Perfunctory response or personal pitch?

How are you responding to your customers? 

I’m in the throes of booking a holiday right now. Yay me. Can’t wait. I’ve met a lot of travel companies in my quest for the perfect trip (to Mexico this time). And I’ve had a lot of very mixed responses from the enquiries I’ve made.

The biggest surprises of all may be that it is not the size of the organisation that has necessarily mattered – but the degree of detail that really does build trust.  Personal emails with reference to what we talked about and relevant links.  You could argue that that is the very least that I could expect.  Unfortunately, experience dictates otherwise and organisations both large and small have made errors of exclusion that are alarming.

As a rule of thumb though, the larger the company, the more impersonal and perfunctory the response. You would think that the larger the company the better able to keep responses personal and to the point. But it mainly seems to be an enthusiasm gap, if I am honest. It feels like some of the responses have been flat, based on an overwhelming volume of response and in handling responses, they’ve lost track of the customer.

It’s exactly the same when I made a series of donations recently.

Christmas, #firstfiver and some sad incidents in people’s lives have led me to make donations to some completely new-to-me charities over the past year.

Over Christmas in particular, I made two small donations to small charities and had very effusive thanks. To larger charities – certainly ones with a profile in the medium size charity range – the response was patchy.  I use the term kindly as one of two charities failed to acknowledge my gift.  At all.

Getting the right balance

What’s the right response? Is there a balance?

My interest is piqued about this mainly because I see it is an issue I have perceived across nfp/fp boundary lines.

Is it simply that if we’re in a smaller organisation we’re more passionate about our jobs and our mission?
Is it that you just are simply busier in bigger organisations?
Is my donation or enquiry more valuable to a smaller organisation than a larger one?

In an ideal world, there would be a consistency of response.

Is tech the route to success? 

I’m struck that in all these cases, from both non-profit and commercial, neither side was really using technology to its best advantage to help the enquiry process.

They were still replying personally (using Outlook, Google Mail etc) to handle their enquiries.

How are they gathering the click data from what they added to the email?
How are they seeing whether I responded or not?

While there are apps that can connect Outlook and Google with your CRM for this data (Cirrus Insights being one), there are also ways to handle these basic enquiries and create compelling welcome journeys for a wide range of situations via email marketing tools.

The data that comes back from these is rich and varied and helps pin down information that the sales or fundraising teams can use to effectively craft their next steps. But critically, the whole response mechanism is on brand, full of carefully crafted enthusiasm. It is also targeted to what I expressed an interest in, designed to garner more about me and what my likely next move might be by offering me tempting links that identify me as a potential repeat donor with nurturing, or pop me straight into the major donor nurture programme. Or add me to the cheap vs expensive holidays bucket list.

Can we help? 

If you’re interested in how to get started with using email to build informative supporter journeys – or using your tech more effectively get in touch. We’ll help you start to build towards a more automated future – freeing you up to take care of the other bullet points in your job description.

Get ready, get set, GDPR

Getting ready for GDPR

Ready, set, GRPR

I recently wrote a piece for the Just Giving blog called 4 lessons for charities as we prepare for GDPR  in which I presented four lessons we can learn from the recent (March 2017) fines imposed on two businesses for data breaches as they made their own preparations for GDPR.

My four lessons were based on Honda and Flybe, who were caught out trying to prepare themselves for GDPR (the irony!), but who ignored the rules of PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations) in the process.  Essentially, they emailed to ask if they could stay in touch or if the details were correct.

My four lessons were:

Lesson 1: if you don’t have permission for a channel, you can’t ask for permission via that channel (so if you don’t have permission to email, you can’t email to ask for permission to email; if you don’t have permission to call, don’t call). 

 Lesson 2:  don’t ask for ask for permission from people who have actively opted out of receiving communication via the channel you are using.  While writing to people to ask if you can email them might sound a bit bonkers, if that is the communication approach you have consent for, that is how you must do it.

Lesson 3: be clear about what you have permission to do and what is covered by your permission. As you craft new permission statements, consider what you may want permission to do in the future, as well as what you may want to do now. 

Lesson 4:  Don’t be caught out in a GDPR compliance bubble and forget about other rules and regulations that apply – or about people. Making people-based decisions rather than data-based decisions shows due respect to our supporters and will give them confidence in our integrity as an organisation.

In a short blog for Just Giving you can’t go into the detail that you’d like though, and never short of something to say … I carry on below.

Getting GDPR ready using these lessons.

I think we can look at the case of Honda and Flybe and see how easily this could have been a charity making these errors.  Heck, we can probably even see the thought process in our own organisations looking to make these decisions.

However, we also need to consider that these rules are not just about how we fundraise, they are organisation wide.  They are about how we communicate with our donors, staff, volunteers – everyone who is connected to our organisation.

I think the rules come down to a bigger series of considerations and discussions that you need to have within your organisation about permissions and ‘permissioning’ – which is not an *actual* word but soon will become a big part of the charity management lexicon.

Where & when you ask

If you don’t have permission to email a donor, how can you get permission to email a donor?

There are many legitimate ways you can try and obtain email permission – for example via social media campaigns, sign up links on your website and even via direct mail.  If you have telephone permissions and active calling programme, you could even ask via this means too.  You just can’t ask for permission for that channel (email) via the channel you want to use (email).

If obtaining permission is s a priority for your organisation, ensure that sign-up forms are embedded on every page of your website, on every blog and that you have a regular ‘drive’ to legitimately obtain additional data.

How you ask

Why would your donor give you any details?

How you ask for something that the donor values – their personal data – is critical.  A wrong move could put them off as much as make them want to sign up. On a practical note, there are a range of methods to asking (but take note, massive popups on website screens are off-putting and will earn you penalties in Google and annoy readers by blocking content). [links to Google Webmaster blog]

On a human level, the tone of the ask also needs to be sensitive the channel you are using.  But more importantly, sensitive to your audience. You know all this of course, from your crafting of fundraising messages.  Permission asks aren’t that much different, except the beneficiary is the organisation.

There’s a balance between the timid ‘would you like to sign up’ and the demanding ‘sign up instantly’ that will be right for your charity’s tone of voice.  It is worth split testing some approaches out and changing the messaging to keep things fresh.

The issue of transparency also comes into play for how you ask for permissions – if this were your data, would you be happy that a company is relying on a clause hidden away in a set of terms and conditions to cover what you want to do with your data?

Which leads us onto what we are asking for permission to do.

What are you asking permission for?

This is the nub of the issue as far as our GDPR and PECR regulations are concerned – what are we asking permission for?

‘Sign up for our newsletter’ is a very broad statement. It may as well just read ‘give us your email, we’ll figure out what to do with it later’.

One of the ICO ‘tests’ is to ask the question – what would a person reasonably expect you to do with the data from what you have asked.  Is it clear?  It’s time to get granular – another central theme of the GDPR preparation process.

If you have a great email newsletter list –and that’s what you asked people to sign up to, that is all you can do with their data. You can’t send them a customer service announcement about your charity (here’s looking at you, Honda).

Of course, much can be contained within a newsletter (like your annual review and details of your latest campaign), but you also need to avoid your newsletters becoming cluttered, unfocused and impersonal (back to batch and blast) – and therefore irrelevant and easy to want to unsubscribe from.

One approach could be to consider all the kinds of activities your charity offers and ask for permission for each of them.  A helpful way to start with this can be to look at your departments. Typically, they’ll relate to what your organisation delivers.  Eg HR, fundraising, communications, governance, policy /campaigning.

  • what do they do (or want to do) that you may need permission for?

Another option to consider is what you also want to do with the data that you have.  Several charities recently fell afoul of ICO for using donor data for wealth screening.  

What we have learned from this is like our Honda/ FlyBe lessons.  It is not what they were doing per se that was the issue, it was their permission to do it – would a donor who gave them details have ‘reasonably expected’ to be profiled and screened like this based on what they were told when they signed up?

  • Ask once for now and the future – consider your 5-year plan and what current technology can offer in terms of insight as you craft new plans – even if you are not using technologies to help profile your web visitors now, or wanting to screen donors, or using predictive tools to help prospect for new donors, you may want to do that in 2 years’ time.  And when you want to do it, you will need to have permission to do it.  Machine learning is the way forward – plan for it now even if the reality of it still isn’t clear to you.
  • Third parties – this also brings to bear the point that is raised in GDPR guidelines about how you use data with third parties too, and your need to declare how they will use the data too.  Explore that alongside your permission work here and be as clear as you can.  Third parties are everyone from your mailing house to potential agencies you may send data samples too for segmentation, research, data cleaning and so on.

Where are you storing and recording these permissions?

Should the ICO come a-knocking in the future, after you’ve made them a cup of tea and talked about the weather, the questions will come.  One of the questions they may ask is where you can prove that you had permission to send x y or z person a b or c email/direct mail/text.

The paper trail [ surely a redundant term in our digital age] in an ideal world, would lead to your CRM or database, where you can look this up with ease, and respond confidently.

In your current situation:

  • could you look up where you asked for permission to contact someone and identify the permission that a person gave?
  • could you look up the form they used to sign up and double check the language?

How you are storing your data is one of the fundamental questions that GDPR brings us back to.

It covers the requirement for data to be held securely – which is a separate area of conversation about access to devices, security protocols et al  (and usually ends with a conversation where someone reminisces about leaving a laptop of client data on a train).

For this article, consider these areas.

  • how are you managing your data?
  • do you run on Excel and end up with multiple departmental spreadsheets because that’s the only data you ‘trust’?

Heck, I am sure some people still use a card index or have a special address book.

That’s all data and that’s all covered by this.

How are you going to manage permissions?

A few preference centres are popping up on the market claiming to be the answer to all your GDPR woes.

While they may be part of a solution that works for you, I strongly urge you to think more widely than this before buying a panacea that you may not need.

There are key questions to ask and answer first about how your organisation is going to work together before you get to the technical bits.   Fundamentally, GDPR means it is finally, genuinely, time to say bye bye data silos and say hello to collaborative working with consistent data and access across the organisation.

No preference centre or legacy system is going to make that work for you.  That’s about organisational culture.  So, we need to do the people and process thinking ahead of the technology.

Some questions to help you explore this area and decide how to manage it in your organisation include:

  • Could any user log on and know that they cannot email a donor or beneficiary or that they cannot write to a resident?
  • Where and how will you record when a client, donor or beneficiary decides they don’t want to receive further communications?
  • What if they change their mind about a channel they already gave permission for?
  • If someone unsubscribed from direct mail today, how long would it take for their permission to catch up with data selections you have already made for future campaigns?

There are several creative ways to stick a temporary sticky plaster on any systems you are currently using this while you consider the bigger picture.

Don’t rush straight into more permanent fixes to your systems integrations that will give you the sought-after 360-degree view or more integrated and comprehensive data source – think them through with and beyond GDPR.

Evidence of Permission

If you can’t find evidence that you’ve asked for permission to do something, the safest approach may be to consider that you don’t have permission at all.

This may mean you cannot contact that person.

This is something of a bitter pill for many looking at their database.  It is going to reduce the number of active contacts and the number of people who may support you as a result.

The long and the short of it is that compliance with GDPR is the start of a new road and approach to how we look at our data – and our strategy for managing acquisition will need to adapt accordingly.

A human appeal: people = data

Alongside all this work we must do about data, I’d like to add the human appeal. When we talk about data, we’re talking about people.  We talk about donor journeys and build experiences around them based on things they’ve told us they want to do, what we want them to do (and ideally the two mirror each other).  These journeys are individual’s personal interactions with us.

Some of the GDPR rules you are now considering may worry you because they could (or will) have an impact on the valuable work that you do (for example, if you have a major donor and no contact permission to call, how are you going to move forward?).

Remember too that other charities and businesses up and down the country are having to do the same.  The charity you donate to, the online shop you buy those superb shoes from. They are looking at your data. How do you want them to treat you?

This ‘conscience and integrity’ test is one I find helpful all the time as a reminder that behind that spreadsheet (which is password protected and kept on a secure system, obviously) are real people and real lives, not just unique identifiers and permission sets.

It is easy to forget this.

Authors note:  this article is not intended as legal advice.  Note that this covers the legal basis for consent-based marketing and fundraising. Other legal basis for data processing may apply in your organisation.

Where to get Guidance and Information.      

Need help? 

If you need a data audit, an internal seminar to get your team up to speed with the basics of GDPR and ready to move forward, or need help to adapt your systems to meet your new preference management approach, Purple Vision can help.

Whatever your question, we’re happy to help.   You can

5 things we have learned from our ‘more to fundraising CRM’ breakfasts.

Since September, we’ve been running a provocatively titled breakfast series:

There’s more to fundraising CRM than Raiser’s Edge. Honest. 

Let’s be clear about one thing.  We’re not RE haters.  Far from it – many of the team here have used Raisers Edge for years, in fact, we started life consulting about it when Purple Vision was founded in 2003.  It is a stalwart of the fundraising world.

For every RE lover, we also know that there several more who are frustrated with where things are with the database – years of little investment and development. They’re stuck trying to adapt a dinosaur to the 21st century, and we hear the frustration of users feeling like they are stuck with this as there’s nothing else on the market that even compares for heavy duty, heavy lifting fundraising work.

Organisation and tech are intertwined

There are two parts to that issue obviously – just one is technology related, and the other is the organisational impetus, but both issues inform each other.

Often, one of the challenges that charities are facing in looking at Raisers Edge and whether to consider RE NXT or other tools is that other tech has been adopted to plug a gap.  The result is a  disconnected proliferation of tools that has only served to feed the frustration as data is not where it needs to be to run successful campaigns.

Hopes were high a few years ago when Raiser’s Edge announced NXT.

Hopes were dashed as charities realised it wasn’t all they’d dreamed of, and the price was as aspirational as they’d feared it might be.

Of course, options exist to upgrade to other Blackbaud products – let us not forget their full range (overview here) and the fact that there are many for whom these tools are just what they need.

Here’s what we learned from the breakfast series

Having delivered several More to… breakfasts where we outline the shared frustration (that’s news to some – they think they are alone in thinking RE is a beast!) and look at where technology is today, we’ve learned a few key insights about how fundraisers feel about their tech.

1          Everyone is REconsidering whether to move to NXT

2          Very few organisations are automatically upgrading

When RE NEXT was announced, it felt like a foregone conclusion that RE users would upgrade.  As time passes since its release, fewer charities are inclined to tick the box to update. Still more are waiting for insight into what the leading charities are going to do with their tech.

Aside from a few early adopters, there seems to be little talk about who is making the move to NXT and a lot of talk about who is looking at alternatives or looking at CRM projects.   Meanwhile, information about pricing and the like for NXT is still quite esoteric for those looking to eye up the marketplace – real costs are only really available if you speak directly to Blackbaud (which to be fair is the case with many tech providers, but we appreciate it does make it hard to get a full picture and there seems to be more “out there” on the net about other tools than RE).

3          We’re meeting Generation Y – and they don’t like it.

For a generation born with the steep uptake in tech and who are used to adopting tech and digital trends as they emerge, Raiser’s Edge is probably best described with some of the more colourful hashtags and emoji’s that form part of our modern parlance, with multiple exclamation points after each one.

It is a real dinosaur for this generation – our fundraising directors in the making – to get their heads around.  Where’s the flexibility? Integration? Why can’t I manipulate my data like I want to? On my phone?

Generation Z is about to enter the workforce – this is the generation born with a phone nearly surgically attached to them – just imagine what they are going to make of it.  How are you even going to get them to use it?! What will that mean for fundraising records?

4      Mid-sized charities are now looking to moving away from Raiser’s Edge

5      There are still question marks over whether Salesforce is a proven fundraising platform.

Of course, the alternative to RE is a platform based fundraising solution – recognising that there are multiple other fundraising database products around, there are two key players in the CRM market at this level – Microsoft and Salesforce.

Back in 2010, Purple Vision nailed its colours to the Salesforce mask and we’re a registered Salesforce partner.  We’re also still independent – we don’t work exclusively with Salesforce and so are perhaps more receptive to any criticism that is levelled at the platform than some others.

Right now, a host of charities aren’t convinced that Salesforce has fundraising crm all sewn up.  Much has changed in the past year about this, though, and we recognise that a lot of information isn’t yet fully appreciated by fundraisers.

How many know that the NPSP – the Non-Profit Success Pack – was fully relaunched last year (it was first known as the starter pack) and the content significantly ‘beefed up’?

More content for grants management and programme management was added and a comprehensive product roadmap outlined – it’s just an all-around better product for charities.  Meanwhile, non-profit discounts now extend to all the array of cloud services (from Marketing Cloud to Pardot, service cloud to communities).

Despite all this, we’re not seeing a lot of new non-profit adoption case studies that resonate with the mid-size charity audience.

None of these tools for Salesforce look like Raiser’s Edge though which is also part of the adoption problem.  The tech is current and so is quite a leap for some users to take to move to a completely new and unfamiliar interface with such a mix of users within their teams.

5 Causeview looks good – but can it ‘cut the mustard’?

The one tool for Salesforce that does ‘look’ like Raiser’s Edge (and by the look we mean that fundraisers review and see how they can immediately replicate essential fundraising processes with ease) is Causeview.

It is a managed package of fundraising functionality that sits on top of Salesforce and makes the most of the power of the behemoth CRM.  It brings together essential functionality for fundraisers, volunteer management and a bit of event management.

It’s already in use in more than 150 charities in North America, Australia and Europe – but only a handful in the UK.

The market response to Causeview is good when it’s demoed and the price is fair for the functionality – but a few more case studies will help those who are wavering between NXT upgrades and a platform shift to make their move.

The good news – a whole new crop of users will be going live shortly which will help build even more confidence.  Just watch this space.

Sign up for our next breakfast and join the debate: 

10 May 2017 – 09.30 (Purple Vision) 

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