8 Recommendations to optimize F2F

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.

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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!

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