Jill donates frequently and is more likely to donate today than Jack who donates less frequently.
This is an accurate statement and it’s the traditional selection model, which is why our more recent, frequent donors are always sent the next appeal.
This statement is equally true.
Jill donates today and is less likely to donate tomorrow.
What accounts for this difference and seeming paradox? It’s two-fold.
- Jill donates frequently and is more likely to donate today than Jack who donates less frequently
- Jill donates today and is less likely to donate tomorrow
The first instance is how 99% of selection is done. We rely only on the response data of the donors and compare between people for a given point in time – i.e., the next appeal. We’ll always select Jill over Jack.
This is the half-empty frequency answer and ‘right’ but only by virtue of using a static, incomplete analysis.
The second instance is analyzing just Jill over time while factoring in how her behavior changes in response to the charity’s behavior – i.e., communications frequency.
This is the dynamic model, and it has several benefits.
- It’s at the individual level
- Making it more personalized and tailored because
- I decide when to solicit Jill not relative to Jack but based on her behavior in response to the charity’s behavior
Why should Jill be subject to an onslaught of appeals because Jack can’t get off his lazy ass and donate? I joke, sort of. But this is what we’re doing to Jill.
And this turns a lot of Jills into Jacks. Why? Communication frequency has three effects – two positive and one negative.
- Positive: donations
- Positive: brand awareness breeds familiarity and liking
- Negative: irritation
The irritation is as real and pervasive as the two positives. The net effect is every single Jill takes a break from our solicitation approach that has her always in.
If Jill is a really committed donor with a strong personal connection to the cause then she’ll stick around in spite of this, making it only inefficient.
But if Jill is new to the cause and charity she’ll leave. Same for Jack even though he was never going to be as “good” a donor as Jill.
What do you do with this? You need a much, more rigorous, outside-in, evidence-based approach to journey planning.
But here’s a couple bare minimum, baby-steps.
- For those charities soliciting every single month, pull out all those who responded at Time X from the Time Y solicitation. This is Jill who will take a break from you anyway and it’s only a question of whether the break is temporary or permanent.
- For new donors you’ve got to provide the break for everyone and resist the traditional model that tells you the best time to get the 2nd gift is right away. This is only true because you’re applying the half-empty frequency model to your new folks.
You chase away 70-80% of your donors while noticing those who stuck around gave quickly. This is merely showing you that you’ve always got a few Jill’s right from the jump.
Your far bigger problem is all the Jill’s and Jack’s who let irritation trump the positives of response and brand building because they didn’t have enough vested.
Thre final, related thoughts.
- No amount of making the content more “relevant” will change this.
- But you absolutely need to make your content more relevant.
- And you can’t do that with one-size-fits-all messaging.
P.S. Want more Jack and Jill thinking including how to avoid treating all Jill’s the same? Apply now to attend the Shift. One night. Six speakers. Endless opportunity to create change.
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