Focus On: International Fundraising: DM Fundraising Across the Pond
JH: So instead of relying on direct mail to recruit donors, what other mediums are used? I know that U.K. charities rely a great deal on person-to-person fundraising on the street. During my trips to London I’ve noticed many fundraisers for various charities working on the sidewalks.
JW: In terms of importance, face-to-face fundraising is actually the biggest single method of recruiting new committed donors in the U.K. If you want to get a lot of committed givers, then face-to-face is by far the most cost-effective way of doing it. But it has run into huge political problems because if you walk down Oxford Street on a sunny day you’ll probably have 20 different charities all coming up to you asking for your support. So it has a bad name, although it still works very well.
JH: What other mediums are successful in recruiting donors?
JW: A lot of donor recruitment has been driven by television advertising in the U.K. for the last four, five or six years. We have a huge number of TV channels that we didn’t have before, so the costs of advertising on TV are quite low. Increasingly, we’re moving to e-mail communication and even SMS (text messaging). You know the big Live 8 concerts? All of the tickets for that in London were sold by text.
JH: With so many committed donors giving on a monthly basis through direct debit, you must have very high retention rates.
JW: Very high. Typically you’re looking at only around 10 percent to 15 percent attrition per annum. Charities that are in the news are probably seeing as little as 7 percent attrition.
JH: Wow. American fundraisers would kill for those types of rates.
JW: What we pay in terms of the cost of recruiting in the first place is very expensive, but it is worth it.