Herding cats? Practical tools for managing the supporter journey

It comes and goes like a Mexican wave. In the last couple of years the supporter journey has been a hot topic again. It’s always been an interest of mine since I developed my first supporter journey at WWF in 1990. What I’ve been focusing on recently is how to take a conceptual approach and wrestle it down into something eminently practical and useful to the fundraisers whose job it is to manage the supporter journey on a day to day basis.

As we know, a good supporter journey should enhance the supporter’s experience of having a relationship with you – coherent and timely communications instead of 5 or 6 or 10 different people contacting them randomly; carefully selected sequence of requests for support; information that is interesting and timely and available through channels that they like to use.

But how do we make sure that, at the same time, it does not over-complicate fundraisers’ lives? How do you deal with the impacts of breaking your supporters down into smaller and more personalised groups (in pursuit of the ultimate unique relationship for every supporter); of trying to put your arms around all the communications each group of supporters is going to receive from everywhere in the organisation?

I think this is a practical challenge that we have to deal with if the supporter journey is to become something that every organisation can implement. If we create a supporter journey that is too complex to manage in a reasonably straight-forward way, it’s not going to be implemented. Or worse, it will get implemented in a muddled way and possibly make the supporter’s experience worse.

What’s working for me these days is the idea of creating a number of ‘big steps’ in the supporter journey – four seems to be a useful number in practice. Each step is the point at which the supporter moves from one key stage of the relationship to another. Our offerings and benefits to the supporter can be applied to each step in the way that is appropriate for that stage of the relationship. Crucially, these steps can also be coded in a quite straightforward way on the database so we can know which ‘step’ every supporter is in at any time.

Of course, within these ‘big steps’ there is much more subtlety to be managed. But applying this framework is a first useful step in managing the complexity of the supporter journey; I suppose you could say by chopping the problem up into 3 or 4 smaller and less complex challenges. I’d be really interested in what practical tools and approaches you’ve used?

Categories: Individual Giving, Strategy

Resource Type: Blog

Posted by Beccy Murrell

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