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#65 I’m looking for a 40-year old brunette with a sense of humour

Before we start, for the sake of my marriage and ongoing happiness, I need to make it super-clear that I am not actually looking for a 40-year old brunette with a sense of humour I just wrote that to make a point. I am, prior to publication, very happily married.

Your search for a life partner should share many parallels with your search for new donors. During your life you work out what traits suit you best and you refine your search to single-out the one you will spend the rest of your life with. Of course, the specifics may change as you grow. The 18-year old me wouldn’t have been searching for the 30-year old woman I eventually discovered, but he would have been searching for an age appropriate partner.

Similarly, a charity that focuses on the welfare of Australian families that transitions into one that has the singular focus of the education of Australian children would see a shift in the characteristics of their donor base but would still identify some shared qualities with the previously acquired cohort.

When building the KPIs for your face-to-face or regular giving campaign you have a shortlist of must haves that will be used by your agency as a guide to the best donors to recruit for your cause, but experienced fundraisers will know that there is more than one way to swing a cat - hence the image above.

Your average age KPI could tell your agency that you want an average of 45 years old. You want this because you have heard that donors over 35 are likely to last longer than younger ones, and those at 45 plus are amazing and attrite in tiny numbers.

Your average gift could be $29 because your database shows that those who sign up at that amount give for twice as long as your other price-points.

Your database might show that those with a phone number will upgrade more easily, those with email will decline less etc so you write all these lovely and insightful KPIs into your Agreement and manage the programme on based on these figures.

As mentioned, a seasoned professional will know that a KPI can be meaningless if managed incorrectly. In a batch of 100 donors, the average age of 45 can be achieved by recruiting fifty 21-year olds and fifty 69-year olds. Suddenly the KPI doesn’t look so useful.

The average gift of $29 can be met with fifty $10 pledges and fifty $48. Again, your donor base is looking a little shaky.

To complete the set, half of your donors have no phone numbers or email address and the rest have two of each.

This is a disaster.

Now let’s look at our 40-year old brunette with a sense of humour and use this logic. Of the one hundred people we date, fifty might be mildly amusing 20-years old with black hair, whilst the rest are white-haired 60-year olds dressed as clowns.

This is a lesson in course correction and clear communication.

If you want 45-year olds you need to design a more specific KPI that states that the average age must be 45 and 50% of donors must be between 35 and 55-years old. Manage the outliers. Don’t accept a file of 21-year olds, instead, work to train and empower the fundraisers to approach older donors and give them the information they need to sign these people up.

Find the gift value that works best for your existing f2f acquired donors and work with your supplier to meet this by limiting the variations. Instead of offering $29, $39, or $59 you can try $25, $30, or $35 so that the outliers are still in the ballpark of your best performers.

Finally, there are very few contracts signed where a charity will pay for a pledge without a valid email address and accurate phone number. If your supplier cannot give you a contactable donor you should not be paying for them.

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