How Mind drive exceptional results from testing and learning

Client

Mind

Back in 2014 the Mind Community Fundraising team noticed that people were raising money for Mind in the lead up to Christmas by holding craft sessions to make Christmas cards, decorations or presents. Some supporters had called their event ‘Crafternoon’. 

In 2014 Crafternoon raised £5,000. Today the team at Mind have increased that figure by almost 2000% (!!!) and fundraising for Crafternoon continues to grow.

How did Mind increase their income so significantly (and on a small budget)?

With the help of Lucy Gower at Lucidity, the community fundraising team adopted a strategy and philosophy of testing and learning to grow their fundraising products. The constant testing of all elements of Crafternoon, including the product concept, materials, messaging and supporter journeys revealed insights and resulted in many small changes to Crafternoon that added up to make a big difference. Senior Community Fundraising Officer, Victoria Urquhart, shares three key learnings.

Have courage – sometimes you have a hunch about a better way to do something. However there are risks in testing out a hunch – it might be wrong and it might fail. We shifted our mindset to approach everything as a test. Because you can’t have a failed test, you simply find out if something works or not. For example, we wondered if having a specific date where we encouraged people to hold their Crafternoons would help with recruiting more people to take part, as well as converting the people who told us they were intending to do a Crafternoon to actually do one. We were worried that a specific date might have a negative effect on recruitment and conversation, for example, if people felt they were too busy and put under pressure to commit that they might not do a Crafternoon at all.

1 December 2018 was the first ‘Crafternooon Day’ and we found out that our hunch was right. Because (we discovered) our audience liked a deadline and a focus, recruitment and conversation went up.

‘We knew we wanted to test a specific date and whilst we were worried that it might not increase conversions we were going to have to find out at some point – and if not now then when?’ Victoria Urquhart, Senior Community Fundraising Officer

Ask ‘what if’ We often asked ourselves, ‘what if this was the only year?’ to challenge how we could maximise income if we only had one shot. It helped us to have courage to test more. For example we tested on a small scale with our stewardship all the time. Like our good luck messaging, we tested what had the most impact; a card, a text, a call or nothing? Our hunch was that calls would get the best response, yet few people remembered the calls. What people remembered was the good luck card.

After the event people remembered the thank you call above the thank you card or thank you text. Now we’re building on that testing – we want to know if making a call has a longer term impact, do more people repeat, or raise more, or go onto support in other ways if they receive a thank you call? Only time will tell. And over time we build a more in depth understanding of our supporters and therefore what we can do to give them the best possible experience of supporting Mind.

‘Working with Lucy has helped to instil the mind-set of testing and learning across the team. We’ve learned that nothing happens in isolation and to think strategically about how what we test now can make an impact on our activity in the future. We’ve applied this approach to all our fundraising.’ Victoria Urquhart, Senior Community Fundraising Officer

Communicate – A community fundraising product like Crafternoon needs support across a range of teams and you have to work hard to inspire others to buy into the product and get on board. A defining point for us was early in 2018 when we presented a progress report to the organisation. We were keen to lead by example so we shared all our tests and, with encouragement from Lucy, we were candid about what had failed.

This presentation re-positioned the development of Crafternoon in the eyes of the rest of the organisation as a product with a good understanding of its core audience and committed to improvement through robust scientific testing – rather than luck or guesswork. We sparked curiosity in other teams and it was a catalyst for more people to want to be involved. Since this presentation where we shared our approach, the project group gone from strength to strength.

We run regular lunch and learns and communicate with the whole organisation about the results to date how they can get involved. Other teams are now asking us for advice on how to implement a test and learn culture and approach in their team to improve their results!

‘It’s easy to talk about learning from failure but it’s quite a different matter to actually do it. I was so proud of the team for leading by example, being candid and sharing the test results – both good and bad. It was vulnerable and they got a lot of respect for sharing their approach.’ Lucy Gower, founder, Lucidity

What’s next?

The team have just delivered a summer Crafternoon for the first time and the early results are positive .They have already identified differences between summer and winter Crafternoons to test and amplify for next time.

As the demand for their services continues to increase, Mind must raise more money. Mind fundraising teams will continue to test and learn across all their fundraising products to maximise their income in order that the charity can continue to provide their services and be there for everyone that needs them.