At SOS Children's
, an international organization that cares for orphaned and abandoned children, conventional wisdom held that most of the
group's donors were women, particularly middle-class, middle-aged mothers
living in suburbia.
SOS undertook a marketing project to better understand its top donors and
attract similar individuals, the charity made a remarkable discovery. One of
its most active donor segments consisted of young urban males with upscale jobs,
trendy lifestyles and high-rise apartments.
unexpected outcome probably could be traced to SOS's 2005 selection of a
celebrity spokesperson to publicize its story. Although SOS had been active for
60 years worldwide and 40 years in Canada, the group had an "awareness
problem," according to Daniel Loftus, integrated
sponsorship program manager for SOS Children's Villages in Ottawa. "Many people had never heard of
us and those that did were not aware of all the initiatives we sponsor."
part of SOS's mission involves building residences for children without parents,
the group was able to attract Mike Holmes, a Canadian contractor known best for
his popular home improvement TV show, Holmes
, as its spokesman.
Skills and values
"We were looking for someone whose credibility we could
leverage," says Loftus. "And Mike is Canada's most credible renovation expert."
In addition, Holmes' reputation for quality home renovations mirrored SOS's
work building quality homes for at-risk children. "It was a good match for our
values," Loftus explains.
ensuing months, SOS Children's Villages launched a direct response TV campaign
that featured Holmes talking about the organization's important work while standing
in front of his own quality work. The rugged celebrity spokesman and his
trademark workmen's overalls appeared in two-minute spots airing on cable
channels like the Outdoor Life Network and History Channel.
Who were these guys?
donations began to pick up and, much to the group's surprise, the checks were
coming from men with city addresses. "Our stronghold had always been suburban
females," recalls Loftus. "But Mike Holmes appeals to both females and males,
especially young urban males. They were a different audience than we were used
understand who was donating money to sponsor children, and to improve its
outreach efforts, SOS Children's Villages contacted Environics Analytics
(EA), a Toronto-based marketing analytics
company. EA's flagship segmentation system, called PRIZMC2
classifies all Canadians into 66 lifestyle types based on their
demographics and values plus the latest census data and social values findings.
After analyzing the postal codes of the group's donor base, EA found that SOS's
highest concentration of donors came from two distinct groups: middle-aged,
married couples and young urban singles from PRIZMC2
clusters classified as Young Digerati, Electric
Avenues and Grads & Pads.
The members of the young group tended to be well-educated
professionals pursuing active lifestyles: working out, enjoying the arts and
going to bars and nightclubs. While some members of these segments had entry-level
incomes, they tended to have more discretionary cash for charities because they
did not have the costs associated with raising young children.
The big revelation was that the donors contained younger
urban singles. The charity had never anticipated seeing a youth-driven group in
their donor data. And without a segmentation analysis, they never would have
gained that insight.
Cue "The Georges"
Taking a cue from the hip lifestyle of this young donor
group, EA analysts dubbed them "The Georges" after George Stroumboulopoulos
, host of The Hour
on CBC TV. Perhaps most important for a charity looking to
understand the attitudes of its donors, EA examined the group's top-ranked
values to gain insights for crafting compelling appeals. The values research
showed these donors to be open-minded towards other people and very concerned
about health. A media analysis showed that The Georges favoured cable news
networks, the technology and sports sections of newspapers, and magazines that
covered business and finance.
Using the lifestyle and social values analysis from EA, SOS
Children's Villages adjusted its marketing to better target The Georges. They
rewrote their fundraising appeals to highlight SOS's global reach and its
efforts to build sound homes to protect the health and safety of children. And
based on analysis from Envision, another new microtargeting product from EA,
SOS marketers also altered their media buy to include cable channels, like HGTV
and CTV Newsnet, preferred by The Georges.
The improved media campaign was right on target. According
to Loftus, donations increased 40% annually since the Mike Holmes campaign
began. And the group scored a year-over-year retention rate of 90% across its new
donors. "The DRTV campaign floated all boats," observes Loftus.
The Georges also offered a unique benefit, he continues.
"One advantage of young male donors is that once they make a commitment,
they're not easily swayed away." While the SOS campaign is ongoing, they
continue to refine their appeals as new donors contribute to the cause.
SOS's experience with young male donors can provide valuable
lessons for other charities. Attracting a young donor can pay dividends for
years. With proper stewardship, a nonprofit has the opportunity to develop a
longer-term relationship than it would normally get from a middle-aged or older
Loftus adds that many philanthropic groups simply need to
shake loose their preconceived notions of who donates to charities. "Groups
need to first be aware that a donor demographic exists among young males," he
says. "And because fewer charities target them today, you can reach them at a
reasonable cost per acquisition point."
Gifts, privacy not
Just as valuable, continues Loftus, is using marketing
analytics to better understand and connect with a group's donor base. He cites
the benefit of PRIZMC2
privacy-friendly approach that relies on a simple postal code instead of an
intrusive survey to produce detailed information and insight about donors.
"Traditionally, every question you ask while processing a
donation results in a fall-off in the amount of the donation," says Loftus.
we've been able to maintain our level of donations because we don't have to
pull the energy of the donor away from the donation to answering questions. All
we need is a donor's postal code to learn their PRIZMC2
segment and find out
who they are and what they're interested in."
Peter Baker is vice president and practice leader,
overseeing the fundraising, packaged
goods and municipal government sectors
at Environics Analytics. This article about the work of Environics
Analytics first appeared in Direct Marketing magazine. Used with permission.