BirdLife and marketing

To: Stephen Ambrose <>
Subject: BirdLife and marketing
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2015 04:29:33 +0000
An important point is that for those recipients of the letter who are
not "tolerant
of fund-raising efforts and willing to donate" to have a way of opting out
of the follow up.  That is currently lacking from the BLA process.

A further point is that the scheme you mention is limited to members of the
"university from which I graduated".  I have never been a member of BA or
BLA but they have somehow harvested my name and email address - perhaps
from when I provide data to them through COG or eBird?


Martin Butterfield

On 9 December 2015 at 15:10, Stephen Ambrose <> wrote:

> For the last few years, a representative of the university from which I
> graduated has phoned me once a year to ask if I would be interested in
> donating money towards student scholarships.  Each year's appeal is
> preceded
> by a letter from the university's alumni office alerting graduates that
> over
> the next month we can expect a phone call asking for a donation. So there
> is
> a warning that we will receive a phone call, rather than it being a cold
> call.  The phone calls are made by student volunteers who, not only ask for
> a donation, but spend about 15 minutes engaging in a informal chat
> enquiring
> about the graduate's experiences as a student, how one's studies
> helped/didn't help one find a career, and asking about what they could
> expect if they took the same career pathway. The student volunteers are
> from
> the same educational stream as the alumni they are contacting, so a
> biological sciences student would speak to a biological sciences graduate,
> an engineering student with an engineering graduate, etc.  Therefore, you
> know that any advice you give to the student over the phone is relevant to
> that student.  But it is not all one-way traffic, because it is also an
> opportunity for the graduate to ask the students about their university
> experiences, what they expect once they have completed their degree(s) and,
> just as importantly, you can ask them directly how any money you may donate
> would be spent.  On each occasion, I have found the student volunteers I
> have spoken to over the phone extremely courteous, enthusiastic and
> genuinely interested in the advice provided.  On a personal level, I have
> found it an extremely effective marketing approach, the level of interest,
> comprehension of advice and courtesy of the student determining the amount
> that I donate each year.  If one agrees to make a donation, then the
> university sends a personalised letter of thanks with details on how to
> make
> a tax deductible payment.
> Perhaps a similar approach could be taken by BLA. A letter could be sent
> out
> to members/supporters alerting them that they would receive a phone call
> within a month or two about an appeal to raise money for a specific
> research
> project or conservation cause.  The calls could be made by designated
> birding volunteers (not marketers) from the BLA head office or branches (if
> it is for a national project), or just from the branches (if it is for a
> local project). Two-way conversations could follow about each party's
> perceptions of funding priorities for bird conservation & research and an
> opportunity for the potential donor to question how donations would be
> spent.  Perhaps in the initial letter to be sent out to members/supporters,
> a tentative breakdown of the proposed expenditure of project funds (if the
> target is met) could be provided, so that potential donors can see how
> their
> money would be spent. This would give potential donors more confidence in
> discussing the project when they receive the subsequent phone call that
> requests a donation. If one agrees during the phone conversation to make a
> donation, then BLA would need to send a personalised letter of thanks with
> details on how to make a (usually online) tax deductible payment.
> This approach is obviously labour-intensive, would have initial costs
> involved (e.g. phone, mailing and printing costs) which should be covered
> by
> the receipt of donations, and is bound to annoy some people. But it is a
> way
> of communicating on a one-to-one basis with members of a captured and
> (hopefully) interested audience.  The university that I referred to in this
> email has used this fund-raising technique for at least the last five
> years,
> suggesting that it is one that works for them. I don't see any reason why
> it
> wouldn't work for BLA, provided that members/supporters have the option of
> saying "no" to receiving a phone call once they have received the initial
> letter alerting them of the appeal, and that the BLA does actually honour
> the "no" request. Perhaps a scaled-down approach, if there are inadequate
> resources, could involve an initial letter of appeal for funds being sent
> to
> all members and supporters, alerting them that a subset (rather than
> everyone) would be phoned, with different subsets being phoned each year,
> to
> avoid the same people receiving a phone call every year.
> Of course, the success of such an approach depends on the ability of BLA to
> call upon enough birding volunteers to "man the phones", for two-way phone
> conversations to be courteous and efficient, for members/supporters to be
> tolerant of fund-raising efforts and willing to donate, and for BLA to be
> upfront about how raised funds would be spent.
> Kind regards,
> Stephen
> Stephen Ambrose
> Ryde, NSW
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf
> Of
> Paul Sullivan
> Sent: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 6:45 AM
> To: Shirley Cook
> Cc: 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] BirdLife and marketing
> It is not a defence, Shirley. I'm very proud of this organisation and what
> it achieves with our staff and volunteers. All professional organisations
> use emails as a communications tool. Why not buy a calendar for Christmas
> and help BirdLife protect birds? The photography is terrific and it
> profiles
> our work.
> Thank you for all the personal messages of support. I will try and get to
> them soon.
> Paul Sullivan
> Chief Executive
> BirdLife Australia
> 0477 007522
> > On 9 Dec 2015, at 06:20, Shirley Cook <>
> wrote:
> >
> > Oh, dear me!
> >
> > even this "defence" has a marketing message in the tail!!
> >

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