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How to create a supporter journey that gets results

It’s pretty simple - if you’re going to succeed as a charity, you need to keep your supporters happy.

In today’s world, it’s harder than ever to keep your supporters. Why? Well, for starters, today’s supporters have high expectations, want to feel valued, and want to know how their donations are being spent.

Plus, with the cost-of-living crisis continuing to escalate, it’s more important than ever that people know where their money is going – and the value it is delivering.

So, how do you engage with your supporters, meet their needs, and keep them coming back to your charity time and time again? Well, that’s why you need a supporter journey. Read on to find out more…

What is a supporter journey?

The Supporter Experience Toolkit defines the supporter journey as a “series of interactions that a supporter has with your organisation, which will hopefully result in a donation and continued support for your mission”.

It’s essentially a strategy that enables you to build long-lasting relationships with your supporters to ensure that they feel valued and engaged and that their loyalty increases over time.

When you think about it, all of your supporters are on a journey with your organisation, whether they are loyal givers, first-time donors, or are yet to make a donation. And if you want to nurture those relationships and encourage regular donations, you need a supporter journey strategy.

Each supporter will have different needs. Some will want regular communication, and some won’t. Some will prefer to be contacted via email, whereas some will prefer good old direct mail.

So how do you create a supporter journey that works for each of your supporters? By getting to know your audience, understanding your existing journeys, planning a new journey, and delivering content that your supporters will want to engage with.

Why do you need a supporter journey?

Increased engagement and loyalty are without a doubt the two biggest reasons you need a supporter journey.

Things as simple as how easy it is to donate or whether or your supporters feel valued could be the difference between a supporter making a one-off donation or becoming an ongoing donor.

Did you know, for example, that optimising the supporter journey led to a 72% increase in donations at the Alzheimer’s Society?

When you think of it like that, it’s easy to see just how essential a supporter journey is! Here’s how to create yours…

5 ways to create a supporter journey that gets results

1. Get to know your personas

Without a doubt, one of the most powerful ways to engage with your donors and create a strong supporter journey is by creating and sharing content that resonates with them.

Donor-centric messaging is essential to your supporter journey. In fact, a survey by Salesforce found that 84% of respondents said that being treated like an individual rather than a statistic had a crucial impact on what brands they chose to support - which is why you need to get to know your donors via supporter personas.

Creating personas enables you to really get acquainted with your supporters: who they are, what makes them tick, their values, and their aspirations - and it is this information that will enable you to empathise and better engage with your supporters, which will ultimately drive all of your interactions.

Once you’ve completed your personas, you can start honing your communications and tailoring your content to ensure your supporters feel seen and appreciated, tapping into their motivations and tailoring your supporter journey accordingly.

supporters on a journey

2. Analyse your existing journey

If you’re going to create a supporter journey that gets results, first you need to look at your current supporter journey to see what you’re doing right - or wrong.

Measuring and analysing the supporter journey is by no means an easy task. A number of charities still manually track and analyse supporter journeys, which can not only be time consuming, but can also lead to incorrect assumptions.

So, what’s the solution? Supporter journey analytics tools that can process your data, such as email open rates, donor feedback, bounce rates, and average value of donation, so you can have a complete picture of your supporter’s journey at your fingertips.

3. Use the data to make improvements

Using the data from your analytics will enable you to understand your donor personas better and assess what you are doing that works for them - and what you are doing that doesn’t, so you can start to get a feeling about how good your supporter experience currently is.

If your acquisition rates are higher than your retention rates, it might be that whilst you are doing a brilliant job at attracting supporters, they aren’t as keen to stick around – or that you are targeting the wrong supporters. Whereas if your acquisition rates are low, something could be putting potential supporters off.

Use the data to test, adopt, and trial different strategies to see what works so you can hone your supporter journey and make the necessary improvements.

One great example of this is our work with RNIB, the leading sight-loss charity in the UK, where we highlighted that more could be raised through their raffle programme, and used data to determine what the coming years would look like for raffle.

Find out more about how we used data and insight to drive this successful collaboration here.

4. Ask your supporters what they want

It’s not all about analytics, though. If you’re going to provide a great supporter experience and create a supporter journey that works, you need to ask your supporters for feedback so you can understand what they want. After all, you don’t ask, you don’t get!

When asking for feedback via a supporter survey, make sure you ask relevant questions in a clear, concise, and easy to understand way. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to let you know their thoughts, so they are keen to do so.

Plus, the great thing is that if you are conducting surveys by paper, we can capture the survey results for you too!

5. Make it personal

Personal journeys drastically improve donor retention and loyalty, so when communicating with your supporters, it’s important to make it personal. Always try to personalise communications where you can, and make sure you thank your donors for your support.

In fact, did you know that donors are 400% more likely to donate again if they are thanked within 48 hours of giving? And 68% of donors agree that knowing their donation make an impact is important - which shows just how important it is to personalise the supporter journey and how powerful something as simple as a thank you can be.

How Woods Valldata can help

Here at Woods Valldata, we are experts in creating impactful supporter journeys, with customisation sitting at the heart of our response handling services.

Using our unique platform, we can help you make sure that each stage of your supporter journey feels personal through tailored communications, personalised fulfilment, A/B testing, and more.

If you’d like to find out more about our response handling services and how we can help you to create a supporter journey that gets results, contact our team today - we’d be delighted to help.

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