CDE project 17 sec­tion 2.5: relent­less­ly rein­force the vision and make it visible

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 23, 2017

Relentlessly reinforce the vision

Richard Spencer explained that one way he helped put the point of view of the supporter at the forefront of people’s minds was by circulating a weekly results update. At the top of the update, he always included ‘snippets’, which were verbatim quotes that had been received from supporters that week about why they supported RSPB and things that they felt we were doing well. These ‘donor voices’ came from any communication the charity had had with supporters, be it email, letters, phone calls or meetings.

One reason Richard had a strong sense that this tactic was helping to create a more donor-focussed culture was that fairly often, colleagues who had not been on the circulation list for the updates would ask to be added. He had never known this to happen in relation to any other email update list.

Make it visible

Louise McCathie saw her leadership role in terms of influencing not only her fundraising colleagues, but the whole hospital. This included those colleagues in nursing and estates and all the other roles that come in contact with thousands of patients and their families every year. How could she help them understand that fundraising is a positive thing that creates good, healthy experiences for patients and families? A key realization she had was that if this shift were to happen throughout the hospital, the benefits of fundraising needed to be far more visible. 

To do this, she encouraged her team to look for small, relatively easy victories first, then use them to build momentum. The Donations Office was hidden deep in a far-flung corner of the hospital. Partly because it was so hard to find, it received only 40 visits per week. Louise knew she needed a more visible, physical presence, and secured permission for a temporary, pop-up Christmas merchandise/fundraising shop along a main corridor of the hospital. This was so successful that she was able to make a strong pitch that it should be permanently used for fundraising.

Like Dr Feinberg, Louise also understood that language matters. She and her team used language and branding to convey that doing fundraising was easy and fun. The new space near the entrance would now not be called the drab, confusing Donations Office, but instead, the Fundraising Hub. It offers fundraising advice – helping people enjoy and succeed at their fundraising - as well as selling merchandise. The old Donations Office had received 40 visitors per week. The new Hub received a staggering 29,000 visitors, in its first year and this figure has continued to grow. Most importantly, Louise had created a highly visible symbol of what fundraising engagement could be, at the heart of hospital life.

Vision - Ideas to help you define and champion what success looks like, and why it matters.

  1. How concrete and clear is your organisation’s purpose? Could you work with your colleagues to make it more clear what your charity is aiming for? Importantly, it does not necessarily need to seem easily achievable, in fact, as Solar Aid and many other examples show, it’s probably more likely to galvanise support and action if it doesn’t. 
  2. Define success in terms of the way your supporters experience or build relationships with your charity. What do you want everyone in your charity to aim for? 
  3. Acknowledge that you don’t know all the answers, and involve people from every part of the charity. Involve people from across the organisation and search for their answers to the question, ‘How can we engage our supporters better? What does that look like and sound like? If we knew it was possible to achieve this kind of success in engaging supporters, what would we do differently?’
  4. Find ways to continually reinforce both your reasons why this matters, with regular story-sharing opportunities (for example in all team meetings), and interaction between fundraisers and those at the front line of your charities work.
  5. Find ways to reinforce your vision for the supporter experience, for example, by regularly asking supporters what they think; sharing supporter’s tweets and letters with all teams; organising a cross-departmental thank-athon.

Click on the image below to view project 17 in full - PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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