When donating to charity causes more harm than good (direct mail fundraisers look away now!)
Weekly Reading Round Up

When donating money causes more harm than good: the response

Yesterday's post certainly provoked an interesting reaction with over 100 tweets and five times as many visitors to the site as usual.

I wanted to share some of the great Tweets* and comments I've received and I have split them into a number of categories:

General Comments

I have to say 10 years ago that would have been double the numbers received. Nice to see interaction between you and donor :)  I think charities have done lot to target rather than blanket mail their supporters. Whilst targeted mail is on the increase. I think it is in most charities interest to restrict indiscriminate mailings. Some of those numbers per charity were very low.  What i did like from their (the donors) record keeping was no hiding place for the charities clearly overmailing and wasting funds, but still showing poor cold mailing lists and very poor marketing strategies on ROI and RFV. @Phil_RAs

That's a phenomenal amount of mail. It's the data swapping that's really poor form.  @learnasone

I don’t agree, but an interesting read. Reason I said I didn't agree is because giving begets giving and I don't have prob IF letters were real, authentic, personal & fed back.  I'm not suggesting all packs met that criteria! I'm sure most didn't. :-) Their generosity was their biggest downfall! @jonathongrapsas

Interesting piece - I think phone campaigns can have a similar effect. I stopped one gift after high pressure call to increase! However, it's a difficult balancing act - after all, if you don't ask... @attythatwas

Fundraisers should ask 3 questions before sending a mailing: Why am I sending this pack? To this person? At this time? If can't answer, don't send! @adriansalmon

 Digital is the future. @kuntze

 Depressing... @jon_bedford

Possible solutions

We should all look at the letter - it's awful. But what do you do? A centralised database to reduce over-soliciting?  FRSB + major reciprocals brokers, e.g Occam? Voluntary code on list swaps? DPA should guard against this, in theory, but don't. @adriansalmon

I've been advocating some form of planning function for phone contact for years. Over calling kills response. @pauldegregorio

Other examples

We had a granny who collected her DM for us and would use 1 month's worth in pitches - it landed on the desk with a bang!  Poorly created and targeted DM is junk. We should think of the impact on responders and non-responders. One donation form had comments box on it - 1 donor simply stuck twenty different address labels in the box! @markphillips

I did some analysis for a client once & found one poor bloke had been selected for a telephone direct debit ask 13 times - and carried on giving!  I made sure he didn't get another one! He obviously wanted to give cash, not DD! @pauldegregorio

I spoke to a lady whose aunt had recurring gifts setup by credit card, charities concerned were very hard to contact.  All setup by direct mail and telemarketing. There were so many they had split the work of opting out between family. @medavep

That's bad (letters) did you see my collection of Charity Bags? @AFPaz

@linereed @pongogirl On calling donors to apologise:

Was cringeworthy & highly recommended - if you are in the business of trying to change things for the better.

Yep I've done it too. Awful. Talking to donors stops you doing things that look good on a spreadsheet, but actually aren't.


*I've edited tweets to make them easier to read and comprehend. Let me know if you think I have misrepresented what was said.