We were in a meeting with a charity recently when they asked us to give details of our most successful pack. We thought for a moment and then realised this was a very difficult task as we’ve had so many great results over the years, and because this year has been a particularly good one in terms of exceptional results.
One thing I’ve noticed though is that what constitutes a good result will vary enormously between clients and between appeals. A headline telling you that a charity’s recent cash appeal gained 10:1 ROI is all very well, but perhaps it doesn’t reveal that they only mailed their best and highest value donors, and received an exceptional single gift as part of that. (This isn’t to diminish the achievement, of course!)
Another charity may have achieved a hard-earned ROI of 3:1 and feel that it’s an extraordinary achievement, given the existing value, volume and nature of the file it mailed, the theme of the pack and the external context in which it was mailed.
This may all sound obvious but there are fundraisers who get caught up in this trap of ‘comparison by headline’ – who compare their charity’s results with the ‘headline results’ of others and end up either worrying that they are seriously underperforming or letting their programme and innovation lose momentum because they’ve become complacent in thinking their results are so good they can’t be improved. It would be a mistake to adopt either position – particularly without considering the context and detail of each charity’s – and each appeal’s – results.
The other conclusion, in fundraising – as in life – is not to worry too much about what others are doing (or say they are doing) and instead focus on getting the very best out of your own situation. Because, whether you are a 10:1 or a 2:1, there is always, always room for improvement.
By Richard Docwra, ChangeStar Director
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01273 964018 to discuss your fundraising appeals and their results