As we look into 2017 as a sector that has a magnifying glass watching every move we make with certain corners of the media constantly looking for someone to slip up so that they can be hung from the rafters it is our job to redouble our efforts to ensure we give our supporters exactly what they want and more importantly exactly what they expect and deserve so that we can each continue to fund the work that we all do.
We have all heard the cliché “putting the supporters at the centre of everything we do” and I think now, more than ever it is most relevant. At The Children’s Society drilling down into who our supporters are in a level of detail that would have been alien to most charities 5 years ago. Using our data teams and knowledge from across the organisation to help us identify who everyone is. This will enable us to deliver products and tools to each of them that is going to enable them to give us their voice, their time or their money in a way that is right for them and it will also enable us to dig further into what the lifetime value of a supporter can be and how we harness that.
If you look away from the charity sector there is a great example of this at Netflix. Over the last few years they have invested heavily into who their audiences are, their demographics, their watching patterns and their interests to determine how much they invest into their own shows and this has had a remarkable effort on their income. Producing shows like Narcos, Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards at a huge expense has drawn in hundreds of thousands of new customers and whilst it seems an obvious way to do things not everyone works that way, especially within the charity sector.
There is a flavour for mass marketed products that whilst bring in good income for charities can sometimes mean that large chunks of supporters don’t have their appetites met. Hence why you have charities being more specific and diversifying their portfolios for example two of the big guys - Cancer Research who have Race for Life and Dryathlon, Macmillan who have coffee mornings and Brave the Shave – used their internal intelligence and data mining to uncover niches that could satisfy those wanting to support them and there will be more and more of that across the sector in 2017 as the public become smarter.
It is a costly investment, that is undeniable, but we can’t continue the way we are – something has to give. Every penny that gets invested this way will in the long term be paid back 100 fold and more (we hope) but treated everyone the same without that level of personalisation will only see income drop so as we go full steam ahead into 2017 with an air of trepidation but a whole load of enthusiasm I hope that we see the movement we are trying to build and grow go from strength to strength.