War Child aims for long-term relationships with individual donors (Friends) to ensure the continuity of field projects. Friends provide approximately 83% of the income from individual donors. The focus on a structural relationship with our Friends helped us to grow significantly in recent years despite the economic downturn.
In 2012, the total income from individual donors grew by 8% to € 9.1 million (including actions by individuals and legacies), which is € 100,000 more than estimated. Structural income increased by 6% compared to 2011. This is the result of a stronger focus on the acquisition of new Friends at the beginning of the year and a campaign to upgrade current Friends. A negative trend is seen in the number of cancellations and donations that cannot be directly debited from bank accounts as a result of insufficient balance. As a consequence, the total number of Friends at the end of the year went down by over 3,000 Friends compared to 2011, totalling 107,000 at the end of 2012. We will try to counter this trend in 2013 by diversifying our acquisition channels.
The main channel for the acquisition of new Friends is door-to-door fundraising. War Child invested significant time and energy in improving the quality of this channel in order to reduce complaints and cancellations. Although the number of complaints was reduced, the exit percentage remains on the same level and is higher compared to other channels. Therefore we have focused on developing new ways of attracting donors. The first pilots for new acquisition activities will start in the beginning of 2013.
In online fundraising we see a shift towards more incidental donations and less structural donors. The number of new structural donors decreased significantly, by 50%, to 610 in 2012. At the same time the number of incidental donors increased by 60% to 2,250. This trend requires a strategy to turn online first-time donors into structural donors, and this will be one of the focus points in 2013.
Loyalty and upgrading
Loyalty activities were organised to improve War Child’s relationship with Friends and their involvement in the organisation:
- A campaign to upgrade friends, which resulted in 4,724 Friends increasing their monthly donations by an average of €26 per year.
- Focusing on storytelling and field staff telling about the work.
- A friends meeting at head office with presentations from field staff.
- Special Friend tickets for the Doe Maar for War Child concert in October.
A start was made with the design and implementation of a new contact strategy that will replace standard one-way communication through newsletters by more personalized communication that takes into account the interests and wishes of our donors and that creates more opportunities for dialogue. In 2012 our constituency was, for example, invited to send their questions to the new executive director, to meet us at a Friends meeting, and to get special tickets for the Doe Maar concert.
Doe Maar for War Child
On October 9, 2012 legendary Dutch band Doe Maar organised a special concert for War Child. The 1,000 strong crowd at the sold out Paradiso venue witnessed an inspiring concert. With the revenues from the concert War Child was able to reach 2,700 children in armed conflict, which was the result we aimed for. Photos of the event: http://www.warchild.nl/doemaar
War Child’s constituency received three postal mailings informing them about the results of War Child’s work. One of these mailings was a donation request: an appeal about Syria at the end of November, generating € 102,000, which was one of the most successful appeals ever. As a result, revenues from mailings were 25% higher than in 2011. This is mainly due to the fact that we use an urgent topic like War Child’s rapid response programme. It is likely that we will continue using this programme as a topic for our special appeal in 2013.
In 2012, War Child received 18 legacies totalling an income of almost € 609,000, 12% more than 2011. The income from this segment is highly unpredictable. In order to generate more income from legacies in the future we developed the following activities:
- A postal mailing to our own constituency to inform them about the possibilities.
- Distribution of a legacy brochure to 90% of all notaries in the Netherlands.
- Production of content for the legacy magazine Voor nu & later with Liesbeth List as our spokesperson.
These efforts will not have short-term results, but are investments in long-term legacy income.
Complaints and policy
In 2012 War Child received approximately 70 fundraising-related complaints, 15 less than in 2011. The complaints result mainly from our door-to-door activities. War Child has strict fundraising guidelines and provides detailed briefings to the various agencies that fundraise on behalf of War Child. All complaints are reported back to these agencies in order to prevent complaints from recurring. Every complaint was handled in accordance with the guidelines of the Central Bureau on Fundraising (CBF). War Child strives to respond to every complaint within 48 hours and in 95% of all cases this is achieved. A new complaints policy was developed in 2011, but due to capacity issues it was not implemented in 2012 and was postponed to 2013.
The exit percentage of individual donors attracted by door-to-door fundraising is high compared to other channels. Therefore we will focus on developing new ways of attracting donors. The first pilots for new acquisition activities will start in the beginning of 2013.
We found that the income from legacies is highly unpredictable. To structurally increase generation of income from legacies we must start long-term activities.
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