A new study into the communications strategies of the UK’s largest charities shows that so-called Dorothy Donor is alive and well in the minds of most charity marketers, with the bombardment of certain donors a sad inevitability of this lack of insight.
St Ives-owned Response One launched its secret-giving programme in 2014 by donating £10 to the top 25 UK charities, and monitoring all subsequent postal, email & SMS communications.
With close to 1,000 communications recorded and every creative logged and evaluated, the findings of the research demonstrate the increasingly complex challenge that charities face but also show there is a dearth of new thinking within the sector.
Of the 25 charities donated to, all have different strategies in communicating with a first-time donor, some contacting individuals more than once a week, with others communicating less than once a year.
The study states: “As a donor giving to just one of these charities, the subsequent communication strategy may seem acceptable, however, we know from our analysis of the charity sector that a donor will often give to several organisations, so it’s easy to see how instances of over-communication have occurred in recent times.
“It’s well documented that charity donors often have a very similar demographic profile therefore charities are competing with each other in a very concentrated market. The generous nature of these donors, coupled with the limited headroom, means that inevitably these individuals are going to be subject to multiple communications as the charities are all fighting for their share of wallet.”
This research demonstrates just some of the challenges that charities face, with the need to operate in a commercial environment, whilst being mindful of the potential impact on the donors themselves.
This was evidenced by the study which showed that 33% of charities asked for another cash donation within eight weeks. In one instance, the study’s authors were asked to sing up for a legacy gift within nine weeks.
Response One adds: “Is this strategy likely to elicit the required response, or would it create a negative view of the charity by asking for too much too soon? And is this a sign that some charities are not effectively mapping their communication strategies internally?”
The research appears to pose more questions than it answers, however.
– Do charities have a clear understanding of their communication strategy across their organisation?
– Are charities thinking about the true impact of their communications strategy in the wider market context and any effect it may have on their organisation’s reputation?
– Are charities considering the financial implications of the frequency of their communications and effectively measuring long-term donor value versus short-term gain?
Response One will reveal its own thoughts on the answers when it publishes the full study in due course.
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