A new market research technique can segment databases according to donors' social values. Robert Gray discovers how such profiling could lead to higher response rates

There are seven sets of social values, according to the Values Company, and every person tends to fall mainly into one of the following categories: 1 SELF EXPLORERS Complex individuals, driving changes in society. Interested in the world but focused on understanding themselves. Have the confidence to be creative in uncertain situations. Insist on the information to make decisions for themselves. Once involved, can be big givers. 18 per cent of the UK population.


Attraction of new and untested drives behaviour. They have an intense dislike of restraints. Risk-taking approach. Charities are of interest only when they offer something simple, and "cool", but major givers if you can get them excited.

11 per cent of the UK population.


Busy acquiring success, from branded consumer goods to "in clubs". Drive to achieve the esteem of others. Charities of interest where the brand is recognisable and the request relates to something specific, measurable and achievable.

18 per cent of the UK population.


Interested in world around them, hold wide range of views on most issues in society. Often express opinion one way and then behave in another.

Classic campaign-based supporters. Willing to go the extra mile with you.

Interested in charity in a very personal way. 6 per cent of the UK population.


They need security in all aspects of their lives: financially, technologically and ethically. Not big charity supporters on the whole, but interested in people like themselves. 22 per cent of the UK population.


Family focused and cherishing the values of a modest but sensible life.

Valuing tradition but not slaves to it. Traditionally, they are the group most likely to support charities. Not as big givers as Self Explorers but consistent in their giving. 19 per cent of the UK population.


Escapist and hedonistic. People focused on the "here and now". No hopers from a charity support perspective. Wrapped up in their own lives and not overly concerned with the problems of others. 5 per cent of the UK population.

Everyone knows that it is crucial for fundraisers to understand what motivates people to give to charity. The problem is, the old tools for doing so are looking more and more rusty. When it comes to what makes people give, how useful is it really to know how much they earn, where they go on holiday, or whether they work in the media or drive a white van? How helpful is it even to know that they once gave some money to Amnesty International, or subscribe to the New Statesman, when trying to decide what sort of copy will press the right buttons?

The old A, B, C1 view of the world sheds little light on what individuals are really like. It is all about the circumstances rather than the emotions that cause us to give. They provide clues, but no real insight, and a growing dissatisfaction with established profiling systems is driving the Refugee Council, the Children's Society and others to experiment with an alternative. Might it be possible to research a base of donors or potential donors to find out enough about them to target different groups according to their social values? Trials under way by both charities are designed to find out.

Marketing agency Whitewater is a strong believer in pursuing a values-based approach to profiling and targeting, and the Refugee Council is one of its clients.

"A combination of our highly competitive market and the fundamentally intangible nature of the relationship we typically have with donors has led many fundraisers to investigate increasingly creative ways of targeting their selected audiences and crafting creative presentations to best suit them,

says Whitewater director of client services and planning Bryan Miller. "That's why donor-base lifestyle profiling has become so popular because it offers solid practical refinements to existing direct marketing fundraising programmes, which are proven to deliver improved responses.

"Where previous attitudinal models have proved weak is in the translation from the theory, where you develop illustrations of different attitudinal types, to the practical, when you can actually say: 'We know that Mrs Smith belongs to Type B and so do these other 100,000 people, and they are who we want to talk to.' "

Miller's point about the weakness of previous models is well made. What has held back values-based targeting in the past has been the inability to make the theory work in practice. It has been a good idea undermined by the difficulty of executing it properly.

However, Whitewater and others now believe that solutions are being found.

And the driving force behind these solutions is the Values Company, based in London. Whitewater is working with the Values Company on behalf of several charity clients to develop values-based direct marketing campaigns.

In essence, the Values Company meshes statistical analysis with psychological knowledge. It has developed seven broad categories, each describing people with similar values (see chart).

"These seven groups are seven ways of looking at the world that hang together. Effectively it's a shorthand,

says the Values Company managing director Stephen Barr.

That, though, is just scratching the surface. The company also carries out extensive market research using its Values Engine product. This entails 4,000 people being polled each week about how they look at the world and their place in it. The aim, says Barr, is to spot patterns of behaviour that only make sense from a motivational perspective.

Initially, the Values Company worked predominantly with commercial entities such as the Telegraph Group, Centrica, Legal %26 General and Norwich Union but more recently has been trying to build a presence in the charity sector.

It is refining its methodology and has, in partnership with Consumer Surveys, created a large database called social values(TM) containing 9.2 million UK records. This, it claims, provides data not only on the usual geo-demographics but also on consumers' values, beliefs and motivations.

Arguably, it is only recently - as techniques have been sharpened up and the database has become large enough to become statistically significant - that the process has become rigorous enough to be meaningful. The Values Company can either overlay a charity's data on its own database, or, assuming that the charity in question has sufficient data of its own, carry out values-based profiling on that.

"If you want to get people who are not traditional charity supporters to give, you have to think differently,

says Barr. "There are groups of people who will potentially give lots of money but don't because they are not communicated with in ways that make sense to them."

Tailoring the language used in direct marketing material to square with the values of a particular group will greatly enhance impact and effectiveness, argues Barr. By way of example he cites people he defines as "experimentalists".

People who fit into this type of category, he contends, are drawn to the new and untested but like things to be simple and "cool". They have the potential to become major donors as long as a charity or campaign really grabs their interest.

"A lot of charity stuff is worthy, dull and difficult,

says Barr. "But experimentalists don't see the world that way. So you have to talk to them in a way that gets them interested and excited."

Children's Society assistant director of marketing and communications Joe Crosbie wrote a well-regarded dissertation on the links between motivation and supporting charities for his MA. He is hopeful that there will be a "groundswell

in awareness of values-based targeting among charities in the coming months and years.

"Charities have always targeted people's emotions,

says Crosbie. "However, they haven't identified the particular events most relevant to the individual.

It's a marketing job to change or reinforce behaviour. But how can you do that if you do not know the individual's reasons for that behaviour.

It's key that it's understood to be the motivations. It's not the attitudes or the lifestyle."

The Refugee Council's direct marketing manager Clare Millerchip agrees: "It's not about when and where people do something, it's about their motivation to do something."

The charity has been testing values-based targeting. The Values Company analysed its existing supporter database to identify those "values groups

from which the best lifetime supporters are drawn. A test, at the end of April, involved two different creative executions mailed to 80,000 names drawn from a range of control lists previously tested by the charity, plus specific cells targeting people belonging to the two values groups identified as most likely to become long-term supporters of the cause. All the creative and media work was handled by Whitewater.

Full analysis has not yet been carried out. But early responses have one of the values groups clearly outperforming the control segment, in terms of the higher number of new donors recruited, and the average donation.

"To me the most exciting area is the new donor recruitment testing which we're undertaking for a couple of clients,

says Miller. "For most charities, new donor recruitment is the most difficult part of a direct marketing programme to get right, and getting it wrong can be extremely costly. As such, it's in refining this activity that the level of improved data and creative targeting offered by social values can offer really significant benefits. Then, the higher context understanding of the donors recruited can be used to go on and refine the overall donor development programme."

Some charity marketers are somewhat more sceptical about the effectiveness of social values profiling. The National Trust's database marketing manager John Whitehead has weighed it up as an option but is yet to be fully won over.

"Although I'm not convinced of the extent to which you can predict personal values from postcode analysis, it does seem to be the case that by focusing on the values and motivations of donors you can produce more compelling creative work,

says Whitehead.

Mencap's head of individual giving Sanjeev Gupta is a little more positive. "Social values profiling is another way of segmenting the marketplace and I like the idea,

he says.

He adds, though, that a clean database is a necessity for undertaking targeting of this kind - and that Mencap is not quite in that position yet.

Disability charity John Grooms actually carried out a direct marketing campaign at Christmas 2000 for which three versions of the pack were produced, each addressing the donor according to their social values hot buttons.

There was an 59.5 per cent increase in response for the values targeted packs in comparison with the control pack, according to the charity.

"The social values approach has provided an insight into donor giving behaviour and will prove an interesting source of marketing thought,

says John Grooms' campaigns manager and director of marketing Rajesh Bhayani.


Norwood is a community-based Jewish charity that provides family services. The charity and its marketing agency Mediator were interested in exploring how a values-based approach would help improve the performance of warm appeals. As the first step, Norwood commissioned the Values Company to focus on the make up of its supporter base and the responses to the last three warm campaigns.

This exercise revealed that Norwood supporters have a life strategy profile similar to many charities. Self-Explorers and Belongers are over-represented (when compared with UK norms) among supporters. This is also true of Social Resistors, but to a lesser degree. The life strategy profiles of the responders to the last three warm appeals showed that responses had been very mixed in values terms, suggesting that the charity has been presenting a confused message to its supporters.

The deconstruction of the creative for the appeals confirmed this, identifying several elements that communicated contradictory messages: i.e. one element in the pack that would appeal to one group while another element was likely to put that same group off.

For the next appeal, which tackled child abuse in the family and was timed to coincide with the Passover festival in spring this year, a decision was made to focus the mailing on the most responsive elements of the supporter base and to position the creative more towards Self Explorers and Belongers. In order to appeal to these two groups in one pack, it is vital to give information, tell a story - with a happy ending - and not use shock tactics. Around 10,000 people were mailed, all of whom had given in the previous eight months.

"Clearly there are key words you say or don't say, depending on the type of group,

says Norwood head of marketing and events Mark Gottlieb.

Overall, the Passover mailing was a huge success compared with the previous mailing. In absolute terms, the number who responded increased by 58 per cent and the total revenue generated rose by 74 per cent. The average gift increased by 12 per cent and return on investment jumped from 2.4 to 3.7. The response rate among the two key groups, Belongers and Self Explorers, increased by 188 per cent and 187 per cent.

Gottlieb says that Norwood is continuing to work with the Values Company at bringing greater "transparency

to its database. "We're beginning now to phrase creative differently to appeal to the various values groups."


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