How to get from Good Intentions to a Great Supporter Journey

How to get from Good Intentions to a Great Supporter Journey

Charlie Hulme | 20 September 2017

Charlie Hulme is the Creative & Managing Director of Donor Voice and spoke at our Transforming your Supporter Journey conference recently.

The entire sector is once again talking about journeys. What’s depressing is that although time has moved on, our thinking (and ability to raise/do more) hasn’t. 

Conferences and blogs still use all the right words, like ‘commitment’, ‘relationship’ etc. But no one is turning up with any evidence of these things actually working (unless by ‘working’ we mean spending huge amounts of effort, time and money to maintain and grow attrition and see low to no net growth).

That said, those who’ve got it right have seen extraordinary results, for example:

  •  Human rights charity - halved Year One attrition
  •  Conservation charity - conversion +15%, average gift +£10
  • International Relief charity - Year One supporter retention up 12pts
  • International Relief charity - retention up 6pts with Multiyear donors (5-year lifetime value up €300k per 10,000 donors)
  • Social services charity - cut solicitation volume in half, increased net revenue (Almost as much gross revenue too)
  • Health charity quadrupled channel income


Words like ‘commitment’, ‘relationship’, ‘identity’ etc. are exactly right. But as these illustrations show the same words can have very different meanings!

As you may have read in part one, methodologies being used to attempt to crack the code on delivering a better journey are fundamentally flawed. The intention is great. But the reality put’s the ‘less’ in ‘useless’.

Your journey to delivering a journey that goes somewhere is contingent on uncovering and acting on three pieces of data that don’t exist on your CRM (and there are no good proxies for them either): 

  • Supporter commitment (knowing exactly the strength of their relationship and what causes it)
  • Supporter identity (knowing exactly why someone supports your cause)
  • Supporter experience (knowing exactly what is going on, in the moment, for your supporters. And acting on it to both improve their experience and better manage your fundraisers/agencies)


The challenge with these headings is it’s very easy to read them and feel confident you’re doing them. Jargon that seemingly pertains to these has pervaded, and been practised, for decades. But so have low to no net growth and high supporter attrition.

Clearly success depends on more than faux science and/or simplistic, generic soundbites about ‘emotion’, ‘engagement’, ‘insert another empty conference platitude here’ etc. If it was that easy everyone would be engaged, and we’d have seen retention rates and net income increase.

That said the results listed above prove beyond all doubt that getting a scientific, empirical and applied answer on supporter Commitment, Identity and Experience is the foundation stone of a radically different supporter journey yielding radical increases in performance, value and retention. And that journey is going in a very different direction than the one the rest of the sector is on.


Post a comment

Please click the box below to indicate you are a human rather than an automated system completing this form.