You sent me a mail pack. A mail pack… I never get those.

Published by Rachel Beer on

Although, come to think of it, I had one from you before once, and it was bland and unconvincing. All concept and no substance. Very disappointing.

But this one almost persuaded me to give.

It had me completely for a while, but then your words seemed to lose their conviction when you got to the ask.

It started so passionately that I really believed you were the charity that would do something about this really big problem I care so much about. But it was all undone by the vagaries – the lack of specifics about what you would do. I began to feel I’d just read some ad man’s copy and almost fallen for it.

On reflection, I wondered whether the passion I heard in the words was your anger and frustration at the problem and that was absolutely authentic. It was just when you had to make an unrestricted ask that authenticity seemed to disappear. Was that your discomfort I felt? Did it seem disingenuous to have to do that after so much heartfelt focus on a single issue?

But you almost had me.

direct-mailIn all honesty, I’m not really a mail pack person. So much so, that I don’t really get any. If I give to charity, it’s always online or into a collection tin, or bucket (with the exception of that one time I got unusually drunk at a charity auction and bid for a caravan holiday that I never went on… oh, how elated I was to win… before I realised what I’d actually done).

But it’s different when you hear from a cause you hold dear, isn’t it? Almost welcome.

I realised it was because I’d signed one of your petitions – probably several, come to think of it. Then I wondered why you hadn’t sent me something before.

Then came the phone call. I was on the train. I’d seen some of your posts on Facebook in the interim – I always look out for them – and I’d decided I wanted to set up a Direct Debit. But I didn’t want to give my bank, name and address details over the phone on a packed commuter train. So you said you’d call back at a pre-arranged time the next day, when I’d be free to talk.

But the next call was not the next day at the time we’d agreed and, when you called, a few days’ later, it was the middle of the working day, I was super-busy at work and couldn’t take time out to speak.

So we agreed that you’d call back the day after that. But the call never came.

You so almost had me.

But I probably fell outside the cut off of your telemarketing campaign in the end.

Then another few days and Facebook posts, and I thought, ‘I’ll just donate online’. That’s what I usually do, after all.

After about ten failed attempts, and a form that wouldn’t load properly on my phone, in two different browsers, I gave up. I really did try, too – for a long time. Far longer than I would for anyone or anything else.

I started thinking it just wasn’t meant to be.

I thought about calling you, but there’s never enough time…

Weeks went by. I carried on seeing your posts on Facebook. I ‘took some campaigning actions’, as we say in these circles, and life carried on as normal.

But then, a few days’ ago, my phone rang and, when I picked it up, it was you again. I must have been the easiest call of the day – I told you I was pleased you’d called back and that I wanted to set up a Direct Debit, before you even got to that part of your script. I also told you about your problem donation process – and I hope someone will fix that, because phone calls are so expensive.

Then a funny thing happened: You said, ‘thank you for becoming a supporter’, and I felt an enormous wave of emotion. It really took me by surprise. And it felt wonderful.

We had a really nice conversation. I said I was quite happy to continue receiving emails, but please no phone calls or letters – really I get everything I need from Facebook.

I was so glad that you remembered to call back.

And you’ve reminded me of a few valuable lessons:

  1.  The importance of multichannel – more than ever
  2. Persistence is key – just because someone isn’t ready to donate now, it doesn’t mean they never will be
  3. If you say you’re going to do something, you’d better follow up on it
  4. Make sure your donation process hasn’t developed a bug since a big software update – you can’t just build it, test it and forget about it
  5. Go back to your database and see who is lingering on there that might just be ready to give now, or start giving again – because I’d been on there for at least a couple of years, maybe more, without being contacted
  6. Content that you share via social media is donor acquisition activity – not just ‘comms’ – even if you’re not thinking of it that way or the people reading it don’t perceive it that way. In fact, if they don’t perceive it that way, that’s a good thing – what you create and share should add value, not be constantly badgering people
  7. Direct mail can still cut through for ‘digital donors’ (digital giving is my preference, if it works) – particularly for people that don’t get much of it. Then it can even be a novelty (in the positive sense)
  8. Don’t lose your conviction, or change your tone, when you make your unrestricted ask. Sounds obvious, but that lets many a campaign down
  9. Giving to help change something you want to be fixed in the world can feel great. This experience made me feel that for myself, in a way I haven’t felt for some time, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
  10. Watch your alcohol intake carefully if you’re at a charity auction. More so than usual.
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Rachel Beer

Rachel Beer has been a professional fundraiser since 1999, with experience gained from at several fundraising creative agencies in the UK, as well as in house. Currently a fundraising consultant, she specialises in helping organisations to take their fundraising to the next level – creating fundraising brands, appeals and campaigns that excite existing supporters and attract new donors and fundraisers. She also works with teams in house at charities, helping them to develop the skills to get the best possible results. In 2008, Rachel created NFPtweetup - a regular series of events to promote effective use of technology in the charity sector, and she is well known as a fundraising expert, digital specialist and strategist for the third sector.


Liz Haigh-Reeve · June 22, 2016 at 23:55

Great blog Rachel, great insight – oh and by the way, feel free to attend any charity auction I might be involved with!

    Rachel · June 23, 2016 at 10:02

    Haha – thanks Liz – but I think I’ve learned my lesson! I’m glad the post struck a chord and the experience was worth sharing. Thanks for taking the time to let me know and being nice x

Fundraising Friday | June 24, 2016 | Pamela Grow · June 24, 2016 at 15:18

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