Wednesday, 27 July 2011

How not to do direct mail

Got an all staff email at the university this morning asking me to sponsor someone doing the same event as me (albeit for ATAXIA a different charity). Given that there are several hundred staff and about 80 of us doing the event, it was singularly untargeted, had no compelling reason to respond and every reason to ignore!

It seems that even with all the luxuries of social networking, the ease of email and just giving pages we can still make all the basic errors of assuming anyone will give money just because we ask them.

Whislt doing a panel session last week for the Guardian, on charity communications a similar theme arose. Lots of people trying to come into the sector but firing off job and volunteer applications with little thought of what the recipient would make of the communication. Back to basics and reminders to stress everything relevant to the position, ensure that you make sure what you offer is (a) deliverable and (b) wanted. It is all about targetting as the gurus of Marketing - Philip Kotler and Michael Porter will tell you. Simples.

And what a brilliant campaign that is. Post modernism at its best. You advertise something entirely different to what the real product is about, but create brand recall AND (most important) an understanding that the product is all about insurance. Eat your heart out Go Compare and Confused. Targeted, skillfully executed and entirely relevant.

That's all there is to direct mail too.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Philanthropy Summit

So the Institute of Fundraising convenes a Philanthropy Summit at the convention and invites practitioners, pundits and academics (not to mention the Minister Nick Hurd) - so a big fat tick in the box and A for effort. Well done Amanda Shepherd. However the convention itself had only four sessions loosely connected to research and two genuine pieces of fundraising research. Big black mark against the board. And, a question around all those fine words asking for more research, more rigour and more evidence based reports to help present the big picture (instead of all the guru opinion pieces - fun, but increasingly irrelevant).

The questions posed were really quite good in terms of looking at how we might increase giving (both incidence and propensity) unsurprisingly, I think, they suffered from the lack of leadership that the Institute has (and is) experiencing. That's to take nothing away from Sir Alan (sorry Alan Gosschalk that is) who has in the circumstances steered a pretty steady course since the loss in rapid order of two chief executives and the chair. Now we have a new chair and, we're promised, a new CEO soon. But surely vision and mission doesn't come with the CEO but with the board (especially in the voluntary sector).

That is, I think, where we have a real problem. The Institute of Fundraising could do a number of things really well. It could help to make its qualifications mandatory and incentivise all members to become qualified through a structured CPD programme. It could appeal to CASE and lead the field in growth from educational fundraisers. It could help set the fundraising agenda by holding government to account and, by the by, become a chartered institute in the process.

It could do any of these but, I really doubt that it could do them all. So who chooses and how and why? Nobody seems to know and I fear things might just rumble on as always. I do hope I'm wrong in this instance and prove to be a real grump.