When the dust settles

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

My spirits have been lifted as I’ve watched the outpouring of advice, information and support on how to fundraise during these unprecedented times. We are all going to learn a lot about how to adapt and continue to do good in these times. 

This isn’t a blog with more advice though, this is a blog about what happens when the dust settles on this crisis and we hopefully all emerge safe and well on the other side. So much that we did last week or the week before suddenly feels distant, unimportant or even irrelevant. 

This applies particularly to planning work I’ve been doing around Open’s partnership with Allan Freeman, Charity Benchmarks

We created Charity Benchmarks to give fundraisers the information they need to make better decisions and, in doing so, raise more money and maximise the impact of the cause they fundraise for. Only two years in and we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and fascinating debate that it has caused. 

For the last few months we’ve been busy planning this year’s study, as well as welcoming new participants. However, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a lot of conversations about how to move forward in these uncertain times. 

At times we wobbled, but we concluded that we must push on with Benchmarks. 

Given the inevitable and already reported hit to everyone’s fundraising, it strikes me that having an understanding of your fundraising programme in relation to those of other charities will be vitally important when planning, reporting on performance and making sense of what is happening. 

Charity Benchmarks is unique in that it combines detailed analysis of the hard data behind your fundraising, but also incorporates perspectives on current and future performance through surveys and qualitative interviews with fundraising leaders. This means that you can benchmark and plan against not only performance, but reflect levels of optimism and focus for the future.So whilst it doesn’t feel important today, it will certainly be relevant as we return to our offices and another ’new normal’ sets in and we have to make sense of it all. 

That all said, we have certainly seen a slow down in new charities signing up in the last couple of weeks. To be pragmatic, we are extending the deadline for joining Charity Benchmarks until the end of April. We do this as hope it means it will give teams time to adapt to all the change, but then begin to consider what the world looks like in a few months time. 

If you’d like more information about Charity Benchmarks then please drop me an email. I can share a sample report to give you a flavour of what your charity would receive for participating. 

 

Mark

Strategic Partnerships Director


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