One of the key themes of the convention has been about providing donors with something in return for the money that they give, and creating a reciprocally beneficial relationship. Consumer brand managers will probably be startled at the need to spell this out. They know that they will only continue to generate revenue if they provide their customers not only with products and services in return for their ‘donations’, but that these have to deliver added value and a great experience. They also have to be tailored to the needs of different buyers, to suit various occasions, and to satisfy both the emotional and practical demands of their users. Charity brand managers need to take more of this approach on board, and to realise that genuine reward has to mean more than a thank-you, an update, and subsequent requests for more funds.
But where the best-managed charity brands can really excel is in developing long term relationships with their best ‘customers’, and in broadening the nature of these relationships in various imaginative and valuable ways. They are able to turn their donors into advocates and recruiters, to harness their other skills and interests to help achieve the brand’s overall aims, and to use their stories to inspire wider engagement with the cause. Some fmcg brand managers similarly need to think about the potential for getting value out of their customers, in ways which go far beyond increasing sales frequency and volume.