Another post from Bluefrog copywriter, Margaux Smith.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Institute of Fundraising’s London conference for two days. A big thank you to Mark and Aline for sending me – I do love the job perks! I always learn so much at conferences but more importantly, am always re-fueled to think more deeply about how we raise money for our causes.
And this was no exception. I spent two days being inspired by some truly great fundraisers. But there’s one standout thing that’s been running through my mind in the days since.
Alan Clayton was the plenary speaker on day two and, shockingly, was the only speaker who made my cry. That’s really saying something since I’m very easily moved. Not enough emotion at IoF? Perhaps.
But Alan’s talk sure carried the emotional punch. Good thing since it was about the importance of emotion in fundraising. Because I was too busy feeling his words to take any notes or live tweet, I’ll have to draw from memory.
What I really took away came from an image that looked an awful lot like this:
These are people. The people who will always give to your organization (even when you mess up, they are often forgiving), the people who might give to your organization, and finally the people who will never give – you’ll notice this is the largest portion.
Alan’s point was that many charities focus almost exclusively on the Always and the Never. They spend a lot of time, money, and resources listening to complaints and feedback from their most loyal supporters (which I’m not convinced is a bad thing) and then on trying to recruit those who will never give – these people have no connection to your cause.
His argument is that we should be focusing almost all of our fundraising on the Maybe group. These are the people who have given once or twice – they clearly know about your charity and aren’t against the idea of giving, but you haven’t connected with them on a meaningful level…yet. This is where your potential lies. These are the people who are waiting to be convinced.
It makes me think about our donor files. When we do warm mailings, we’re satisfied with 8 to 20% response rates – that’s expected. But what I see is 80 to 92% of people who have given to us before that are now bored with our message, feel undervalued, are unconvinced, or are generally apathetic*.
So what can we do to bring these people in?
We can start by appreciating each and every effort they make to connect with us. Thank them for that £5 gift and show them what it accomplished. The importance of this can’t be emphasized enough. Because if you can make them feel wonderful about that first gift (and second, and third), no matter how small, a bigger gift and a more loyal supporter is likely to come. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply about treating your donors in the way you’d wish to be treated.
We need to stop seeing barriers and start seeing opportunities.
* I realize this is a bit harsh. Some people only give once a year, others are having financial difficulties or other issues that prevent them from giving but I hope you can see my point.