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.


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