Ian MacQuillin presents a few snippets from some of the sessions that he attended at the International Fundraising Congress in Holland this month.
‘Incomplete’ story telling
Derek Humphries of DTV Group told delegates they should leave the ‘stories’ they tell incomplete so the donor can finish the story themselves.
“If I tell a story that is complete, the donor has no reason to pick up the phone. We need to tell a story that is completed only with the participation of the donor but we too often want to tell the complete story.”
At a different session – on behavioural science – Unicef’s Omar Mahmoud made a similar suggestion. He said stories should provide a simple ending that showed how the donor could complete the story, showing Médecins Sans Frontières‘electricity’ TV ad a great example.
Only two per cent of Irish charities use the phone compared to 51 per cent doing events. It seems people would rather climb a mountain than pick up the phone and call someone
Simon Scriver, Total Fundraising
Roger Craver and the 91 per cent retention rate
In his session on donor retention, presenting many of the findings from his new book Retention Fundraising, Rogare Craver asked the audience to give some examples of their first year retention rates. One woman said donor retention at her charity after the first 12 months was 91 per cent, leading Roger to exclaim:
“Do you have them chained to the wall?!”
Then he added:
“You might as well go to the bar; you won’t learn a thing here.”
Craver also asked his audience of about 130 people how many measured life time value (LTV). Only about 10 raised their hands.
“If you don’t invest in your staff, someone else will.”
Therese Leijon, deputy director of fundraising, Swedish Red Cross
“Failure is the acceptable cost of innovation.”
Professor Adrian Sargeant, Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Plymouth University
Simon Scriver, MD of Irish professional fundraising organisation Total Fundraising, highlighted the need to look closely at research. While lauding the role of welcome calls overall, in his session on telephone fundraising, Scriver said he was “calling shenanigins” on a piece of practitioner research that purported to show the effect of a welcome call on retention rates.
The split test – available as a case study online – suggested that a welcome call led to 44 per cent retention over 12 months compared to 38 per cent in group that didn’t receive a welcome call.
But Scriver said the results were questionable because the people most likely to answer the phone to the charity were those who were most committed, and so less likely to attrit in the first place.
“We really needed more testing and more evidence before accepting it as gospel,” he said.
Scriver also presented some attrition data he had previously shown to the Fundraising Ireland 2012 conference, including that attrition rates for donors whose Direct Debits go out after the middle of the month are 150 per cent higher than for those who pay in the first three days (close to the date their salaries are paid).
“There’s too much ego around [in fundraising]. I am guilty. I have an ego the size of a planet.”
Tony Elischer. Sorry Tony, you gifted us that one.
[Update 20 November 2014]
Following Bernard Ross’ comment below, we have corrected the reference to Omar Mahmoud. He works for Unicef and not Oxfam. In addition we finally spelled his name correctly.
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]