We all recognise the importance of making giving as easy as it can be, but do we put it into practice? In competing for sizable donations, are we missing a golden opportunity by not chasing loose change?
Collecting Boxes can be seen as “old school” and not innovative enough, something that large and smaller community charities used to use – but I strongly believe they have as much relevance today as they always did.
We are still some way away from a world where we only pay with pin numbers and plastic, or even just waving our cards near a sensor to pay for goods. From supermarkets to smaller and independent retailers, a collecting box can easily accumulate a reasonable income in a location with a mediocre footfall (I’ve observed averages of around £14 in a 2 month period, in a small retailer in a small town).
Collecting Boxes are more than just a vessel for collecting small change, aren’t they? They help raise awareness of your organisation, getting your name out there and you aren’t even paying an advertising fee or rental space. Are you printing certificates to show how much your holders have raised for you? If you do, and they are sized and presented correctly, these are often placed in public view or on notice boards – yet more free advertising and awareness raising. All this, and you get the contents of the box too!
Nearly half of respondents to a recent survey conducted by ICM research (on behalf of Ronald McDonald House) charities say they would donate spare cash if collecting boxes were more accessible. I’ve observed this is even more prevalent amongst the young.
But, there has to be a down-side, right? To administer and manage Collecting Boxes correctly, it takes time and effort, and if you get it wrong it can be very damaging. Using Volunteers to manage this process is ideal, but there needs to be continuity and clear guidelines/processes, as recording information in a spreadsheet may not be enough. Sending out boxes with no supporting information can lead to them being full and no-one knowing what to do or how to contact you. If you don’t check-up on boxes, they can be full and stored away, only to be lost or opened and emptied into someone else’s box. And, the ultimate error in my opinion, if a retailer can’t take your box now, but offers to take it in a month or so, don’t just ignore them. You may believe that because they can’t take the box now they don’t matter, but they do – and they can often remember. If they recall they agreed to take a box and no box arrives, it can tell them you don’t need the money and you don’t need their help. That’s a very public message that is unwise to portray.
However, don’t be disheartened. The IRIS Donor Strategy collecting box management module is designed to make that as easy as possible. Through Campaign Calls it can help you place boxes in the best locations. It reduces administration by producing the paperwork (placement letters, thank you letters and certificates automatically, but in a professional and personalised way). It can help you predict when boxes may be ready for collection, and handle requests to delay the despatch of boxes without additional administrative overhead.