Fundraising. “Its all about the money” – “its the bottom line that counts”. Well yes and no. Sure we want to raise money but I contend that the focus on asking for money isn’t what fundraising is about!
Pick up any book on digital or marketing and what will strike you is the same message comes across again and again. The world has changed. Now I think we all know this but I certainly hadn’t really stopped to think why. It’s the web of course.
In Sticky Marketing the author Grant Leboff explains so eloquantly why the internet changes everything. In the past consumers gladly received marketing material, it gave them useful information. But now we don’t need it. Think how you currently buy products (in fact try it out for a month as I did). For anything over £10 how do you decide what product to buy and who to buy from?
It comes down to two methods 1. you ask your network. “What camera do you use? ” “Have you read” … such and such? OR 2. you search the web. And when you search the web chances are you will be looking for people’s opinions and customer reviews. That’s it. All that direct marketing (shouting) is just becoming unwelcome noise.
Now maybe giving a donation to charity is entirely different to everything else we buy. But why should it be? And if that isn’t the case now then what’s stopping it being the case in the near future?
It’s now about getting attention
It’s no longer about ‘the ask’ i.e. marketing that effectively says ‘donate here’ or ‘give to us’. It’s now about getting attention. In other words engagement.
The ask is the last bit. If we fundraisers have done our jobs then the donor will have already made their mind up when they are asked to give. The ‘ask’ still has its place. Done well it says “we need you”, and that you matter. But the best way you can influence the likelihood someone says yes when you do ask them is to invest energy and time in all that goes before. i.e. engage them! If you want someone to marry you, you do a bit of groundwork first.
It’s why everything that has gone before is so critical. Great donor care, good communications and great stories so people remember you. Yet we get so focused on measuring the effectiveness of fundraising on the last bit – the ROI, the response rate – and not on what really matters!
And yes people give because someone asks them. But people give because someone they like asks them (think about all those friends you sponsor). So fundraising is not about asking its about getting liked, adored even.
This is not new (think Relationship Fundraising) but now it is critical because the old ways will soon stop working. The world has changed. The question we fundraisers have to ask ourselves is, have we?