There are always two sides for every argument of course and whilst personally, what we feel about being approached by face to face fundraisers in the street (different to doorstep approach) might be negative, there are lots of bottom line statistics which show that for some organisations it is a worthwhile activity.
I want to add something to the debate if I may, based on some personal experience of a trip to London last Friday.
This week I’ve seen several blogs and tweets from people whose thinking I respect touching on the subject of putting your audience at the centre of your actions. Some have suggested that the audience should always be the driving force and others have posited that true innovation might not be possible if you do.
I love the coverage generated by Ken Burnett's comments at the Institute of Fundraising Conference about how we should be generating more complaints!
The point is not, of course, to generate complaints for the sake of it. The point is that our marketing, campaigning and fundraising messages need to be sufficiently challenging, compelling and, when appropriate, hard-hitting to attract the attention of the people they're aimed at! And more often than not they aren't. Check out a few of the masterclasses on the SOFII website and you'll see that the seminal campaigns did not usually mince their words.
But human nature doesn't generally work this way, right. We like being thanked for our efforts and there's no shame in that. And its been empirically established that charities and social enterprises alike are more likely to be successful when they thank supporters and customers (see the blogroll for numerous examples).
After the latest round of Christmas donations, however, I am starting to think that we need to find a better way of doing it. I keep my thank you letters and emails to learn from professionally, and in 2010 I've received nearly 50.
One of the first marketing and communications lessons I learned was to make what you say to a target audience directly relevant to them. The more emotion that relevance incorporated, the more powerful the message was likely to be and therefore drive the action you wanted.
It's been argued that some charities have taken this approach too far, attracting the accusation of 'guilting' people into donating or supporting. That is, incorporating too much negative emotion alongside relevance into their messages.
It has been too long since my last blog and I have no excuses other than that things have been incredibly busy helping charities and community groups meet some very tough objectives - apologies to regular readers. This week I've been part of a team delivering marketing and communications workshops to non-marketing people and its been a hugely informative few days for me, let alone the delegates (who, incidentally agreed via their feedback sheets that they valued the sessions). We've run into some interesting issues working with groups from a mixture of business, charity and public sector backgrounds and I thought I'd be open and share some of our learning to see if it resonates with others. Having taken a quick straw poll amongst the team, and in pursuit of improvement, here are the things we will be thinking differently about for future workshops. It would be great to hear your thoughts too.
In the words of Dr. Gregory House, people lie! No matter how many times it is covered in pre-workshop materials, if you ask people whether they know anything about marketing, they say yes. I expect it's because we don't want to feel daft amongst our peers and other groups but asking people to self-select workshops based on their own level of knowledge coming into the event does not guarantee a base-level of knowledge on which you can build.