Successful fundraisers know their supporters

The Ideas Lab - Innovation in insight and analyticsLast week I went to The Ideas Lab: Innovation in Insight and Analytics conference run by the Institute of Fundraising’s Insight in Fundraising Special Interest Group. The conference had a varied line up of speakers and perspectives.

We heard from Joe Saxton about the trends that are affecting our fundraising, including rapidly changing technology and the constantly connected consumer that means charities have to operate faster to respond to their demands.

Several charities shared their stories about how they have used insight to drive their fundraising and communications.

  • The RSPB shared how their different approach to audience segmentation and insight was key in the development of a new communication strategy.
  • CRUK took us through the development of Dryathlon – not a triathlon without the swimming – but a new product asking people to give up alcohol for a month to raise money.
  • Macmillan showed us how it positions insight at the core of its fundraising, and how the recent success of it’s Coffee Morning (that was £5 million over target this year) is down to ruthless decision-making based on good insight targeted at key audiences.

‘Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say’ David Ogilvy

There were also several fascinating sessions on behavioural science, social psychology and decision-making.

The Guardian Digital Agency showed us how to tell effective visual stories. We know that telling stories is a key skill for fundraisers to engage emotionally with donors. And I learnt that it is possible to be emotional about data. (Who knew?!) They shared some beautiful examples that made sense of complex information. See some examples here.

Michael Sanders from the Cabinet Office Nudge Unit, shared some results from recent experiments in giving, including the difference it makes depending on who makes the ask and messaging around knowing what your colleagues have donated. Who would have thought that an offer of sweets would make such a difference to people’s willingness to give? And whilst obvious, in a recent experiment on legacy giving,  just asking, and how you ask someone to consider leaving a gift in their Will – which is simple to do – can make a huge difference to your legacy income. You can read more here.

Jonathan Harman from the Royal Mail Market Reach team told us about the findings of neurological research that concluded that mail performed better than other media in triggering engagement, emotional intensity, memory encoding and attention averages than other channels. And how using mail in conjunction with other channels provides optimal results.*

Phil Barden author of ‘Decoded The science behind why we buy’ shared some insights on behaviour, including how we make decisions on autopilot and how charities can focus on the ‘decision autopilot’ to get better results.

I work with charities to help them develop and implement new ideas. The starting point for any new idea or innovation is always to identify the problem that must be solved. The next task is to identify the key audiences. Then we need to begin to understand them. Whether a fundraiser, fundraising manager, head of department or executive board member ‘likes’ an idea is largely irrelevant – it is only when we understand our audiences and their decision-making processes that we can develop messages, products and services that talk to them – that genuinely meet their needs. Our success relies on knowing and understanding our audiences. Gaining insight therefore is an essential part of everyone’s job.

If you want some help with how insight can inform better results, email me for a quick and dirty guide on gaining insight. Or just get in touch for a chat.

*All cynical comments withheld.


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