If you’re looking for feel good moments, you might want to steer clear of the year 2020 altogether. A rising pandemic death toll, social strife, unemployment and unease are the headlines du jour, on repeat.
It doesn’t seem to be a particularly good time to ask people for money. At least that’s what we thought.
But people will surprise you and while so many of this year’s surprises have been difficult, this one has been pretty refreshing. For our Not-for-Profit work especially, direct mail response and average gift have improved. At first, we thought it was a fluke.
In this year of COVID, engagement has been consistently up
When the coronavirus pandemic surged in March, and stay at home orders were issued, much of the economy stopped. We were, of course, terrified. Supporting worldwide relief programs with donor direct marketing is a big responsibility.
If you were looking for a “how to” list for how to deliver consistently exceptional performance for clients during a pandemic—so were we. That doesn’t exist. However, we certainly did and do have a strategy for how to weather change and challenges, and it turns out that one has fit the pandemic quite nicely.
The Homebody Economy
This year, McKinsey has said that consumer behavior trends and the pandemic have created a homebody economy.
In this new economy, or as consumers hunker down for an extended period of uncertainty (financial and otherwise), they will shift their spending largely to essentials, such as grocery and household supplies, and pull back on most discretionary categories.
Think about this as it relates not only to giving—but also to our clients who rely on events and event marketing for support. Overcoming the loss of this channel even temporarily is a tremendous shift—with absolutely no warning.
Making your case well enough to overcome this economy has been the challenge. We worried about forecasts, and what we would be able to deliver. Not to mention the impact to these important and necessary causes if we weren’t able to deliver.
Signs of hope
We know that in the United States, food banks and closely-related causes were pushed beyond their limits but yet as it turns out, charitable giving was up in staggering percentages.
Still none of our work is directly related to the victims of the COVID crisis, so there was considerable handwringing about what we could do to continue to drive the support and donations for our clients.
No room for a down year
With age comes experience—and our 32+ years have come in handy. Our playbook for weathering change is built on our collective experience with a host of unsettled markets through the years. As it happens, we’ve been measuring the variables of performance long before it was on-trend—and this database of results and testing have given us an edge in developing best practices that stand the test of time—but are flexible enough to allow for innovation.
Three from a list of “to-dos” in a nutshell:
- Apply data driven relevance—Even the simplest of data helps to fortify relationships with your donors that are meaningful (both short- and long-term) to performance.
- Take your donors on a journey—Be more than a marketing program. Engage in different ways to tell your story to enrich the relationship you’re building.
- Look for ways to add leverage —Beyond any one channel, find ways for integration and innovation within your program to embrace the expanded networks of your audience.
We’re so grateful that this year, throughout all of the challenges of COVID we’ve been able to achieve greatness for our clients—one of the most welcome of this year’s surprises. If you want to hear more, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.