Our own growth account director, Lotte Buckley has kindly shared her experience and insight below. Take in everything she says, it’s gold dust.
I’ve worked in the NFP sector for 16 years and during that time have helped many charities increase their fundraising income through the use of data and insight. Times are strange and ever moving so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts on the current landscape and how you can ensure your organisation is in the best possible place.
So, as we head into 2023, here are my top seven things to consider…
It’s not all doom and gloom
There seems to be a big disconnect between qualitative and quantitative studies. Supporters are saying they are doing one thing but the data tells a different story. Qualitative research is reporting tricky times of giving in decline with high volumes saying they felt worried about the future and will give less to charity. However, quantitative data studies are showing that this isn’t the case and that giving is actually slightly up on 2021. It’s also worth remembering that there is still a fair amount of elasticity in giving – not all decreases in income will be passed onto charity giving. Just like not all increases in income are. Things like streaming services, magazine subscriptions and gym memberships are believed to be top of the cull list.
Understanding your audience is key
This is arguably the most important step. Who are your supporters? What motivates them? What do they need from you? Answering these questions will allow you to tailor messaging and keep engagement high. There will of course be differing answers to these questions so a chance to segment, test and learn. Segments are likely to be more transient due to the changing landscape. Time to insight and time from insight to action will be critical here.
Continue to test and learn
Be as agile as you can. Keep an eye on the news cycle and tweak your activity and messaging accordingly. Be reactive – there is no point in fighting against the stream. The important thing here is to ensure you have the infrastructure and reporting in place to support this way of working. Bake measurement in at the start of any activity so that true, meaningful, actionable learnings can be made. Pulling back on activity based purely on ROI stops growth.
Keep hold of that acquisition budget!
Understandably, conversations around cutting budgets are going to become more frequent. Do your best to hold onto some cash for acquisition. I have lost count of the number of income charts I have seen with a huge dip after an organisation has cut acquisition. The impact then takes many years to reverse. Now is the time to test and be bold! Keep as many plates spinning as possible to ensure a diverse channel mix that can weather any storm. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Don’t dismiss Gen Z and millennials
Giving in younger, less affluent audiences has been gradually increasing. Younger audiences are philanthropic but think differently. And want to give differently. They want ease of participation and to feel part of a community with shared values. Empathetic and considerate marketing is key.
Invest in analysis and insight
No one has past experience to inform the right path with all of these ‘once in a lifetime’ events we are experiencing. During these uncertain times the smart organisations have invested (as much as budgets would allow) in insight to ensure they are in the best position to make meaningful decisions when needed. Now is the time to think strategically and more long-term. Data and insight have never been so important.
Keep your lapsing supporters engaged
To stop or pause giving to your beloved charity isn’t a decision that would have been taken lightly. It’s extremely important to continue to talk to your supporters and keep them engaged and up to date with your work. Offer alternative, non-financial ways to offer support and continue to feel part of the charity family. Perhaps opportunities to volunteer, donate items to a shop or spread the word with some campaigning action.
Money is tight but compassion hasn’t gone anywhere. Charities who continue to ask will survive. Tell great stories, inspire and be bold!
If you’d like to talk this through further or if you’d like some advice on planning for next year then do give me a shout 😊