Fundraising Reading Round Up
Fundraising Reading Round-Up

My aspirations for 2013: Putting relationship fundraising into action and measuring emotions

This post is my submission for the January 2013 Non-profit blog carnival. The theme is vision and bringing it to life in 2013 and is hosted by Nancy Schwartz.

I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking and reading about customer experience, relationship fundraising and lifetime value. Part of this has been a fascinating discussion on the IoF  group on Linked In (well worth a read if you have the time - sadly I can't link directly) about the faults of relationship fundraising.

One of the outcomes of this is that I'm rethinking how we should structure fundraising departments and categorise donors if we are to reduce the appalling attrition rates in the sector. This is particularly important at a small/medium sized charity, where it is increasingly hard to ape big charity techniques and get acceptable short and long term results.

I'm coming to the conclusion that we need to move beyond traditional recency, value and frequency measures and reorganise our fundraising around donor needs, taking into account how we measure their commitment, loyalty and life time value.

What does this mean in practice?

Well, in 2013 I want to continue to experiment with a new,  (for RLSB) more personal approach to communications to our top donors and see if it pays off. The early indications are positive.

Ultimately, I see a two tier approach to fundraising:

A fully engaged top tier, with personal account managers who cross sell and promote other forms of engagement and fundraising. These donors will receive tailored communication based on their past giving and preferences (based on their actual behaviour). In simple terms, every donor receives major donor treatment.

A second tier of more transactional and transient donors, who give one off donations to specific appeals and types of fundraising (such as raffles) and who don't want a 'relationship' as such.

In between will be a sort of fundraising purgatory, whilst we try and figure out which donors will be in tier one and those in tier two!

Underpinning this is a determination to try and measure the emotional impact of fundraising messages before sending them out.  I'm looking beyond focus groups to facial coding and recognition, which records the actual emotional impact of a video, direct mail pack etc.

The cost of this technology is coming down and should soon be accessible to most charities - see the video below for a very crude example of how it works. I think it could revolutionise fundraising and especially donor recruitment.