Tales from the Secret Giver: Summertime and
the giving is easy

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the giving is easy

Tales from the Secret Giver is a semi-regular column sharing insights, ideas, statistics, feedback and anecdotes from JGA’s Secret Giver scheme – a comprehensive mystery shopping and benchmarking programme for the voluntary sector, tracking and analysing every communication from nearly fifty charities across a wide range of causes.

And still it rains. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a glimmer of summer on its way. While watching the raindrops race down the window pane, it seemed an opportune time to review three communications from non-member charities that have caught the attention of our Secret Givers in the last six months.

Help for Heroes – thank you letter

First off the starting blocks is Help for Heroes, a new addition to our non-members who are screened regularly as part of the benchmarking process we use for members of the Scheme.

Our Secret Giver was duly impressed by their first written communication from this charity.

Help for Heroes was set up to provide recovery and support for the Armed Forces community no matter when they served. This message is explained clearly in this very first thank you letter – and what our Giver really liked was the positive, can-do tone of the words. And can I just say, that bar has been set high: after making an initial donation, they not only received the letter within an acceptable timeframe, but this letter was topped and tailed! To borrow another very famous tagline, what a refreshing change.

Too often thank you letters appear like they are an after-thought. Poorly constructed, riddled with clichés, frequently with some large bar code next to the address, this felt like a good old-fashioned letter and left our Giver feeling appreciated. We echo their sentiments in describing it as ‘outstanding’. The leaflet that was included again hit the sweet spot, answering the main who/what/when/whys and including a personal story which brought the work of Help for Heroes to life.

In truth, if you’ve given a donation to a charity, you are, at some point, expecting some kind of acknowledgement of that transaction. However, opening the relative envelope or email does not always (some would say rarely!) live up to expectations.

NSPCC – Help us #CloseTheLoophole (email)

Here NSPCC prove that simple is often the most effective when it comes to messaging.

There are no filters to distract away from the main mandate of this email: to close the legal loophole that leaves young people vulnerable to being sexually groomed by adults in positions of trust, who aren’t employed by the state (like teachers). The campaign directive was to email your local MP, asking them to help close this legal loophole. ‘The need is clearly spelled out, and it's easy to offer my support through a link to auto generated email to my MP,’ our Giver told us.

The video (via link) from this email is extremely powerful: you can still watch it via YouTube:

Using young people to communicate this message accentuates the need for action – it would be really interesting to hear what the sign-up rate was for this campaign. We hope it was well above average.

Macmillan Cancer Support – Introducing you to Mindful Moments

This is a low key ask, a different way of asking for a gift that really appealed to our Secret Giver. The idea that you give a donation of no set amount and then in return receive daily tips to ‘help you be more mindful’ is quite unusual in that the Giver feels like they are receiving something tangible for themselves, while also supporting the work of Macmillan.

‘A really unusual idea. I like the use of colours in the design, very relaxing.’

This is just a snapshot of some of the communications that have caught the attention of our Secret Givers, all doing a different job really well, yet all amplifying the connection that draws supporters to their cause, albeit in a slightly different way. Empathy for the Armed Forces community who struggle to readapt to civilian life and regain their purpose and potential; feelings of warmth reciprocated from Macmillan with the offer of mindfulness prompts – perhaps especially timely if you’re struggling with a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one; and don’t forget the children – add your voice to many others in calling for a change in the law to protect vulnerable children.