It happens to everyone. You’re in a rush, but you’ve spotted a handful of charity fundraisers. You pick up the pace, walk with a purpose, avoid all eye contact and turn your music up.
In the past, I’ve not been afraid to tell these street fundraisers that I’m a) under 18 and b) don’t have a bank account. All of a sudden the conversation runs dry and they’re not so interested in me anymore. I wonder why?
It’s just not a natural way for people to do business. But, up until last year, most organisations felt happy to stop people in their tracks, send letters, emails and text messages with (loose) permission. That was, until, the death of pensioner Olive Cooke prompted an investigation by the Charity Commission.
Recent figures have revealed that, of the 99 charities to have contacted this woman in one year, almost 25% passed on her details to another organisation. In addition to this, less than 15% gave her the chance to opt out of future communications.
The time for change is now.
2016 is the year for charities to ditch the cold ask. After all, why would you want to ‘guilt’ someone into giving? The third sector needs more than money to thrive; it needs loyal ambassadors who feel good about giving – whether that’s their time, money or expertise.
The fact that Olive was a pensioner is neither here nor there. We all have less time to engage with brands than we used to, and the stark reality is we have less cash in our pockets ready to stuff into free-post envelopes.
As the digital landscape evolves, the onus is on charities to come up with ways to help people give easily.
From viral hashtag campaigns and alarm clock apps to donating social media followers and ‘buy one, donate one’ business models (like Toms), these are all instantly more efficient ways to give than being stopped in the street.
The Fundraising Preference Centre will encourage the third sector to change, but I think we can do more.
It’s an opportunity for charities to develop more authentic, profitable relationships.
Here’s how they can get started:
Giving is good, as long as you’re getting
People expect bang for their buck, even if they’re donating. Perhaps that’s why the Big Issue‘s concept works so well?
As donors continue to transition into customers, it’s important they’re given the same quality experience they’d receive elsewhere on the high street. So, rather than more paperwork, why not invest in a small (possibly digital) token they can share to demonstrate the important part they play in your community?
I don’t like Mondays
Giving Tuesday comes all but once a year, but why wait to cut your slice of the £6,250 pie donated each minute using Visa cards?
Create a working group made of Marcomms team members that attribute part of their working week to identifying topical opportunities they can react to. From #MotivationalMonday to #FridayFunday, there’s lots of chances to make an impression with an audience that’s willing to engage.
Personalise content to make it memorable
I don’t just mean popping a supporter’s name in email subject lines. But, rather, identify all the types of interesting content your organisation has to offer to create the perfect update – whether that’s via PR, marketing or digital platforms.
Case studies give just one example as to how money might be spent within the charity, but it doesn’t necessarily showcase the organisation’s values, personality or opinions. That’s how you get to know people, and that’s what supporters will remember.
Three short shifts in charity culture today, could lead to a long-term increase in giving tomorrow – without a single ask in sight. Bliss.