Sunday, 11 December 2016

We have to do better

Over the last while I have been sharing my experience of 'reactivating' my support to one of my favourite charities after a hiatus.  At the time I explained that although my financial support had stopped for a while, my belief and commitment to the cause itself had not waned.

My frustration for much of this process was in fact the lack of recognition for my past support, the missed opportunity to acknowledge what they already knew about me, to make my support feel valued. After all, I resumed my support spontaneously I wasn't called or mailed, I just took the opportunity to start my financial support again. A perfect example of volunteering versus conscription.

So my story continues. Three months ago I received a telephone call to increase my support. It was actually well scripted and they had obviously done some work to make it dynamic and relevant based on the answers I gave in the conversation. I was convinced and agreed to increase my support, which was about 9 months after I signed up.  I was happy to do it.

Over the last three months since the call I have been waiting for my increase to be actioned,  but this morning I received a letter. It was signed from the supporter care manager and though pretty innocuous and straight forward in its content it kind of annoyed me.
  • The letter itself, though factual and apologetic lacked warmth and detail - the delay was caused by an 'external processing error' apparently. We've all been there when we have external suppliers handling fulfilment for our charities' processing - but it's taken three months to notice..
  • A call would have been better than a letter .. or even an attempt to call.
  • The apology was for inconvenience caused, which if I am being facetious I could argue that I am £15 better off as three months of additional payments have not been taken. That being said the main issue for me is that feeling that this additional support that was so vital and imperative in the call is no longer that important.  It certainly didn't factor in the letter message at all which I feel is a mistake particularly after this amount of time lag.
  • The letter format itself - and yes, I am being picky now but the name and address is a different print density from the main letter, so it feels knocked up rather than specially drafted to apologise to me personally as a supporter. 
  • Not even a 'Merry Christmas' or something suitably non denominational included (it's two weeks away from December 25th!).
This tale, though a bit of a saga is essentially meant to highlight something that we all should know as fundraisers and communicators. Which is that the stages after the fundraising is just as vital as the work that goes into the main campaign or activity.  All that work that went into a rather good fundraising call has been undermined by processes and now a lacklustre supporter care letter.

With even greater scrutiny on how we fundraise and communicate with our supporters and potential supporters which is making things much more challenging - supporter care should no longer be the after thought. It should be planned in upfront with the campaign itself, and done so with fundraiser input to ensure that the experience of elevating the thank you and supporter care around the campaigns is tight and of the highest quality as possible.

It's the time of year, and I could be being a little Grinch like about this - but it's a hard environment and in the coming year, support will be won and lost by the service that supporters and donors receive during sign-up, after sign-up and every stage after that.  So we should stop making our letters look admin like (even if they are), we need to ensure that systems are in place to limit mistakes (more so than ever) but if mistakes do happen that we ensure there is warmth and authenticity in the explanation and the apology.  I don't think that is too much to ask.

Thank you kind reader as ever for stopping by and wishing you a very merry Christmas!

Monday, 4 July 2016

What do you want, blood?

Currently there's lots of discussion about what makes a great donor experience, and equally greater discussion about how that is delivered.  So I thought I would share this, because I think it speaks for itself.

As with everything we do in fundraising, it isn't rocket science.  At its heart it is about being authentic, genuine and sincere and the fact that this was delivered by mobile also goes to show that all channels are a potentially great vehicle for delivery of feedback if the organisation genuinely has something to say to the donor. In fact for this, text was the perfect choice.

Clearly for the person who received this message, this text has made their blood donation and the impact of that donation meaningful and real.  What more could you ask for.

Hat tip to my colleague Carol who spotted this on Facebook.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Show me you know me...

Okay, so I was lamenting a little following my recent engagement with an organisation's supporter care team of which I decided to resume my support.

As I said at the time it wasn't a bad experience at all, but my disappointment related to the fact that as a previous, and dare I say generous supporter of more than a decade - I thought it would have been 'nice' to be recognised in that way.

You can read what I had to say about it all here

Practically I thought to myself afterwards, maybe the person just didn't do the research ahead of calling me or didn't have time - all very possible in a busy supporter care team. But, now that they are aware, I thought to myself I might receive the confirmation letter that does acknowledge that I returned to the fold and resumed my monthly commitment.

Okay, so I am here to tell you that no - that was not the case either.  There was nothing beyond the usual generated letter thanking me, confirming the details of my regular monthly gift and briefly explaining the difference it will make. Which I knew anyway as I had supported before!

So why am I so disappointed.  Am I disappointed as a supporter or a fundraiser - probably both.

I don't expect the CEO to knock on my door with balloons that say thank you - honestly I don't - but I think what this experience clearly demonstrates is just how much of what we do is automated and homogenous and that this is at the expense of genuine, tailored supporter care and relationship building.

I would have hoped that the person I spoke to would have taken note that I had resumed my support and that there would be a way to personalise the letter I received - or even if that wasn't possible (and I am giving some benefit of the doubt on that one), a post it note, a compliments slip or a even a PS. just acknowledging that fact and saying thank you for coming back.

Though my interaction with this organisation was paused transactionally, it doesn't mean that I wasn't watching in the wings, watching the progress. As much as some people question what they are lapsing from in the 'I didn't have a relationship with you in the first place' way, I can tell you from experience that just because I stopped my support for a while, I still felt like a supporter. I still certainly cared. And I don't think that is unique to me.

As a fundraiser I know how rare it is relatively speaking for supporters to resume their support, so as a supporter who has done just that I wanted to feel valued, special and have that fact acknowledged. It's there in my data, it was there in the conversation I had it was just no where to be seen when it came to the confirmation and to me that is another missed opportunity to make me, the donor feel special. 

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Don't neglect the people who want a relationship with you

Just the other day, I decided to resume support of one of my favourite causes. I had stopped giving a while ago and wanted to start giving again. It was the right time for me to do so.

I completed the form on-line, and in haste transposed some of my account details. As a result, I received a call from the organisation's supporter care team. 

I confirmed my details - now accurately.  I confirmed the amount. And I was even asked whether I had seen anything to prompt my giving.  All good. 

Now this is where it wasn't so good, I had supported previously for a long time, and made additional gifts on top of my Direct Debit, but there was no mention of that fact in the call - a lost opportunity to demonstrate they knew me - to welcome me back.

When I confirmed my details - I was not asked about Gift Aid. I mentioned it. The women on the phone said we probably have it from the last time - which she checked and that was the case. But it might not have been.

Finally, I am a previous supporter, who has just proactively signed up to resume my support and in the current environment I would have certainly asked about contact preferences.  Would I have opted-in to telephone - yes of course!  I would have opted-in to all of them - explicit agreement to receive communications from them, but I was not asked and the subject was not even raised. 

Yes, of course my previous preferences could still stand. But coming back to the point that I proactively resumed my support - there was an opportunity missed to market consent to me and to check that I was happy with what had gone before. Another opportunity to engage me in a positive way and elevate the call beyond one of mere transaction.

And there it is. It seems that as a sector we are so obsessed with the 'new' that we are not very good at dealing with and maximising on, the opportunities that come to us.  In this case in the form of an engaged, proactive supporter who likes the cause so much that they will probably do what is asked and so much more. But being mindful of these rare folk just seems to be an after thought - and that mind set really does need to change.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.