Learning the value of transparency

Learning the value of transparency

It’s no secret that many charities and NGOs operate on a shoestring. And even those that are better off still rely heavily on the generosity of people wanting to make the world a better place.

To foster that generosity takes work, and trust – and this has never been clearer to me than during a campaign undertaken in my previous role at a charity.

At the time, we were using telephone fundraising for simple admin-based campaigns such as welcome calls and annual Gift Aid confirmation. So more than a few eyebrows were raised when I asked to spend several thousand pounds on a new donor recruitment campaign…by telephone.

I’d heard about Purity Fundraising from one of my peers within the charity sector, who’d shared a particularly encouraging presentation about a successful warm leads conversion campaign. Purity had been the ones making the calls and asking leads to join the charity as members. The audience had responded well as the results clearly illustrated. I was desperate to know the secret.

The key to success, it seemed, was simply a much better level of transparency around telephone opt-ins. Opt-ins – and telephone opt-ins in particular – had been something we’d never fully embraced before, and thus our volume of leads with opt-in consent had been tiny.

This example was different. Right from the start, the supporter knew from the opt-in wording that they were going to be called by telephone. And it made sense: why should we feel cagey about telling supporters that we’d like to phone them? After all, we had a good cause, we believed in it – and our audience might just believe in it too.

So, we changed the opt-in wording, spent money on reaching out to digital audiences and as a result gathered a healthy and much-needed pool of new leads who wanted to hear from us. The data went over to Purity who made the calls. The result? A successful campaign that brought new donors in who were genuinely happy to talk to us, and happy to support us.

That campaign proved a number of things. It showed us the value of transparency in fostering new relationships, of testing new activity – and of course of asking people to opt-in to telephone calls. It proved to us just how valuable a channel telephone can be.

Fast forward and I’m now working at Purity and helping other charities discover this, and it’s wonderful. What’s more, we’ve seen attitudes towards the phone change since the start of the Covid pandemic with the public increasingly happy to receive calls from charities.

There’s no doubt that people will only want to hear from us and give us their support if they trust us, and we all have a responsibility to encourage and build that trust by being as clear and transparent about our activities as possible. If we’re upfront and honest with people about what we’re doing and why trust and support will grow.

James Haldane