Episode 75: How to test, prototype and implement new fundraising ideas, with Craig Linton

Episode Notes

This time we’re exploring ways to gather insight and test fundraising ideas. Whether it’s a new event, campaign or product, following a clear path helps you focus your creative efforts productively.

There are plenty of tools you could use, but to explore one effective approach, I am joined by the ever-practical Craig Linton of the Supporter Experience Collective. Craig uses examples to explain a model and various helpful tactics he uses for taking fundraising ideas to market.

To bring it to life, he explains how it helped in the development of a very successful virtual event delivered by the Natural History Museum in the UK, which raised double its income target.

If you want to share this episode with your colleagues or on social media, thank you for spreading the word. We are both on Linked In and on twitter Craig is @FRdetective and I am @woods_rob.

Further Resources

Other Episodes: If you found this episode of the podcast helpful, there are lots more you might also enjoy, including:

Episode 40 – FIVE ideas to boost Individual Giving Results, with Craig Linton: https://www.brightspotfundraising.co.uk/podcast/episode-40-craig-linton-five-ideas-to-boost-individual-giving-results/

Episode 10 – How to improve the supporter experience through greater insight, with Lesley Pinder.

https://www.brightspotfundraising.co.uk/podcast/episode-10-lesley-pinder-how-to-improve-the-supporter-experience-through-better-insight/

Would you like a Programme of training, inspiration and support to help you increase fundraising income? You can find out more about our flagship 6 month programmes: the Individual Giving Mastery Programme, with Craig Linton, or the Major Gifts Mastery Programme; the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme led by Rob Woods, by following these links.

Want to go deeper and get 24/7 access to LOTS more inspiring training content?

Our training and inspiration club for fundraisers the Bright Spot Members Club, has an extensive library of Rob’s best training films, a supportive community, and access to live masterclasses and problem-solving sessions with Rob and other experienced fundraising / leadership trainers EVERY WEEK. To find out more about how to get access to all these resources, go to www.brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join/

Quotes

‘Prototyping sounds technical, but all we’re saying is, test things in a small way first. Don’t wait until it’s absolutely perfect. This is about rough and ready testing to help you get to the next stage.’

Craig Linton

‘The response form is often the thing we think about last, but I’d encourage you to think creatively about how to build stronger offers, really concrete asks for your supporters this year.’

Craig Linton

Full transcript

Rob:

Hello, and welcome to the 75th Episode of Fundraising Bright Spots Podcast. My name’s Rob Woods, and this is the show for anyone who works in fundraising, and who wants ideas, and maybe a nudge of inspiration to help you raise more money and enjoy your job, especially during the pandemic. And today, we’re looking at ways to develop a new product, event, or fundraising campaign, and I’m really pleased to be joined by my friend, and long-standing collaborator, Craig Linton. Craig is a hugely experienced trainer, fundraiser, consultant and author. You may know him from his Fundraising Detective blogs, or as the co-author of the excellent book, Donors for Life.

Rob:

And he’s also the lead trainer on our Individual Giving Mastery Programme, which starts again for the fourth time, this autumn. In today’s episode, we’re excited to share with you a three-step model that Craig and his colleagues, at the supporter experience collective, have found to be a really effective way to stay organized, and maximize your creativity as you gather insight and develop ideas for any new fundraising initiative. And to bring the model to life, Craig touches on a recent project at the Natural History Museum in the UK, which contributed to a really successful virtual event, which among other things, raised double its target for individual donations. So without more ado, here’s my conversation with Craig. Hello Craig Linton, how are you?

Craig:

Hey, well, thanks Rob. Thank you for inviting me on to the podcast again.

Rob:

You are very welcome. We’ve got some lovely feedback from the earlier episode. And today, we are going to look at, in particular, developing ideas and an approach to testing ideas and gathering insight in a really organized way so that you not only minimize risk, but also you learn and you increase the potential upside, because you’re more likely to get your fundraising project or appeal right, or mostly right first time. Just before we get into that, I guess my question would be, quite often organizations don’t quite get round to being organized in gathering insights, they know they should, but there’re reasons why it doesn’t quite happen. Is that your observation? And what would you say to an organization, they’ve got an appeal coming up or some kind of new fundraising project coming up, and they don’t know how to get started in gathering insight in an organized way?

Craig:

Yeah, I think you’re right Rob. That a lot of charities and fundraisers struggle with this and I think part of it is you hear the word “insight” and that can feel quite scary, and it can feel quite overwhelming. You think, “Well, I’m going to have to speak to the debt team.” Or “we’re going to have to get lots of information from our CRM system.” Or “I need to go and get some budget.”

Craig:

But actually a lot of what we’ll talk about today is how do you do this in an efficient, low cost, but effective way, that charities of all sides, fundraisers, and all organizations can use to quickly gather the information, and to check out those hunches that we have, that intuition that we often have for ideas, can you find information to test that quickly and efficiently, rather than spending lots of time, lots of money, lots of meetings to try and figure out what you’re doing. By using this process hopefully, we will take you step-by-step through a way that you can robustly test in the real world, your ideas and your theories about fundraising and developing products, and event ideas, or individual giving campaigns, whatever it could be.

Rob:

Yes, that makes sense Craig. And I gather that you’ve developed a model and you and your colleagues at The Supporter Experience Collective have found it’s really been helping some charities that you work with. I know there was a large cancer organization that found it really helpful, and a museum recently, it helped them to get some wonderful results. In fact, that was intriguing the one you mentioned to me before about a museum, and how it helped with a virtual project they did. What was that result? And then after that, maybe we can just introduce this model out because I think it will help our listeners.

Craig:

Yeah, certainly Rob. So about this time last year, we worked with the Natural History Museum on a virtual event. They were planning this big in-person event, of course, because of COVID they had to turn it into a virtual event and it was a concert with a fantastic band and author of the Last Words that was set to music. It was incredible. Very beautiful and well worth the listen. But back to the fundraising, they were… “Help, we need to get an audience to this virtual event. We’ve never done this.”

Craig:

And we used what we call our get stuff done model to work through, well, who is the audience for this? What are the different messages that might work for those audiences? How can we test it quickly and efficiently online? And we used many Facebook ads for that. And then once we found out what was working, we rolled that out and I’m very pleased to say we got over a 1000 new donors. We had I think 3 or 4,000 people attending the concert itself. The target was to try and raise £50,000 from individuals and we raised over a £100 000 using this model to help us identify our audience, and cover what they needed, explore and prioritize our thinking ideas, and then engage and test and prototype those ideas before rolling it out.

Rob:

Well Craig, that sounds like a fantastic result. Well done to all concerned. Top line then to help our listeners who may not be able to work with you one-to-one. What does the model look like? What are the main stages in that top line? And then after that, maybe we can go step by step.

Craig:

Yes, certainly Rob. So we start with the uncovering phase. And this phase is key because it helps us understand what our supporters want and need. And it helps get the team, the project team who are working on this new idea, or this new campaign to understand what those needs are. Because I think one of the traps we fall into, we want to jump straight into the ideas, and we want to start doing it. But what we’re saying is actually before you get into the ideas, get to know your audience, understand what they need, and then we go into the explore phase, which is where we can start thinking about those insights and come up with problem statements to spark ideas, and then looking at where we want to prioritize our time to look at those ideas that we think have got the most potential.

Craig:

And then finally when we go into the engage phase, this is all about taking the top ideas into the world, create a really simple prototype, get instant feedback from supporters and colleagues, and then we evaluate that and iterate from there and improve it until it’s ready to be a fully formed… “Right, we’re confident this is going to work, let’s launch it and put it out there.” Now, like all models, it’s not necessarily linear and you might have to go back a stage and forward a stage, but we find it’s really useful to help think in this way to take you through a process that will get you to a tested idea. So we help you take the idea and turn it into reality, in hopefully quite a short period of time.

Rob:

Yeah, that makes sense. And one thing already I’m getting from that explanation, is it’s destroying the myth that when there is a successful project, it was because of one great idea, one eureka moment, so I love that your model is already just showing this. There’s a process to follow, do the work, rather than thinking it’s about one moment of genius. But if we could come back to your first chunk then, and I think you called it the uncover phase. Already one thing I’m sensing is, the first step is if not, say what is your outcome, what result do you want, you need to do some insight gathering first because that might affect you deciding what exactly the problem is, or the outcome is. Have I got that right? And what are the two main ways you split out that uncover phase?

Craig:

Yeah. So I think where we begin with Rob, is thinking about what insights do we need so we can understand the wider context and identify the gaps and opportunities, making sure that our supporters are interested in this. And then understand what some of the emotions are around why people support you and why they might want to get involved with this project, and then some real world observations. So we’re looking to generate insight from our internal data, from external data. We might do that classic PEST analysis or YouGov data is very helpful in understanding it.

Craig:

One tip that I love and tell lots of people about is the Facebook ads library, which is completely free. You can go on and look at what other charities are doing in terms of advertising, and you can start to say, “Well if charity is bringing this up four or five times a year, it’s probably a good hint that’s working.”

Craig:

So is there anything you can learn from that, adapt from that and take from it? So, one of the examples from Eleanor who’s part of the collective when she worked at CRUK, they were doing a project in their shops and they wanted to test an idea around increasing donations from younger female shoppers, quite style conscious and thinking about how they could do it. And one of the first things that they did was going out into the shops and observing how people interacted with the shops, how they donated there. That uncovered that this group they were targeting they were time poor, they didn’t have time necessarily to sort this stuff out and go to the local shop, even though they were quite willing to because they might’ve given in memory of a grandparent who died for example.

Craig:

So that just meant that they needed to understand, well, we have to make this easy to donate. And so that insight would then lead them on to the next phase. You can use surveys. I’m a big fan of individual interviews, just talking, and rather than talking, mainly listening to supporters, understanding what they’re looking for? Why they support? And then you uncover a real wealth of information from quite a small number of interviews. And then the final thing in terms of gathering insight is, it sounds quite a fancy complicated word this, ethnography. But it’s really just about observing people in their own environment. So if you’ve got a retail shop, go just sit and watch what people do. Yeah, my colleague Leanne, when she was doing a project at Christian Aid around TAP collection boxes, so cashless and contactless. She went into the tube station where she noticed a charity had one of these.

Craig:

She just sat with a coffee for an hour observing who went up to the polls, who tapped on it, and that gave us some really interesting insights to then take back for when they were thinking, how do we make more of this opportunity within our charity? So there’s lots and lots of ways you can gather insight, and none of those necessarily involve big, expensive, strategic external agencies. You can do lots of this yourself, and actually it’s really good fun, the insights part of it. So once we generate the insights, it’s all about then framing the problem, and making the most of the data. So we often use personas. Personas can get a very bad press and when they’re not done well and correctly, they can be more of a hindrance than a help. But when we’re talking about developing personas, it’s very much around what do they link to what we call empathy map.

Craig:

So it’s about actually what they support themselves as saying, they’re doing, they’re thinking, they’re feeling. How do you uncover that? How do you help use that mapping to paint a picture of your support? Is it What their needs are? Where are the gaps in your research? And can you cluster ideas and observations and are there different groups of supporters. So going back to that concept we talked about, it was very quick. There’s people who loved the museum, there’s people who loved the band and the authors who were involved. There was also then people who were very environmentally conscious, because it was raising money for an environmental project. And then even within the museum audience, there was people who were members without kids and people with kids. And you can see there four very distinct groups, all slightly different messaging. And the empathy mapping just really helped us understand what those needs were, so we could then hypothesize about, “Well, what’s going to appeal to them? What benefits of this concert are going to really appeal and make people want to sign up and do something?”

Rob:

So just to be clear Craig, a picture of how it worked in that situation. You worked to… Well, you discovered that broadly there were these four different types of segment of the audience roughly, but then you tried to make each of those four as human as possible in terms of why they cared and what their habits and beliefs and so on and so were, and you got that down on paper, but crucially, it was based on insight from desk research, but also maybe interviews as well. And once you had those four really clearly, probably going onto the next stage in the model, it became easier to make decisions about… “Is one of these more important than the other?” Or “Can we satisfy all four but in different ways?” That later, tactical stuff became easier because you could see what quote the targets were?

Craig:

Yeah, absolutely Rob. And it’s then… Come back, we’ll prioritize later, but it helps you understand, well what’s the size of that audience? How close are they to being connected to your cause? How easy is it to reach them? So you can then start prioritizing… Well actually, the easiest group is the museum, but actually that’s the smallest group as well. So actually the potential there is probably smaller than maybe the music group, but they might be harder to reach because they were in North America and across Europe. It was a balancing act. But they all had very different needs and the personas are all about gathering and the empathy mapping is about putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they want. You might have heard this one before Rob, but supposedly Einstein once said, if you had an hour to solve a problem, and his life depended on it, he’d use the first 55 minutes to formulate the right question.

Craig:

And he said, “Once I’ve got the right question, I can solve the problem in less than five minutes.” So one of the big switches that we recommend, we touched on it earlier about, we sometimes dive straight into the idea generation. Well actually, what is the question that you’re trying to solve? And a really simple way to do this is a technique called the five whys. And you’ve probably used it. It’s just really simple. You just keep asking why until you get to the root cause.

Craig:

So a really simple example, a fundraising team might want to solve their loss supporter retention rates. So you might start, well, 90% of our supporters don’t make a second gift, why? Well, we don’t inspire them to give again. Why? Actually our thanking and welcome journeys are generic and boring. Why? But we talk about ourselves rather than about our supporters needs. Why? We don’t know enough about our supporters. So the problem shifts from, how do we improve our retention rate? To, okay, well how do we capture more data and our supporters motivations, beliefs, and identities? And it helps you then answer that problem.

Craig:

So back to Eleanor’s example at CRUK. So I was shopped on attracting high enough value stock. So I was shopped on easy to access for people who might donate high value clothes. Why? Shops aren’t located close to them? Why? Oh, our target audience lives in more affluent areas, they’re working during the day and weekends they’re already busy, so they don’t have time to drop things off. Ah okay, so our problem isn’t necessarily the stock, it’s how do we make it easy and painless to donate high value stock to CIU Care. So you can use those five whys. It’s a really great technique to get to actually what are we trying to solve here? And not just raise more money it’s about, well, why do you want to raise more money? And how is this going to help us? And so on.

Craig:

And the other one is about using this idea of, how might we? To reframe your challenge and to look for solutions. And the choice of how and might and we is deliberate, because how sort of suggests, well, we don’t know the answer yet, so we’re putting aside our preconceptions and we can explore a range of solutions. Might, suggest that there’s more than one way to do this, so it allows us to go multiple directions. And then we, is about collaboration, and using the collective knowledge of your colleagues and volunteers and other people in the organization to get to the best answer.

Craig:

And you might create multiple, how might we, statements. So for the Natural History Museum, when we talked about how might we get people to the concert? How might we inspire people who are interested in the environment to give? How might we incentivize the music? People to sign up early? How might we involve children? So you can see by answering those questions, you just start then getting ready for that generating ideas phase, which comes next in the model.

Rob:

Hi there, it’s Rob. And I want to jump in really quickly. In case you’d like to get a deeper level of training and coaching support, then it’s possible in these short podcast episodes. And if you work in individual giving, I’m excited to let you know that this autumn, Craig and I are again launching the Individual Giving Mastery Program, which is designed to give you the strategies and the support to help you grow ideal results for your charity.

Rob:

This is the second time we’ll be running the program since the pandemic began. And last time we were incredibly proud of the results that people achieved, including for instance, the brilliant Jax Jones who used the techniques to achieve her charities biggest ever appeal total. Raising a quarter of a million pounds for her hospice. If you’d like to find out more about Individual Giving Mastery, or any of our other programs go to brightspotfundraising.co.uk/services. For now though, let’s get back to the interview, as Craig explains the second phase of the model.

Craig:

So now we’re going to explore Rob. We’re going to explore some of those solutions to the problem. And the first thing is around ideation. We wanted to get people away from those dominant people with quite fixed ideas. And we want to try how do we help bring in fresh thinking and ways of doing things? So we really want to try and do it in a structured way. Brainstorming in some ways has a bad reputation. So we looked for some other brainstorming techniques to help us avoid that group think and to generate a wide range of ideas to the problems and the, how might we, statements we’ve identified. So lots of tools and techniques here. We used something called SCAMPER, which is an acronym that stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, reverse.

Craig:

And you sort of challenge people to think, well, how could we swap something? Or how can we combine something? So again thinking of that example in the CIU Care and the attracting. How might we attract young aspirational shoppers? The SCAMPER… Well substitute, what can we replace? Can we sell our high value stock on eBay? Could we do fashion shows in our charity shops combined? Can we create advertising campaigns specifically aimed at young shoppers? Can we donate via post rather than dropping clothes off at the charity shop? So it’s the ways that you can solve it by using these different frameworks to do it. Getting back to the Natural History Museum, so we had our different groups that we’d found through our research, we’d developed empathy maps, we’d come up with our, how might we, statements and our problems.

Craig:

So now it was all about generating those ideas. What could our Facebook ads look like? What offers could we do? And we then developed ideas where we could offer them. Behind the scenes tour…or we could offer them bonus footage, we can offer them a gift pack for Christmas. We could make them a VIP. We can send them artwork. So we had lots of these ideas that we generated, that we then looked at, well, how can we prioritize and what is feasible with the infrastructure and the teams that we had? So we thought we’d came up with a great idea about a fun pack that we could do for the schools and for children, but actually just the logistics of getting it approved by the different departments in time just meant it wasn’t going to be feasible. So we just had to park that one.

Craig:

And actually what was feasible was repurposing some content and actually packaging it together with a behind the scenes interview with one of the authors and one of the musicians. And actually that then when we put that in the final stage, which we’ll get onto, became really well. So prioritizing those ideas. Once you’ve got those 10, 20, 30, 40 ideas that you’ve generated, and ways you can do it, start prioritizing based on whatever criteria you’ve set for your challenge.

Craig:

Look back to the problem. What do you want to achieve? Try and base it on facts, not on the loudest person in the room and make sure that you’re giving everybody a chance to share their views. So you might do that through scoring. We often use ADOC voting and giving people ways to be able to say, “That’s my favorite.” Might use something like an ease and impact matrix to see well actually too complicated. It’s going to take too much time, we can’t do that. But actually this one over here, we don’t need a lot of input, we don’t need a lot of things, but actually we think it’s got a lot of potential. So we’ll go for that one as well. So that then gets you to the point where, right, we’ve got our priorities, we’re now going to go off and test them in the real world. And we’re going to go to the final phase in the model.

Rob:

Yeah, so Craig, we’ve got this uncover stage and this explore stage. We’re really making progress now and you really need to start turning it into something. How do you frame that last chunk?

Craig:

Yeah, so this last bit is around starting to prototype and test those ideas and then obviously evaluating them, have they worked? So prototyping, again, it sounds quite technical, but all we’re saying is just test this in a small way. Don’t wait until it’s absolutely perfect. You don’t have to spend again thousands on designing something. This is about rough and ready testing to help you get to the next stage and to see, “Okay, does this idea have legs?”

Craig:

So there’s lots of ways you can do this. Just a couple, there’s something called an appetite test. Lots of online companies do this. So they might set up a fake webpage or landing page, do some Instagram ads or Facebook ads, can they get people to the fake landing page signing up? Is there enough interest in their idea? And if it is yes, well, okay, we’re onto something. We’ll do it in the future. Prototyping where you might physically make something, you might sketch something out, or you might ask and then get a potential support to take a look at it.

Craig:

You might design a poster for an event or something. What do you think this is about? Would you do this? What would make you sign up to it? So you just make people easier for them to get a sense of what you’re going to ask them to do. And then the third one which I really love the name of, which is The Wizard of Oz test, because this is… Basically, if you remember The wizard of Oz, big reveal, and actually it’s all a sham behind the scenes.

Craig:

You’re not actually automated and the rest of it. So this is the idea of doing something in the background that appears automated, but it’s actually a manual process. So in that CIU Care example, what they did is they got people to mail in their clause, and they offered to pay people for them. Now ideally, that would have all been automated and they would have done it automatically. But what in reality did to test it, was they got the clause in, they run down to the local shop. How much is this worth? How much is that worth? Calculated it out themselves manually, and then send the cheque off in the post, back to the supporter. But by doing it that way, they could see the potential flaws and what worked well in the idea, and where they could improve it. [inaudible 00:26:50] one we used, obviously a lot and very cost-effective for testing is Facebook ads.

Craig:

So testing different audiences, testing different offers, different ways of responding, so a bit like the appetite test. Set up a landing page, find out more about our upcoming events, and then you can very easily say… getting in touch. Actually there wasn’t enough interest this time, but we’ll let you know if we do anything in the future. So well again, we looked at a few different ideas and products, quickly tested them, found out that this behind the scenes thing was working really nicely for the music audience, finding out that this gift idea was working really well for the family audience, and then we could then put some more money behind it and take it forward.

Craig:

So just really think about what the smallest, quickest, cheapest, easiest way you can test something to learn from it. So just start the first piece of the jigsaw, just do that rather than spending lots of time and money on it. And then use the real observed behavior. Don’t ask people afterwards, but how do they interact? How do they actually do and use the thing? And watch them doing it and using it if you can and write things down.

Rob:

Yes Craig, that’s really helpful. And when you’re talking about this step of prototyping and testing, over the years, both in charity sector and commercial sector, I’ve seen various examples that I really like, and I see how they helped. I do agree, it’s a thing that just doesn’t get done enough. And a tiny bit of extra courage or creativity can really help you get momentum for a whole project to move forward. My favorite example recently, I was reading a book called That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph, who, I don’t know if listeners are aware, but he’s the co-founder of Netflix. And many years ago, when he was trying to work out what his new business idea could be and how he could make it work, and he was playing around with the idea of creating a mail order industry or creating a mail order business for DVDs, where people could rent a DVD, but through the post.

Rob:

And there was a point where it just didn’t add up because of the cost of posting DVDs and so on. And the key moment at which his business idea became possible, was when he decided to just… As soon as they had the idea, they got a DVD and they posted it to an address in a different state and it arrived A, there cheaply enough, B it was small enough to get through the postbox.

And C, crucially, it didn’t break on the way. And because of that test of those three crucial things, suddenly the numbers for how he could have a really successful, profitable business and creating a new business category really. It took off with the confidence that he wouldn’t have had, had he not just immediately got on and done the prototype test. Is there anything else you want to say for a listener weighing up about that step or if not, is there a final piece to this overall model you’ve got?

Craig:

Yeah. I think that the importance of prototyping and testing is not just doing the prototype and test it, it’s also then evaluating it in a real concrete way and not just rushing to conclusions and say that didn’t work or that did work. It’s looking for the nuance in the figures. And then the criteria that you set. So for example, going back to the CIU Care example, so they ran a number of tests and it looked like it was working really well.

Craig:

People were interested in selling the clothes to them. They found the right audience. They were getting good quality secondhand clothes, but it was only the final stage when they reviewed. Well actually, if we did scale this up, how much would it cost us and what would be the margin? It wasn’t… The cost of postage was going to be so excessive that actually it was never going to raise enough money to be cost-effective.

Craig:

So they then parked it, but took some of the innovation and some of the other ideas and applied it elsewhere. So they could have spent tens, if not hundreds of thousands thinking they’ve got this great idea, but by having some very clear success criteria evaluated against it, they could see that we’re three-quarters of the way there, but it just failed on this final part of cost effectiveness.

Craig:

And so they saved a lot of time and effort, but also got some really good learnings. And it was the same with the Natural History Museum. We did these Facebook ads to these different audiences we’ve identified. At first glance, if you looked at like cost per click, there’s one audience that was a lot cheaper, but actually when you delve further and you looked at the conversion data and how many of them actually went on to donate, the ones that cost a little bit more to acquire and get that interest to begin with actually converted it three or four times the rare and therefore they were the most cost effective audience to target, not the one that you would might have just done if you just casually looked at the numbers and not dug a little bit deeper.

Craig:

And I see this with a lot of clients, you can look at the headline figure and jump to a conclusion that, oh, they’re the best, that one, or this is what stood. So now you need to evaluate over a period of time. So another example with a client is one that they do a lot petitions, and they get people to sign petitions on Facebook and then they take them on this hopefully engaging, inspiring journey and turn them into donors. So there was audience there that was signing the petition that got really angry and [inaudible 00:32:40] this is terrible. We’re going to do it. And thousands signed up and it cost them pennies to get the people to sign this audience, but actually none of them actually went on to donate.

Craig:

So it’s great to get that awareness but actually they weren’t really helping them achieve their mission longer term by donating. There was actually a smaller audience. It was a bit older and slightly different in terms of their demographics and their interests and beliefs. It would cost about five, 10 times more to actually reach and to get people to sign the petition, but they converted it seven, eight times the rate of this other group.

Craig:

And so actually their lifetime value and the end result was far better for this other group that if you could just look at how much it cost to sign the petition, it would have failed. It was only when you evaluated a couple of months later that the true value and that the winner sort of emerged. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Take time to evaluate, allow that into your plan to make sure that you are getting the full picture and not just relying on a couple of headline figures.

Craig:

So once you’ve done this part of the evaluation, it’s not just then, oh, that didn’t work, let’s go. It’s also evaluating what were the parts that did work? Should we reflect back on that? Is it things we could adapt for future projects or other projects? If it passes, is it enough to just launch [inaudible 00:34:06] roll out or do you need to do some more testing? And then what insight would help you in the future to do an even better job?

Craig:

And you see there’s a lot in fundraising I think. Without naming names, but there was a real trend. Well actually, [inaudible 00:34:24] was this huge success by a subscription product. Did really well, got thousands of people to sign up. And so everybody suddenly wanted… Oh, let’s get a subscription product. Let’s copy the success of Mindful Monsters, let’s do that.

Craig:

And actually because they weren’t properly evaluated or prototyped and tested, I know of at least three or four of these products that have just completely flopped and didn’t work because they didn’t do that same level of probably research and evaluation and testing that obviously the team behind Mindful Monsters clearly did.

Craig:

And so they spent a lot of money rather than taking this more step-by-step approach that would’ve allowed them to learn whether there was a demand for their products in the first place. So think about your budget for testing, think about how you can use the insight and the knowledge across your teams and colleagues and get their buy in and making sure you’ve got clear criteria for evaluating your new product campaign idea.

Rob:

Mm-hmm. One thing that comes across really strongly is if you’re organized and say in an ongoing way, a holistic way, a step-by-step way, it really counteracts this instinct that might be part of the human condition to want a get rich quick scheme. To want to see things in black and white, to want one single answer that applies always and forever in all contexts.

Rob:

Whereas in reality, life just isn’t like that and neither is fundraising. And I think probably our listeners sort of understand that to be true, and yet maybe seeking ways to quite deliberately put that process in to counteract those instincts. Even if not from them, maybe from within other forces within their organization that wants a quick answer that simple and clear, and goes in one simple sound bite on a presentation to the board.

Craig:

Yeah, they do happen. These eureka moments, these big breakthroughs, but the vast majority of new ideas, new campaigns, they come from somewhere and you build upon a small success until it suddenly becomes an overnight success. I think it was a famous comedian who said it took me 20 years to become an overnight success. Well, we don’t want to be 20 years and testing. But actually by doing this, following this process, we can give ourselves a much better chance of finding ideas and campaigns that work and actually are scalable and deliverable.

Rob:

Thank you, Craig, for sharing with us one of the models you teach on the Individual Giving Mastery Program. I know there’s plenty more where that came from. I look forward to catching up with you very soon for another chat about fundraising, but for now, thanks very much for coming on the podcast.

Craig:

Thanks Rob. Pleasure as always.

Rob:

Well, I hope you found Craig’s examples and advice were helpful. If you did, it would be amazing if you could share it on with your colleagues and on social media so that we can get this content out to help as many charities as possible in this difficult year. Thank you very much for your help. As always, you can get a full transcript, a summary of the episode and more resources on the podcast section of our website, which is brightspotfundraising.co.uk.

Rob:

And if you’re interested in improving your skills and confidence in individual giving, in major donor fundraising or in corporate partnerships, then I can tell you that at the time of recording, there are still a few places available for each of these training programs starting this autumn. So do check out the information on our website today to find out more about any of these or the other ways we help fundraisers learn and stay inspired, go to brightspotfundraising.co.uk/services. Craig and I would love to hear what you think about today’s episode. We’re both on LinkedIn. And on Twitter, Craig is @FrDetective, and I am @woods_rob. Finally, please do remember to subscribe to the podcast today so that you never miss an episode. And thank you so much for listening. And I look forward to sharing more Bright Spot examples and ideas with you very soon.