Looking after

your supporters

We are fickle creatures in the world of 2017. With infinite choice and a constant barrage of new information coming at us from every angle, we all have a tendency to succumb to the latest trend and fad. Technology is enabling flitting and switching from one thing to another with hardly a backward glance. But how does this make you feel? Is it like the come down from a pick and mix – you chose more than you ever wanted or needed and being honest, now feel vaguely queasy!

I think there will be a kickback to all this, with us becoming weary of the short-term fix and a returning need for loyalty and connection. This is good news for charities, but how do we make sure our supporters want to keep giving?

We have learnt a lot over the last seven years about what makes a supporter more inclined to be loyal. As part of our mystery supporter programme, THINK’s Stewardship Tracker, over 2,400 mystery supporters have journeyed into the heart of 43 different charities, experiencing what it feels like and what happens when you become part of that family. It’s also not just a flying visit, the secret donor will become part of the family over several months and even years, inevitably getting under the skin of how it ticks and which parts of the family they get on better with than others!

Our insight and analysis shows that the majority of charities provide an excellent initial introduction to new supporters with over two thirds agreeing that the initial donation process is easy to access and straightforward and simple.  However, maintaining the quality is not always achieved.  After twelve months only half of supporters would recommend the charity and even fewer would remain as a supporter if this were a real situation.

The winners here are those who also get the highest scores for showing appreciation, making the supporter feel involved, treating them as an individual and ensuring they have a clear understanding of how their donation is spent.  All seems common sense and logical but it is not quite as simple as that.  The supporter has to feel all of these things all at once and over a period of time if they are going to allow you to adopt them into your family.  Our results show that even if you are fantastic at thanking, on its own it is just not enough, the supporter needs to be encompassed with this all round experience.

Our analysis over the years has also identified that the most crucial of all these factors which influence loyalty is making the supporter feel involved.  They have been made to feel that they have a role to play and that their input is directly linked to the ability of the charity to achieve the outcomes.

None of this is rocket science – we all like consistency, commitment and loyalty from our friends and we all feel good when we can offer our friends a helping hand.  And that’s exactly what supporters want from the charities they choose to befriend and how they want to feel about the impact of their support.  Take a look at your supporter stewardship through this lens and ask yourself if you really know what it feels like to be a friend of your charity.