Tag Archives: communications

Look up now: Your donor is leaving!

20 Jan

161142__icebop_lYour donor is walking out of the door. And you’re so busy turning cartwheels for a potential donor that you don’t even notice.

In the absence of donor attrition studies in India (if anyone is doing them, I’d love to hear all about it), here are some findings from the 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and The Urban Institute in the US:

  1. Every $100 gained in 2012 was offset by $96 in losses due to donation attrition.
    This means that for every Rs 100 raised, not-for-profits lost Rs 96 because of a drop in other donations. In other words, you think you have Rs 196 in the pot, but you have only Rs 4!
  2. Every 100 donors gained in 2012 was offset by 105 in lost donors through attrition.
    This is even more shocking. For every 100 new donors recruited, 105 donors were lost because they just stopped giving.

Last week we talked about how donor retention had finally jumped ahead of acquisition as a priority for not-for-profits. This is in the US. At home, it’s business as usual.

While not-for-profits are willing to earmark budgets for donor acquisition, very few see donor retention as a priority. It’s time to wake up to the stampede of the departing donors’ feet.

Plan for donor retention, the very minute that you make plans to acquire the donor, and not long after the donor has been acquired.

Finally! Retaining donors comes first

9 Jan

Donor retention jumps ahead of acquisition as a priority for non-profits, according to the just-released Nonprofit Communications Report 2015. The report, which surveyed more than 1,500 non-profits primarily in the US (a few in Canada and fewer still in the rest of the world) is indicative that non-profits are finally heading in the right direction.

I’m kicked about this enough to consider printing out a placard and carrying it with me on meetings to non-profits in India. Many of the NGOs we talk to see acquisition as the main basket for investment – and communication to retain donors as a soft – and secondary – option. Sure, you need to have donors in the first place to retain them, but I’ve also seen scores of examples of donors coming when you spread the word – and ask. I’d therefore argue that both need to be done simultaneously. The truly visionary ones are those that build their brand, communicate consistently, and ask clearly – till the donors come – and the donors do come.

Going back to the report, the top priorities of the non-profits surveyed were as follows;

  1. Engaging community
  2. Retaining current donors
  3. General brand awareness
  4. Acquiring new donors, and
  5. Thought leadership.

The top four communications channels that non-profits most preferred are website, email marketing, traditional social media and in-person events, in that order. The top three social media sites turned out to be Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Interestingly, the report shows the differences in priorities in the same non-profit between the communications director and the development director. To know what these areas of conflict were, get your copy of the report at http://npmg.us/2015.

Are you thinking about bringing out a generic brochure? A word of advice: Don’t!

21 Aug

It hard, it’s cruel, but the No. 1 destination of most generic brochures is – I’ll say it out loud – the dustbin.

A generic brochure – also called an information brochure – is usually an A4/A5 sized brochure spilling over with information and stamp-sized photos. These are handed out by the armsful at conferences and workshops, and they are left behind – except by the most inveterate brochure collector – in the hotel room. (They’d have left it behind at the breakfast table, except that you had your beady eye on them!)

And that’s because it’s a generic brochure.

The dictionary defines generic as thus:

generic /dʒɪˈnɛrɪk/

adjective: characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things; not specific.

The noun is even more damning: a consumer product having no brand name or registered trademark (as in generic drugs).

Oops – did you see what just happened? The brochure, that very thing that you thought would sear your brand into the minds and hearts of people – could end up doing the very opposite.

You could have your logo on it in the biggest size possible, but it will still be unread and unloved.

And that’s because we sent it out into the world without an audience, a purpose, a message or an ask.

CoverLetterCartoon

How to solve the problem of generic brochures

  1. Every brochure must have an audience in mind.

Who is the brochure for? And it has to be specific – individual donors who give up to Rs 5,000, large donors who give upwards of Rs 25,000, companies, and so on. It cannot be “the public at large.” If we wanted to address the public at large, we would call a rally and not print a brochure.

The target audience of the brochure determines the case for support that you make. It dictates the kind of language you use. And it determines the ask you make.

  1. Every brochure must have a purpose and message.

Why are you producing this brochure? What is your main message? And how will it be used?

You could say something like,

“The purpose of this brochure is to attract the attention of the 15 donors who fund reproductive health and rights, among the 100 who will be at the conference.

I want to let them know that we have pioneered an innovative way of engaging local religious leaders in family planning. I plan to talk to each of them face to face for five minutes, and leave this brochure behind as a reminder of the key points of our conversation.”

Ah-ha! Here’s a clue to planning the content of your brochure.

Instead of looking at it as the definitive A-Z guide to everything that you do, look at the brochure as a reminder to the reader of key points. And if that grabs their attention, they will go to your website for more information – or better still – call you!

The more well defined your target audience segment is, the more effective your brochure will be.

  1. Every brochure must tell the reader what to do.

So now that the reader has read your beautifully designed brochure with just the right amount of content, what do you want her to do? “Hmm. Nice” is not an acceptable answer. That’s the equivalent of “Whatever!” with the accompanying shoulder shrug.

You want the reader to do something for you, while they are basking in the afterglow of your awesome brochure. Something like:

  • Like our page on Facebook
  • Visit our website and check out this campaign
  • Fill in this response coupon and write out a cheque
  • Call the office to volunteer or drop of school supplies

A lot of small not-for-profit organisations might say, “We don’t have the money to produce different brochures for different audiences.” Then produce just one, for your most important target segment. For the others, use your annual report!

I remember years ago, Tribal Health Initiative in Sittilingi using copies of an article on them that appeared in The Reader’s Digest as a brochure for the longest time.

Tell us about the challenges you face when bringing out your brochure. Till tomorrow, then.

Jugaad: Ideas from the ‘developing’ world

7 Sep

I spent most of Saturday listening to Fredrik Härén speak at the CIO100 Awards seminar. In his new book The Developing World, Härén points to the words we use to describe ourselves – and how these words shape who we become.

Drawing a contrast between the Developed World and the Developing World, Härén points out that the biggest mistake the countries in the former grouping made was in calling themselves ‘developed.’ The word ‘developed’ implies, ‘We’re done.’ This, Härén says, has led to a slowdown, an unwillingness to learn from ‘developing’ cultures and a corresponding decrease in creativity.

In contrast, ‘developing’ countries see themselves as works in progress, and therefore, are open to change. Anyone who’s in the ‘developing world’ has an edge – because not only are you hungry to learn from the ‘developed’ world, but you also have your eye on change as it’s happening in front of your eyes, says Härén.

He gives the example of a survey among college students in Singapore who were asked whether they’d seen the Chinese film Red Cliff and the English film The Dark Knight. Most students had seen both films. In contrast, the same survey when conducted among college students in the US showed that while all students had seen The Dark Knight, only one had even heard of Red Cliff. And he was a Chinese exchange student! ‘Who has a better chance of producing a blockbuster that will be a hit in both continents?’ Härén asks.

Now what does this have to do with fundraising or with communication?

Everything.

Most textbook fundraising innovations we commonly talk about have come from the traditional developed world. But it’s here – in Asia, Africa – that change is happening faster than we can imagine. We can absorb the best of the innovations that have happened, and find creative ways of putting things together in a new way.

Put two very different communication ideas together to come up with a new idea.

Multimedia messages on cellphones + comics for women who cannot read or write

Paid advertising + community radio

Social networking + telecentres in small towns and villages

Websites + face to face conversations

Appeal letters + the Great Indian Wedding

These are random ideas – some may be, as JK Rowling would put it, squibs. But some others could make magic.

Putting old things together in a new way is what Härén calls an IDEA.

Indians of course are familiar with this concept. We call it Jugaad.

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