I was at the hairdresser’s last Saturday. Whilst not much was happening in the hair shortening process, I listened in on a conversation that one of the girls on reception was having with a young man who worked there too. And by young, I mean early/mid-twenties.
The young woman was holding up a z-card she’d been given by a charity she supported. And she talked about how important it was to her to support them.
At this point, the young man thought it would be a good idea to put her straight on a few things – like the ‘fact’ that if she was giving a tenner, only two or three pounds of it would get to the people who needed it.
There really wasn’t any point in her giving at all he inferred.
Thankfully, the young woman wasn’t so easily deterred. But for want of any facts of her own, she could only counter that she only gave £5 a month but she was sure it helped.
So let’s deal with that first.
Whenever we work with charities on recruitment pieces, we encourage them to use the basic statistic of how many pence in the pound go on ‘real work’.
You’d be surprised how many are reluctant to do so. When asked why, some point out that another charity has a better statistic. But by that, they may mean only one or two pence more are spent in the ways that are easiest to justify to a supporter.
It’s a great shame if a charity doesn’t share their figures on the basis of just one or two per cent.
Because the young man in the hairdresser’s isn’t the first I’ve heard massively over-estimate how much a charity spends on administration or fundraising. It comes up time and time again in research.
At Bluefrog, we call this a ‘barrier’. By that, we mean that it’s a reason people commonly give for not donating. For many years, we’ve identified those ‘barriers’ and made sure that whatever piece of work we’re doing counters this in some way.
(Others might be: I don’t have time, the government should pay for this etc.)
In this case, overcoming the barrier is as simple as telling the donor how a charity uses its money and justifying it accordingly.
One good experience recently was working with MSF. Unprompted, the client came in with the most compelling justification for why the organisation needed committed givers I have ever heard (i.e. not just to ‘plan ahead’).
Here’s an extract from how how it appeared.
And MSF took it for granted that we would explain how the money we raised would be used. You can see it here.
Along with this, which is another great thing they do.
Another of our clients, CARE International, make good use of their statistic on fundraising pieces – warm or cold. This is the back on an envelope.
But back to ‘barriers’. We also used to identify ‘buttons’ – reasons why the donor would take action. One example of a 'button' is discussed in Mark Phillips' blog here, where he suggests ear-marking at recruitment stage might help introduce new donors to charitable giving – at the same time winning their interest and trust.
Barriers, buttons and values were all a vital part of Bluefrog’s approach when I began work here. Over the years, that’s changed. First because we found we could beat ‘values-based’ copy and, second, because after some lengthy research, we instead identified donor needs, which you can read about here.
Identifying ‘barriers’ is still useful, but working with needs enables you to go beyond the reasons people tell you for not giving to what they actually need to give.
And in the case of the young woman at the hairdressers, that would have included equipping her to be able to justify to her friends what she’d signed up to. Better still, putting her in a situation where she would actively want to involve her friends too.
And the new unnamed Bluefrog product that I wrote about last week does exactly that – in fact, it makes sharing with friends as easy as pressing a button. It also gives you regular blog style updates showing you what your money is doing. Hopefully just what the young lady in the hairdresser's and many others need to keep them engaged.
As it turns out, last time, I gave you the wrong date for the seminar Bluefrog and Direct Dialogue are giving about countering attrition. It's actually the 13th of November. So I hope you'll come along and find out more. It should also be a good opportunity to put some more tweeting faces to tweeting names.
Right that's it for now.