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#84 Health is a habit you must commit to

Why the ‘war on the waist’ is a lesson for fundraising managers when weight and age are used as proxies for the health of a body and f2f program respectively.

With the FIA Conf 2020 drawing to a close, attendees would have learned a lot about fundraising innovations and been reminded of even more fundraising basics. Here's an old one that you might be aware of...

Losing weight has been the ambition of millions of us in the West over the past couple of decades. We have been bombarded with messaging stating that overweight people are unhealthy and that the higher the number that appears on the scales the earlier the deaths of those stepping on them.

But this article isn’t me raging about obesity, it’s a rant about the narrow view of the quality of f2f acquired donors.

It has been the preoccupation of fundraising managers to push up the average age of their f2f acquired donors over the last few years because a young age leads to campaign death. Charities are refusing to allow donors under 21, 23 or 25 signing up to a regular donation, or limiting the amount a younger donor can commit to.

This myopic approach isn’t crazy. Unless you invest in an early detection program that identifies high risk donors prior to onboarding, age in the best metric you have for future quality. Younger donors give for less time than older donors, with the tipping point from bad to good being around the 35-40 years age group.

Whilst study results vary, we know that between 70% and 97% of dieters who lose up to 10% of their bodyweight through dieting regain everything they lost, and often within three years. We believe this is because the lifestyle changes are too dramatic and difficult to maintain. They fly in the face of the momentum of bad habits we’ve acquired over our lifetime.

Does this sound familiar? Some charities f2f programs limp between quantity and quality every quarter as supply is struck unreliable due to the high subcontractor attrition – a problem that is now the most important nut to crack if f2f is to maintain its place at the top of the RG food chain.

So, instead of stepping onto the scales and judging our health by an arbitrary number or launching our campaign into an unstainable or unwieldy war of writing complex clauses in contracts that limit the supplier’s ability to keep the donors flooding in and losing their subcontractors to agencies and charities with less stringent regulations, what can we do to keep a consistent flow of retainable donors and keep our suppliers onside and out of the red?

The easiest answer is to make sure all parties have the absolute basics in place. Basics agreed by everyone that can become part of your everyday habits because these are the things that will lead to better health.

Walk before you can run otherwise you’ll risk losing your momentum and falling back into unhealthy practices.

Charity commitments:

  • Debit donors in accordance to direct debit guarantee

  • Answer your phones and reply to emails from supporters promptly

  • Thank donors with relevant messaging

  • Know what your cause does and present with a simple propositio

  • Pay suppliers on time and in accordance with the contract

  • Manage and report on cancellation promptly

  • Train fundraisers regularly on your cause and quality. We have found that some suppliers have a very loose understanding of quality, so push this point very very hard

  • Beg, borrow or steal to get a basic attrition report

  • Hold weekly meetings with the supplier and be clear about your concerns – don’t put off conflict

Supplier commitments:

  • Make the donation amount, frequency and longevity clear on every donor interaction

  • Present proposition honestly – do not deceive to make a sale

  • Avoid lowest socio-economic areas

  • Agree to manageable targets with client and set attainable targets with teams

  • Train frequently on cause and quality – In the fight to meet targets and reduce attrition, knowledge beats the pressure of losing their job every time. If this is not true for your agency your training is wrong (we can help with that)

I’m not saying that age should be ignored, it might be the best guide you have. I’m stating that getting these things right from the start means that the golden eggs of instant debiting, age banded fees, 4-weekly debit cycles, and multi-level multi-proposition and multi-channel donor journeys can take a back seat. Relax and simplify. Allow suppliers to focus on honest acquisition and worry less about making ends meet and paying bonuses to their staff based on three different KPI levels. Walk before you can run and remember that health is a habit you can and must commit to.

Before we sign off, here’s a teaser to make you question your current mindset: Does a young donor signed up by a great fundraiser behave better than an older donor signed up by a bad fundraiser?

Fundraising Partners can help with every part of building a healthy RG program, so why not give us a call and we can grab some cake.

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