CDE project 11f face to face: sec­tion 5 — ongo­ing development

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
March 26, 2017

By investing more in staff over their initial induction period, you can keep more staff, and retain more of the supporters that they go on to recruit. Fundraisers that have strong retention statistics are often overlooked for promotion over those that have a high sign-up rate (number of new supporters per hour). However, long term quality should be the priority for face to face fundraising. By promoting fundraisers with better retention, you change the culture of what is celebrated within your teams, and what others should aspire to. By then giving these individuals development opportunities, such as internships within the wider charity (allowing them to gain a stronger understanding of the charity that they are raising funds for), you increase motivation and job satisfaction, which could translate to better quality face to face fundraising. 

Careers in fundraising are not often planned. And face to face has been the breeding ground for many of the fundraisers now directly employed by charities. Developing a career pathway for face to face fundraisers where your charity, or charity partners can offer those that remain loyal future development and possible employment in other areas of the charity or agency is incredibly beneficial. Rory White wrote about this in his article in the Guardian in 2012:

Face to face fundraisers should be equipped with simple information on giving and the charity they are representing. Do the fundraisers understand that they are offering supporters an opportunity to help? That they are providing unrestricted funding to the charity? Do they understand the value of that? Do they have view and training of the wider marketing and communications that the charity is promoting? Of how they fit in to the context of the work that the charity is undertaking? How will a supporter help the charity to lobby for change? What is the charity currently campaigning for? What is the PR or brand and communications message that you want at the front of the campaign? How can the face to face fundraisers help to drive the public interest towards a digital campaign? How can they sign post supporters who want to go beyond committing to a regular donation? And how can the supporter be informed through the face to face fundraiser as to how they can engage further? Are you looking for event participants? Is a one-off donation an option for a supporter that might be able to give less frequently? How do you allow for this to be achieved through the face to face fundraiser? And then how do you move relevant supporters in to the correct donor journey?

Having seen training documents at agencies reduced to a single sheet of A4 is further evidence that fundraisers are starved of information about the cause they represent. In 2000, face to face fundraisers working for one charity were handed a 30-40 page document outlining the history of the charity, the achievements that it had made in regards to practical provisions to beneficiaries, the successes or attempts that it had made to lobby the government, and the ongoing plans and achievements that it was reaching for in to the future. Each element of the work in that pack would have been supported with case studies and statistics to back it up. In essence, by fundraising to the fundraisers, you are creating a better training environment, and modelling to them, what you want to then see replicated through your private sites/street/door campaign.

When agencies don’t get the culture right, the staff can end up having a morale sapping experience from the top down. Ken Burnett wrote a wonderful blog that highlighted the crisis of confidence he witnessed here:

Avoid such a moment by pulling as much from this paper as you can!

Engagement and initial supporter experience

Asking properly and then welcoming new supporters are the foundations for a long lasting partnership with each individual that your face to face teams engage with. Your training should support the fundraisers and the subsequent communications that the supporter receives should reduce the likelihood of supporters stopping their gift early on. 

Once upon a time a face to face fundraiser would have been visited on site by someone from the charity, in meetings, and in regular catch-ups by a member of the relevant charity’s fundraising team. One charity that has consistently provided its agencies with a senior member of staff has been Care International. The CEO Geoffrey Dennis made regular trips to meet team members when they worked with Gift Fundraising, informing the fundraisers of how vital their work was to the organisation. This legacy has now been taken up by Care's current CEO Laurie Lee, who spent some time working with the OneSixty face-to-face team this year. By receiving a very personal welcome to the campaign, the face to face fundraisers felt inspired. This is a very practical and easy way for to making sure that the voice you want the fundraisers to have when engaging with your supporters is consistent. 

These examples are an exception to the rule in most cases. Agencies are open to having senior members of staff from the charities they work with attend training sessions, and work alongside their face to face teams, but struggle to get them in. If we want to see engagement increase, it has to be achieved together. We would urge far more regular contact between senior staff and agencies. This should be recorded or a KPI set to measure this and the impact it has.

The next step in the donor experience is how much you ask the supporter to donate. From our research, there appears to be a lack of freedom to choose the amount supporters can donate. Targeting a minimum average donation is in fact turning people away that might have otherwise become someone that would have eventually left you a legacy (though given the average age of donors who sign up for F2F this is more likely for door-to-door fundraising than street) . Yet time after time, when willing to give £4-£7 per month, face to face fundraisers are having to attempt to boost and negotiate the donation upwards, and see potential supporters leave with a "greedy" image of the charity brand. To achieve the negotiation with ease, shopping lists should be set to give numerous examples as to what the average donation you are seeking can achieve. Giving the fundraisers the right tools will enable them to explain what each extra pound per month could achieve, whereas simply stating that it is an £8 per month minimum does not. It sounds rude! 

When agreeing targets and KPI's for the campaign, make sure that you are never turning a willing supporter packing and diminishing the experience. Even if someone can’t or won’t sign up to the amount you are asking for, you can still provide a good experience by giving information on other ways to support. Wider marketing across all campaigns can either help or hinder you here. In 2005 the target ask on an NSPCC campaign through an agency was £8 per month. The campaign was going very well, until a DRTV advert went out asking for just £2 per month. If other channels are undermining asks that you have out on other channels it can be of the detriment to both campaigns. At the Institute of Fundraising Convention in 2016, UNICEF gave a great insight in to how they had managed to collaborate on their Safe and Warm appeal, and build a single concept. This proved to see a considerable uplift in acquisition of new supporters across all their channels. By taking a 'total marketing' approach to their public facing communications and fundraising, they saw members of the public walking up to their teams in private sites asking to be signed up. 

Less is more in the long-term. When you start your communications, you do not want to come across as desperate and, for example, ask for an increase in a gift after just two-three months. This is off-putting to the new supporter. Typically most face to face programmes see higher levels of attrition across the first 3 months. So why is this, and what is it about the culture of volume that is leading to it? Establishing the right communication from the off is key to reducing this, but with face to face the work that I cite later that Amnesty International and Donor Voice have been doing, can help you to identify the fundraisers with high 3-month attrition and, most importantly, equip them with the relevant training to reduce it through peer to peer shadowing and working groups?

Seeking the correct consent in your permission statement is obviously very important. Fast Map have recently been touring a conference with the Institute of Fundraising and the Information Commissioners Office where it shows that having the correct wording around your permission statement, and creating a data protection statement that uses simple, unambiguous language, rather than it being steeped in legal phrases, can improve people’s understanding and opt-ins. Where Action Aid have done this, they have seen that it can increase supporter’s opt-in/opt outs favourably towards them. In-house teams are far more likely to be embraced and seen as a part of the charity, but this can be achieved by forming a partnership with a third-party agency too. It just takes work! An increase of 5% of supporters opting in for telephone can increase your reactivation and upgrade files, whereas a similar opt-in for email can reduce the cost of stewardship considerably. But, most importantly, it can make it clear to the supporter what, how and when you will be contacting them, and why. Getting good consent is about having a strong permission statement. 

The donor experience can also be enhanced through the location that the fundraising is taking place in and through your PR team promoting your cause in area where you are fundraising. 

The Air Ambulance has been able to send teams in to areas where the ambulance has been deployed. This means there is the potential for new supporters to have seen the ambulance in action.

St John Ambulance release PR statements in relevant local papers when their door team is in the area. It has also trialled face to face at events where their volunteers are providing first aid. This means supporters can see the beneficiaries of their gift in action and also learn some first aid along the way. Immersing the public in your work, or in the world of your beneficiary is key. 

Click on the image below to view project 11f in full - PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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