Jayne George is Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Guide Dogs. Previous roles include as a Marketing Director in the commercial retail sector. She then moved into the charity world, with roles at Save the Children, the Children’s Society and RNLI, before joining Guide Dogs.
We learnt a valuable lesson from Norway. We do most of our phone calls to warm contacts in-house, but we do it unscripted, based on what we learnt from Norway Guide Dogs. They recruit for attitude, and for the ability of the caller to retain information and turn that into a meaningful conversation with somebody. The way that they lead the call is very much dependent on the individual’s response. We copied that model and the uplift was enormous.
Make it personal. Our donor journeys are based on learnings. Every time we do a campaign, we build that into the analysis and that triggers different things for different people. For example, for an older population, we cross-sell things like our ‘Dogalogue’ catalogue or the raffle. If they’re younger, then we might cross-sell them onto events – running, walking, family-oriented events and so on.
Timing is crucial. We give all our Sponsor A Puppy donors an opportunity to increase their monthly gift – we find three to six months after they’re recruited is the most effective time.
Charities are much more professional now. In most of the charities that I’m familiar with, they’re so much more professional than they were 30 years ago. There was once this theory that people worked in charities because they weren’t good enough to work in other sectors. I don’t think that’s true anymore. I think charities actually can attract really good people because lots of people are much more mission-driven now. It’s not all about money.
Fundraising isn’t for everyone. Fundraising is a very special form of marketing. I think people are either drawn to it or not. I think we’re blessed with really good marketing people, particularly in the individual giving area and the donor management area.
Everybody’s drawing from the same well. GDPR has driven a lot of organisations to try to diversify and of course, everybody’s diversifying into the same channels and into the same income streams. Trying to recruit a high-level donor fundraiser at the moment is a really challenging task. DRTV and channels other than direct mail are becoming more expensive.
Margins are getting squeezed. As the channels get more expensive, the cost of acquisition goes up, and lifetime value goes down, so long-term ROI is squeezed. It’s really as simple as that, and it’s very challenging because you have to keep acquiring new donors.
Don’t stay somewhere where you are morally compromised. When I worked in commercial retail, I had worked for a week to open a shop in the Scottish borders. I got to bed about half past four on the Saturday morning, and woke up to go and open the shop. On the news, I’d seen the chairman literally handing a check over for £1 million to the Tory Party, and I just said, ‘I refuse to make a profit for you in order that you can support something that I am fundamentally against’. It was like a re-awakening of the younger student in me, and I resigned that morning. I drove home thinking, ‘sh**, what am I going to tell my husband?’ It worked out okay.
Cause & Effect is a series from Hope, in which leading figures who have been involved in building and promoting good causes tell us what they’ve learned from their experiences. Interview by Michael Isaacs.