People aged between 18 and 34 are the most likely to respond to telephone fundraising, and men are more willing to engage with charity phone calls than women, according to new research from the Institute of Fundraising and the online research company fast.MAP.
The report, Fundraising Media DNA, based on online surveys with 2,992 people and 130 fundraisers during February and March, says that 18 to 34-year-olds were the age group most likely to be engaged by telephone fundraising.
This finding goes against the forecasts of the fundraisers surveyed, who predicted the over-55s would be the most engaged group. Engagement was defined as reacting or responding to the fundraising method without necessarily donating but not rejecting it out of hand.
The research showed that male donors were more likely to choose telephone fundraising as a preferred method for being contacted by charities than female donors.
Tony Charalambides, managing director of the telephone fundraising agency Listen, says in the report that the findings indicate the need for phone fundraisers to improve their engagement with supporters during calls.
"This is particularly true of the 55-plus age group, who indicate that this will be one of their least favourite ways to be communicated with, possibly because they have grown tired of receiving the same type of call over the years," he says. "This highlights the need to play to one of the telephone’s strengths and have meaningful two-way conversations with supporters, as opposed to going through the motions of simply reading a script."
The report also suggests that fundraisers underestimate the willingness of people over 55 and, to a lesser degree, people aged 35 to 54, to engage with street fundraisers.
The donors surveyed indicated the method was not perceived to be very "memorable" or "interesting", which the report says could be remedied by fundraisers using more creative supporting materials in their interactions.
On door-to-door fundraising, the research shows that fundraisers underestimated the engagement of prospective donors across all age groups, which could mean there is potential for charities to reach a wider donor base than they currently realise, the report says.
Direct-response television advertising has the highest overall engagement rate of all fundraising channels, the report says. Direct mail, meanwhile, is seen as a less memorable medium than the fundraisers predicted, which might mean that charities need to improve the design of their mailing communications and provide the ability to respond to them through digital means, it says.