Monday 19 January 2009

Two weeks in. 2009: the challenge you can overcome?

This post from The Agitator got me thinking.

Reflecting on the knee-jerk reaction of some fundraisers to cut back in the face of recession, Roger comments: "The most practical course of education for most fundraisers would be experience on a well-run farm.

"They would learn the cost of not investing in seed corn (donor acquisition) … they would understand that an investment in weeding (donor cultivation) and good fertilizer (information and accountability for donors) is essential for sustainability.

"And, if they were fortunate enough to work on a farm with an orchard, they would come to understand that it takes three, sometimes four, or even five years to bring in a profitable harvest of fruit from newly planted and continually pruned trees."

Bluefrog’s experience in the past four months has shown us that despite the naysayers it is possible to fundraise successfully in the gloom.

Three conclusions stand out to me:
  1. Keep recruiting. We saw Christmas mail acquisition for a cancer charity perform as well as ever before.
  2. Keep asking. A Christmas appeal for a homelessness charity beat target by 30%.
  3. Push legacies. I’m not talking about a ‘give now, pay later’ message; just a straight forward promotion of gifts in Wills. Every legacies campaign we’ve run with clients in the past six months has beaten expectations – most recently for a development charity.

However, don’t use recession as a lever. One test we ran with a medical research charity showed that when the recession was mentioned it lowered average gifts.

Another post from The Agitator. Tom asks what makes a ten-year donor. As he suggests, January 2009 perhaps more than any other new year before is the moment to find out.

What clues are there among loyal donors as to how to improve retention? And in particular, are long-term supporters lapsing now – or giving at lower amounts than usual?

We know that legacy propensity leaps when someone’s been around for a decade – by seven times for one children’s charity client. And that seems to confirm that there is something special about this group – their continued giving is more than simple inertia.

So go on! Talk to them, seek feedback from them and run analysis on their giving histories.

After all, some of them will have been giving since the last recession – or even longer.

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