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Dogs Trust - Friends to Sponsors over the phone

The Challenge

We had worked together with Dogs Trust Ireland to develop their Sponsor a Dog product from the ground up: creative, donor journey, and implementation. And it works! Retention has improved and donors love it:

  • 88% say they “love” the updates and/or want more of them;
  • 96% have recommended or would recommend Sponsor a Dog to a friend
“I love getting all the updates about my dog, and how he’s doing. I’m so pleased that the sponsorship is helping him and funding his needs. I also really appreciate the little gifts that I get in the post, I loved the keyring, it was a really nice gesture & I’m gonna treasure it it’s made me want to sponsor more dogs who need my help.”

However, Dogs Trust had another stream of regular givers – the Friends of the Centre – who weren’t getting the engagement and materials that Sponsors do.

Converting Friends to Sponsors could not only improve retention but also streamline delivery for the fundraising team. But there were risks too. If we could convert them to Sponsor a Dog, would their retention improve (enough to offset the increased cost)? And what would be the best way to go about it?

The Execution

We quickly settled on phone as the best channel to convert the Friends to Sponsors: it’s immediate, personal, and we could answer their questions about Sponsor a Dog quickly and easily.

To mitigate the risks, we focused on lower-value Friends, and also tested a delayed start to sponsorship, as research suggested that delaying the start of the change could increase conversion rates.

Whatever the outcome of the call, we wanted to make sure donors ended the call feeling valued by Dogs Trust and that their support was making a big difference to dogs.

The Results

87% of Friends contacted were happy to switch to Sponsor a Dog; and over 40% of them upgraded their regular gift, too! Feedback from the phone team was some of the most positive we’ve ever heard: supporters loved talking about their sponsored dog and their own dogs too!

The test did not show a difference: donors switched (and/or upgraded) at the same rates in both the control (switch/upgrade next month) and test (switch/upgrade in two months’ time). We re-tested this in a more straightforward upgrade campaign later on, but again we didn’t see the difference the research suggested we might. That’s okay – many, if not most, tests don’t beat the control (welcome to the joys of science).

The high conversion rate suggests further routes to convert Friends and thereby increase retention – watch this space.