Thursday, 18 October 2012

IFC Ponderings #2

Following on from reminding myself I should look outside the UK more often, I also need to look outside the charity sector more. We can be quite mired in a ‘them and us’ mindset, so I’ve been going to sessions that bring in commercial sector examples. 

To be honest I’ve enjoyed the sessions, but have I learned a lot? What I’ve found interesting are the similarities. I think we know that, but do we think about it?  Just a couple of examples:

  • Successful advertising still uses the solution/problem model. E.g. Your clothes are dirty, you need them clean. Buy our product = Children are dying, give £3 a month
  • The testimonial model. E.g. I’m an Australian cricketer who has lost my hair. Buy this and it will grow back = I’m a celebrity who has seen it with my own eyes, give now and save lives.
I’m also sure that there is a lot more that we would like to do in the sector but can’t. Often we just can’t justify the spending involved. I saw an example from Cadbury’s on Wispa chocolate bars. Fascinating stuff. However, the heart of the matter is that: “This was done on a really low budget. Hundreds of thousands of pounds rather than millions.” 

Lovely I’m sure. But the day “hundreds of thousands of pounds” becomes something I can do where I work is probably going to be the best day of my fundraising life - so long as it's direct response :-). And that’s the same for a large proportion of charities.

Of course, there is always something that can be learned – even if it’s that I need to work harder and smarter so that I can deliver the above!

For your interest here are some case studies I saw, and some learning we could (if we're not already) apply to the charity sector:

  • Build on your roots, don’t throw away your heritage
  • How can you use pre-established ideas that your supporters have to your advantage?
  • If you have a long established brand, use it. Don't deny it.
  • If something new happens, use it. These coincided with the explosion in social media so they took this and built success by integrating
  • There’s an instant recognition of ongoing characters and the compelling stories that these have
  • How can we use this? (Although I would argue this is what child sponsorship is already replicating)
  • Turned the traditional model of telling people about the brand around, and allowed people to tell them what the Wispa brand was
  • Command and control may not be the most effective model in an increasingly digital age
  • Used crowd sourcing to remarkable effect and showed that supporters really can be the greatest asset
  • Watch the video on the making of the video  

My favourite thing from today
I do have one absolute favourite thing from today. It has nothing to do without looking outside the sector. The one thing that has given me the most pleasure is that I met a man who works for a charity that mails their donors 25 times a year.Yes, you read that correctly.

Then when they say they want less mailings he can reduce them to six or 12 and they’re really happy about that. I think that’s just brilliant!

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