3 ways to supercharge your supporter experienceBy Ellie Adamo
When we were appointed by the MND Association to work on their fundraising communications, we went through their communications with a fine-toothed comb to build a holistic picture of the journey supporters experienced.
The Association’s individual giving communications – from supporter newsletters through to appeals – were performing well, but needed a refresh to unify messages and better serve their supporter’s needs. In addition other key fundraising streams, including gifts in wills, in memory giving and membership, were disparate in look and out of date.
So we reimagined the MND Association’s overarching supporter experience, untangling the various income streams and refining a journey that keeps supporters loyal and inspired to give for years to come.
To do it, we followed three key principles – principles which will supercharge your supporter experience too.
1. Put your supporters at the heart
Last year, the comprehensive Commission on Donor Experience emphasised just how critical supporter-centricity is to all fundraising. The advice is simple: “discover what is most important to your donors and focus on that” – that way, you’ll give them the experience they want.
Every fundraiser knows this, but how do you discover what supporter centricity really means to your charity?
Detailed audience insight is your answer. For the MND Association, an overwhelming proportion of their supporters have a personal connection to the cause – more than most charities. This means they’re engaged and really want to hear about research, the work that's bringing us closer to beating MND. So that's where we started.
We gave their appeal programme for cash donors and regular givers a boost by putting research breakthroughs at the fore. Then wove heartfelt thanks into their newsletters, recognising key research achievements are simply not possible without generous support.
We also created a new approach to the Association’s legacy programme, including a proposition centred on how supporters feel about MND. It’s an aspirational and hopeful proposition we called: ‘What if…’, that asked supporters to imagine what a gift in their will could make possible – and what if that could be a future free from MND?
This supporter-centric legacy proposition has already proven a huge success. The charity has had so much interest in legacies, they’ve had to double the number of legacy events they put on each year. Now that’s amazing.
2. Make your content human
Before we revitalised the MND Association’s supporter experience, their appeals and legacy materials worked for their cause and certain audiences, but we both agreed they lacked an authentic human element.
That’s why we spent time with people living with MND, their families, and some of the researchers working tirelessly to beat the disease. We wanted to hear those special and moving stories first hand, which gave us a true understanding of what it’s like living with MND. We could then bring this authenticity into our supporter comms, providing them with the motivation to give again, and again.
Our story for the MND Association’s September 2017 appeal is an example of the kind of authentic stories a supporter journey needs. Often appeals focus on the intricacies of MND research, but we knew we needed some more emotional depth.
We asked a few key questions and found that one of the researchers, Dr Alex, had lost his Dad to MND – we knew we’d found the authentic and emotional element on which to centre the appeal. His personal connection to his work would be exactly the story supporters wanted to hear.
Finding those extra-special human stories is a challenge, but it’s one we love at Consider – because it’s a sure-fire way to inspire your supporters. And best of all, it has an effect on income: the appeal featuring Dr Alex smashed target.
3. Differentiate your fundraising products
If you’re a small charity with low brand awareness, then consistency across your communications can work wonders. But for all charities, the same holds: awareness of your brand = awareness of your cause.
Once you’ve got a coherent visual and verbal identity, it’s time to differentiate your communications, while remaining unified. This step is crucial. Different audiences need to be spoken to in different ways, and often the wide variety of income streams (legacy, in memory giving, membership…), need to have their own personalities.
That’s why we developed a distinct and bold look and feel for much of the Association’s key fundraising areas: Legacies, Fightback Funds (for people living with MND), Tribute Funds, Membership and most recently, events.
While each sat firmly within the MND Association identity, every communication was tailored to the specific supporters in question.
For example, our Fightback Fund communications brought inspiring stories from people with MND to the fore, including their own powerful words of encouragement for people living with MND. The tone was bold, passionate and ardent.
Our Tribute Fund communications, by contrast, recognise that they may reach people at a painful time. So we worked closely with the in memory team to create materials with a more sensitive tone, focusing on how meaningful fundraising in memory can be. We advised the team to print and sign their letters in-house, ensuring the charity are seen to be warm, caring and genuine. I’d always recommend considering personal touches for the right moments in your journey. It’s a proven way to increase responses and donor loyalty.
A well-crafted supporter experience gets results The MND Association has already seen strong-performing appeals and revitalised interest in legacies since their new supporter experience began. We’re so pleased.
Could your supporter engagement do with a strategic refresh? Can we help you re-inspire your supporters? If so, just give me a call.
Ellie AdamoAccount Director
Ellie embodies that covetable combination of razor-sharp strategic skill and an instinctive ability to connect and engage with people. She cut her teeth in commercial advertising, but moved to fundraising agencies when she found charities ignited her passion in a way that banks never would. We’re delighted to benefit from her considerable experience, read more about Ellie here.