Uncharacteristically, look I recently texted a number on a TV advert to make a charitable donation. It was Water Aid, decease a very worthwhile charity that aims to provide clean drinking water to the world’s poorest people. Lots of children drink water the colour of that block above this paragraph. So, site in an otherwise eventless moment, I decided that, absolutely, I would give some money. The nerd in me was also interested in the process and user flow when texting a number like this.
I was sort of hoping that I could make my donation without speaking to a human. Partly because I’m lazy, partly because providing a mobile-phone-skewed CTA leads you towards that kind of process and partly because I’m very familiar (and uncomfortable) with charity ‘up-sell’.
I’ve long been interested in how charities promote themselves. They are, of course, organisations like any other: they need to make money, so inevitably they try to get what they can out of you. Which is both necessary and a shame. And the call with Water Aid was as expected.
“I’d just like to make a one-off donation.” Those were my first words — nice and clear and polite. But despite their endless (to the point of patronising) thanks, they still asked me if I would sign up to monthly donations. The shame of this is that from a position of feeling good and generous, I was pushed back into a defensive, negative position, where I was saying “no”. This is not a unique issue with Water Aid – ALL charities do it. And it leaves the donor putting down the phone and feeling horrible.
I believe there are ways to make people feel positive and good about donating to charity. In fact, I have a side project coming out very soon that aims to achieve this. I understand that donors are the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ when it comes to recruiting monthly members, but there is a fine line between encouraging a bigger donation and making people that support you feel rubbish. Charity marketing needs a refresh. Let’s make people feel good about giving.
(If you haven’t seen it, you should read this presentation on the right way to create social change.)