How to create a seamless supporter experience in a digital world
Blackbaud’s Paul Doubleday looks at the importance of improving the supporter experience and the role that digital can play in creating a personal supporter journey that can significantly impact the total raised.
Successful fundraising in a digital world has a lot to gain from a positive online supporter experience. From the first website visit, to the first donation made, to the first thank you and beyond – every interaction matters. This is especially vital in event fundraising, when you’re relying on your supporters to fundraise on your behalf.
Our recent Status of UK Fundraising 2019 Report found that only 21% of the non-profits we spoke to did not have a digital strategy – most charities are engaging with their supporters online somehow but success in a digital world rarely comes out of the blue. Those charities who had seen increased levels of fundraising told us that the key to exceeding targets is to innovate, plan and invest – many of those reported the flexibility to take forward their strategies with an appetite to try new and different things.
Putting it simply – your digital efforts are vital to your fundraising event’s success.
We are so used to interacting with digital experiences in every aspect of our lives that we might fail to notice how personal they have become; we get personalised recommendations of what films to stream from Netflix, or what products we might like on Amazon. All of these communications are designed specifically for you, as an individual, and are shaped by our online behaviour.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could use this instant personalisation to recognise a supporter’s online giving behaviour too?
We already know that when it comes to fundraising, how you communicate with supporters can significantly impact your total raised.
However, we can no longer rely on bulk, generic email sends. As consumers become more accustomed to personal communications from their TV providers and online stores, they expect the same level of sophistication from the not-for-profits they wish to support. As we continue to communicate with our supporters as a group rather than as an individual, the less interested they become in what we have to say. The longer we stand still as a sector, the further we will be left behind.
Personalised messaging, based on actions your supporter has already taken and data previously gathered, will allow you to deliver the right information to the correct audience.
Six steps for creating a seamless supporter fundraising journey in a digital world
Studies have shown that the first week of a supporters’ fundraising journey is one of the most crucial times. There are key activities that, if completed during this period, will help your supporter raise more:
- Fundraisers who update their page story raise 74% more on average
- Fundraisers who upload a profile picture raise 10 times more on average vs those who don’t
- Fundraisers who donate to their own page raise over 120% more on average
This means getting your fundraisers’ communications focused specifically on the key behaviours you want them to take is crucial.
1. Send communications that encourage page activation to those who haven’t already done so (raise their first £1)
2. Encourage users who haven’t taken a best-practice fundraising action to do so
If you have an email tool which integrates to your fundraising platform, each fundraiser can receive coaching emails that are most relevant to them triggered by the fundraising behaviours they have/haven’t taken.
A high level of tailored engagement with your supporter will bring the event concept and advocacy messaging to the forefront, whilst also minimising fundraising fatigue.
For this stage of the supporter journey, you should focus on deepening your fundraiser’s connection to your cause with compelling and inspiring content. Use softer calls to action (CTA) and consider adding videos or eye-catching content.
Most charities focus their communications on coaching and providing tips for their fundraisers but crucially miss out on engagement.
Building excitement in the run up to a fundraising event is a traditional concept, designed to increase fundraising urgency with time sensitive messaging.
Communications should be sent on days leading up to the event or campaign as required. Create a mix of inspiring messaging to communicate critical event information and community initiatives, while focusing heavily on fundraising CTAs that drive last minute donations.
Motivate your fundraisers throughout the duration of the campaign with messaging designed to keep fundraisers engaged and excited.
Personalised messaging that reflects what your supporter is doing and what stage of their fundraising journey they are at will be more engaging and impactful than generic event communications.
Put your cause at the front and center of the communication and remind them why their fundraising is so important by showing them what the money raised will go towards.
Celebrate emails are designed to close the loop and wrap up the campaign. This part of the fundraiser journey is ideal for thanking fundraisers, encouraging further event participation and celebrating campaign outcomes.
Leave your fundraisers with a lasting impression and create loyal advocates of your cause by including personalised fundraising totals and inspiring stories about what their funds raised have helped support.
And finally, recognition. These communications should be sent in real-time to recognise and congratulate fundraisers on individual fundraising achievements as and when they happen. Many charities we speak to often have a 3-10 day lag time of pulling data from their preferred fundraising platform, through to their CRM system and then onward to their chosen email marketing platform for manual sends.
The problem with this is that by the time your fundraiser receives your recognition email, it’s often too late.
Studies have shown that providing continuous acknowledgement and praise entice fundraisers to reach their goals sooner. So ‘Well done on hitting 50% of your fundraising goal’ or ‘You’re only 10% away from reaching your target’ can make all the difference to your overall fundraising outcomes, when they are sent in a timely and relevant way.
It pays to plan
Timing, relevancy, frequency and content all play their part in making sure your supporter communications strike the right chord and achieve the desired effect.
The small increases in average page activation rates or amount raised that you can achieve by improving your supporter experience can all add up and impact your total funds raised, so take the time to map out your supporter journey, plan your email stewardship campaign and find the right technology to help you automate it.
To find out more about supercharging your stewardship experience, watch our ‘How to create a seamless supporter experience with digital’ webinar.
This blog was written by Paul Doubleday, Digital Services Manager at Blackbaud. Together, with their colleagues at JustGiving, Blackbaud have launched a new in-house digital team that can build beautifully branded websites and email campaigns that deliver an unforgettable experience for your supporters.
Planning your next campaign, event or appeal? Email Blackbaud’s Digital team.
Paul Doubleday is Digital Services Manager at Blackbaud