FUNDRAISING NEWS: Plan sees income shooting up

Emma Maier

Child sponsorship agency Plan International has quadrupled the income that it generates from direct mail after using a new targeting technique that analyses the factors that motivate donors to give to charity.

The Target Alchemy technique, which has been developed by direct marketing agency Target Direct, has also helped Plan International to make a 2 per cent reduction on the number of supporters who cancel their donations.

Target Alchemy differs from traditional models because it looks at the reasons why people give rather than just relying on factors such as age, geographical location and lifestyle.

"A person may give to a cancer charity because their mum died of cancer," said Paul Farthing, managing director of Target Direct. "But most of us know someone close who has died of cancer, yet we don't all give. We have asked what drives someone to respond."

This more sophisticated system helps charities decide how to approach particular groups of donors and how to keep them engaged.

At Plan International, the system was used to identify two predominant types of donor: foster parents, who like to write to the child they sponsor, and benefactors, busy donors who don't have time to write. This discovery enabled Plan to match children from the Philippines, who are known to be prolific letter-writers, with foster parent donors, while benefactor donors were matched with children from other countries, who preferred not to write.

Target Alchemy works by considering donors' motivation to give, typical demographic factors such as age and lifestyle, donors' relationships with the organisation and how and where the donor was recruited. A scoring system is used to segment donors depending on which of the four factors is most significant for them.

Target Direct is now working with four other charities to further develop the model.

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