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2021 – and being bold!

If there’s one thing we’ve seen this year in the fundraising sector, it’s that being bold can really pay off. And when I say bold, I mean reaching for every opportunity you can – in what has been an extremely tricky environment to fundraise in…

Why do I say this? Let me explain. As I’m sure you are aware, the pandemic has totally – but probably temporarily – transformed the face of charity fundraising. It has brought about such a marked change in charity giving, and even though fundraising has been a lot more challenging and continues to be so because of the pandemic, the way we approach fundraising has become even more creative and inspirational . What we have found over this period of time is that the wonderful public are being incredibly responsive and generous to charities in their time of need.

So perhaps now more than any other time, we are in the middle of a fundraisers’ dream. Donors and supporters are more empathetic than ever, and perhaps more cash-rich than ever too – partly down to furlough, partly down to decreased expenditure, perhaps even down to decreased personal debt. And I am sharing this with you, because over the last year we have seen most of our campaign results increase dramatically; but it does go without saying you need to take the first step of being bold and creative and asking people to support you before the bubble bursts… if you don’t ask you don’t get – right?!

With clients who are taking this advice right now, we are seeing incredible results. Pre-pandemic, all of us would be quite careful when it came to data selections, meticulously segmenting our databases and making decisions on which supporters to contact. We had become used to making decisions based on previous successes, but now we must start to consider the impact of what is going on around us and treat every campaign as a new open book, opening up our segments, or looking at them with fresh eyes, to see who is out there that we might not have contacted in the past that could potentially want to support us now.

An example of this is a charity which recently ran a legacy campaign with us. The highest performing segment of supporters was not regular donors, or one off donors, or even enquirers, it was those supporters classed as lapsed events. Normally when presented with this segment, we might not  even include it for a legacy campaign. And in this case, how wrong we’d have been!

Another example  – a charity which had among their data a segment of supporters who had shown an interest in the past, but had not had any recent contact. This segment was absolutely huge in volume, but not a segment we would consider that ‘reliable’. Again – WRONG ASSUMPTION!! It turned into one of the strongest segments for positive outcomes and in the past we might not have included or tested it based on an assumption, as opposed to being driven by data or the results.

These recent experiences made me think long and hard how we categorise supporters, put them into easily identifiable boxes and interact with them accordingly. And as a supporter of many charities myself, I’d be mortified to think that because I hadn’t made a contribution in the last year, my support is any less valued by the charity than a regular donor. I’d consider myself just as likely, if not MORE likely to contribute.

So my musings bring me to this conclusion; at a time when people really want to help, they really want to give to charity, don’t edit their support based on your preconceptions. Be bold with your selections, get creative with your campaigns, and you might just surprise yourself!

About the author: Ben Suffell

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