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Episode 86: More ideas for increasing and reactivating individual gifts, with Jenny Crabtree

Episode Notes

One crucial element of successful Individual Giving programmes is growing income with existing donors. So being organised in asking supporters if they’d like to give more, and to give again once they’ve stopped, is key.

In Episode 82 of this show, individual giving expert Jenny Crabtree shared a range of ideas to help fundraisers with successful upgrade and reactivation campaigns. This included mind-set, story-telling and how to find opportunities in your data.

In today’s episode, Jenny shares more advice, including: timing; effective stewardship long before you ask again; and ways to be curious and disciplined in testing / improving your approach.

Further Resources

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, including Jenny Crabtree, EVERY WEEK. To find out more about how to get access to all these resources, go to www.brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join/

Would you like training, inspiration and support to increase fundraising income? You can find out more about our flagship 6 month programmes: the Major Gifts Mastery Programme or the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme by following these links.

Quotes

That for me is the joy of individual giving. It’s that a lot of people, giving low or low-ish amounts, can make a huge, HUGE amount of change happen.’

Jenny Crabtree

‘In my experience the best performing channel for upgrade or reactivation, is telephone… I think the key is it is a two-way conversation with a real human being.’

Jenny Crabtree

Full transcript of Episode 86

Rob:

Hello, and welcome to Episode 86 of the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast. My name’s Rob Woods, and this is the podcast for anyone who works in fundraising and who wants some ideas and maybe a dash of inspiration to help you raise more money and enjoy your job, especially during the COVID pandemic. And today, if you work in individual giving or you’re a fundraising leader, and you’d like to deepen your understanding of some ideas that help make individual giving programmes successful, I hope you’re going to find this episode useful, because this time we’re looking at how to encourage regular supporters to donate more per month, and what you can do if they stop giving. In other words, the themes of upgrades and reactivation. I recently spoke to a brilliant fundraiser named Jenny Crabtree from Navigate Fundraising to create a new video learning bundle for our Bright Spot members club. All about how to improve your fundraising results through upgrades and reactivation.

Rob:

If this sounds helpful and you’re not a member of our learning and inspiration club, you can anyway get access to some of Jenny’s ideas by listening to Episode 82 of this podcast. In that one, Jenny offered advice in terms of mindset, cross-selling, telling stories, importantly, how to find opportunities for growth in your data, as well as the importance of engaging and inspiring your supporters long before you come to ask for anything more. In today’s episode, we continue to talk about engagement and stewardship among other things. And I was particularly keen to start by getting Jenny’s advice on how we can understand whether our current stewardship efforts are effective. So let’s get into it. Here’s my chat with Jenny Crabtree. Hello, Jenny, how are you?

Jenny:

I’m good. Thanks Rob. Good. Thank you very much for having me today.

Rob:

You’re very welcome, Jenny, I wonder, the majority of the fundraisers I talk to, they are working hard on thank you letters and they are working hard on stewardship, but you might say, yes, but is it working? Yes, it may be interesting to you what you’ve put in the stewardship or the channel you’ve chosen for the stewardship, but what matters is, is it interesting and enticing and working for the supporter? What would your advice be to help someone find the energy and the discipline to keep on going back to that test and curiosity mindset?

Jenny:

Yeah. As a direct marketer, testing is so critical, and it can often prove whether or not something is working, because you’re quite right. Just because you send it doesn’t mean it gets opened or read or anything happens to it. And with engagement pieces, you’re not asking for a response often, so there’s no measurable… Well, I know, I had a 5% open rate because that’s how many of them came back and I can show you all the envelopes on my desk. So even with engagement pieces, you can test. So I know one charity who, during lockdown, took the time to call a group of their supporters. Couldn’t do everybody, but there was a particular group that they called just to see how they were doing. No ask, no nothing, just a check-in call, which was amazing. And they are planning to segment that group in their upgrade activity this year to see if they perform any differently to the people who didn’t get that phone call of check-in.

Jenny:

And then what they’re hoping that will show because they haven’t been able to afford this year to do the check-in phone calls is they’re hoping that they will see an increased response to their uplift activity, that they can then build the business case and say, you know what? It cost us a thousand pounds to do the check-in activity, but we can see that the response for this particular group more than pays for that and still over-performs against the group you didn’t get it.

Jenny:

So they’ve got a control segment of those who didn’t get the phone call and those who did, and now they’re measuring. It’s taking them longer than they would’ve liked, because they would’ve liked to have been able to afford to do the phone calls because they think it’s a good stewardship piece, but ultimately they do have bottom lines to answer to and finance directors. So it’s a great way to be able to measure it and prove it. So that next year, hopefully, they’ll be able to justify the case for having a little bit of extra budget to do that engagement activity.

Rob:

Yes, Jenny. So this willingness to test as much as we possibly can, so that we’re getting a sense of whether things are working or whether they’re not, and so that we can justify future investment in these areas. It’s so obvious in a way and, no, it’s not always easy to find the time and energy to get that set up in practice. So anything we can do to steal our resolve to do it can only pay dividends. So one last area you think is important when we look at this topic?

Jenny:

I think the last thing and is the question I often get asked is when is the best time to upgrade my donors or to reactivate my donors. And sadly, it’s not a hard and fast you do it at this point in time. Again, you have to test it and find out and look at your overall engagement plan. I know some charities wait a full year when it comes to looking at when to do their upgrade activity. They will wait a full 12 months from the first gift a donor has given. Others wait six months. There’s no right or wrong and it very much, in my experience, comes down to testing it, looking at how much capacity you’ve got in your team to actually undertake those tests. I know many years ago when I was setting up an upgrade activity, we just had to do it once a year because there weren’t enough of us to do two campaigns a year, whereas now I know that charity has grown and they are doing it much more frequently.

Jenny:

Again, have you got enough donors to warrant, if you are going to use an outsourced third party agency, to warrant doing that twice a year, or does it have to be once a year or could you do it every quarter? How does that affect when you would do it? So there’s lots of really detailed things to think about when it comes to timeliness. So, who are you asking? Ideally, when would you ask them? And how frequently will you ask them? What happens if they say yes? What happens if they say no? Are you really going to keep asking year on year on year on year all those people that upgrade until what? When does it stop? Think about it. What happens if they say no? Are you just going to ask them again next year, or do you give them a break for a year?

Jenny:

Think about planning out those journeys for the different scenarios and think about what communications they will have seen coming back to the point earlier around what your colleagues might be doing. And it might not just be fundraising colleagues, it might be colleagues from comms team. If your charity has got a big awareness day. For example, you’re a disability charity and you’re doing some… a big push of activity about your charity and all the amazing work you do. And, yeah, how does that affect when you might want to do some of your fundraising activity?

Jenny:

And also look at the detail of how that fits with your donors. If you know that you want to do an upgrade telemarketing campaign, but your audience tend to be out at work all day, then don’t ring them between nine and five, because they might be like me when they’re in work mode, unless it’s my work phone that rings or the kids at school, I don’t answer it, because I’m like, no, I’m just here in this zone. So, would lunchtime or 5:30 entice them to pick up their phone and answer it?

Jenny:

So there’s lots of really micro level timing questions that you need to be asking and thinking about, when is the best time to do it? And in terms of timeliness, then reactivation is also really, really timely because you want that donor to think, well, yeah, actually that charity has noticed I’ve stopped giving. I know I quite often, as many of us fundraisers do, sign up to various different charities and I’ll give to them for a bit and see what happens. It’s amazing how few reactivation calls I get. It really is, and I always opt in. But it’s amazing how few that I get or sometimes I get them months or years later. I had one recently for a charity who… Oh, when did I stop giving? A long time ago. A long time ago.

Jenny:

And I had a reactivation call just a few months ago and I did restart to see what happens. But when I stopped giving and I didn’t get anything, I didn’t feel valued at all. But if you can put something in place as close as possible to the time when you notice that gift has been cancelled, then I’ve seen that work really well for some charities. I know some charities send a letter or an email offering a payment holiday of actually, I’m really sorry that you want to cancel your regular gift, Jenny.

Jenny:

Would it help if we set up a six month payment holiday and you restart in six months time? Some people, if your support services team are getting phone calls from people saying, I’m really sorry, I need to cancel my gift. Can you work with your support services colleagues to have a conversation with that donor of, I’m really sorry that you want to cancel it? Would it help if we reduced it just a couple of pounds a month? Does that help? And again, I’ve seen that work for some charities.

Rob:

Sorry to interrupt, Jenny. If I could just jump in with causes I support. There’s at least two times I’ve been quite relieved that a charity has been proactive and confident enough to say that to me on the phone, because I was feeling… I was feeling bad and I put off having to make this call. And where, because I still really cared about the cause, and the fact that they enabled me to have my cake and eat it. I was taking steps to economize, because I needed to financially, but I got to keep the identity of someone who still is there and hates this problem, and likes to think of themselves as one of the good guys that stands up against this problem.

Rob:

When the charity was able to give me a way out of that cognitive turmoil, that cognitive dissonance, so I could keep being a supporter [inaudible 00:11:16] for the moment going down to two pounds a month, but still broadly I was economizing. I remember being grateful to the person at the charity who was able to confidently help me basically get what I wanted.

Rob:

Hi, it’s Rob. And I wanted to jump in quickly to let you know that if you’re the manager of a team or if you belong to a fundraising team, at the time of publishing this episode, we’re still accepting team memberships to our learning and inspiration site; The bright Spot members club to give you a quick sense of the impact the ongoing access to these resources can have. Here’s what one fundraising manager shared about how the club has helped his team’s results.

Dan McNally:

Hi, my name’s Dan McNally, and I’ve been at Bright Spot Members Club for over a year now. And what I absolutely love about the club is the practical ability to translate Rob’s amazing sessions out into real life field fundraising results. When I was at the British Heart Foundation, we created a workshop based on Rob’s corporate fundraising bundles. And within six months, every single person who had gone on this workshop that we’d developed had managed to secure one of their dream 10 corporate organizations.

Rob:

To find out more about all the live workshops and training bundles that you get access to through the club, go to brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join. Or to find out about the valuable discounts available for teams, send me a message at events@brightspotfundraising.co.uk. But right now let’s get back to Jenny’s ideas about how to offer donors more options for supporting your charity when times are hard.

Jenny:

And I think confidence is key, because I’ve taken those phone calls from supporters myself, where they’ve said, I’m really sorry, I’ve supported you for ages, but my circumstances have changed and I can no longer afford to give to you. And it can be really, really scary and almost awkward as that person taking that call to say, did you know, you don’t have to cancel and you could reduce your gift? Because quite often people just sometimes don’t realize it because they will give £5. They think that’s all they can give. And that even just a pound doesn’t matter. And it truly is for me, it is when someone gives you a pound and they’re in hard times, but they are still going to give you a pound. That’s the stuff that makes me cry. That’s why I come to work. That’s the amazing stuff of caring enough to give you just that little bit.

Jenny:

And it all does add up, really, really, and truly does. That is the joy of individual giving. It is a lot of people giving low or low-ish amounts, can make a huge, huge amount of change for a charity. It doesn’t have to be a big, major donation of tens of thousands of pounds. You can do that through the power of the collective, and just being brave enough to tell people that even a pound will help, can be amazing. And you might need to do some training with the people that take the phone calls for you, whether that’s you or your support to care team, just to give them that confidence that you spoke about, because it is a bit scary. I’ve been there, done that and I completely get it.

Rob:

Yeah. And the thing that occurs to me while you’re saying that, I read a really interesting book called decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, which is all about some pitfalls that happen when human beings make decisions. And one of the most interesting things I remember about the book is how often as human beings, we just reduce things into no shades of gray, on or off, giving or not giving. And they say basically, whenever you think a choice is down to a dilemma, that’s why you’re actually really struggling to make a decision. In truth it’s very rare that actually a choice comes down to just one thing or the other, almost always there’s a middle way or several middle ways. And I think that’s the reason I finished those phone calls with those charities actually happier than before I picked up, because they’d helped me see, there was a way I could get my cake and eat it of still being a supporter, but also getting my overall outcome, which was reducing my financial outgoings.

Jenny:

Yeah, absolutely. Most times people don’t want to not support you anymore. They just need to know there’s a slightly different way they can do it for you. So yeah. Have those conversations.

Rob:

Yeah. And same applies for the way you help someone still feel good about your causes. It actually might be no longer financial, but there might be some other way they can happily still be involved or still feel like they’re behind your cause. And that comes back to one of the topics we were talking about right at the beginning of this conversation about this, clearly as fundraisers, people giving money is crucial. But from the donor’s point of view, there’s other ways we can help them enjoy supporting.

Jenny:

Yeah. Absolutely. You might have a community fundraising project that they could take part in, could they organize a bake sale for you? There might be, sometimes you find out that people are canceling because they’ve just had a new baby and they’re expensive. So yeah, actually could they organize a coffee morning or something community fundraising teams might be interested? Is it campaigning? Do they want to go and train and run a marathon or something for you? There’s lots of ways that we enable people to support our charity. And often it’s really easy to forget just because that particular method doesn’t sit in your world, that they could do lots of other things for us. And that will ultimately increase the lifetime value of their support because they’re doing multiple activities and staying engaged with the organization and the course that they care about. So absolutely we very much feel like we’ve come back to the beginning and talking about, yeah, cross-selling and not being tied into budget lines again, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Rob:

Thank you, Jenny. One other thought that’s occurring to me before we finish is how it might not always be easy to make time for this type of activity in our fundraising compared to a project that is a new appeal or seeking new donors. Do you have any thoughts that might help us have the discipline to do these things?

Jenny:

Yeah, absolutely. This is definitely not something that is in the new and fancy and interesting category. It’s the bread and butter basics, or should be the bread and butter basics of any really good, effective fundraising program. So it is easy for it to slip down the to-do list. And it’s often less visible than a big acquisition campaign. But one of the things that we teach when we do the individual giving mastery course is around, how do you get the momentum and find the time to do these extra things? Because it’s a busy job being a fundraiser. We don’t generally speaking, have a lot of spare time. So what I would say is don’t be overwhelmed by thinking, I am here and I’ve got a really long way to go to get an upgrade on the activation campaign up and running, or it’s too big to deal with. Break it down into chunks and it becomes much more manageable.

Jenny:

And what I would ask everybody that is listening who thinks, great, I really want to do this, is when this podcast finishes, just spend probably even two minutes thinking of one thing that you can do today, and one thing that you can do this week that will start you on the journey to actually making progress with this. It could be going to talk to your colleague who sends out newsletters and finding out what he or she is doing if that point really resonated with you. It could be booking a meeting with your database manager to sit down and look at, let’s just check with who’s going into our activity. What are those two tiny things that you will commit to doing within the next week? Go and drop them down now. And then I found that to be a really useful thing to put on your to-do list, much more so than [inaudible 00:19:42] activity, because that’s just never going to happen. It’s too big and scary. So yeah, take those little steps and you can make it happen.

Rob:

Thank you, Jenny. Yes. One of my new favorite books is called Tiny Habits and it’s all about the amazing momentum you build when you just get yourself to commit to a surprisingly tiny thing and then you feel good about it. So then the next chunk doesn’t feel so scary. So Jenny, thank you ever so much for making time to talk about this important topic. I really appreciate your advice and your examples. And I look forward to catching up with you again very soon. Bye-bye.

Jenny:

Thanks Rob. Bye-bye thanks for having me.

Rob:

Bye. I hope you found our chat helpful. If so, and you haven’t subscribed to our podcast yet, please take a moment now to hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss out on any of the juicy episodes we’ve got coming up for you. If you are the leader of a team and you’d like to get your team access to a whole library of my best training films for fundraisers, including the full learning bundle I made with Jenny, as well as our live weekly workshops and master classes, then do check out our learning and inspiration site. You can find out more at brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join. And although at the time I’m publishing this in January, 2022, we are not taking on new individual members. We are still accepting new team memberships and the various discounts for teams are better than half the price of individual memberships.

Rob:

So if you’d like to find out more about these options, do send me a quick message at events@brightspotfundraising.co.uk. Just before I finish, if you found today’s episode helpful and would be willing to share it on social media or with your colleagues, I’d be really grateful. Thank you so much for sharing these shows to help other fundraisers. And Jenny and I would love to hear what you think about this episode. We’re both on LinkedIn and on Twitter, I am @woods_rob. Finally, thank you for listening and I wish you the very best of luck with all your fundraising efforts today.