The power of direct marketing for charities

WEB_Nicky_Bullard_LIDAThere’s nothing rational about choosing to give to a charity. But there is definitely something rational about filling in a Direct Debit form.

Getting people to regularly give is really very, very hard. And getting them to increase that regular donation is even harder.

Last year, I received a call from Cancer Research. Being in the biz, obviously I knew that it wasn’t really the charity on the end of the line but someone reading from a script in a call centre. So I’m a tough audience.

Actually, his read was very natural. He said that it was exactly ten years to the day that I had made my first regular monthly donation of £5. He told me about the strides that had been made over the last decade and that my contribution had made a huge difference.

He then asked me why I had given in the first place. To be honest, it was because my mum had been holding a jumble sale for the charity and I thought I could do my bit. So no personal connection beyond that.
He then asked me if I had been touched by the subject since. And I had. My father-in-law had died of bowel cancer the year before. My best friend had beaten breast cancer that year.

So I now had more reasons to give and he’d deftly uncovered them. No hard sell. Just a direct conversation. I increased my regular donation to £15 a month.

But the key here is the direct conversation. One-to one-comms, through the clever use of data and insight, can make that connection. He simply used the fact it had been ten years to the day since I’d first given.

Our Women for Women International campaign also makes a personal connection. We mailed a list of 500 women who have been, in our eyes, hugely successful. They’ve had an education, a break, mentors, training and opportunity. Networking is hugely important to them, and this is what we latched onto; introducing them to the most important contact they will make all year.

We want them to draw parallels to their own lives and careers. To use their success to bring other women success; by that we mean not just helping other women to survive, but to thrive. So we didn’t just find a connection, we created a connection.

When writing body copy for charities now, I think about that call with the Cancer Research guy (okay call-centre chap) and imagine it’s me who is calling. I’m a stranger, but by knowing something small about you I can use that to lever an argument to give, make the ask less hard sell and get you to fill in that rational Direct Debit form.

Nicky Bullard, executive creative director, LIDA

  • Gather Social

    Excellent read, I think anyone involved in marketing in any industry can take something away from this. Nice one Nicky!