Is Your Checkout Burning Money?

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

If you don’t want to read the next few paragraphs and suffer any more ham-fisted memes then here’s the headline. Asking people for loads of data that they don’t feel like giving you (at least not yet) is annoying for them and probably destroys a ton of value in our sector. And we’ve got evidence.

I can’t post the actual numbers publicly because they’re not mine to share in that way. But if anyone wants to catch up for coffee, we can show you  graphs that demonstrate pretty conclusively that focusing on taking people’s money rather than generating a whole bunch of contact details results in the following:

  • Slightly higher levels of conversion to Regular Giving
  • Slightly higher value regular gifts
  • MUCH higher numbers of one-off cash gifts
  • MUCH higher value cash gifts

As a consequence, we obviously collected fewer postal addresses relative to the number of donations. But we got everyone’s email and, fascinatingly, over half of the people who gave cash using our super-frictionless checkout agreed to store their card details in case they wanted to give again.

In short, our client raised a lot more money by simply letting people donate when they hit the donation page – rather than insisting they first do things that bore and annoy them. And the majority of those people expressed some indication that they’d give again.

Now before anyone who’s known Open for a while calls me out on this, I’m well aware that this is a bit of a U-turn for us. We used to be big advocates of getting as much data as we could because, as Direct Marketers, it’s how we do our job. It’s how we turn impulsive acts of generosity into lasting engagement with the causes we work with, right?

But the fact is that not everyone wants to engage – perhaps because they’ve not particularly enjoyed being ‘stewarded’ in the past.

More to the point, if we’re going to inspire people to give again then we’re probably best off i) trying to do so in the same channel they came to us in and ii) making the experience really, really easy.

I’m not advocating giving up on Relationship Fundraising and turning giving into the kind of thoughtless button-pushing with which we summon cabs, food, movies and pretty much everything else we buy online. But based on what we’ve seen in recent months, it might be a good idea to give people what they want and see where we can take it from there…

James

 

 

 

 

 


The Choice Isn’t Yours

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Have you recently joined a gym? Changed your mobile network? Moved your bank account? Subscribed to anything in a box or on a screen?

If you have, my bet is that you were offered a great deal of choice and control. You can cancel when you want, take a break, upgrade, downgrade, whatever you like – you’re the boss.

You’ll probably have also been made to feel part of a community – welcomed, listened to and encouraged to share. It might have been a bit cheesy, but the message will have been consistent. You’re in charge – and we’re here to help.

Don’t believe me? Check out Monzo, GiffGaff, PureGym, Netflix, Pact Coffee and countless others. And this isn’t just about disruptive startups. Established brands are falling over themselves to follow the model that is becoming the new normal.

But what are we in the charity world doing about this? What choice and control are we giving?

Last week I was stopped by a face-to-face fundraiser. He was brilliant – motivated, passionate and engaging. But when we got to the point of money changing hands, he only had monthly giving to offer.

My ‘choice’ was more of a mutually embarrassing negotiation which started at £25, and was only ever going downwards. I offered to give cash. I asked about events. But as you’ve probably guessed, it was the charity’s way or the highway when it came to how I was going to help them change the world.

At the risk of seeming sadistic, I also asked my new friend whether I could control my monthly gift – to give a little less or not at all, if circumstances dictated it. His shoulders sagged even further.

Of course, this isn’t specific to a channel. This is about the offer. And the fact is, until we start giving our donors the choice and control that they expect in pretty much every other area of their lives, we will continue to leave money on the table – and miss the chance to engage with good people who want to help.

This is what we’re trying to do at Open right now – strategically, technically and creatively. We’d love to meet you, and tell you all about it.

But that’s entirely up to you.

Tim

 

 


My week copywriting at Open

Monday, July 2nd, 2018
Kirsty Marrins' week of copywriting experience at Open.

For a while, I’d been contemplating doing some work experience in copywriting. But not just any copywriting, because I write copy all the time. I wanted to write as a charity.

I bet you’re thinking I should have just volunteered my time at a charity and helped them write emails, social media copy, website copy – the list goes on. But what I really wanted was critical feedback, and I knew a charity was unlikely to give that to me.

So, I called upon an old friend Paul.

I’ve been a huge admirer of Open for years. They’ve worked on some amazing campaigns, many of which I’ve covered in sector press. I knew that I would gain so much experience, if they were willing to offer it to me. But would they say ‘yes’?

I was nervous.

By contacting Paul, I was putting myself out there. Even though I’ve known Paul for years, I honestly wasn’t sure if he would say ‘yes’ – but I had to take the chance. I explained that I was looking to do work experience and that there were two things I was looking to get out of it: experience of copywriting as a charity and to experience what it’s like to work for an agency. Paul spoke with the creative team and thankfully they said ‘yes’.

Fast forward a few weeks later and I arrived at Open on a Monday morning in June, eager and willing to learn although also slightly terrified. What if it turned out that I’m not a good writer? What if my ideas were boring or cliché? Would I fit in?

Mid-weight copywriter Alfie took me under his wing and I instantly felt at ease because he was so lovely and likeable and clearly passionate about what he does. Over the week, I worked alongside Alfie, James, Anna, Liz and others on a couple of charity campaigns. I got to write some emails for a client, brainstorm for a pitch and write some concepts for a DM campaign.

In that time, I also got walked through the process from brief to final product and sat through a presentation with the British Heart Foundation to celebrate the launch of their Champions campaign. There was lots of cheering, clapping and beers afterwards – it was clear that when you work with Open, they become part of your team.

With the explicit understanding that everything was confidential, Open allowed me to look at past campaigns – from inception through to delivery. I really got a flavour of agency life. And I rather liked it.

Throughout the week, Alfie gave me helpful, constructive feedback on my copywriting. And it was a relief to know that I am a good writer. According to Alfie, I’m ‘a natural’. PHEW. Take that, Impostor Syndrome!

If that weren’t enough, my week was made even more enjoyable with the daily walk along the canal to the office, the lovely weather (bar Tuesday, which was freakishly cold), having Arlo the dog in the office on Wednesday and spotting the HotTug – a floating hot tub (yes really), pizza with Paul and salad with Sarah (which are non-intended alliterations…)

I’d just like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Open for offering me the opportunity to come in and absorb, learn and reflect. I loved every minute of my week with you.

Kirsty Marrins