Thursday, March 31, 2011

Downgrading: where asking for less results in getting more

For years some of my colleagues and I have been banging on about the need to seriously consider actively downgrading regular, monthly donors.

Are you going mad, Jonathon?

Possibly, but not on this one. The rationale is simple. There are certain groups of regular givers for whom we know, statistically, they are likely to stop their ongoing giving. Their characteristics have predetermined that they'll fall out of love with us really quickly and hence cancel their gift.

I'm talking about 'younger' face to face recruited donors. By younger I'm talking under say 25 (may vary by client).

We look at data for F2F donors every day. Whenever we run the data through some geeky data modeling, its spits out the same result every time. Younger donors are more likely to stop their giving in the first 3 months than 'older donors'. There are other criteria that dictate attrition levels, like payment type and housing type, but hands down every time age is the most significant variable.

So for me its always been simple. If we know statistically that a group is likely to cancel, would we not be better off tackling this head on rather than sitting back waiting for the inevitable?

Well, I was incredibly excited a couple of weeks ago when a Canadian client shared they have been doing exactly this. And guess what, its working.

Of course, by working you need to ensure that the drop off in income from either doing nothing and the lower average gifts is offset by more supporters staying on board.

Let's do the math.

Scenario A. I have 1,000 donors giving me $20 a month ($240 a year). The data shows me that I'll likely lose (because of the make up of the data) 300 in the first 3 months. So my $240k in annual income is, in crass terms likely to be around $168k if we do nothing.

Situation B. What if we took the 300 "likely" cancellations (the "younger" ones identified above) and asked them to consider dropping down to $10 a month? Assume of those 300 two thirds of them say yes, the other 100 we can't reach of decide to cancel anyway. We now have 700 donors @ $20 per month and 200 donors @ $10 per month. That means my annual income is now $192k, a far better result than sitting on our hands and doing nothing.

There are a few things to consider here:

- Do it on the phone. Make sure the call is intended as a donor care one, not an administrative one. Thank, check in, share, acknowledge. Then discuss their giving level and how comfortable they are.

- Test the timing of this. Likely done best around month 1 after sign up, but play around with this. See what works for you.

- Just because someone may agree to lower their financial commitment, don't forget them. F2F recruited donors need to feel the love, albeit in a slightly different manner. They don't behave like donors from 'traditional' media. Long letters and dry newsletters are a waste of time. Punchy, shareable and relevant content all the way.

If you do this, let me know how you get on.

When asking for less means getting more. Sometimes direct response just doesn't make sense.


Friday, March 25, 2011

The mobile movement

Stumbled across this brilliant schematic yesterday which encapsulates perfectly the incredible shift in the mobile world.

It's time we accepted (granted, I know many of you have long ago) that our use of technology and the way we share content, communicate and transfer information has changed forever.

Consider some of these pieces of data, and alongside them 'thoughts' about what they mean for fundraisers:

- 1 in 4 mobile users have smart-phones globally (in Australia it's close to 1 in 2). Does your online approach consider the way people are viewing your content? Are you mobile enabled? If not, consider the barriers you're placing in front of your constituents.

- 86% of mobile internet users are using their devices while watching TV. Your supporters and prospects are becoming more and more distracted. Are you working specifically on 'sticky' material and messaging that cuts through? The 'traditional' way to evoke emotion and capture someone's attention may not have the same impact when American Idol is blaring in the background.

- Within three years mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. The 17 inch monitor is becoming less and less relevant. It isn't simply about adjusting our creative for smaller screens or tablets, but thinking through how our shift in mobile behavior is impacting when and how we're viewing stuff. "I'll go online during my lunch break" is a far less used term. A shift in our online behavior dictates a shift in our online thinking and approach. The when, where and how has changed.

Who knows, I'll soon be crafting these posts on my mobile.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

QR codes are cool, but pointless unless used properly

There's been a heap written over the past few months about the use of those funny little barcode looking things we know as QR codes in marketing and fundraising.

For those who are not sure what they are, QR codes are a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR barcode readers and camera phones. QR stands for quick response. In essence they speed up the response process, removing the need to "get online" or "send that letter" later. They potentially remove one of the biggest barriers to response: shortage of time.

Unfortunately as fundraisers the take-up of this technology (seems) to have been slow. I've found it difficult to locate examples of where they have been used, and if so, were they effective?

My colleague Paul De Gregorio piqued my interest on this a few weeks back over at his blog. Similarly Katya Anderson provided some insights on their potential value via a guest post from Blase Ciabaton.

Last week I attended the AdTech, digital marketing conference in Sydney. Google revealed some startling data snippets about mobile usage in Australia, most noteworthy that by the end of 2011 more than 50% of Australians will own a smartphone.

I'm often cynical about statistics like this, because whilst it's an interesting insight, it doesn't alone suggest people will change their buying/giving habits. Just because you build it, does not mean they will simply come.

That being said they do provide an exciting opportunity. And if used properly they have the potential to lift marketing and fundraising effectiveness.

We're about to test them with some of our clients in upcoming DM appeals. However instead of using the same, generic QR code sending donors to a general landing page to donate, we will be sending QR codes embedded with a personalised URL.

The upshot of this is again decreasing the amount of work a donor will have to do. If they scan the QR code they'll bounce through to their own, unique donation page. They'll simply need to fill in their credit card details and presto, a gift is made.

A couple of things to consider:

- If you're testing the impact of QR codes, don't just include income raised from the QR code mobile landing page. The key consideration is, has the advent of the QR code increased income overall from the group who received them?

- Despite the prevalence of smartphones, the usage of QR codes is reportedly quite low. Therefore, education and assurance is going to be key. I'd suggest any effort to push people to using them should include simple instructions explaining how to download the app and how to use the QR code reader. Put people at ease. Provide guidance.

Remember, these aren't going to revolutionize your fundraising, at the end of the day they are merely a response device. But well executed, and used for the right purposes, they may help you bring the online and offline world just that little bit closer.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Facebook fundraising, that works

We were fortunate this morning to have Leonard Coyne from the Soi Dog Foundation spend a couple of hours with myself and my colleagues at Pareto Fundraising sharing how they had successfully managed to recruit hundreds of regular, monthly donors directly from facebook.

Yes you read that correctly, recruited monthly donors from facebook. An organization that generates around $300,000 AUD a year has managed to find more than 500 ongoing, monthly supporters (giving $20 a month) in the last year. That's over $100,000 a year (over one third of their income) coming from facebook recruits.

Incredible. And all very doable.

So here are the secrets to their success, and what Leonard candidly explained to us that they have put into practice over the past few months. It isn't rocket science, but it bloody works.

Perspiration. They worked hard, they sweated. They were also incredibly patient. One of the mistakes organizations make is falling out of love with social media as quickly as they fall in love with it. "We need to be on facebook". The proceed to set up a page, recruit a tonne of 'fans', then run out of ideas or energy and simply do nothing.

Leonard has invested time and effort into ensuring not only do Soi Dog have a social presence, but that they commit to making it work, from a fundraising perspective. Not everything has worked, they've got stuff wrong, it's been about trial and error. And it's paying off.

Let go of control. The Soi Dog page now has adaptations in 6 languages, driven purely by advocates who have offered their support, and then run with it. Soi Dog isn't playing big brother and micro managing, they let their administrators post new comments, interact with fans, suggest new applications.

I once heard someone at a fundraising conference comment that they were afraid to relinquish control because people would 'talk about them' and that they weren't able to control their brand. The reality is people will talk about you anyway, rather than try and sanitize it, encourage it. Soi Dog has.

Advertising and asking. Leonard's been using facebook advertising for the last year, recruiting regular donors from targeted ads (particularly focusing on individuals with an interest in animals), and also placing ads to their own 'fans'. As Leonard commented, advertising to their fans seems counter intuitive yet in fact it makes sense. They are essentially what I'd call tepid prospects and we know tepid prospects respond better than those with no affinity at all.

They regularly attach asks (to become regular givers) to stories and photos they share, like the one below. They're not afraid to show confronting (real) imagery, attached with a dog that needs help. And then ask.

Great, regular content. It needs to be relevant, shareable and regular. It isn't just about posting a story about an upcoming event or a new blog on your website.

It's about beneficiaries. Leonard realises their fans want to know about the dogs they help, or that need help. So content, whilst shared regularly, is also very focused on imagery and on the work they actually do.

Consistent, real dialogue. Leonard and his colleagues respond to, talk and actually engage with those who have taken the time to comment. They don't just talk the talk here, they walk it. If you don't believe me, take a peek yourself.

In fact get on facebook now and check them out. A wonderful example of how to make money from facebook, from someone who's actually doing it. Hats off to Leonard and Soi Dogs.

Oh, and here's Leonard's presentation which he has kindly shared.


Soi dog preso by leonard coyne march 2011
View more presentations from Pareto Group.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Donor: "May change mind"

Great time in Melbourne at the FIA Conference last week.

I usually figure if I get two pieces of gold dust from a conference it's a good result. I got tonnes over the three days.

One of things that has stuck in my mind is something Ken Burnett said during one of the wonderful sessions he delivered.

Ken shared a story about a fellow fundraiser's insights about donor loyalty.

The three words that were forever etched at the top of this persons mind were "may change mind", referring to the constant battle as fundraisers we face.

May change mind.

Pretty powerful few words.

We probably entertain these words when we study the chasm between good and awful donor care, or on the back of a supporter complaint.

Yet in reality, they are arguably the three most important words in fundraising. Just as Ken said.

They change the way we think about donor conversations. They keep us forever on our toes. They prove the how volatile the relationship between a supporter and our organization can be.

Ken also quoted Canadian fundraiser and author Harvey McKinnon who articulated beautifully where the buck stops when it comes to donor relationships by saying, "donor loyalty is about you being loyal to your donors, not the other way around".

So what should you do?

Keep reminding yourself of those three simple words.

May change mind.

And perhaps consider plastering one of these on your monitor?