Supporter Experience – where to start

On Monday I met with 14 charity professionals who have the phrase ‘Supporter Experience’ somewhere in their job titles. It was fascinating to hear the different roles they have in different charities, and also to hear the shared frustrations and concerns.

There was a shared sense that the task is big, with so many areas to look it. And with any big task, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start. It reminded me of this article that I recently wrote, a shortened version of which was published on the new Donor Experience Project website.


Where do I start?

OK, I know I’m supposed to create a better donor experience, but the Commission on the Donor Experience (CDE) has 28 projects, over 600 pages to read and over 500 recommendations. Where on earth am I supposed to start?

Is that you? Has the sheer volume of good stuff (and there is some very good stuff in there!) made you think you don’t know where to start? If so, I can’t say I blame you.

If I could do just one thing, I’d do the single most import thing. I’d change what I measure and put in place a KPI around how my donors feel about supporting us. Then I’d ask them. And then I’d report what I find.

What you measure is what you do.

When I wrote the CDE project on Measuring Satisfaction and Commitment, I started by saying that, “an obsession with short-term financial KPIs is the single biggest reason that donors are dissatisfied with the way charities fundraise.”

I continued, “It forces us to follow ever more aggressive strategies in order to achieve the target amount of income or new donors. It also means that we never understand the impact of our communications in terms of how we make donors feel about us, or how emotionally engaged they are with us.

Of course we’re here to raise money and we should have our financial KPIs. Adding longer-term financial KPIs is an improvement. But the biggest step forward will be when we add a KPI around how we’re making donors feel. Then change will happen.

The moment that you begin to measure something, you change it – and it changes you!

So, what should we measure?

Donor Satisfaction

This still leaves the question of what you should measure. To be honest, I don’t think it really matters, as long as you measure something!

In the CDE I outlined some choices including Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort, through to measuring Loyalty, Commitment or Donor Satisfaction. And I give examples where charities and companies have used standard tools like these or where they have created their own.Loyalty

And many of you know that I set-up About Loyalty to make it simple for charities to measure and benchmark Loyalty (Commitment, Satisfaction and Trust).


In all the examples I gave, it’s the act of measuring something (and reporting it widely) that has created the change – a change for their donors and customers and, in the longer term, a change for their incomes.

If you’re serious about changing your donors’ experience and you don’t measure it then it simply won’t happen. Do it today!

(By the way. If you need more persuasion, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that improving donor loyalty, commitment and satisfaction generates more income in the long term. I’m working with the IOF’s Donor Experience Project to pull this body of evidence together – watch this space!)


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