Despite the image, this week’s article isn’t going to suggest that our face-to-face fundraisers wear formula one style outfits garnished with the names of corporate sponsors to lower costs… however… no, that is too far*. This article is about asking the right questions.
Senator Orrin Hatch: “So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”
Mark Zuckerberg: “Senator, we run ads”
Senators in the Zuckerberg Congressional Testimony showed that serious issues can go unresolved by those in power suffering from a lack of knowledge about the subject they are investigating. Their unpreparedness and absence of research could lead to no substantial improvements in the security and privacy of Facebook’s customers. Similarly, with the quality of face-to-face donors falling through the floor, charities are asking the wrong questions of their agencies, and these suppliers are asking the wrong questions of the charity sector and themselves.
The gap can be closed by each party understanding the KPIs of the other. In many agency/charity contracts you will see lines around minimum age, average gift, and gross and net volume targets, but there are rarely mentions of important expectations around complaint volumes, communication turnaround times, training opportunities, and staff engagement. Often, and this may surprise some agencies, charities don’t just want the raw output of pledges, they want a relationship with their supplier because the perceived risk for them is so high. They want to know that you care about them as much as they care about you and what you do.
Both parties sometimes react poorly to a request from the other because they simply do not understand the needs. Some requests from charities to their supplier can come across as time wasting or inappropriate because the client simply doesn’t understand all the motives of their agency. Yes, as for-profit companies, the agencies first priority is to their staff and the bottom-line, but they too want a relationship with you.
Many of them know that a closer relationship with the cause will keep their staff around longer, but this does not mean they will open their doors at every request. Campaigns have lost momentum because a charity staff member has said the wrong thing to a fundraiser, a training session has fallen flat, or someone spelled their name wrong on a certificate, so our agencies must safeguard themselves against these potential calamities.
Once you have built a mutual relationship based on this understanding of each other’s business model you can begin to make iterations that improve the outcomes for both of you.
Charity: “Agency, what can we do together to improve the quality of our donors and increase your profit?”
Agency: “These are our suggestions, but let’s meet up and discuss how these may impact both parties.”
*Please let me know if any agency/in-house team has tried to lower costs by using their corporate partnership – other than free or discounted sites.