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BBC Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage in heate


BBC Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage in heated BBC debate over #EU THis issue genearting lots of views 4 a ‘non-issue’ What do we really think?

2013 Christmas fundraising campaigns… 4. Accurate data still key to driving positive responses


This sounds basic, I know.  But to the two charities concerned so far this ‘season’, I am Mr Baughen not Mrs Baughen (we’ve told you often enough).  It doesn’t endear me to you if you don’t pay attention.  And exactly how many girls called Kevin do you know?

Accurate data usage goes beyond personal addresses and salutations.  Many campaigns have a regional trigger embedded in them based on the geography of the recipients to help make the campaigns’ message more relevant and elicit a personal connection.

I understand the logic of this tactic and indeed employed it successfully for years whilst working for a number of organisations myself.  But you have to get the assumptions right for the campaign to resonate with the recipients.

A few days ago we mentioned a direct mail pack received from Macmillan and I want to return to it to highlight the fact that the ask was wrapped around tangible evidence of benefits my donation would bring for people living with cancer in London.

I don’t live in London.  I live in semi-rural Surrey, outside of the M25.  I don’t know if the regionalisation is generic or targeted (I suspect it’s the latter) but why not talk to me about what can be achieved more locally to me?

Why not take advantage of the popularity of the localism movement and bring tangible outcomes to a more local level?  It doesn’t have to cost any more to develop the messages and yes, the data briefs for campaigns might be a little more complicated but in return for the increased likelihood of a positive response.

Regional hospice charities often get this right, linking what they do to the lives of local supporters and communities.  This example is from St Catherine’s Hospice, an end of life charity working in Surrey and West Sussex.

St Catherines Hospice Christmas 2013 microsite


These are all familiar techniques but the emphasis is on the ‘local’ aspects and things that supporters can do locally to make a difference.  I think we could all make our services more relevant to supporters locally IF we get the data right when running large campaigns.

2013 Christmas fundraising campaigns… How much do you want people to give?




The tried and tested mechanic used to be an odd number of monthly giving points, say £3, £5 and £10 with tangible benefits aligned to each.  The lead ask featured on the letter, flyer or envelope would be the middle one.  This appeals to human psychology in that ‘baby bear’ way where we don’t feel that we’re being mean but can comfortably acknowledge that we want to give more than the minimum but the maximum might be a bit much.

2013 smaller ask - small

The ‘lead’ ask in at least three of the campaigns we’ve received is right at the bottom – £2 per month.  I know times are tough and that there are several fundraising agencies out there encouraging charities to drop the ask levels to boost response rates but I can’t help but wonder what the success rates are.

Anyone happy to share their experience or thoughts to add to the discussion?  I know that different charities will target slightly different audiences and consequently the experiences and results will vary but… if the recipient says ‘no’ to £2, where do we go from there?

One answer might be telephone follow up but for £2 a month the payback period could be unacceptable.

2013 Christmas Fundraising campaigns… heavyweight fundraising packs


It’s usually after Christmas that we get that bloated feeling but here’s a picture of the Macmillan Christmas appeal received last week, containing  (to the tune of 12 days of Christmas everyone…):

one branded outer envelope

one ‘stock’ letter from Beverly the nurse

two free Christmas cards

two free envelopes

one free calendar

one free bookmark

one response envelope

one free car sticker

one free flat pen

15 free personalised address labels

one campaign flyer

…and a partridge in a pear tree.

Macmillan 2013 Christmas campaign

The information was generally sound (part 4 on data), the branding clear and the ask simple to follow and directly associated with tangible benefits for people living with cancer.  But do I really need eight free gifts in one pack (OK six if I count the cards and envelopes as the same thing)?  I support MacMillan with a series of cash donations but I didn’t have the will to work through the letter, the flyer and all the other double-sided stuff.  Perhaps it’s too much?

What’s happening to Christmas 2013 fundraising campaigns?


The seasonal campaigns have been dropping on our doormats for a few weeks now  and we’ve noticed a few things that seem to be different from last year:

  1. The number of ‘traditional’ direct mail campaigns is falling
  2. The number of items in the packs we are receiving is getting silly
  3. The lead asks seem to be getting lower
  4. Getting the data right is still key to making the recipient respond positively

We’ll post a thought or two every couple of days and it would be great to hear your experiences too.  Here’s the first… Read more…

The law of unintended consequences


We read and hear a lot (not least from me) about the importance of innovation, testing new ideas and thinking our way through challenging times.  BUT… something we don’t often talk about is the law of unintended consequences.

Newton’s laws of motion state that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction… in other words, there is always a knock-on effect of the decisions we make.  Consequences are not always immediately identifiable so we can’t plan for every permutation but wherever possible, we should try to think about what the impact of our ideas will be in the future, before jumping into what seem like great initiatives right now.

One of the best ways to plan for unintended consequences is to share experiences so that we can all incorporate them where possible andGood intentions so here are a few real-world examples (with the names removed to protect the innocent). Read more…

Choose your charity celebrities wisely


We’ve written about this topic before across a number of blogs but here’s a belting example from this very morning of why you should think carefully about using celebrities.

Here’s a snippet from my email invitation to the Chain of Hope Ball and there are three things wrong with it from my perspective:Chain of Hope Ball invitation

  1. The fist two scrolls are full of celebrities darling, and nothing about what the event is for ie; the cause you’re asking me to support
  2. The celebrities and entertainment picked seem to be the product of who was available rather than targeted at the (likely) wealthy attendees in any cohesive manner
  3. Jeffrey Archer is a convicted perjurer.  A liar on a significant level… and I’m supposed to be impressed that he is running the  charity auction!

And let me add that not putting the price for tickets anywhere doesn’t make your event seem exclusive in the ‘Tattler society page’ way that you hope it does… it makes you seem like you haven’t really targeted your audience well enough to send this kind of email invitation.

So, don’t use liars to promote your cause, don’t assume your audience thinks your cause is less important than rubbing shoulders with ‘celebrities’ (because it isn’t) and try to target people who actually care.  Rant over.