One of the questions we ask most often of our charities is “What are you doing with your refusals?” Too often we see that after a telephone campaign most will prioritise their new donors, which makes perfect sense. But so many don’t have anything planned for the people who refused to donate, this time, and simply ditch them.
The problem with this is that refusals are not ‘non-contacts’, they’re people who have had conversations with the fundraising team and most of the time these were fantastic passionate calls with some campaigns having up to 65% of refusals wanting further communication. This is positive engagement with potential unlike any other form of media out there, therefore why would you disregard that?
At Purity, we look at this is as less refusals and more potential supporters in waiting. Just because a person said ‘no thank you’ or ‘not today’ doesn’t mean they won’t or wouldn’t want to another time, it’s subjective and so dependent on feelings, mood, and circumstances at the time of the call… if the individual’s busy, if times are hard just now, or you’ve just caught them in the wrong mood because they have a different priority on their mind.
Very often a person who says ‘no’ would actually like to give if they could, if they had more time to consider and reflect on their feelings about the cause, or if their finances had been more stable at that time. Plus, a great conversation about the charity and its work in changing the world we live in today can spark something, it can inspire and trigger people to think about their own connections long after the call.
This is why we’ve helped charities across the UK to build journeys for this group. Our digital team helps to craft communications across email and social media, focused on bringing these individuals into the charity’s community and building on their understanding of and connection with the cause.
We already know that a financial ask is not what is going to work for them, so we can build on that initial conversation. Starting with authentic engagement around the ways they can show their support, whether that is perhaps volunteering or attending an event.
Of course, consent is key, we cannot contact a person who has not agreed to future communications. But the great news is that consent is generally very high, exceeding 60% for some campaigns from refusals alone and up to 96% for all contacts, so we know people are open to further engagement post the initial call.
Our expertise is brought to the fore in how we speak with these potential supporters, in understanding the how and when in terms of listening to and engaging with them. We nurture this communication by sharing the needs of your cause, your inspiring stories, and the amazing work you’re doing. And, if judged it’s the right time, we can make an ask at an appropriate level. Over time, if this is done well with respect and sensitivity, these contacts can build into empowered and valuable relationships with genuine commitment.
Change what success means?
While yes, the short-term goal is to increase financial donations, it’s equally important to work towards the long-term. If we can engage supporters and build a loyal supporter community, then this can be mobilised to truly make a difference for the charity, while we’re also creating ambassadors who will go on to spread awareness of the cause.
So please, consider the people who say ‘no’ this time and do something exceptional for those refusals.