The Science of Engagement

The Science of Engagement

Kylie Kitchen | 29 November 2017

If you think about fundraising and engagement, donors – existing or potential, are the first people you might think of. But could we have greater success if we first improved how we engaged our staff?

The Science of Engagement conference, presented by the IoF Insight in Fundraising Special Interest Group, inspired delegates to think differently about engagement and how the approach to it is evolving.

The November 27th event also presented on Facebook fundraising, new ways of measuring engagement, GDPR and much more.

It was the speakers from Orbis and Audience who got us thinking about staff first. It was a small but important step in how a project team developed award-winning research for the charity’s immensely successful Operation Sight campaign.

George Milne from data insight consultancy, Audience said Orbis team members were trained to be researchers, each conducting one or two in-depth interviews. Milne said it made staff advocates for donors on a personal level at the planning stage, and made them believe in the campaign when they later delivered it.

The project looked at reducing the average age of engaged supporters with a goal that individuals in that group should have the disposable income and wealth security of older supporters and be digitally active.

Acknowledging the interests and values of their donors, the Orbis team learned that triggers to donate were often about personal experience and that therefore rich story-telling would be key to the campaign.

Getting to know the donors also worked for Marie Curie at a time when the charity was experiencing a downward trend in active supporters giving to cash appeals.

Steve White explained how Marie Curie used a scoring system to identify ‘VIP’ donors and showed that elite group how valued they were. Unaware they had such a status, the VIPs received exclusively tailored messaging, including a special Christmas message and tree decoration mail out which won its initiator an award.

Facebook’s Anita Yuen presented on the company’s fundraising tools. Although live fundraising is commonly associated with celebrity videos, Yuen encouraged charities to try it at ground level too, sharing the example of Best Friends Animal Society’s live of an animal rescue operation in the midst of Hurricane Harvey which raised about US$100,000.

A GDPR panel, headed by DMA’s John Mitchison and the IoF’s Daniel Fluskey, kept the spotlight on donor experience.

Fluskey talked about how meeting the data retention regulations is equally good for the fundraiser and the donor. He said we must ask ourselves why we might want to keep contacting particular donors and why we think it might be in that person’s best interests. 

By the close of the conference, delegates had heard from speakers on neuroscience in donating, econometrics, visualisations and more, and left with a great sense of who we are engaging with, what insight techniques we can use, and how we do it best.

IoF Group events can be found on the Groups section of the website.

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