Improving your donor experience through your payments process

Improving your donor experience through your payments process

Guest Bloggers | 14 October 2019

Rapidata’s Scott Gray looks at the role of the payment journey as part of your supporter's experience and finds that when done right it can go a long way in building trust, longevity, and of course income.

One of the biggest challenges for any fundraising charity is how to keep their supporters giving. And it’s a challenge that relies heavily on a good donor experience.

Since the sector accepted a need for charities to change their focus to what they can do for their supporters rather than the other way round, a lot of work has been done across the sector to do just this. The recent Fundraising for Impact report from the Institute of Fundraising and PwC, shows that improving the experience of current supporters and growing relationships with them is the top area of focus.

However, attrition continues to be an issue, and at significant cost. So what aren’t we doing?

One area that is still so often overlooked in the overall donor experience, but where it can be quite simple to make a difference, is the donation payments process.

Like every other touch point with a donor, their payment journey should be included in a considered and planned donor experience strategy, and managed as a valuable part of the relationship every charity is trying to build with its supporters. This means offering excellent customer service that makes the donor feel confident that they are dealing with the charity they have chosen to support, that they are valued, and also that they have some level of control over the donation they are choosing to give.

With regular giving, there is a real opportunity to manage the giving process more effectively and learn more about your donors to boot. Turning the spotlight on this part of your supporters’ journey can lead to simple changes yet a more mutually beneficial relationship that can help maximize income and reduce unnecessary attrition.

While current trends show us that cancellations of Direct Debit donations are on the low side, there is one often-overlooked area that has the potential to make quite a difference to cancellation rates as well as the donor’s experience with your charity. This is the ‘no show’ payment – when a newly signed up donor fails to make their first Direct Debit payment. No shows can account for a substantial 11%-12% of annual cancellations.

What tends to happen is that all no show Direct Debit payments are lumped together simply as cancellations, with no exploration into why the payment didn’t succeed. As a result, no action is taken, and a no show is written off as a cancellation, becoming the often-avoidable loss of a donation, the new donor and their potential future donations.

The first step to solving this particular issue is to work out why a payment collection failed in the first place. Did the supporter really change their mind and actively cancel it, or if not, what happened? Understanding this is key to taking an effective course of action. If you can identify that a no show payment failed because of insufficient funds, it can be re-presented to the bank, by which time it may be successful; a processing error could be corrected, and a change of mind could trigger the start of reactivation dialogue that could result in rekindling that supporter relationship.

Time for more flexibility?

With new and existing donors, giving them control over their payments can also help. 74% of people questioned for the Changing Face of Payments report thought they should have full control over their Direct Debits each month.

With people paid on different days, one enforced collection date will never suit everyone, and no shows and cancellations can sometimes be reduced by allowing people to choose a convenient date themselves, ie just after pay day, for instance. Also, enabling people to change the value of their regular donation or take a payment holiday for a few months is another alternative that may help reduce cancellations.

Certainly, the payment journey cannot be overlooked as part of the wider supporter experience. It, like every other step of the way, needs to become part of a charity’s communications strategy with supporters, and it needs to be positive and above all, easy. Done right, it can go a long way in helping to reduce unnecessary attrition, reinforcing that all-important relationship, demonstrating impact and building trust, longevity, and of course income.

IoF strategic partner

Scott Gray is Head of Payments at the Access Group and research lead for Rapidata’s Charity Direct Debit Tracking programme.

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