“Your mission, Agents of Good, is to create a thoughtful and inspiring donor-centred report.” – Interval House, September 2009
Agent Jen, Mark and John reporting for duty. Debrief and disclosure on a successful mission.
Interval House’s 2009 Report is so donor-centred that it isn’t even an Annual Report: it’s a Gratitude Report. Our vision was donors feeling active and engaged right from the title on. Together, we walk through every room at Canada’s first centre for abused women and children, telling positive and powerful stories that show their gift in action. The real and passionate people behind the Co-Chairs and Executive Managers have different messages to convey: the Co-Chairs can be effusive and nurturing; the Executive Managers have a confident tone and demonstrate leadership. And what about those all-important pie charts? We transitioned them from being complicated-finance-organization-robo-speak to something donors can feel pride in.
USP: Unique Selling Position
Are you tired of the ‘sameness’ of Annual Reports too? You pick it up and it could be for a hospital, health charity, environmental group or [insert charity here]. This is not an off-the-shelf solution. It couldn’t be a Report for any other charity – this is about Interval House and their donors. Only the insistent and amazing people at Interval House can take credit for their USP: providing crisis shelter and holistic programs that heal families escaping domestic violence. Our job was to show that USP, and how donors make it happen, on every single page.
Creative Collaboration = Best Results
Our notes from our energetic brainstorming session: sacred space, stories in every room, personal, special, home. I put down my pen and knew we nailed it with this word: “dollhouse”. A dollhouse is evocative storytelling in action. Our next challenge was to develop a unique creative treatment. We collaborated with an illustrator and artist, the one-of-a-kind Jessica Gordon, who stylistically would bring the sort of warmth to the House that it deserved.
Illustrations by Jessica Gordon
For the online piece, we took a digital image of the “empty” house with none of the detail, and then each room “lights up” and all those wonderful, intimate details bring it to life and make it a home. Because we had an integrated, strategic approach from the start, we were ready for the technicality of the digital layering during the artist’s process. The key was constant collaboration. With Interval House staff, with each other and with the suppliers who helped bring this piece to life.
Our 3 Problems With “All Online Annual Reports”
We’ve all heard consultants, bloggers and tweeters talk about transitioning to an all-online Annual Report, and it goes something like this: “just email donors and tell them the PDF is online – saves lots of money and has the same effect”. But does it? We have 3 problems with this. First, if your printed Report (or e-newsletter) is boring, putting it online doesn’t make it interesting. Second, if you are taking the time to invest in your online community, why not move beyond the static and rigid confines of your PDF and make it dynamic and interactive? Third, are you sure you want to decide for your donors how they want to hear from you – especially if they’ve always heard from you in one way? Part of our commitment to a donor-centred approach was to ensure donors could select for themselves how they want to interact with what we created for them.
Segmentation & Multi-Channel Approach
Our thoughtful database analysis segmented donors into 3 streams: donors to receive the printed version, donors to receive a postcard driving them online, donors to receive an e-blast. For the printed version, we selected corporate donors, major donors, high level monthlies, donors who requested the annual report and donors who have commented on the printed report before. Postcard went to all monthly donors (in the past, only high-end monthlies got the annual report because it was too expensive to send to everyone). We did an e-blast for the rest of the file (yes, the whole file, so now ALL donors get to see the Gratitude Report). And we did a follow-up blast to those who received the postcard or printed report to drive them to the interactive online version. Oh, look at that. We still saved money (smaller print run), invested in their online community (on every charity’s ‘to do list’) and respected each donor’s preferences. Donor-centred fundraising, people!
Deciding To Not Fundraise
We’re fundraisers. So, yes, we agonized over whether we were going to ask for money or not. Throw this question out to fundraisers (we did) and you’ll get lots of people say “are you stupid? Of course include a coupon and BRE. The Annual Report can pay for itself.” But for us, that wasn’t the point. The point was to engage donors, build a relationship, and stick to our promise about the Gratitude Report: it’s about you, not about us. And no, we aren’t stupid, so we did build some soft calls to action into the online component, and will be using this creative for future fundraising.
We are thrilled with the positive feedback we have received from Interval House, their donors, and our peers. Another Agents of Good mission accomplished. Collaborative. Creative. Innovative. Inspiring. Donor-Centred.
If you wish to download a pdf of the report you can access it here.
“Working with Agents of Good was a seamless process for us. Coming up with the dollhouse idea was a fresh new approach for us, and really fit with the work we do. Agents of Good took the ideas we brainstormed together and the feedback we gave during the design process, and turned out a great final product that really reflects our donors needs and our vision of the organization. We’re especially pleased with the online component, which took a different direction than the traditional PDF posted on the website. The online piece is interactive and fun – exactly what we wanted.” Ashleigh Saith – Resource Development Coordinator, Interval House