Thursday, February 5, 2009

Subjective presumptions kill charities

Tough times mean charities need to do what all evidence and points to being the right thing, and not let subjective presumptions drive fundraising decisions.

I come across many charities around the world who are complaining about the current economic woes but refusing to take certain actions. Fellow fundraisers - we don't have the luxury of being able to avoid things because we don't like them.

Some examples of things that on balance, fundraisers who deal with large scale donor programs should do but often don't. They are usually stopped from doing so for unsubstantiated reasons from often ill-informed people who say things like 'well I wouldn't like to be telephoned at 7pm when I am in the middle of making dinner' as a reason to block a telephone upgrade program.

Each one of these five - if done professionally - has tons of evidence in its favour, from well known experienced gurus and fundraising 'experts' as well as normal hard working evidence based fundraisers. There are counter arguements to each - in brackets, but the evidence against for each of these is pretty weak.

1) Regular giving program - the biggest revolution in fundraising for European, Australian, Hong Kong, Canadian and more but not huge in USA yet.

('It will harm our Christmas appeal' / 'It will harm our lottery')

2) Face to face / direct dialogue - the driver behind the biggest revolution. Asking people on the street / mall or at the doorstep to sign up to a regular gift.

('I just don't like it, the idea of being harrassed on the street' / 'It will damage our reputation')

3) Tele-marketing - proven to be the most effective way to ask regular givers to give more per month, provide donor care and general tool for relationship building.

('I just don't like it', 'It is expensive')

4) Reciprocal mailings / swaps - Exchanging data sets between charities, achieves 3-10x better results that buying cold lists.

('It is illegal' /'It harms my database')

5) Longer letters - Letters need to be as long as they need to be to tell a story with a begining, middle and end, contain a strong proposition, and respect the donor. With the right tactics, they work better, negating the additional costs with extra income.

('I would never read it' / 'too expensive')

Times are tough, and often internal wrangling makes it tougher - we need to have some tough fights to do the right thing.

Please feel free to add more.


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