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We all know that the right message at the right time plays an enormous role in enhancing a supporter’s experience, helping you to build deeper relationships, grow engagement, and extend lifetime value. In the case of new Direct Debit sign ups, it’s also a regulatory requirement.
And, right now, with everyone’s thoughts on the coronavirus and its impact on life and finances, as well as fundraising teams split up and working from home, it’s essential to get those first steps right.
We need to ensure a good start to every supporter relationship, but also making sure you collect that very first donation as soon as possible can make a big difference to attrition levels – and new income is vital for every charity during this pandemic.
Certainly sending a prompt thank you and/or welcome pack when someone has signed up to a regular Direct Debit will help to keep that enthusiasm for supporting you going.
It can reduce attrition by catching people when their decision to give and the empathy they felt for your cause at the time of sign up is still fresh in their minds.
And, because they’ll be expecting that first payment to go out, ensuring a timely collection also helps to build a great first impression and initial trust.
Before you can collect that first payment though, in compliance with Bacs rules you must send your new supporter an Advance Notice Letter at least 10 days in advance, to confirm that a Direct Debit has been set up and that the payment will be taken.
Consider then how to ensure your advance notice and new supporter communication schedules are maintained under current conditions. Under usual circumstances a smaller charity, for example, may have just a small number of sign ups a week, that’s easily manageable from a home office set up (if your team has printers and remote access to your secure CRM system). But if you’re running an emergency appeal to raise funds during the crisis, this could increase dramatically.
Will it necessitate staff going into the office and if so, can this be done safely? Could colleagues perhaps take it in turns, say twice a week?
Or, if you usually send out these communications by mail, could you swap to email? This might make the process easier to manage but would also require the collection of email addresses and the right consent at sign up – something else to consider if you don’t already do this.
Also, worth weighing up is the potential impact on supporters of switching from a physical welcome pack, possibly with useful inserts to be kept by the supporter, to a simple email.
If you are achieving a high enough volume of sign ups to make missing a first collection date a significant financial loss, and the process is not manageable while staff are working from home, you could consider outsourcing, even if just as a temporary measure.
Look then at your existing relationships with your supplier partners and how these may be able to help you. Many suppliers are adjusting their service offerings to support charities in these unusual times, so now is the time to discuss with them what might be possible.
At Rapidata, we already offer a postal fulfilment service so we can manage this for you. It’s a way to ensure that your supporters receive their Advance Notice Letters in a timely and cost-effective way, while giving you peace of mind that you are adhering to Bacs regulations and doing all you can to maximise your fundraising income.
While many people are worrying about their finances at the moment, it’s heartening to see that there are still strong levels of support for charities and the work that they do.
Ensuring you continue to meet these key first steps in the supporter journey will help to make all the difference in the weeks and months ahead.