Understanding the why of supporter experience...

Scottish Fundraising Conference 2016

Guest Bloggers | 8 July 2016

2016 is most definitely the year of Supporter Experience. It’s been a really long time coming and it’s really good news for our donors...and ultimately our beneficiaries.

But as Joe Jenkins quite rightly pointed out on Rogare recently, there is a danger that we all pile in and do the same thing. Donors could end up with inundated hand written thank you’s and too many ‘wow’ moments - because all we’re doing is copying each other. Sheep syndrome simply isn’t the answer!

Here’s why...

Did you ever get caught copying at school? I did. It was the dreaded Monday morning maths test and I sat opposite a girl called Melanie who was an ace at numbers. I quickly discovered I could read upside down and for a while those tests were a doddle...until the week Melanie was off school. Because I hadn’t learnt HOW to work through the questions, the answers were so far out of reach they may as well have been in a different classroom!

I learnt something very valuable as an 8 year old with a sudden dip in maths results – there is no point knowing the ‘answer’ if you don’t know how you got there.

Back to Supporter Experience...

Every charity is different, and our supporters are different too, they want different things. So copying things that work for one charity, and treating your donors in the same way, might not be delivering the experience that best suits them.

But how do we start to think differently about the experience we are providing?

As fundraisers, we do share some similarities with every single charity supporter. Whilst I whole heartedly agree with the sector warnings of ‘we’re not our target market’, we do have all have one thing in common. We are all humans.

Like it or not, however different we are as people, as humans our brains operate in much the same way.

The commercial world is way ahead of us on this. They’ve been using neuroscience for years to tap into our psychology to advertise products and develop customer experiences. We can learn a lot from how they do things. But before we just copy what the commercial world is doing, we need to learn a bit more about how the human brain works and how it processes experiences. We need to understand what’s important and what’s not.

It’s only by understanding how and why the things we do affect attitudes and behaviour, together with expert understanding of our cause and the people who support it, that we can build better, genuine and unique experiences for our supporters. This is what will drive commitment and build better relationships.

Join me at IoF Scottish Conference for a whistle stop tour of some basic brain science for supporter experience and donor journeys. Because it’s not rocket science, promise!

Rachel Hunnybun, Development Director, Sweetpea Charity

Rachel is an experienced Individual Giving fundraiser specialising in supporter experience. At this year's Scottish Fundraising Conference, Rachel will be sending you back to school to share her take on the science of Supporter Experience. Expect some experiments, scientific research a bit of basic neuroscience and some examples of how this can work in a typical donor journey.

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