Saturday, July 31, 2010

Digital stuff that excites me

I just got back from the latest Bridge Conference in DC, which I have to say was top drawer stuff. Got some great value from this years event.

A must event for direct response fundraisers, so try and get along in 2011.

I was fortunate enough to speak there again, and talking about one of my fav topics, monthly giving.

My focus outside of this was definitely in the digital sessions and there were some enlightening sessions, particular from the folks on the commercial side sharing their wares.

I was most intrigued learning about intent data online, which is now second behind transactional data as seen by the most effective tool for digital marketers in driving sales.

I also learnt about Twitters plan to introduce sponsored tweets and about 're-targeting' (where you look for people who have visited your site previously in other spots once they've left your site).

All stuff that we're not paying enough attention to in the charity world.

Here are a few digital initiatives that I'm working with my brilliant clients on at the moment:

- An online survey aimed purely at retention of street recruited (younger) shortly after sign up, using the aid of a custom built micro site.

- A multi staged acquisition effort focused on driving traffic through digital means and using the phone as the primary conversion vehicle (to convert to monthly giving).

Prospecting will be geared initially around finding 'hand-raisers' (people who have previously done 'something') - and then moving them along to do something else, another action, before asking for a financial commitment. We'll also be trailing a series of other prospecting approaches including Google AdWords campaigns (where the CTA is based on action at first, followed by a donation request), and paid online advertising. We'll definitely be looking into the use of intent data to help us better place relevant ads.

- More website optimization efforts which will focus on more effective data capture, specifically looking at the best way to get people signed up to getting more information from you. Again looking at ways to solicit hand-raisers initially, testing ways to convert to a larger commitment thereafter.

Thats it for the week. Watch this space.


Friday, July 23, 2010

We don't know what we don't know

A fairly old adage and definitely applicable to individual giving.

Here are a few examples where this saying rings true. In other words, where people really don’t know what they don’t know.

- When it comes to communications preferences. On a response vehicle, how can we expect donors, and in many instances new donors, to know what “send me one communication a year” really means. Added to that, how do they know whether if they received 5, 8 or 12 communications that they wouldn’t be completely enamored and inspired by what you’ve spoken to them about? More so than if they got one communication each year. The point is we can’t assume. This communication preference can be incredibly destructive for your program, and ultimately the work you support.

- When we’re talking about types of legacies/bequests.
Did you know the difference between a residual bequest and a pecuniary bequest before you began working in fundraising? Unless you worked in the legal profession I doubt it. So why should we assume donors know this? It’s our duty to explain to them the difference, and in this particular example why residual bequests are worth on average anywhere from 5, 10 or even 30 times as much on average than a bequest left for a specific amount. Because it maintains its relative value over time (whereas a specific amount loses its relative value over time). See here for more on that.

- When we’re talking about the impact of other types of gifts, namely the way in which ongoing, monthly (regular) gifts can stretch the impact they can have on your beneficiaries in the long term.

Often we get so caught up in jargon and what we perceive as benefits (newsletters, trinkets, receiving less mail) that we neglect to talk about what this really means. What's in it for me (as a donor) and your beneficiaries? That includes a sense of satisfaction, perhaps even a feeling that we're insuring ourselves and our loved ones from whatever it is we're supporting, the threat of cancer or a killer disease.

That's what real benefits are about. But how can we assume people know?

It is an old adage, but a bloody good one worth thinking about.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Two words to say to you

Thank you.

Two of the easiest words to say, often the two most neglected.

Not the case in this wonderful example of donor care shared by Doug Nelson and his team at the BC Cancer Foundation, to those who helped them most last year. Their donors.

The format? A fantastic two minute video repeating those very impactful words over and over. From staff, from beneficiaries.

I love this for its simplicity, personal touch and pragmatism.

In Doug's words, "Normally at this time, we would produce an Annual Report and mail it out to all of our donors. This year, we’ve done something different".


I wish more organizations would adopt this philosophy. It's not to say the financial stuff isn't important (it's contained within the micro site), but it isn't the focus.

Enough from me. Check it out.

Well done Doug and team. Thank you for sharing.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stuff from across the pond

As an Aussie, I'm not usually the first person to admit the Brits are teaching us a thing or two. Although to be fair that conversation usually pertains to sport.

But my week back in the UK for the Institute of Fundraising Convention has shown me once again that the Brits are really doing some good stuff, again showing they're not afraid to try things.

The two big things I took from this conference were that British charities are still at the forefront of testing (and not paralyzed by fear in doing things that may not work), and they they're in general further ahead in the digital space.

On the latter, I deliberately immersed myself in the digital fundraising stream and was impressed by the level of sophistication organizations are displaying. Like listening to Cancer Research UK talking about their hyper personalized approach to e-communications with event participants that includes up to 2,000 variations for sign up emails. As well as the significant levels of multivariate testing they've been conducting throughout their website, understanding the behaviour of individuals and using that to drive better conversion of those who visit their site.

Quite frankly we should all know which layout, format, colors, fonts and call to actions work most effectively on our site. But we don't. Thanks to CRUK for sharing and providing impetus for all of us to do better.

Some other tidbits I picked up included:

- Guide Dogs approach to in memoriam fundraising. Dispelling the myth that in mem is only for death related charities, Guide Dogs believe they've been successful here because it's about life, and positive experiences with their cause, not death. They also shared that they've seen a direct link between in memoriam gifts and legacies.

- In the panel I sat on called Response at any Price, looking at the role of incentives/premiums in DM, the British Red Cross shared the results of their 12 month cohort test. The upshot was that a years worth of testing of the use of premiums to attract new supporters, and then use them to continue to cultivate this group resulted in an additional £800,000 in net income for the organization to spend on the work they do abroad. Amazing stuff. Hard to argue with the data.

- Matt Goody from Shelter tackled the ongoing issue of attrition of face to face recruited regular givers. With average year 1 attrition in the UK of around 60%, Matt talked about the work Shelter had done to try and reach out to older donors, without impacting the volume of new supporters they were attracting (the biggest obstacle on focusing just on finding older donors). Whilst initially (through geo-demographic targeting) they were able to reduce overall attrition, this was offset by lower sign ups and much higher cost per donor to recruit. Over time however they have slowly addressed this balance and are now generating much more long term value by finding those all important 'older' donors (I.e. over 25) to feed into the acquisition mix.

Hats off to my friends across the pond, showing that even in tough times it's all about innovating, trying new things and undertaking proper, robust tests.