John Miles, digital manager at International Medical Corps UK, shows us how the charity has personalised the online journey for its high-value supporters
We’ve always had excellent relationships with government funders, and it’s enabled us to do some amazing work around the world, but in recent years a strategic decision was taken to invest in fundraising and raising brand awareness in the UK and Europe.
Although fundraising from individuals hadn’t been a major focus of the organisation in the past, we did have a good number of individuals who had supported us over the years, in various ways and through various channels. We analysed the data we had on these supporters, and found that although our donors were relatively low in number, the profile was very much in the high value giving bracket.
For us, ‘high value’ is about more than just an individual’s ability to contribute financially; many of our supporters have access to valuable networks, with contacts in journalism, business, or trusts and foundations for example. When thinking about our strategy, it seemed logical to focus and build on what we already had in place, and use that as the starting point for recruiting more of these higher-value supporters.
To make sure we deliver the greatest impact possible, we knew we would have to focus on building close, highly personalised relationships with them, and take a holistic approach to their support. As part of this, we needed a new website and we knew it needed to be something different from the usual offering.
For International Medical Corps UK, which deals with a smaller number of higher-value supporters than some larger international charities, the website primarily needed to enhance the impact of our work and what we were already doing with supporters.
We worked closely with digital fundraising agency Clockwork Pie to create the strategy and user experience, and their partner agency Big Mallet to design and build the groundbreaking Drupal website. Putting together the strategy involved discussing our potential supporter profile, what their needs and preferences were, and how they were used to interacting with the charity and with digital generally. We knew that the online experience had to reflect the high-end, personal relationship our supporters had with the charity offline. For this reason it needed to have a strong element of personalisation, showing supporters the impact their support was having, with content tailored towards their individual preferences. It also needed to be high-end both visually (using strong fonts, clean lines and bold imagery) and functionally (providing them with sophisticated tools to further their impact by spreading the word among their networks, for example).
Personalising the online journey
Having identified an individual supporter’s preferences during earlier, one-on-one conversations with our fundraisers, we can deliver online content that appeals to those preferences and their involvement to date. Each network member is given their own website login, so that when they land on the site, the personalised experience can begin straight away. They will be able to see the impact their donation has made in their chosen area - whether this is hygiene projects in Africa, emergency response programmes in Asia, or something else. Rather than giving them only a vague idea about where their money is going, we can provide preference-based example stories and statistics that show what their support has helped to fund - whether it’s a certain number of surgeries in Nepal, or a number of food packages in South Sudan.
The screenshot below shows the kind of the content a supporter will see when they log on:
The key thing is to ensure that there is interesting, individualised content for them to see every time they visit the site. We constantly update the data they are presented with, so that they can see the progress their support is helping to make on the frontline. By making their impact more tangible in this way, supporters feel a stronger connection to the cause, which helps cement their engagement with the organisation and encourage them to do more.
We know that high-value supporters seek high impact, and so they often want to do more than just donate. With this in mind, next to the standard ‘donate’ button on the website, we have provided another option: ‘Be Remarkable’.
Here is a screenshot showing the two buttons:
The 'Be Remarkable’ button takes users through to the ‘Frontline Network’ section of the site, which shows examples of existing supporters who have made a transformational impact to the work of International Medical Corps UK. In some cases this will have been a financial contribution, but it also includes individuals and corporates who have provided leadership and access to their networks. We are looking for exceptional people who want to support a global charity that responds to the urgent healthcare needs of communities in crisis. The Frontline Network area of the website will allow potential supporters to share their contact details, so International Medical Corps UK’s fundraisers can begin the conversation on how that individual may best be able to support the organisation.
Furthermore, we also have plans in place to give our network members online access to exclusive gated content, such as special events, and a range of tools by which members can engage these networks - sending emails inviting friends to get involved, for example. We will be putting together a programme for this over the next 12 months.
We are very confident that our current and potential supporters are going to find something that they can really engage with when they come to visit. Just a week into launch we are already in that process of reaching out individually to everybody who we potentially want to be a member of the network, to get them to come and visit the website, and spend some time there and engage with it us through this new platform.
The website will be one of the key tools that we will be using as part of our strategy to give supporters a more personalised experience of engaging with us. In a crowded market, we think our online offering is pretty unique, and it’s an innovation we are pretty excited about.
John Miles is digital manager at International Medical Corps UK