Charities need to offer a personal touch

I completed a 10k race recently in aid of Cancer Research. I mention this not to boast of my selfless altruism but to note the effectiveness of the charity’s email communication before and after the event.

Russell Parsons

From my first contact, the charity offered tips on fundraising, advice on training, information about the course, details of how else to get involved and crucially, post race congratulations and details of what happens next.

This not a rant about intrusive bombardment, but genuine admiration about the pace, frequency and detail contained in the charity’s electronic communications, the personal touch that makes me want to maintain my contributions and help the charity continue its fine work.

Cancer Research is running a number of races nationwide and will be hoping that its direct marketing strategy has the same impact on the wider populace as it did on this aspiring runner (and philanthropist), particularly given the strain it and other charities are under in the current economic climate.

This week, a study by The Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations highlighted the challenges charities face. The two found the value of donations fell by 11% in the year to April and although the average person gave £10 a month to good causes, this was £1 a month down on the same period a year earlier.

Although this dip might appear understandable, even acceptable given the severity of this present recession, it equates to an approximate £1.3bn fall in the amount donated to UK charities in the period.

It is therefore essential charities continue to engage with potential and existing donors using innovative integrated communications campaigns.

The answer is not to ratchet up mailing but to target the willing with positive and practical messages of what people have done and where their efforts have benefited, rather than apologetic messages referencing the recession.

And as I can attest to, a simple thank you could boost a charity’s chances of retaining fundraisers and boosting future donations.

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