Supporter Experience – Trends and Insights

There’s nothing better than walking in the shoes of your supporters to truly understand how it feels to be involved with your charity, but it is impossible to do this yourself whilst being fully objective and able to strip away all your own internal knowledge and hopes when using the learning.  That’s where mystery supporters come in, giving you a unique, objective insight into the experience and relationship that your donors have with you.

After eight years of running the THINK Stewardship Tracker programme we have gathered knowledge from thousands of mystery supporter interactions and have been analysing these to determine which factors are common in the most highly satisfied donors.  In essence, showing us some common elements of the model supporter experience.

We use ten key indicator statements to understand how it feels to be a supporter, assessing the percentage of donors who agree with these.  Trends have been remarkably consistent over the years with pleasingly positive results for the initial donation – we’re good at signposting, process and systems with high standards throughout.

But, how about when the relationship develops? This is where it gets more interesting and thought provoking.  If you’re looking to tick a box, we can confidently say we thank donors in the initial donation and welcome – 92% of 1,600 supporters agree with this. However, after 9-12 months, only 57% of supporters agree they feel appreciated. Think about this gap and what more can be done to convince the donor of your gratitude.

Now to think about what the most highly satisfied supporters are saying and think how to re-create this level of experience.  In many aspects, common sense expectations are confirmed but there are some perhaps less expected opinions as well:

  • Enquiries are handled by the first person who the supporter has contact with (91%)
  • Signposting to where to make an enquiry or donation is clear and simple (93%)
  • One off donors receive an initial thanks/communication within 15 working days or less (93%)
  • The most satisfied regular donors receive an initial welcome within 5 days (73%) and another follow up within 15 days (43%)
  • Ideally direct debits are established within one month (67%)

We are also able to analyse the preferred frequency of communications amongst the thousands of mystery supporters.  For several years a consistent trend has emerged which may contradict popular opinion.  The frequency of contact is consistently rated as less than ideal as an average across all the charities with only a handful over exceeding supporter preferences.  Amongst the supporters who think the charities have got this ‘just right’, 75% only received mail and the most popular opinion was to receive a quarterly mailing with every two months a close second.  For cash donors who only receive e-communications, the majority (58%) received a monthly email.  Similar patterns are seen for regular donors with four to six mailings per year or monthly emails being the most common levels of contact with this, the most satisfied cohort of supporters.

This is just a snap shot of the type of insight we are gathering and sharing with our Stewardship Tracker members. To find out more, please get in touch.