8 Recommendations to optimize F2F

Published by Daryl Upsall on

Name two Austrian inventions that have gone global and engage with many 1000s of young people worldwide. OK, so you knew all about Red Bull and no doubt our younger readers here are using to keep their eyes open as they read this blog. What about the other invention then?

Twenty years ago this summer two senior Greenpeace fundraisers met with an agency, Dialogue Direct, and thus face to face fundraising was born. Greenpeace Austria knew that, when it launched its “dialoguers” on the streets of Vienna asking GP DDpeople so sign up as monthly direct debit donors, it would cause comment. So a media launch explained what was about to happen. Indeed, it was so successful so quick that the Church in Austria called for a parliamentary debate as allegedly Greenpeace was “stealing” the money that would have been donated on Sundays in Church. The rest is history.

Next month the Austrian Fundraising Association and the face to face founders will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their enormous contribution to fundraising worldwide at their annual convention. Meanwhile, those of who were there at the outset and those embarking on face to face (F2F) fundraising need to pause and reflect on the state of face to face fundraising in 2015.

At the IFC in Holland this October David Cravinho, who leads UNICEFs global F2F programme. and I will be running a Masterclass on this fundraising tool that has come to dominate committed donor recruitment worldwide. On the surface F2F is booming in Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Canada and is slowly getting a foothold in the USA and South Africa as many thousands of new donors are signed up on the street, in shopping malls, airports, metro stations and at events. However, scratch below the surface and the F2F business faces many challenges.

In markets such as the UK hardly a month passes without another F2F agency going bankrupt or downsizing; attrition rates in all markets have been on the face-to-face-20130805110521203increase in recent years; the media/public and politicians in some markets call for greater control or banning of the technique; costs are growing and ROIs in decline. NPO management teams and Boards feel pressured to cut back investments in F2F. In most emerging markets demand for quality face to face volume from providers massively outstrips supply as the race for growth in these high ROI markets has meant that the biggest INPO players have bought most of the volume and in some cases for the next few years.

No other fundraising technique is capable of delivering fully signed up monthly donors on anything close to the scale of F2F. Despite the promise of DRTV, SMS, digital and social media none achieve the consistent volumes on a daily basis….anywhere.

So what is to be done?

My recommendations are:

  1. Focus on quality not just quantity
  2. Client and agencies need to work as true partners and accept that quality F2F has a price
  3. Invest more in training, messaging, development of better cases for support and quality control
  4. Use the data better on a micro and macro level
  5. Build a true “cradle to grave” donor journey that keeps F2F (and other) donors truly engaged with the organisation
  6. Engage with, listen to and respond to donors that lapse and then take appropriate action.
  7. Invest in innovation in F2F to improve quality, retention and lifetime value
  8. Be prepared to pay more for better quality donors. It is the best investment you can make for the future?

Even if you have to drink some Red Bull, F2F deserves more of fundraiser and agency time spent in crafting a fundraising tool that will be fit for purpose for the next 20 years not just a declining relic from last century.

IFC-2015-logoThis post is part of the 2015 IFC Series. 101fundraising is proud to be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress for the 4th year!


Daryl Upsall

Daryl Upsall

Madrid based, Daryl has 36 years working with over 232 non-profits in 62 countries. Known for his leadership and innovation, pioneering digital fundraising a co-creator of face to face fundraising during the 1990s when leading Greenpeace International fundraising worldwide. Daryl Upsall & Associates SL provides strategic consulting support to the world’s leading UN agencies and INPOs whilst Daryl Upsall Consulting International SL has recruited 581 positions for 205 different organisations in 125 different locations worldwide. He is the founder/co-owner of Spain's leading telephone fundraising agency, The Fundraising Company SL and the F2F agency International Fundraising SL in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. In Spain these agencies raised over 1.25 billion Euro for non-profits. He co-owns the digital fundraising agency dgtl fundraising SL. Daryl has spoken at conferences in 32 countries and writes for the leading non-profit journals. He is a Fellow of the UK Institute of Fundraising, former Chair of EUConsult, and former Vice-Chair, the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Simon Chuter · September 10, 2015 at 17:57

Great post from a true leader in F2F. Darryl someone who spent 10 years in the sector F2F fundraisers, should never, ever drink Red Bull. They are on a caffeine and glucose high for 30 minutes, during which they’re edgy and scary for the public. Followed by a 2 hour crash. Much better to grab a banana and lots of water to fuel their fire! Happy fundraising all.

    Daryl Upsall · September 10, 2015 at 19:41

    Thanks Simon…I would not recommend Red Bull that is for sure or any other caffeine and sugar concoction. I agree lets go bananas with F2F. Cheers Daryl

michela · September 16, 2015 at 11:06

Thanks Daryl, great post and useful points for F2F! I think the challenge for the future is to understand the value of quality F2F donor. Go for quality and not only for massive campaigns. Hard to understand for some kind of NGO’s…

    Daryl Upsall · September 16, 2015 at 16:08

    I agree Michela. Unfortunately even the lifetime value of donors is rarely properly understood and calculated, even less the steps that we can take to enhance the donor experience and hence their loyalty.

Amy Pawluk · September 23, 2015 at 16:34

Great Article Daryl! Some great reminders and some important areas to focus on for a successful future of F2F. Looking forward to the Masterclass at IFC!

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