Best use of FastStats 2010 Award

Using FastStats® to increase the number of charity supporters who pledge to leave a Legacy gift in their will

Company Overview

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association consists of stakeholders, including customers, volunteers, donors, employees and trustees. Guide Dogs work as a team to deliver mobility and access services that meet the needs and aspirations of blind and partially-sighted people in the United Kingdom. Guide Dogs was founded in 1931, and is a charity that receives no government funding for the guide dogs service. The guide dog service is entirely dependent on voluntary donations. The guide dog service costs the guide dog owner a nominal fee of just 50 pence to ensure equality for all in the UK.

Guide Dogs are a world leader in breeding and training guide dogs and are a co-founder of the International Guide Dog Federation. The charity employs 1000 professional staff in the UK supported by 10,000 volunteers, including puppy walkers, brood-stock holders, dog boarders and thousands of local fundraisers.

The quality of the attendees was such that conversion rates of attendees was higher than had ever previously been achieved.


  • To increase the number of charity Supporters who pledge to leave a Legacy gift in their will.
  • To identify UK location hot-spots for holding small Pledging events to targeted potential Pledgers.
  • To improve cost-effectiveness of Pledger recruitment.

The project was developed through a team effort involving the Guide Dogs Data team, Legacy Fundraising team and Qbase Direct. The Qbase Direct consultant undertook the initial data analysis, model building & strategy development; the Legacy team implemented the strategy; the Data team have subsequently rolled out the strategy in a production environment.


    • Systems: The IRIS Care Supporter Management system provides automated weekly data feeds of all Supporter and transactional data into a bureau-hosted Single Customer View database. Data is manipulated and hygiened in the SCV before being delivered to users via a FastStats Discoverer Analytical system. Guide Dogs have 10 members of staff who utilise FastStats to create and implement their data-driven Supporter Journey. FastStats has been used since mid 2008.  
    • Data Enhancement: Guide Dogs’ Supporters were enhanced with demographic variables, following extensive testing of all demogs available from 3 different demographic suppliers. 
    • Propensity Models: Decision Tree and Predictive Weight of Evidence models were created, combining individual transactional giving history from Cash, Raffle, Sponsor-a-Puppy (monthly Direct Debit) & Dogalogue (Trading catalogue) giving products, together with demographic data. All Supporters were scored according to their likelihood to become a Pledger.   

      Guide Dogs Response Chart - The yellow line shows that 80% of Actual Pledgers can be identified from 18% of all Supporters

    • Geo-spatial analysis: Geographical analysis was then undertaken using FastStats Discoverer integrated with MS Mappoint. Actual Pledgers and the top segments of modelled potential Pledgers were plotted and the most suitable locations were identified, based on drive-times, profiles and Pledger propensity scores.  

Invites were then sent to the best potential Pledgers inviting them to attend events held at hotels around the country. The top propensity potential Pledgers were asked if they would like to receive a home visit if they couldn’t attend the event. The next propensity segments were telephoned if they didn’t respond. The lower propensity segments were sent a direct mail piece if they didn’t attend.


The Project metrics that were used to judge the success or failure of this approach were:

    • Actually make a Pledge (Pledger Conversion)
    • Commit to make a Pledge (Prospect Conversion)
    • Pledger income per attendee
    • Prospect income per attendee

Benchmarking was based on comparisons to previous years. The project was a huge success, with all KPI’s from the previous year being beaten:


  Sept 08 - May 09  

  Sept 09 - May 10  

 Pledger Conversion

 13.17 %

 17.11 %

 Prospect Conversion

 7.54 %

 10.96 %

 Pledger income / attendee



 Pledger income / attendee



Initially there was some concern because the number of attendees was lower than expected. However the quality of the attendees was such that conversion rates of attendees was higher than had ever previously been achieved, so the net result was highly successful.

The Legacy team undertook telephone activity and it became clear that many of the attendees wanted to attend and were interested in leaving a legacy, but were unable to travel due to being old or infirm – unsurprisingly, the model had highlighted that old age combined with financial engagement was a key demographic predictor. Based on the telephone feedback, the strategy was amended to include home visits to the Supporters with the highest propensity scores.

The lower attendance figures also enabled the Legacy team to move many of the events out of town-based hotels and into smaller, cheaper venues that were closer to the attendees. The Legacy team also reported improved interaction and one-on-one conversations with the attendees, due to the lower attendance numbers.

This has meant that the event costs have been reduced through cheaper, smaller venues combined with smaller attendance numbers. A more personal service has been delivered to Supporters via home visits to the highest propensity Supporters and minimising travel to events for the lower-scored Supporters. Overall numbers of Pledger Prospects and Legacy Pledgers has increased above target.

For more information Contact Us now.