cash donors tended to keep doing what they did originally. 90% subsequently kept giving through the mail. No surprises there.

- The same mostly rang true for telephone recruits, 85% continuing to give via the phone and almost 15% through the mail.

- For online recruits, slightly more varying (and perhaps surprising) results. Around 75% continued giving through the method of recruitment, around 15% then gave through the mail, and the remainder through a combination of other channels. This is shown below.

What's the upshot of this?

Whilst some of this may appear on face value a little startling, all is not what is seems at first. In other words, the reason a large chunk of 'online' recruited donors moved across to donate offline is not necessarily indicating too much about their giving behaviour.

More about their giving requests and cultivation. The fact is many of us have much more sophisticated and coherent offline fundraising streams. Therefore if the numbers are small (ish) we tend to include donors in the bucket that allows the most flexibility, largest volumes, has the most frequent communications.

And often that's the mail.

I'm not suggesting it isn't noteworthy - it dispels somewhat the myth that online recruits won't give offline, but contextually I think it says more about programs than behaviour.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Insights vs. Analysis?

Data analysis and data insights.

Same thing, surely? Semantics?

Possibly, but I think there's a difference. In fact let me summarize with the 4 biggest differences:

1 Analysis is usually about results and performance. Insights are about turning opportunities into outcomes.

2 Analysis is mostly done using programs with fancy three and four letter acronyms. Insights uses fancy tools like Excel and Access to produce the data.

3 Insights are delivered in workshop style. The value is more in the conversations than the 'hard' data itself. Analysis typically looks something like this picture below. I've seen many analysis projects support really crooked desks and act as great door stops.

4 Insights provide context, analysis doesn't. For example knowing that a retention rate from one channel is half of that of other tells you nothing about why, how or what to do. It also may not provide any discussion or link to the relative value of those donors (with half the retention rate).

The point is data shouldn't just be about geeky stuff (although granted insights may be produced by geeky types). Data insights is about real actions and uncovering ways forward to grow (and make more money). It should be delivered by practitioners/fundraisers, not analysts.

I think the best way to measure the value of this is gauge the value driven from the discussion attached to any data project more so than the data itself.

Door stops can be handy, but insights much more useful to help you fundraise more effectively.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

'5 reasons for nonprofits to still use Direct Mail'

That was aptly named title of the webinar I presented with the folks over at Artez on Thursday.

Fair play to the gang there for inviting me to deliver on this topic, given that, for the most part their business is focused on the digital world.

On the back of the news I shared the other day, specifically what's really happening in Canada - it would be easy for the doomsayers to say; there's the proof, direct mail has had it.

Not so quickly.

You can click here to see the slides I walked through the other day. Let me summarize my argument 'for':

1 Still a large chunk of the pie.
Despite a drop in income in Canada in 2009, cash income from DM still accounts for 60% of all cash income, and 20% of all income from individuals. Hardly pocket change.

2 Delivering long term valuable monthly givers. We know monthly continues to play a bigger role (growing 9% last year). The average DM recruited monthly donor we are seeing at around $500-$600 net after 3 years. If you can get em' they really are your best friends.

3 Getting close to your donors. DM is the most effective way to get people, on a large scale, to open themselves up and tell you lots about themselves and their motivations. Surveys done to offline donors are around 10 times as effective as other channels. And we know, finding those emotional trigger points positively impacts retention, hence long term value.

4 Working with other channels. Some of the best digital campaigns I've seen have been driven on the back of offline learning's. Case in point was the successful online survey acquisition activity I shared (which recruited over 500 monthly/regular givers aided by insights from the offline world.

Online (and other channels) can also drive DM. A great example of this is the advent of search engine marketing and in particularly Google AdWords. Using online lessons around what people are looking for and responding to can help shape what you do in other media. See earlier post on learning's for charities here.

5 Fueling bequests. The mail plays an enormous role here. Not only in finding the right people that are prepared to 'put their hand up' but as the flow chart I shared displayed in the actual prospecting and conversion process. Huge. Don't lose sight of this.

Remember, the session was not the 5 reasons why nonprofits should just use direct mail. The most successful programs right now are those that ensure a connect between all channels, that talk to each other.

Thanks again to the Artez team.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So what is really happening in Canada?

Did the bottom fall through the floor of charitable giving in 2009? Is DM dead and buried? Is online giving alive and kicking?

These are the issues that we've been able to answer through the data and insights (and conversations) shared as part of Pareto Fundraising's latest round of benchmarking, released two weeks ago.

Firstly I'd like to thank the 14 brilliant organizations who were involved in the latest study. You made this happen.

For those interested in the key findings, click here for the full media release.

However, let me give you a teaser:

- 2009 was a 'mixed bag'. Whilst we saw a dip in overall and individual income, we saw increases in some key areas of giving. The fall in individual income was attributable mostly to a fall in direct mail (house and prospect) income. However it should be noted that some of this was a result of less activity, not simply a drop off in results.

- Monthly giving continues to grow, up 9% from 2008 to $48m in annual income, at the height of the global financial crisis. On the current growth trajectory, regular automatic payments look set to topple cash giving as a source of income in 2010.

- Whilst income from planned gifts (bequests) grew last year to around $23m, this is an area of massive potential for Canadian organizations, with the average proportion of cash donors that have indicated they have left a bequest in their Will at around 0.2%. This is far below other countries we've looked at this, where we've seen this range from 1% up as high as 6%.

- Online giving continues to (not surprisingly) grow as a proportion of the 'pie', but it's still a small one, representing around 2% of all income from individuals.

- The average value of a mail recruited monthly donor is worth, on average, five times the value of a mail recruited cash donor, after five years ($800 vs. $135).

So what?

Some key takeaways/what this means for Canadian charities:

1 Recruiting low value cash donors is a waste of time*. Monthly giving is where growth is, it's reliable, resilient and recession proof. The caveat is if you are using low value cash donors to feed into a monthly giving conversion program, immediately.

2 It is not too late to jump on the monthly giving bandwagon. Those who have done so within the last two years are already reaping the rewards.

3 Bequests, bequests, bequests. Same point as above, it isn't too late. Strategically, its debatably the single most important area of investment. It is irrelevant that you may not see the fruits of your labor, the point is, your beneficiaries will. Refer here for an earlier post about how to effectively talk about bequests.

4 Direct mail is not growing. Online is. However before you revert your budget from offline to online, remember that mail programs feed into your monthly giving and planned giving efforts. Not to mention fueling prospects for major gifts. Don't lose sight of that. The performance of your traditional streams can't simply be measured on the level of cash they bring you, but also the impact on your other efforts.

5 Remember my post recently about the balance between volume and value. Those who are worth the most are traditionally the hardest to find, and often the most expensive. Think about what you want to achieve.

I'll be touching more on the insights delivered from this exercise over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.