6 ways to raise the profile of supporter care internally

6 ways to raise the profile of supporter care internally

6 ways to raise the profile of supporter care internally

THINK 's Supporter Services Forum is here with some top tips on how you can nurture a culture of supporter care


We know that many organisations strive to put their supporters at the heart of everything they do, but how much priority do they really give to the supporter care function within their organisation? For a long time, supporter care has been viewed as a ‘back office’ function and banished from the limelight, and as a result supporter service teams often struggle to make their voices heard. This is not conducive to an organisational culture of excellent supporter care.


In recognition of this, in 2012 THINK launched the Supporter Services Forum. Here, senior supporter care practitioners come together to share knowledge, experience and good practice with their peers, and encourage organisations to recognise their supporter care teams as the true guardians of stewardship. Over the last three years, the forum has worked on the thorny issue of profile raising, and we are now beginning to see some really positive results.


So what steps can charities take to help raise the profile of supporter services internally? Here are six of the best that have delivered real results for forum members.


1. Demonstrate the financial impact of supporter services’ work

Recording and reporting on financial successes and the use of financial metrics are effective ways to make others listen and understand the work of your team. For example, use the value of the gift aid claim or the value of the direct debits that have been saved.  


2. Talk, talk talk!

Continually communicate about your supporter care team’s successes. Tailor the method, language and tone you use according to who you’re talking to: for key stakeholders, individual, bespoke communication is invaluable in getting them on side. For each team you work with, think about what their drivers are and what impacts on their performance, and construct your messages accordingly – for example, when talking to fundraisers about the presentation of a Gift Aid declaration request on a reply slip, highlight the potential loss of income if the declaration request is unclear, rather than the ease of data capture for your team.


3. Develop a network of supporter care champions

Appoint ‘supporter care champions’ within your supporter services team, each responsible for developing relationships with a particular fundraising discipline. Furthermore, identify supporter care champions within the rest of the organisation who can act as ‘positive viruses’ and champion your cause. When other teams give positive feedback about supporter services, ask them to record a video about it to share with your supporter care team so you can show them how they are valued within the organisation.


4. Take control

Develop a culture of ‘our responsibility’ to ensure the supporter services team understand the role they play in profile raising and are discouraged from taking a back seat in this vital area. Improving the motivation and self-belief of the team will make building relationships with others easier. Seize the initiative and attend other teams’ meetings, play a part in staff inductions across the organisation, and highlight the benefits of using supporter services as internal consultants (they can be used to review the processes in place for managing a particular campaign through internal systems and the database, rather than the charity seeking advice externally, for example).


5. Get other teams to ‘walk in your shoes’

Help other teams understand what it’s really like to be on the front line dealing with supporters – because if others can experience the front line, they are more likely to understand and appreciate the value of your role. Make call listening available, and share supporter feedback. Offer colleagues the opportunity to work in your team for a day answering calls and emails. Consider a monthly bulletin which summarises volumes of calls etc handled and highlight comments from supporters – good and bad – that reflect their views on what your charity has been communicating over the last month.


6. Build on a strong foundation of processes

Ensure that everything is underpinned by process, because effective processes build strong foundations for cultural change. Devise a template that fundraising teams can use to brief supporter services on new campaigns, and encourage them to involve supporter services in the early stages of the campaign planning, so they can use their knowledge and experience to highlight any issues which may occur from the supporters’ perspective. Ensure regular feedback meetings take place during the life of a campaign and at its conclusion, to deal with unforeseen issues and questions that arise and to make sure that learnings can be taken into the development of subsequent campaigns.


We know these techniques have worked, but don’t just take our word for it, try it and see! We’d love to hear how you get on.


This how-to guide was produced by Members of the THINK Supporter Services Forum


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