Published: 24 May 2019

Integrating supporter communications: how to get started

Your supporters support you because they share your vision. Labels like campaigner, donor, runner, activist etc are often purely internal and don’t reflect how people would identify themselves.

In reality your campaigners are the most likely group to become donors, and your donors will likely give more and stay with you for longer if they’re also involved in other parts of the organisation. Each type of support can reinforce the other. That’s why integration is so important. It allows you to build deeper and more enduring relationships with your supporters, and to make the most of your internal resources.

But if your organisation’s supporter communications are feeling a little siloed, it can be a little tricky to know where to start.

In this article, we explain how you can build the cultural and technological foundations of greater integration.

Cultural: The pilot

Changing business as usual is never an easy task, so it’s good to start small. A pilot is always a great place to start when introducing a new way of working. By exploring a new approach within a clearly defined time period, with specific goals and audience, you can reduce risk while still achieving important learnings. If your supporter data is already managed (and protected) by separate teams, welcome journeys are a great pilot project. Here’s why:

  1. The data is easy to identify and ringfence
  2. The relationship is new, and so results won’t be influenced by previous experiences with you (good or bad)
  3. Supporters will emerge from the journeys with a rounded view of your organisation
  4. Welcome journeys shape supporter expectations for how you will work together
  5. You will build up a good picture of what sort of things each supporter is most interested in

First define the segment that you want to target with your integrated welcome journey, then protect them from other communications while they receive it.

If you’re lucky enough that this supporter list is over 10,000 people, you could consider running an A/B test across the whole welcome journey to really see what’s working. If that’s not possible, just make sure you have clear benchmarks and metrics laid out before you kick off.

This integrated welcome journey should provide you with the evidence you need to get buy-in from across the organisation for closer working. It is also a great opportunity for teams to start working together and seeing each other as allies. Some results from your pilot will be immediate (e.g. increase in engagement) but others will take longer (e.g. donor retention rates). Be patient and remember that long term is just as important as short term.

Technological: integrated technology for integrated communications

Technological barriers often feel greater than cultural ones. The good news is that there are solutions out there that can save you time and money, while improving your supporter relationships. By implementing integrated technology, you can ensure you have the information you need about your supporters to give them high quality, tailored communications. By knowing what events they’ve signed up for, what campaign actions they’ve taken or if they’re donors, you can target and personalise your integrated communications in a way that respects and builds upon existing relationships.

In an ideal world all your systems would be talking to each other in as close to real-time as possible. But if you’re starting from scratch and need to prioritise, start by thinking about the data needs of your most important integration projects. If you’re starting with welcome journeys, the most important connection is likely between your webform platform (sign up forms, campaign forms, donate forms, etc) and your email tool. But if you’re starting with your existing donors, the Customer Relationship Management system you use is going to play an important role too.

If you get this data flow right, you can even automate your email journeys, making them even more supporter-centred and potentially saving you a lot of work too!

If you want to read more about supporter journeys (and automation), you can also download our free supporter journeys report here. We’ll be releasing an integration add-on guide soon, download the main report to be one of the first to receive it.

Main photo: John Doyle on Unsplash

Graphics: more onion


Claire Donner, strategy consultant and director, more onion

Claire is a campaigning and fundraising strategist specialising in digital mobilisation and supporter journeys. Having worked at Cancer Research UK, ActionAid UK, and Greenpeace UK, she is now Strategy Director at more onion. Claire helps progressive charities to increase their digital impact, including getting the most out of more onion's toolset ‘Campaignion' - a campaigning and fundraising platform with integration at its heart which utilises flexible and powerful technology to help win campaigns, raise money, and engage and grow supporter lists.