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Using supporter centric solutions to improve the donor experience

23 October 2020

Donor behaviour is changing rapidly, but even more so during COVID. It’s affecting how often people give, the way they want to help and how they communicate with your organisation.

Charities have had to cancel real-life fundraising events and switch to virtual events. Like how The British Heart Foundation jumped on the opportunity to host an online quiz to garner support whilst everyone was in lockdown. Or how Chester Zoo appealed to the public for help when they were left in a perilous position by closing the doors due to coronavirus. After the appeal, they raised over £740,000.

So while things are changing in a post COVID landscape, it’s the perfect time to write a plan for what your charity can do differently and ask yourself – How can you engage with your supporters and deliver the best experience possible?

In our work with charities, we’ve found helping them become supporter centric – where donors are seen as the heart and soul of your mission – has been core to delivering a positive experience that engages supporters. Ask yourself what a supporter wants and needs to help, how efficiently can they channel themselves through your user journey and get to the cause they care about most?

Digital technology can also be your friend when it comes to improving a donor experience through a supporter centric lens, so here are some tips to help get you thinking:

Consider a digital experience platform

Now, you might be thinking ‘what is a digital experience platform?’- well arguably, it’s where an excellent donor experience starts.

A digital experience platform is an enhanced website that offers a cohesive way to house all your communicative efforts with supporters. The technology it offers allows your organisation to manage, deliver and optimise a user journey, resulting in a better attrition and retention rate. If we say a normal website that has no bells and whistles is like a landline phone, it serves a purpose but does not offer what a mobile phone does. A mobile phone is like a digital experience platform; it offers more than a standard website, and the opportunities are endless.

To deliver an experience, a donor will remember and want to return to; you need a platform that services their needs. Using a platform that has integrated technology allows charities to bring automation into their user journey and give them a more enriching experience. It enables personalisation, the option to segment audiences and tailored digital donor journey delivery. It can also track conversations you’ve already had with supporters, allowing more effective communication.

Take, for example, the Alzheimer’s society. They invested and moved over their existing site to a digital experience platform and saw a 72% increase in donations, with the conversion rate rising from 22% to 65%. By focusing on what a donor’s habits are when visiting the Alzheimer’s society site, they were able to guide them through the donation process more smoothly.

St Rocco’s Hospice is another excellent example of how a digital experience platform helped immensely. Their new platform allowed them to collect single and recurring donations direct, process event sign-ups through the website, and automate lottery registration processing. This increased annual income by £500,000 and reduced their daily admin by up to 65%.

If your budget allows for a digital experience platform, it’s worth investing in if you want to become more supporter centric and achieve long-term sustainable fundraising. But sometimes even small changes to a page like its messaging can encourage donors to donate.

Use your data

Without the right insights from data, there’s no structure to anything a charity is doing. Shift your focus from ‘I think’ to ‘I know’ what my donors want. Data is the key to knowing exactly how to engage with your donors.

Data can be captured in numerous ways, whether it’s requesting feedback from donors via a survey, a form on your website, or via social media polls. By integrating back-office systems data and a digital experience platform, charities can share and match information easily.

Increasing the insight into your donor’s behaviour will empower fundraising and marketing teams, giving them access to a genuine 360° profile of supporters. The British Heart Foundation‘s digital facelift provided them with data they can use internally and feedback to their donors too. With over 600,000 visitors a month, their online support community – Talking Point produced an infographic to celebrate their 10th anniversary. It included all its achievements, their data and the story of its work.

Behind Closed doors also used data to improve their donor knowledge. By doing so, they encountered information that rather than working with parents only, adopting a family-wide approach was more beneficial. It reduced domestic violence and improved their services.

Having data in your charity’s hands gives you the power to make significant decisions.

Embrace the power of Social Media

Charities are utilising the impact of social media and running with it. Incorporating it into your marketing efforts is one of the best ways to engage your supporters. Along with specific tools on platforms, like Facebook’s giving tool, it’s a great place to hold live streams of fundraising events, Q&A’s with significant people or to launch a campaign.

Whether you already have a following or need to build one, there are some excellent charity examples to take inspiration from. Macmillan Cancer Support launched a #lifewithcancer campaign that focused heavily on user-generated content created by their followers and supporters. By sharing everyday moments from people with cancer, it encouraged more engagement from their supporters on social media.

The Movember movement is also well-known for its success. The campaign started in 2003 and is still going 17 years later. By adding humour to sponsored moustache growing, charities like Prostate Cancer UK are gaining donations. Creating a social media campaign that has a pull like Movember, is a great way to engage existing supporters and new ones.

An opportunity to do things differently

In a more digitally focused future, it’s the time for charities to test and trial what works for them and their supporters. By doing so, you’ll have the evidence to support the buy-in and the decision to invest. Whether it’s automating email campaigns, moving over to a digital experience platform or utilising social media to engage your donors. For many, becoming supporter centric has to be a priority, and by using digital innovation, it can open a new world of endless possibilities.

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Rachel Capper

Creative Content & Engagement Manager, Dreamscape Solutions

Rachel Capper is the creative content & engagement manager at Dreamscape Solutions, a digital agency working with charities to help them achieve sustainable fundraising through digital innovation. Rachel has over 10 years’ experience as a copywriter, with extensive knowledge in writing for a variety of sectors.