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An Experiment in Charity Marketing

BHF home movers DM

More than ¾’s of British adults give to good causes in any month – the highest proportion of any developed country. There has also been a recent rise in the number of people volunteering to help others, according to The World Giving index. With both these factors in mind, I decided to run an experiment  to help inform our ideas and recommendations for our charitable clients, which include the British Heart Foundation, The Royal Horticultural Society and One.

The experiment was simple. Over the course of 5 days I would note down every charity communication I noticed on my commute to work and back and record which, if any, stimulated me into action.

So, admittedly, not scientific – but the results were interesting all the same.

First thing to point out is that I noted an astonishing 47 charity-led communications during my travels.

There were a variety of campaign items from a wide range of charities,  either requesting donations or encouraging involvement in things such as charity runs.

And they covered a cross-section of topics: health issues (17); political causes (5); general well-being/suffering (10); homelessness (5); and specific causes such as giving to food banks or clothing requests (3). Plus, there were specific campaigns for the armed forces (3) and animals & birds (5).

Every conceivable touch-point was used (except TV/radio which I excluded) including: cross-track posters, train/tube car cards, posters/6 sheets, bus sides, press ads (local, national and magazines), loose inserts, personalised direct mail, ‘white envelope/non-personalised direct mail (letters, postcards and packs) and SMS.

Interestingly, it was the latter experience that I found most interesting. Whilst sitting on a train, I saw a car card encouraging me to text to support a cause which is not on my usual charity-giving list. This I duly did and it felt good when seconds later a text pinged in my in-box thanking me and encouraging me to spread the word.

It did not feel good however, when during the following week, I was ‘stalked’ by the call centre who rang at least twice a day for 4 days in succession…and continued to do so even when I texted and left a message asking them to STOP.

Fuzzy feeling turned to frustration, and reminded me of a very important learning. Your campaign may look good, be seen in all the right places and create the reaction you want BUT good customer management post donation is vital to avoid undermining all that hard work.