On Tuesday I attended a conference on Retail Gift Aid organised by Eproductive who help charities reclaim gift aid from donations to shops.
The part I was most interested in was the afternoon session by Rachel Beer of the Beautiful World fundraising agency. Rachel was talking about how you can make the most of these donors and increase loyalty and repeat donations.
It is an area I'm really interested in as I think charities completely under utilise the data that their shops provide and that shops offer a much cheaper way to recruit and engage donors than other acquisition methods.
Rachel had done some research on 700 shops in the Eproductive scheme. This covered 315,000 donors & 572,000 donations.
They discovered that the average donation value was £41.32 and the average donor value is £75.66. 45% of donors give more than once.
When you consider these people have voluntarily signed up and given, then the sums involved are quite staggering. These people have little acquisition cost and it would be far more cost effective for charities in the scheme to invest in these supporters rather than in other acquisition methods. If you can increase the number of donations or get them involved with other fundraising then the potential is massive. In terms of some of the big charity shops chains we are talking millions of pounds. Despite this potential nobody seems to be doing much with these donors.
Rachel went on to suggest some ways you could engage these donors further and I've added these to some of my own thoughts:
- Surveys to identify those interested in hearing more about us.
- Use e-mail for notifications to save costs.
- Inviting donors close to services in to open days to hear more about your work.
- Offer promotions e.g. £5 off voucher next time you bring a bag of goods in (though need to be aware of gift aid benefit rules).
Christmas Cards to the top donors per shop.
- Certificates/rewards for loyalty e.g 10th bag of goods or donating over £250 etc
- Inviting to local fundraising events (where applicable)
- Sending them raffle tickets
- Offering thank you’s / incentives in conjunction with partners.
This list is by no way exhaustive and I'd be interested to hear any additional ideas that you may have.
The final bit is some of my own personal thoughts on what could be done to engage with these donors. Charities are a long way off achieving this, but it should be possible with the right investment:
What does the future hold? Some thoughts…
What turned Tesco from an average supermarket into the dominant retailer in the UK? Much of it was due to the launch of their Clubcard and their use of data to send relevant & personalised offers to customers and to improve the efficiency of their stores.
As gift aid matures, there could be real value in starting to record a description of who gives what. This data could be an immensely valuable marketing tool both for charities and for external organisations.
On the macro-level, imagine all the donors who regularly donates books. The theory would be if they are donating lots of books, then they are probably reading lots of books. This would be powerful set of data that could be sold/rented to a book retailer. You could send all those people a voucher saying thanks for donating the books, here’s a £5 gift voucher off your next purchase at a book retailer. Imagine your delight as a customer, the goodwill this would generate for your charity (and where future donations would go) and how much the retailer would be willing to pay for these extra customers.
Moving further forward, as data capture becomes more sophisticated you could take this one step further and capture the author’s of books (or make of clothes) donated (this could easily be done through their barcodes or ISBN number). You could then work with publishers or booksellers to make an exclusive offer when that authors next book comes out!