When I write “I don’t give to animal charities” I don’t mean that I won’t give to animal charities, I mean that I haven’t yet. Six years ago, I was told by a now prominent wildlife fundraiser that a personal connection to a cause makes you 70% more likely to donate to it. This makes perfect sense to me, except in my case it isn’t true.
Over the last ten years I have had around ten regular donations leaving my account at different times, and all of them have been humanitarian aid charities. These causes focus on the world’s poorest communities yet I have never even visited these places and have no real sense of the daily struggle. I do however have a couple of rabbits (Dexter left, Luci right).
Today’s article, believe it or not, is not about rabbits or animal charities, it is about personal experience versus broader truths.
This is relevant whether you are a brand-new street fundraiser or an experienced acquisition manager. With F2F approaching its 30th anniversary, we still read that F2F doesn’t work. We hear that it damages the charity’s reputation and that nobody likes it. If we believe every complaint that comes to our offices, we will learn that direct mail doesn’t work. Charities waste millions of dollars every year sending out letters, pens, pins and stickers to people who don’t respond. Speaking of a waste of money, Telemarketing doesn’t work either, plus nobody likes it.
The broader truth is that the number one reason people give is that they were asked. It is up to us as fundraisers to learn from the complaints and compliments as they can speak to a larger theme, and to ask respectfully and as frequently as the donors need.