Pop Art Woman talking on phone e1511128330370
Major and Mid Value DonorsMaths of FundraisingMonthly Giving

The Challenge with the Phone and Fundraising

The telephone is one of the most important tools fundraisers have. It truly is a wonderful machine, because it allows us to speak with our lovely donors for little cost.

But there’s a problem.

Quite often we simply can’t get through to the donor we want to.

What can we do about this?

One solution is to use a professional telephoning agency. It is well known that these agencies are used widely for lower value donors (especially for monthly giving calls). But these companies can also help build relationships with mid to high-value donors, and with legacy prospects.

Using these agencies is usually cheaper than making the calls yourself when you factor in the costs of your time preparing, failing to get through, having the conversation and typing up the notes in the database.

One of the secrets of success for phone agencies is ‘penetration’. They have systems and processes to make sure that they can get through to as many people as possible.  Even with all that though, penetration can vary from 40% to 65%:

Unfortunately, no technology exists to allow you to get through to everyone.

However, not all charities can use these agencies.  Perhaps your volume is not high enough to prove good value for you, or no appropriate agency has the capacity to take you on when you need them. So what then?

The key is to take a leaf out of the agencies’ (phone) book.  They understand that it is about numbers, so that’s where you should start.

Let’s say you want to get through to 50 donors to invite to an event.

Firstly, you are probably going to have to attempt to call them an average of five times.  And even then you may only get through to about one in three.

So to get your 50 invites, you’d need to try to call 150 people on average five times each.  That is dialling 750 times!  Sorry, this is just reality!

Calling donors is a good and wonderful thing to do.  Just make sure you have the resources (people and budget) and patience.

The phone is an important part of a powerful mid-value donor program. Want to learn more about how to use it? Take the Moceanic Mid-Value Donor Super Course which includes one full module about Top Tips for the Conversation that Gets the BIG Gift from the Mid-Value Donor. You can get access to that and more when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.

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charity collector 13
Monthly GivingBenchmarkingTrends

Your Definitive Guide To Face-To-Face Fundraising

Please click here to get a PDF of Your Definitive Guide to Face-to-Face Fundraising sent to your inbox.

Face-to-face has been a great way to find new supporters and raise money. But is ‘face-to-face’ monthly giving acquisition a worthy strategy beyond 2017?

First, let’s get our definitions clear. I’m referring to the mass acquisition of monthly donors by canvassers approaching strangers in the streets, at events, or door to door.

Like these wonderful UNICEF fundraisers I met in Brazil…

Picture1

These canvassers are NOT asking for cash or a one-off gift. They usually only accept ongoing, automatically debited donations. Nowadays, they are often using iPads or something to enter data straight away.

For a long-time, face-to-face has dominated monthly giving acquisition in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Ireland, and many more.

But things are changing…

New channels challenge face-to-face

For Pareto Fundraising – the full-service agency I co-founded in Australia – digital donor acquisition to monthly giving has been growing.

Sister agency, Pareto Phone, makes phone calls on behalf of charities to ask people to become monthly givers. A huge proportion of these calls are to people who responded online or through SMS to online and offline media advertising. This is growing in volume dramatically.

Thai charity Soi Dog Foundation has generated nearly all its thousands of monthly givers directly online (mostly through Facebook) or online, followed by a phone call.

In other countries, there is a new big thing. And this big thing is huge in the UK. Fundraisers are acquiring monthly donors in a two-step process. They use outdoor, digital, and TV advertising to drive people to send text messages (SMS). Then, they call these lovely people and ask them to start an automatic monthly donation.

Bad press for face-to-face

The media loves to spin a yarn about how bad face-to-face agencies are, with stories of inappropriate training, simplistic views of how much goes to the charity, and more. It’s mostly just yarn-spinning, exaggeration, and selective facts.

But there are some real issues. A couple of face-to-face vendors in Australia were caught by labour or tax laws. I know one made a genuine mistake and moved quickly to rectify. But this is not something charities want to associate themselves with.

Any charity thinking of hiring a face-to-face agency should check references and ensure the agency has been audited and complies with all laws.

But despite competition and the odd bit of bad press, face-to-face still provides the most monthly givers in Australia, NZ, and probably everywhere else it is practiced.

But is it still worth it?

Sean doing F2F

Me canvassing for Mind in the 90s. I was the marketing and fundraising director at Mind, a UK mental health charity. I thought I would go through the training and get out there myself. I was not very good. The guy I am chatting to was French, and we couldn’t get non-UK credit card holders to sign up. But we had a good chat.

A look at the data on face-to-face

Every year, loads of the largest fundraising charities in Australia (over 80 in 2017) get together to share information, so they can understand the market and maximise efficiency.

It’s an amazing collaboration. They do not share any data that could compromise an individual’s privacy, but they can look at millions of transactions.

Pareto Fundraising’s Benchmarking looks at a decade of data, which includes monthly givers acquired by all channels, and the volumes are huge.

This is truly how donors behave, not how they say they behave.

Slide016 Round 14 Scale

Nearly $1.4 billion of donations from individuals are included in the Pareto Benchmarking study. And you can see from the circle above, just under half comes from regular (that is, monthly) giving.

Face-to-face has achieved something no other fundraising channel has: getting younger people to donate in meaningful numbers. (And by younger, I mean under 60.) Before face-to-face, the average age of a donor was around 70.

Face-to-face brings in donors with an average age in the early to mid-40s. This is remarkable, and the volumes have been huge.

The cost of face-to-face

Most canvassers don’t work directly for the charity. They work for agencies that organise the mechanics of canvassing.

Many passionately believe in the cause and love that they can make a living and do good at the same time. Some canvassers may work for several charities, exposing them to different causes.

But face-to-face is expensive – travel, salaries, materials, databases, follow-up systems, SMSs, email, videos, welcome packs, welcome videos, admin processes and systems, stamps… none of these are free.

Like any marketing, expensive doesn’t mean bad. The question is whether it’s effective in achieving its purpose.

Is it working?

Let’s define ‘working’. For me, it means you make a net return in a reasonable time frame and not cause damage to the brand of the charity.

Net return is obvious, but damage to the brand is harder. Looking at a charity’s impact (the work it does) and its overall income – beyond face-to-face and over many years – is the best objective measure.

Also, ‘working’ would be influenced by how well it ‘works’ compared to other fundraising channels, such as digital, mail, phone, outdoor, TV, radio etc.

So, let’s start with volume. In 2016, around 380,000 regular givers were acquired by the charities in the study. And nearly 300,000 were through face-to-face.

Slide088 New RG recruits

These numbers are so massive, it’s clear that, if you are serious about growing regular giving, you must do face-to-face.

But do these donors stay with you?

When we look at 2010 to 2015, we see that about 52% of the donors acquired by face-to-face were still giving 12 months later.

Slide105 Year 1 RG Attrition from starters by channel

But how does retention of face-to-face compare to other methods? You can see in the chart above that face-to-face has the worst attrition.

It seems obvious – non-face-to-face methods are better than face-to-face!

But look at the volumes. Losing 48% of 300,000 leaves us with more than 155,000 people giving every month, twelve months later. All the other channels add up to about half that number, despite their low attrition.

Why does face-to-face have the worst attrition?

Age is key. I am sorry to tell you this, but generally, younger people don’t give as well as their older counterparts.

Face-to-face has younger people giving in strategic volumes. But when they give, they are less ‘loyal’ than older donors.

Because face-to-face gets younger donors, it has a worse attrition. However, although half of those younger than 60-year-olds are not giving a year later, half still are.

The chart below (from the 2016 benchmarking report) shows a massive difference in attrition by age. Older is better.

Slide126 RG attrition by age F2F BM13 2016

Okay, you believe me – face-to-face works in terms of the number of sign-ups. But we need money, not just sign-ups, and you probably still prefer those lower attrition non-face-to-face donors.

The chart below shows the rise in income for charities over the past ten years, driven mostly by face-to-face.

Slide086 RG Income by channel

Clearly, the big income driver is face-to-face.

Another way of looking at the quality of a relationship with donors is to look at the proportion of people who stick with their payments but increase their contributions.

The chart below shows face-to-face donors are about as likely to upgrade over the years as any other method.

The phone is better, but if you consider that upgrading is best done on the phone, you can imagine the contact rate of people acquired by the phone is much better too; we know they are phone responsive.

Slide118 RG Upgrade rate by channel

So, face-to-face gets the volume. It has good (but not great) retention. It has good upgrade rates. And it provides lots of income.

What should you do?

The right plan is to acquire as many regular givers through non-face-to-face as you can. Then, top up your targets with face-to-face.

Just keep an eye on net revenue: Face-to-face donors are worth about $750 each over five years, but non-face-to-face donors vary between $600 and $1,750. Make sure your costs make sense against your estimated value.

But what about brand damage?

Seriously – Greenpeace, Heart Foundation, Amnesty, World Vision, WWF, Red Cross, UNHCR, Oxfam …  these are all major users of face-to-face. Damaged brands? No.

Most have been doing this for many years, with no negative impact on the brand, donor relationships, or their ability to do good.

Is face-to-face fundraising worth it for your charity? Yes, but only if you have good, tight automated admin, a need for money, good communication systems, and a great monthly proposition (offer).

Should you start face-to-face?

It depends. As you can see, face-to-face donors are the worst type of monthly donors. But they provide the largest volume.

For most charities starting monthly giving programs, you should have a balanced portfolio that starts by converting your current donors to monthly by mail, phone, and online.

Then you may want to look at online – if you have good enough content and stories.

Only then should you embark on face-to-face. But when you do, you will need a big budget!

I hope that this guide to face-to-face is useful. Please share your experience with face-to-face, or your question by leaving a reply below.

Please click here to get a PDF of Your Definitive Guide to Face-to-Face Fundraising sent to your inbox.
If you are in New Zealand, Netherlands, or Australia, Pareto Benchmarking is up and running! In all other countries, if you are an agency/vendor or a charity and you are interested in getting benchmarking going, please check out the Pareto Benchmarking website here
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Text to give
Trends

The Key to Raising Money With SMS (Text Messaging)

It is the new-ish big thing.  You may have heard that London Underground had to bring in quotas to stop every advertisement on the Tube from being a charity ad.

You may have also heard about premium SMS (pSMS) trials in Australia, or seen charities raising funds in your country through donations to SMS.

But how can you get SMS to work for you?

Outside of massive natural disasters by far and away the majority of income from SMS campaigns came after the SMS – and usually, through phone follow up.

There tend to be two main drivers to find people interested in your organisation.

Text to Give, like this Friends of the Earth ad in the UK.161206-sms-basics-bees

Many fundraisers may think the £3 is key, but it is actually the phone number that is key.  After a member of the public sends their SMS donation they will be phoned and given the opportunity to partner with Friends of the Earth on an ongoing basis, with a monthly gift.

In some countries that monthly contribution can be debited to their phone bill.  Don’t worry if this is not possible in your country – it has its pros and cons. In the end, a credit card commitment is still great.

The other main method is Text to Get, like this Australian ad from Cancer Council Queensland.

161206-sms-basics-cancer-council

This needs no special numbers or pSMS set-up.  People (in this case, women) would be sent their guide following their SMS.  The charity would also explain that they are funded purely by donations and give the person who requested the guide the opportunity to support the charity with an ongoing gift.

Both text to give and text to get work well, with between 6% and 15% of people contacted on the phone taking up the opportunity to make an ongoing monthly donation

The combination of online and offline advertising followed by phone calls can rarely be effective for budgets below around $100,000 (£50,000) and tend to need agency support on some or all of the creative, media buying and phone calls.

In conclusion: if you want to make SMS work for your cause, you are going to need a decent budget and focus on converting leads into ongoing monthly gifts.

Sean

PS If you are interested and want to find out more you really need to get expert advice.  Let me know if you need this and I will try and find someone.  In Australia and New Zealand, Pareto Fundraising and Pareto Phone can help, but I can put you in touch with agencies that are experts on this in other countries too.

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TheMostPowerfulToolinFundraising SeanTriner
Bequests and LegaciesDirect MailDonor LoveMajor and Mid Value Donors

The Most Powerful Fundraising Tool in the World

Understanding Donors

The most important asset a fundraising organisation has is its database of supporters. But only if it is actually recording useful information.

Luckily, most organisations record main contact details plus transactions. In other words, you know where someone lives, hopefully, you have their phone number and email address and you know how much they donated and when.

Basic analysis of this data can help you predict how likely people are to donate to you and how much. If communications that have been sent are also analysed you can even work out what donors are most likely to respond to, too.

This basic data is crucial for making a basic direct marketing program work. But to make charity direct marketing fly we need to build relationships, and we do that through respecting our donors and their wishes. And we do that by using the most powerful fundraising tool ever – the Supporter Connection Survey.

Achieving Many Goals

This multi-function device, used well, will also help corporate, major donors, events, donor retention, and bequests. It can even be used for PR purposes, and it usually makes a profit on its own.

These are real surveys, getting really useful information, they are not scientific research and shouldn’t pretend to be. Even so, be honest with the donor – you want their opinion and to be able to communicate better with them, but you can also share their views with the public.

Short-term Benefits

Our tests have shown that despite running a survey to get data including a direct ask does not suppress response. In other words, using the survey as an actual fundraising appeal subject works.

You should aim to break even but what we have found is that when a survey is sent to donors who have responded to a previous appeal through the post, the survey actually makes a profit.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has been using surveys as an integral part of its donor communications strategy for some time now. Their first survey was mailed to over 25,000 donors and nearly one in four responded – half with a gift. They not only received a ton of useful information but made a $50K ‘profit’ as well.

Information taken from the surveys is then reflected back to the donors in future communications. For example, if a donor is motivated and interested in climate change, but an appeal is about forests then the letter should be personalised to connect the donors’ concerns with the subject of the appeal.

Important Note: The sort of surveys I am talking about tell us how to communicate better with individual donors. They are NOT quantitative research tools!

Medium Term

Appeal results and retention can be improved by clever use of survey information, and their completed survey is The Perfect Aide Memoir to take with you with when meeting a major donor. It pretty much tells you what to ask for!

But most charities who use the survey wisely get medium-term returns on their regular giving. For example, The Lost Dogs’ Home uses surveys to gather pet names. It has found that this is crucial for building relationships. They include personalisation in appeal letters mentioning the donors’ pet name:

“Thank you so much Sean, and please give Bilbo an extra cuddle from all of us at The Lost Dogs’ Home!”

But they also use it in phone conversations with donors. When asking donors to increase their monthly gifts, known as ‘upgrade calls’ our caller asks after the health of the donor’s pet.

The Pareto Phone team compared the upgrade success rate of donors we spoke with where we knew pet name against those where we had no pet name. The results are extraordinary:

KnowingBilbo_SeanTriner_Stewardship_Fundraising

Knowing Bilbo – a great way to see the value of listening to donors and reflecting back what you heard in future communications.

And the Long Term 

Already surveys have proven their worth. You can see how using them for donor care, appeals and upgrades can work really well, and make them a useful part of the mix. But the biggest return comes from bequests. Specifically using surveys to generate bequest (legacy) leads.

The best measure a bequest fundraiser has to monitor their performance is a count of people who have mentioned the charity in their Will. We call these ‘confirmed bequestors.’
By asking the right questions, we can identify these and also bequest ‘prospects’ – i.e. those most likely to become confirmed bequestors.

A well thought through approach ‘burying’ the bequest question in a survey obliterates any other method of bequest marketing I have ever seen.

For example, Australian National Heart Foundation had seven full-time equivalent bequest officers working traditional bequest marketing techniques for seven years to get around 1,500 confirmed bequests. A brilliant achievement and potentially worth $75m, producing a huge return on investment.

But a year of surveys with follow up mail and phone acquired another 1,500. The charity now uses a combination of both techniques to drive more bequests.

And the surveys keep working. The Lost Dogs’ Home now has about fifteen (!) percent of key financial supporters who have put the charity in their will.

A Word of Warning 

Don’t rush out and do surveys without ensuring you can follow them up, record the results and actually use the data in communications with your donors.

It is not as easy as just writing a survey – a good survey needs a great cover letter, it asks questions that help you understand what motivates your donors (avoid questions like ‘how many times they like to be mailed?’), a bequest conversion pack and trained people to follow up leads. And remember, a bequest lead from a survey is only ‘hot’ for a few weeks with conversion success dropping off dramatically the longer you leave it.

Learn all how you can create those perfect surveys for your donors by checking out our Supporter Connection Survey Course. It’s available for all members in The Fundraisingology Lab.

Sean

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