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#71 Mixing it up with f2f

Before we set off on another journey together, I feel it would be negligent to not mention the alleged scandal that arose this week in the Australian f2f industry.

My thoughts are as follows:

"I believe in the idea of the PFRA. I think that it has done fantastic work for the past few years to strengthen relationships with councils, force charities to raise their own management standards, hold less-scrupulous agency directors to account, and clean up a channel that was slipping away from its honest, genuine and charitable roots. I expect a thorough investigation into the issue and, if the rumours are true, for those responsible for the problems to face severe punishments.

Please remember that we are all innocent until proven guilty and this is not the time to abandon ship, it is the time to band together a push for the best possible outcome for our beneficiaries, charities and suppliers. I would also ask that the original complainant fight the temptation to join forces with some presumed allies as they may weaken your case."

That’s all I have to say about that for now, so let’s move on to the topic of the day… mixing it up with f2f, by which I mean, what is the best possible agency mix for the best possible outcome?

When launching an agency model face-to-face fundraising campaign, we can have a lot of options available to us. Do we give the whole capacity to one supplier? Split the volume between two and compare the results? Use one volume-driver and a couple of support suppliers to test propositions, gift values, donor journeys? Do we use a clutch of small suppliers and juggle the volume between them on a monthly basis? Or do we just take what we can get because we need a supplier?

Let’s attack this in reverse order. No, we do not just take what we can get unless what we can get is what we want. There is little point entering a relationship knowing that your new partner is not right for you. This will end in a ball of flames and unpaid clawbacks. Find another channel.

Should you use a clutch of smaller suppliers to fulfil your requirements? Maybe. If you are or have an experienced F2F Manager in the role, a solid contract that all the agencies will sign, highly responsive reporting functionality, and systems that are flexible when put under pressure you can operate very successfully with a gaggle of agencies. I know one or two charities that have managed to spin enough plates to hit targets without them falling to the ground and smashing into ten thousand jagged pieces.

Using a volume driver and a few minor support suppliers is probably my favourite tactic as long as your volume driver is reliable… and I mean really reliable. A proven mega-agency that can act as the spine of your campaign gives you a sound idea of the worst-case scenario for the year, and those playing the part of support will let you have a lot of fun testing channels, states, proposition, on-boarding processes, and gift values. You can A/B test the hell out of them without the risk of slipping a disk and crippling your campaign. This is not for the feint hearted or inexperienced as you’ll need to course-correct the driver the

entire year.

From my point of view, developing a campaign with two suppliers can very quickly turn into a relationship with one supplier, and then three or four because the second agency failed to meet your expectations and the first cannot take the whole volume, so you have to find another two because no other partner has the capacity to carry the other half. This conundrum rapidly turns into a headache that paracetamol cannot help and can leave your board feeling very nervous. We can all agree that we do not like a nervous board.

Finally, we are left with the one supplier approach. Most charities that run with one supplier are those who used to have two and are looking for another, but if your volume targets are low enough and you have sufficient faith in your agency this strategy can work. The only warning I would give is that you should constantly be looking around to find a second dance partner in case this one twists their ankle and limps off into the distance.

Now all you need to think about is which agency(s) fits your chosen strategy?

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