Friday, August 27, 2010

PURL's of wisdom

One of the more counter intuitive things in direct response fundraising is limiting response to just one vehicle.

In other words asking donors to respond through the mail, and the mail only.

Surely giving more options (web, phone) can only increase response/income?

Not necessarily. The reason/s?

- DM donors are DM donors. They're habitual. They love responding through the mail.

- It's easy. There are no distractions (especially if you laser all of their details on the response form and include a postage paid reply envelope).

- There can be a disconnect between the response form/appeal and the person on the end of the call or the landing page on your website.

In other words, you ask for $100 in the letter, all the way through. Then you send me to your 1800 number. The rep on the phone tells me I can "give whatever I feel comfortable with". Huh? But you asked for me $100 in the letter?

Similarly you bounce through to our donation page. The default ask is $40. Huh? But you asked me for $100 in the letter?

See what's happening here.

Now let me say that we have seen instances of more channels open = more income. But it isn't a given. You need to test it on your file. Let the donors do the talking.

The goalposts have shifted recently however. With the advent over the last few years of PURL's: personalized URL's.

Put simply, that means you can send people/donors through to a page where their details are dropped into their own personal page. That $100 ask is still $100, not $40 or "whatever you feel comfortable with".

We're about to do some more testing around pushing people online versus keeping it focused through the mail. But the difference being we're using PURL's in the online group to see whether this increases the chance someone will respond (by pre populating their details) and ensuring we generate the same level of gift we would through the mail (by including the same ask level).

Technology can make our lives easier. And hopefully our fundraising more effective. Who would have thought.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Decision paralysis: harming good fundraising

I often get funny looks when talking about 'single focus works best'.

In other words, in any fundraising piece, talk about one thing, and one thing really bloody well. Don't stray from the original message. We've tested this over time and proven it to be the most effective way to maximize return.

For Torontonians you'll be familiar with the Steamwhistle beer brand, a local micro brewery that pledges to do one thing, really, really well. And yes, their Pilsner is damned good.

I blogged about this at the start of last year, in keeping it singularly focused for best results.

I'm reading a terrific book at the moment, Switch, by the Heath brothers, made famous by the brilliant business book, Made to Stick.

In it they talk about the notion of decision paralysis. In other words, when presented with lots of choices we often behave irrationally. But as humans.

Like the gourmet food store who set up a table where customers could sample jams for free. One day the table has 6 jams. The next day 24. More customers huddled round the table with 24 jams. But when it came time to buy, they're frozen. Can't make a call. Those who were presented with less options were 10 times more likely to buy.

Decision paralysis creeps in.

Back to fundraising.

You spend 3 pages in a DM piece reiterating the importance and need for ongoing monthly gifts. You build a brilliant case, explain the long term impact on your beneficiaries. You ask for a gift 5 times. You laser the personalized ask on the response form.

And then you pop a cash option on the reverse.

"Yikes, what the hell do you want me to do?"

Decision paralysis creeps in, again.

This isn't some two-bit theory. We've tested this and shown that single focus works best. It makes sense, remember like Steamwhistle, do one thing, really, really well.

Actually, I think it's time for a beer.


Friday, August 6, 2010

No love for Google?

I was checking out Sean Triner’s blog yesterday as he was blogging live from a digital integration session he was helping to facilitate with Ted Hart in Sydney.

Of the 30 odd organizations represented there, only two had applied for and were using their Google Grants. Staggering.

Google are giving away free advertising space (helped by volunteers) and charities just aren’t using it. Yes, there are some restrictions. Yes, it requires time to manage, but it’s worth it.

I’ve talked about this before in Google AdWords learning’s for charities, but I still find it disappointing that we aren’t taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity.

Take the Haiti disaster for example. Look at this screen shot below, I typed in Haiti Help and whilst there were paid searches, its obvious many organizations fundraising for Haiti aren't using this as a vehicle to drive traffic.

Regardless of whether AdWords drive donations (emergencies are one area where they can drive significant $), we need to be doing this. Here are three reasons why you must:

1 Provides great learning for proposition development. Here's what people are actually searching for, online.

2 Great for traffic (not donation) building. If you have a program in place that is focused on building a decent email file (with the intention to cultivate and ask), well thought through ads can rock this.

3 If you're not running campaigns, someone else is.

Of course, there are many things to think through, in particular ensuring you have someone responsible it.

Click here for some earlier learning's. We're running more campaigns now, so watch this space for further insights.