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No Ordinary Disruption


June, 2019

Trends & Changes

According to Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, disruption changes an existing market, industry or technology and produces something new, more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.

Disruption is transforming business models and value networks through technology and business innovation.

A recent study by Ernst and Young has identified three primary “forces” causing disruption. Technology, globalisation and changes in demographics.

Technology and in particular the Internet and digital innovation are speeding up communications, changing the skills workers need and business capabilities. 

It’s changing the very nature of consumption, competition and how markets work. 

The availability of information and ease of access is placing today’s consumers; employees and charity supporters in the driver’s seat. 

For example, the Millennials are demanding greater transparency in how their donations are making a difference.  Globalisation has accelerated in recent decades facilitated by technology and changes to trade rules.

Globalisation is creating new competitors, reordering supply chains and lowering price points. 

Charity supporters and in particular the Millennials are increasingly supportive of global causes, with the process being facilitated by technology through overseas networks.

Demographic changes include an ageing population that will transform everything from healthcare to real estate to workforces that will be dominated by the Millennials causing workplaces to be reinvented.

These trends and changes are presenting unprecedented challenges and opportunities to businesses and calling for agile responses based on data analytics and innovation. It’s easy to underestimate the pace of change.  Smart strategy and execution are no longer enough.

A “pitfall” for many organisations is that they are structured and incentivized to fulfill on the needs of their existing business model and processes potentially missing disruptive opportunities.

Responding to disruption

As organisations involved in fundraising, we need to be more proactive in addressing these challenges and opportunities.

We need to challenge entrenched thinking; shift perceptions, catalyse change and develop novel solutions for engaging supporters.

Responding to disruption is critical as everyone is affected…

By asking the right questions about the trends and other disruptive forces we may be able to get insights and develop some creative answers for formulating more effective approaches to fundraising.

This will not only provide a much-needed increase for return on investment but also provide the necessary platform for harnessing the opportunity of disruption.

Redefining our approach to fundraising

Some questions, we have been asking for quite some time now here at Apple Marketing Group is how can we grow our engagement, and integrate new technologies to increase the overall numbers of Gen X and Millennial supporters? Especially as we continue to see growth challenge’s using only traditional techniques and demographics.

It’s become apparent that we have been approaching our campaigns with the same value proposition across all generations including the Millennials.

As charity supporters, the Millennials for example, hold a very different set of values, expectations and motivation for donation.

Whilst the Baby Boomers are closely connected to the cause and are naturally committed to volunteering, the Millennials are not as connected to the cause and hold little brand loyalty.

But at the same time are highly connected and informed through social media platforms and want to make a difference in the world.

It’s clear that we need to redefine our value proposition not just for the Millennials but right across the board of demographics for more integrated and individualised approaches to fundraising.

This will require data analytics to inform learning to engage with supporters in new ways that will provide a better experience of their engagement with us.

Technology and digitisation will undoubtedly feature heavily in the value proposition for supporter demographics as well as new ways of connecting and building relationships.

Our Vision & Mission

Our vision is to provide charities with a sustainable fundraising solution and be the 'Champion for Charities'. 

And it's our mission that through collaboration and innovation, we become Australia's leading charity fundraising company.                                                                                                                                                             

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 06 June 19


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There's No More Business As Usual


May, 2019

Digital Disruption

Ever since we figured out fire, stone tools, language and other great innovations change has been a constant. Change today is faster than it has ever been. Technology and the Internet have brought radical changes to the speed and to the way we communicate and access information.

As a result of this is disruption the old traditions around which cultures, economies, and politics have been organized are upended.

This disruption has not been kind to businesses used to operating by the rules of the old model. Fifty years ago the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 Company was 75 years, now it is 15 years. It’s probably safe to say that almost all the companies listed in Fortune 500 today will be replaced by new companies in new industries in the coming decades.

Disruption in the Not-for-Profit sector 

Originally, management was designed for a very different set of business needs; ensuring that repetitive tasks were completed, improving economic efficiency and maximising productivity.

In the age of digital disruption and new social development those needs are vastly different.  Proven solutions and strategies that were highly effective in the past are no longer as effective today. 

The not-for-profit sector is equally prone to change and digital disruption.

Traditionally, the sector has relied on the generosity of the Builders and Baby Boomer generations who are deeply connected and hold strong loyalty values to the cause.

Gen X and Gen Y have different drivers for donation; hold different loyalty values, and channels for connecting and engaging.  What has worked in the past is no longer working as effectively today. The way we have engaged supporters in the past will not be the way to engage supporters in the future. This is especially true for Gen Y and the younger generations.

Change is not only coming from a shift in supporter demography, pressure is being experienced from a multitude of other sources including changes in government policy and numerous other factors.

Factors calling for change

  • Digital technologies
  • Shifting traditional sources of funding
  • Move from local to global competition
  • Same cause/multi-charities
  • Reduced Government funding
  • Supporters increasingly want to see the impact of their investment
  • Changing supporter demographic
  • Donation of the moment
  • Asking overload
  • Perpetual grants will increasingly be benchmarked on innovation capability of the recipients

In addition, not-for-profits are increasingly being called to be more efficient, competitive and provide a more sophisticated way of measuring impacts and outcomes. 

There’s now a need for a greater alignment with corporate goals and to develop investment capability to decrease the need on traditional
funding, such as government, for creating growth and sustainability for the future.

Hence, what we believe is needed is not only change, but also a complete transformation of the way we engage supporters and work with one another.  This will require courage, some calculated risk taking and a deep commitment from all of us to work together differently and to think in different ways.

We can no longer plan in reaction to change but rather we need to plan in anticipation of change and create a future that supports our mutual vision, as a single body, committed to making a difference in the community.   

There’s a call for all of us to work more collaboratively, learn from one another, be more innovative, and to think intuitively and creatively in an environment of increasing uncertainty and business complexity.

Creating Our Future Together

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Peter F. Drucker

We are committed to expanding our capacity for providing a higher return on investment (ROI) to you, our charities, and growing fundraising activities to provide a much larger financial pool to support and empower your efforts.

Over the past three years we have been quietly working on a plan for creating our future together in the face of this great uncertainty and change.

And this year our changes are unfolding, including;

  • Retention surveys
  • Cause Connect 50/50
  • Integrated system for better supporter correspondence
  • Instant payments, single & regular, via sms

We hope that you will partner with us on this new and exciting journey of fundraising transformation.                                                        

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 03 May 19


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'Giving Australia 2016' Research - Top 3 Take Outs


Top 3 Take-outs 

Conversion Rates/Telephone Approach 

Conversion rates for our renewal charity campaigns have sustained well compared to the overall figures quoted in the report (refer page 7 of highlights report).  

On average we have seen a slight decrease over the same period of between 3% - 6% across all appeals vs. 30-40% overall decrease shown in the report.  Providing transparency, customer services and delivering receipts on time all assist with retention rates for our client campaigns.

Planned Giving

Planned giving is far more attractive to charity supporters and the report shows that 'those who plan their giving actually give 6x more dollars than spontaneous givers'.  (Refer pages 11-13 of highlights presentation)

This is a significant finding in my mind because Regular Giving is a key component to our charity fundraising success.  Over the past few years we have been nurturing a RG telemarketing team of talented individuals, all hand-picked for specialist training based on their ability to handle a more complicated ask.  They are, in my opinion, the best in the business.  Our results across raffle, donor and door knock speak for themselves, with strong conversion trends year on year.


The demographics and capacity to donate are very interesting results.  This information will assist our recruitment for door knock volunteer collectors in 2017. (Refer to pages 16-18 of highlights presentation)

I'd love to hear your own take-outs from the research, feel free to comment on this post and share!

If you would like to find out how to incorporate a Regular Giving campaign, email our Client Services Director, Vicki Shaw at to set up a meeting.

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 11 January 17


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Identifying Vulnerable Donors

Further to our post ‘More on Vulnerable Donors’, I’d like to share a couple of initiatives we are undertaking which demonstrate some simple actions that can be taken during the course of a campaign to help identify potentially vulnerable donors.

Assessing the capability of a prospective new volunteer Doorknock collector:

  • This year our teams assessed and identified consumers that were not capable of carrying out this type of fundraising activity

  • ​Throughout our campaigns we identified 70,260 people (0.38% conversations) as unsuitable to approach for this type of support due to social, health or mobility issues.  These records will not be contacted for any future Doorknock campaigns

  • ​Alternate ways of support were offered and 1 in 3 customers took up these initiatives

Next phase is to identify low/poor/no English prospective new donors/raffle buyers:

  • For the period (Oct 2016 - March 2017) our teams will carry out a six-month exercise across our raffle and donor acquisition campaigns
  • ​Similar to our Doorknock exercise, this test will aim to identify consumers that have difficulties understanding the proposition and/or ask our teams are calling them for

Recording and acting on feedback from donors during the course of a campaign provides valuable insight for future planning. 

It proves that outcomes aren’t always ‘black and white’.  Key insights can be gained by delving deeper into the ‘grey’ areas, which can yield mutually beneficial results.   

This potential highlights the fact that campaigns need to be dynamic and always evolving to keep propositions and ways of giving accessible to all consumers.

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 05 September 16


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Vulnerable Donors Discussion

Following on from our post on Vulnerable Donors in March, we thought it was a good time to update you on what we have been doing to respond to ACMA’s focus on the charity exemption from the Do Not Call Register (DNCR).  

One of the big questions is how do we assess the major commercial implications this could have on Australian charities if they were included in DNCR washing?

From our end, we have performed a split test on our own acquisition database, the results are interesting:

Results from Split Test (Acquisition washed against DNC)






  • ​Results show that there is very little difference in the willingness to participate on behalf of charities, even when on the DNC register
  • Only 0.04% of those on the DNC Register requested no more calls from charities (the same percentage outcome as those NOT on DNC)


Quality Control Processes

In addition to comprehensive ongoing training and monitoring, AMG employs a Quality Control team to carry out daily quality and accuracy checks on each one of our telemarketers.

  • QC team calls back over 200 of the previous days positive respondents (at least 2 for each telemarketer)
  • Details and agreements recorded by the TM are cross-checked with the donor to confirm accuracy and to note any complaints or compliments arising from their experience in dealing with AMG
  • Management address any issues arising on a daily basis and staff are monitored to ensure compliance
  • Rolling research on recorded calls to monitor the rates and qualification of ‘No’ responses, to ensure balance between persuasive sales techniques the need to protect ‘vulnerable donors’
  • Staff retention strategies to ensure well-trained and experienced TM’s

Sector Sustainability Discussion

In July, Apple Marketing Group CEO, Darren Musilli participated in a discussion meeting to discuss how, through effective self-regulation, FIA can help secure a sustainable fundraising sector for the long term.

One of the issues canvassed is vulnerable donors, and it is agreed that it is far better for us to be addressing these issues as a sector and pursuing effective self-regulatory solutions rather than waiting for regulations to be enforced.

FIA is undertaking the first comprehensive review of its system of self-regulation in over a decade. You are invited to read the Discussion Paper and comment on the issues raised in it.

You can read the discussion paper here on the FIA website.  The opportunity is now to have your input, the deadline for submissions is 30 September.


Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 31 August 16


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Future Fundraising: Donor Loyalty is King

Times are changing and we believe the time is now for charities to adapt and innovate with their fundraising strategies. 

The stakes are high, if you stick to the same old strategies, declining revenue and shrinking donor numbers will be a problem that becomes more difficult to address the longer it is left unchecked.

Apple Marketing’s Future Fundraising Program identified what many agree to be the single most important factor to ongoing viability for charities.

1.  Donor Loyalty

Big business recognised a long time ago that it is way cheaper to retain customers than it is to attract new ones.  In the past 15 years the rise of customer loyalty and rewards programs, such as Fly Buys and the like are proof of the importance placed on customer retention strategies by the world’s biggest brands. 

The same level of importance should apply for charities when it comes to donor retention.

International Fundraising ‘Thought Leader’, Gail Perry stated in a recent article that across the board, non-profits retain only 1 in 5 new donors, usually because of an abysmal post-gift experience for the donor. Here is the first place to start — by tackling your donor retention.

Smart non-profits are:

  • Investing more staff and resources in donor relations, including phone polling and focus groups with both retained and lost donors on a quarterly basis
  • Measuring the performance of their donor relations programming based on substantiated information
  • Investing more time in ‘showing’ donors where their money goes, rather than simply ‘telling’ them
  • Educating their leadership and board members in this important new metric

Apple Marketing is innovating and adapting now with our Future Fundraising Program.

We are actively testing new channels to complement traditional phone-based campaigns for raffles, doorknock and donation renewal campaigns. Early indications are that we can achieve significant improvements to ROI with an integrated multi-channel approach, and we’re excited about the implications for Donor Retention/Loyalty campaigns.

To find our more about partnering with Apple Marketing and our Future Fundraising Program, contact Bronwyn Shearer on email,, or phone 1800 811 866.

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 20 June 16


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Future Fundraising: Premium SMS has arrived

European charities have been using Premium SMS for many years, but our industry was yet to test this exciting fundraising channel until last year's Salvos Shout Out on the televised Carols on the Domain.

The Salvos is one of only 12 Australian test charities currently trialling Premium SMS or PSMS – 4 are Apple clients and we have big plans for integrating PSMS in more campaigns. 

So what is PSMS and how does it work?

Using the Salvos campaign as an example, the Shout Out involved asking people to text the word 'hope' to a mobile number. Once the text was received, $5 was automatically deducted from the donor's mobile account and the Salvos received a percentage of that deduction.

The Salvos has now retained the Shout Out number for ongoing donor management and future fundraising opportunities.  

And there's more good news.

Almost three months after the Appeal, we converted 5% of Shout Out donors to Regular Givers with a minimum average of  $14 per month. This is a major win considering the timing and given we only had a mobile number to work with.

Importantly, the RG conversion also gave us the opportunity to update the details of at least 30% of the list for ongoing fundraising and marketing exercises.

What’s next?

We’re planning to expand the PSMS test with other campaigns.  For example, this year’s Salvos Doorknock program will include a Shout Out card that collectors can give to donors in lieu of collecting loose change donations. 

To speak to us regarding a tailored Fundraising Strategy, contact Bronwyn Shearer on email, or phone 1800 811 866

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 28 April 16


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How we’re addressing the Vulnerable Donor issue

You may have seen the recent newsletter from Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) about this important issue – what it means for our industry and how we begin to address it.

We got involved last year at a time when many charities started to receive letters from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) about a range of telemarketing complaints.

At this time, FIA CEO Rob Edwards contacted me to discuss next steps from a charity and supplier perspective. In particular, how our industry should respond to the letters and ACMA’s focus on the charity exemption from the Do Not Call Register (DNCR).  

The big question is how do we assess the major commercial implications this could have on Australian charities if they were included in DNCR washing? To begin to answer this question, we believe research and industry collaboration is the way forward.

So, what are we doing right now?

We are actively washing our acquisition residential list/s against the national DNCR for three campaigns to analyse our results. 

We are scoping an external research company to conduct a survey about the DNCR.

I have offered to participate in an upcoming supplier discussion with ACMA to help address their concerns.

We are reviewing the UK White paper for Call Centres dealing with Vulnerable Donors and will adopt relevant recommendations to further enhance our processes.

There is no doubt the issue of vulnerable donors and the steps we take to address it will take time to resolve. Until then, I plan to share our research findings and collaboration outcomes to help our industry explore the best possible solutions.

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 16 March 16


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Digital Fundraising

Digital Fundraising: new website, app and approaches.

Are you ready for a Digital Fundraising future?

This is a question we keep on asking our campaign partners and ourselves. I talk about it at conferences and talk with industry peers about how we can adapt for the future.

So, everyone’s talking about a digital fundraising future, but what does mean? And how do we know if we’re ready or not?

The answer is simple.

The reality is the next generation of supporters – Generations X, Y, and the emerging Millenials – want to be engaged differently.

They want more control over what, how and why they support charities, and they want to do it all online.  

Put simply, digital fundraising is about engaging supporters they way they want to be engaged – email, mobile and online, as a start.

By online we mean a diverse mix and growing number of channels via websites, surveys, blogs, advertising and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc)… the list goes on.

There’s a lot of possibilities with the digital space and we’ve been putting channels to the test, plus refreshing our website with new features like this blog, and working with surveys, social media and developing an App.

Here’s a brief summary of what we’re doing (and continue doing) to answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Are your ready for a Digital Fundraising future?

Databases are ready

This is a good example of updating a traditional approach. We’ve spent the past four years updating our databases with mobile and email information. We’ve almost reached 50% for mobile and 25% for email.

Online surveys, social media

We’ve started cause driven online trials through our new campaign Hands in Hope, which includes an integrated pop-up survey and social media, partnering with leading homelessness, pain management and crisis helpline charities.

Our App

Still under development but set for launch mid 2016, our App will allow users to browse the latest fundraising campaigns via cause and go on to select a charity and a choose from a list of ways to get involved (donation, regular give or volunteering).

The App gives users the freedom to engage with fundraising from their phone or mobile device when they want, plus search and select via cause, campaign and giving options – in a similar way to how they might search via Google.

There’s no doubt our Digital Fundraising future is an exciting one. Are we ready at Apple Marketing? Yes. Mainly because we keep asking ourselves the question and running new online tests to find out what works.

The fundraising industry is changing and we're working hard to ensure we keep changing with it.

If you’d like to hear more about our latest online test or would like some more information about our new App, email me at


Darren Musilli


Apple Marketing

Posted in: Apple Marketing Blog at 12 January 16


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