Magic matters… if we want to truly engage

In this article, from an ongoing series by Roger Lawson, you’ll discover why it’s part of our job as fundraisers to create ‘magic moments’ for donors.

Written by
Roger Lawson
Added
February 24, 2022

We work in the most exciting and important industry there is. We have the responsibility and privilege to talk about the most important issues facing the world today with people who are as passionate about them, and about finding solutions to them, as we are.

So why is it that when I sit in a focus group and ask donors to recall a communication from a charity that they support that has excited and inspired them, I always get a sea of blank faces looking back at me?

There’s an uncomfortable silence, a bit of shuffling around until someone sometimes pipes up about an event they went to, or maybe something they saw about the charity on TV.

Everything else, the newsletters we’ve painstakingly designed, the appeals we’ve sweated over, the thank yous we’ve sent and so much more, have been forgotten – often they can’t even remember which charity it was that they gave to, or that sent them the newsletter they haven’t quite got round to reading. 

We have no excuses for this. If we’re not bringing our work to life and, particularly, if we’re not creating incredible memories of the change that the donor’s support has made possible, how can we possibly expect them to feel loyal towards us?

It’s our role to create these memories for donors.

Well said, your majesty.

Enter the Peak-End Rule. You may have come across this before, but for those of you who haven’t it states that memories are not created equally by every experience or communication but are created most in the moments of intense positive (or negative) emotions felt at an experience’s peak, and again towards the end. The peak and the end. A quick Google will give you a good overview.

This simple understanding can have a significant impact on how we design supporter experiences.

Firstly, just knowing this reinforces the idea that our role is to create memories. It’s not just to churn out the next appeal, thank you, or newsletter cycle, but to really think about how we can make these stand out in a crowded space.

Then it shows us that not every communication has the same opportunity to create these moments of intense emotion… So, it’s up to us to make sure that we create these opportunities amongst our ongoing communications.

Some people call these Wow! Moments as that’s the response you want to evoke in your donor. But we like to call them Magic Moments.

Moments that give a little bit of magic, offer an element of surprise and that stand out to the donor are the Magic Moments that will stay with the donor, creating a great memory and fantastic feeling that they will forever associate with you.

SOFII is full of these Magic Moments. Some of these I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in, including NSPCC’s Little Book of Change, which brought to life a range of outcomes for children through their own letters, drawings and more to show how supporters' money had helped to make children’s lives better, and AICR’s (as they were known then) Inspiring Stories Book. Others I have read and admired from afar, including Sightsavers Ireland’s Most sincere thank you ever written.

What do all these have in common?

For starters they are different from the norm. They are unexpected, with an element of surprise. They stand out. Just imagine how you’d feel if, in the middle of a busy day, you came across one of these – it would make you stop and enjoy the moment.

They are also emotional. I challenge you to read any of these without feeling moved. 

And they are extremely personal to the reader. They are all designed around the donor’s experiences and needs, giving them something they will value for a long time.

All of these examples could be thought of as one-offs, but some charities go further and create entire fundraising products around these moments. What else is child sponsorship but a series of one Magic Moment (when the child writes about the life that you have made possible) after another? It’s no wonder child sponsorship has such high retention rates and that child sponsors often have the highest scores in our loyalty research.

There is no limit to the Magic Moments we can create – just the limits to our imagination and the priorities that we give to this.

Can you think of the last magic moment you gave your supporters?

So, do you create magic for your donors? SOFII is a fantastic place to get inspired – have a browse, think about your donors and come up with your own idea for how you can create a Magic Moment for your donors today. It will make an impression and they’ll remember you for it for years to come.

But also, what’s your favourite charity Magic Moment? I’d love to hear. If it’s on SOFII then please send me the link. If it isn’t, I’d be grateful if you’d let me know anyway and perhaps you could also write it up for SOFII and share it with the world.

And now over to Perry Como!

 

About the author: Roger Lawson

Roger Lawson

Roger Lawson (he/him) helps charities create and implement supporter experience strategies that excite and inspire donors to give… and keep giving!

Roger’s approach is based on his passion for understanding the personal motivations why donors give to the charities they do. He’s as happy as a pig in muck when he’s speaking to donors to understand and measure the emotional connection they have with the charities they support; building segmentation models to help charities understand their different audience needs; developing propositions that inspire giving and legacies; or designing supporter experiences that grow long-term loyalty and value.

Roger has held senior fundraising positions at Feed the Children and WWF, been strategy director of Cascaid and GOOD Agency (two of the UK's most innovative and successful fundraising agencies) and now enjoys working directly with charities and universities.

He’s on the steering groups for the IOF’s Supporter Experience and Insight in Fundraising groups, is an IOF Convention board member and is a judge of the Donor Experience Award at the National Fundraising Awards.

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