Four key takeaways from the Institute of Fundraising’s Supporter Journey conference

Tereza Litsa
Digital Engagement Manager
24 Sep 2018

Recently I attended the Institute of Fundraising’s Supporter Journey conference where I learned all about how different organisations work on their supporter journeys to deliver the best experience for their audience.

What is a supporter journey?

Before we get started on the takeaways, it’s important to understand what we mean by ‘supporter journey’. A supporter journey is the journey that a supporter/volunteer/donor etc takes to engage in your organisation. To create a strategic supporter journey, map out all the touch points and specific contact points (such as Facebook adverts) that you could have with a supporter so that you can understand how best to reach them.

Here are four key takeaways from the conference that you need to know:

1. Understand your audience before trying to reach them

When Scope came up with the idea of Mindful Monsters, a regular giving campaign that targeted 1.8 million mums, they knew that 95% of their audience were going to be new to the charity. Therefore, it was really important to run a few tests and focus on the data to ensure that the idea really was relevant to this audience, before scaling it up. To do this, they created a journey with different touch points and engagement methods for each stage and goal, which were:

  • Inform + Educate
  • Inspire + Motivate
  • Recruit + Convert

Their takeaways on how to focus on the individuals within your regular giving programme are:

  • Understand: start with ‘small data’
  • Acquire: make yourself relevant
  • Retain: begin each year at zero
  • Get it right: don’t debate, prototype
  • Culture: go to them and bring them to you

Not only was the testing really successful, but the new donors were actually interested in learning more about the organisation after the end of their 12-month subscription to Mindful Monsters.

2. Don’t forget to thank your donors

If you want to improve on your fundraising success, you need to pay attention to the detail. According to Robin Peake, from Innovista, you need to thank your supporters with originality, urgency and warmth in order to build trust.

If you are a small charity, you’re lucky in that you probably know more details about your donors than a larger charity would so use this to your advantage and send personalised ‘thank you’ messages.

Here’s a fantastic example from Child’s i Foundation of a personalised ‘thank you’:

3. Chatbots can offer a smoother online experience

Daniel Gray from WaterAid delivered a very interesting session on the use of chatbots as part of their supporter journey. As part of their ‘Untapped’ campaign, they built a chatbot on Facebook where supporters who had been following the villagers of Tombohuaun as they awaited their water pump, could ‘Talk to Sellu’ – one of the villagers – to find out more about him, the village and how their donation would be impactful.

Talk to Sellu



Have you spoken to Sellu yet?Get up to speed with all the latest goings on from Tombohuaun with our Messenger chatbot, Sellu's ready to answer all of your questions about life in the village. https://www.facebook.com/TalkToSellu/#Untapped



Posted by WaterAid UK on Sunday, December 17, 2017

The optimisation and the content journeys were important to make the chatbot as authentic as possible and its distribution involved email, paid social and integration to their platform.

The engagement journey involved the following stages:

  • Reach
  • Awareness
  • Understanding
  • Consideration
  • Exploration
  • Influencing
  • Brand Love

The results were:

  • 200 new subscribers
  • A positive online sentiment
  • Awards and media coverage

The chatbot was a new, meaningful and innovative way to create interactions that would engage supporters and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

4. First impressions last

When planning your next email campaign, make sure that you provide a good first impression. John Grain, Director of John Grain Associates Ltd, presented an analysis of different email engagement tactics and how supporters reacted to them.

Here’s what we learned:

  • A low relationship with your audience makes you pay attention to more detail. You can aim for a higher volume of emails within a month, provided that they’re in context and linked to each other.
  • First impressions can make a difference.
  • A good campaign with a boring, generic ‘thank you’ email may lose its human appeal.
  • The frequency and the quality of your emails are important.
  • You need a clear route and a better navigation in the supporter journey.
  • Think of how you make your supporters feel.

Have you got any tips for creating a meaningful supporter journey? Share them with us by tweeting us at @Lightful or let us know if you’d like to write a guest post on our blog.

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