As fundraisers, we’re always looking for the nirvana of low attrition and lifetime supporters. The long-term supporter journey is often talked about, but it’s not always obvious how to map out a journey that includes strategic and tactical planning as well as appropriately personalised responses to your valuable newly recruited supporters...
One thing’s certain, one size does not fit all: the way you welcome is the first and arguably the most important step of all for your lifetime supporter. Therefore, your welcome programme needs to be agile enough to optimise the supporter’s journey and the experience this gives them in different situations. Here are ten top tips to consider when creating your welcome programme:
1) How was your supporter recruited?
Different acquisition channels need different approaches for your welcome. Tailoring your welcome is vital, so when planning your programme, the first step must be to lay out every different acquisition method and ensure you have a welcome specifically tailored to how you engaged your supporter in the first place.
2) What was your supporter’s first action?
Was your supporter’s gift through lottery/time/Direct Debit/one-off donation/membership/value exchange/capital appeal/activism etc. Supporters are motivated to give for different reasons and through different engagement sparks. Whilst it might seem the ideal is to go from cash giver to regular giver to legacy giver, not everyone wants to go on this journey. As part of your welcome, try to find out what’s right for your supporter and for your cause.
3) Which channel do you use to welcome your supporter?
Don’t be afraid to use a combination of channels. A warm welcome by phone is an ideal way of thanking and welcoming a new supporter into your fold, however, this must be an authentic conversation. Think about combining a personal phone call with a follow up letter or email, perhaps with further information connected to your conversation, to engage your supporter more deeply within a short period of time.
4) Don’t waste time while your supporter is freshly engaged.
The quicker you welcome and thank your supporter, the more likely you will be able to retain them – they have been moved, often with passionate feelings to give to your cause, so speaking with them while this feeling remains fresh will lead to meaningful conversations that can resonate into the future. The first 24 hours are the most crucial, improving on this can make the biggest difference (and if it’s your giving channel it will make even more difference). We have seen that sending an immediate email after an acquisition phone call can improve attrition by at least 1%.
5) Don’t ask for more money straight away, or too quickly.
It cannot be all about money, realistically for your supporter it’s about the cause, how they feel about it and how you show them they can help. A supporter needs to be more engaged in your cause before jumping in with another ask. It’s easier to keep a supporter than to acquire a new one, so be careful not to alienate them with too quick an ask for more, after all, you and your supporter are in this for the long term.
6) Don’t just plan your welcome journey – what’s the next step?
Can you carry on the story they originally responded to in further comms, what’s changed and where was their money spent and with what impact? Thinking about the next step and working backwards, as well as the first contact and moving forwards, ensures there is a fluidity of messaging and a continuation of your story – a relationship has to build over time.
7) Involve your agencies in the planning process and utilise their experience.
Professional fundraising agencies, like telephone fundraisers, are partnering with multiple charities across their business and therefore have experience across a whole range of causes and channels. They will likely have invaluable experience in what has worked and what hasn’t in previous campaigns, so draw on that experience, ask for their opinions and advice to make your programme the best it can be.
8) Don’t forget data capture and opt-in’s.
Test data capture as much as you can across all your channels – it has huge potential to grow your recruitment volume and improve your communication possibilities. It’s not just remembering to ask, it’s how you ask, where you ask and how you frame the ask. Consent has value to both you and the supporter – explain and help them understand that.
9) Make it personal and memorable.
Above all, your welcome needs to be personal and if you can make the experience different and stand out from the crowd, even better, they’re more likely to remember this and feel closer to the cause. Make your supporter feel valued but also part of something great and tell them about the different ways they can be involved. This might be with a regular gift, with their time as a volunteer or signing a petition, etc. Importantly, remember every supporter is different, and they probably don’t see themselves as you may see them – so don’t over segment. Give them choices and be agile enough to respond to that. Empower your supporter to be in control of the way they want to support and try not to pigeonhole them to your expectations of a donor.
10) THANK YOU!
You can never say thank you enough – say it as much as you can and then say it again! But always be sincere. Some of our charity clients’ most successful welcomes have been when everyone in the charity, including the CEO, have been involved in personal thank you calls.
Amanda Froude-Evans is Client Services Director at Purity – the telephone agency that focuses on real conversations with charity supporters.