Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Face to face bashing is not unique to Australia

Karen Ward who works for the New Zealand PFRA (which tries to make sure face to face in NZ is coordinated and has code of conduct etc) sent through some anti-F2F media following up on the Australian POYSN story (as per my last blog).

My mate in Ireland also wrote up about how an ill informed senator and some media muppet are having a go over there.

Dan Pallotta, US fundraiser and author is speaking first thing at the FIA (Australian fundraising) conference tomorrow and he will probably show his 'I am overhead' campaign from the US taking the issue of costs to the public.

Should we(and the Irish, British and Kiwis) take on the issue in the media? Or are we better off sticking with a pseudo Von Bismark approach - 'The people need sausages, laws and charities but they really don't need to see how they are made'?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Face to face in the media

Face to face works - hundreds of millions of dollars raised over the last decade in Australia alone - as you can see from my most recent blog.

But journalists keep sniffing around to find a story.  Unfortunately for them, there is not much of a story; from a public point of view it is pretty boring because it is just a bunch of people getting paid to do a job.

They get paid a reasonable amount which is usually based on how well they do their job.  

They are employed by a company who arranges materials, admin, data and organises the whole thing with relevant charities.

As the chart in my previous blog shows, the system works - donors who otherwise would not have donated, donate, and charities get to do more work than they would have done if they had not used this method of fundraising.

Consequently, when there are stories in the press not a lot happens really - from a data point of view.  We don't see a spike in cancellations and it doesn't seem to make things harder for street canvassers (if you are one, please correct me if I am mistaken!)

Sunday Telegraph Journalist Jonathan Marshall decided to go undercover and go through the process of training for a canvasser.

Most of what he found is pretty boring:
- the companies exist to make profit
- canvassers are told if they do really well they can make lots of money
- mining towns are great, because people have too much money, little to do and like chatting to attractive young people

However, one thing gave him his hook - something that would actually make this story interesting enough for editors to run, and to be fair to Jonathan he had invested a lot of time in this and is a well trained journalist.

His hook was that the agency was using an acronym to describe who should not be targeted.  Whilst their targeting is actually socially responsible, it had a totally inappropriate word in it - 'Stupid'.  Canvassers in this company were told to avoid marketing to Poor, Old, Young, Stupid and Non English speaking - they say avoid the POYSN (pronounced Poison).  Of course, it is not in the interests of the charity to sell monthly giving to particularly vulnerable people so the advice is good - but the phrase is disrespectful.  Really, it was just waiting to be exposed.

What we do in fundraising is not wrong - we invest and pay trained professionals to make money for our causes.  But we need to do it in a respectful way - yes we can be cheeky, motivate people from many angles (change the world AND make money is a good incentive for many people) - but assume there is a webcam watching us when we do it.

Jonathan's story was picked up by The Project.  The Video will only work in Australia and you want the 19 Feb episode which should start playing .  Fast forward to about 1:30 after the ad.


Friday, February 17, 2012

When will face to face reach saturation point?

Face to face, or direct dialogue*, which is used to acquire monthly donors has added millions onto charity disposable income in New Zealand Australia in just one decade.  In 2001 it hardly existed in Australia.

Every year my company, Pareto, coordinates a data comparison project on behalf of a few dozen charities.  Last year 41 charities compared their data and found that around a third of their income from individuals now came from regular giving (automatic debits from their bank accounts or credit cards)... RG is the light blue on the chart below...

...and of that 30% or so of their income F2F has been the biggest driver...(F2F is the orange-ish bit).

You can see that F2F was still driving the growth, and had actually grown by more in 2009-2010 than 2008-2009.  But I still keep hearing people worried about 'saturation'  - sometimes to the extent that it puts them off investing in this area.

Clearly it is not saturated yet across the market.  However, some charities have done so well that the number they acquire each year is about the same as the number they lose to attrition so they have no net increase.  For them, they need to look at alternatives if they want to continue to grow.

The latest benchmarking round of comparative data is due April/May this year and seeing if F2Fs rate of growth grew again in 2010-2011 will be fascinating.  I will let you know.

* By face to face I mean the process of stopping people in the streets, shopping malls, door to door and at events and asking them to sign up for an ongoing debit from the credit card or bank account.  It is huge in Europe, having taken off big time in the mid 90s in the UK and accounts for the majority of new donors acquired in emerging fundraising markets like Hong Kong, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.  Canada is into it too, but the US is a late entrant, with proportionally less F2F activity.  Almost certainly the biggest growth potential in the world is in the USA.  If you are US fundraiser and don't know about it - find out more!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Calling all Australian fundraisers - Urgently

The Australian Treasury have launched their consultation document on fundraising.

The document can be obtained here, and more information here.

The FIA board are meeting on 21 Feb and will discuss their response - if you are a member, then let your representative know your views.  If you are a member of the FIAs LinkedIn discussion group then you can also make your views known there.

For me as a fundraiser, it looks pretty benign.  But it is not necessarily going to replace state and territory rules with national ones (I don't believe the Commonwealth has the power to do that) but it does hopefully lead the way for harmonization.

My biggest worry is the cost of fundraising / admin issue.  It is complex and hard to explain to donors and the general public and 'league tables' like those in the US are really not helpful, even on a charity wide basis.  It is not fair to accuse Surf Life Saving of being an ineffective charity just based on their cost of fundraising - as happened in the press recently.

For each charity it depends on what stage of development their fundraising is, how sexy the cause is, whether they are growing or staying steady and more.  A charity getting lots of bequests looks better than one that doesn't.

Comparing like this is simply unhelpful.  For example, one charity could  have a fundraising event where a sponsor - say a printer - provides all the materials for free.  Another, doing the same event, must pay the printer but a different sponsor donates an amount to cover the cost of the print.  Both raise the same, spend the same, but the second one looks like it has a worse cost of fundraising because the costs went through its books.

Please have a read through the document - I know, you are busy and some could see it as boring; but it is very important!  Then respond.  Please send them a submission; plenty of non-fundraisers will.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Clever stuff online

The ex Pareto CEO, now fundraising boss at Vision Australia accused me of being 12 years old, and having missed Take Hart for posting my Pinterest boards on 'Animals around my home' and Birds We see around our home.
But I am not alone in my rekindled childhood, Clarke Vincent who works on Benchmarking as well as business development and is very grown up, made this video to promote benchmarking using a cute animation program. register+now+for+Pareto+Fundraising+Benchmarking by clarkevincent

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!
Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here