CDE project 18 sec­tion 3.5: action 6 — pro­vide an expe­ri­ence that donors will talk about

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 15, 2017

An ideal opportunity to inspire supporters to spread your story is simply when people give or choose to fundraise for you. It is when they have taken the emotional decision to support you.

Excellent donor care is not just a good thing to do—it is now totally strategic—not only in helping line up future gifts but also as an opportunity to encourage people to share your ‘thank you’ with their network. So, it is worth taking the time and investing resources to improve the experience that donors have so that it provides a talking point and/or donors recommend you.

Simple but effective ways to achieve this include:

  • Producing ‘thank you’ cards with your mission message and blank insides so you can handwrite messages to supporters. Get the whole office to be involved in signing the cards.
  • Phoning donors to say thank you (it is a great excuse to engage them and it will surprise them you have taken the trouble).
  • Considering thanking regular donors on the anniversary of their donation. 

Recommended further reading:

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service

by Kenneth Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

‘Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.’

Sheldon Bowles

The two case examples that follow show how you can take even more trouble to create a donor experience that people will share, talk about and help attract other donors.

Question to ask: What proof can you provide about the impact of your work?

More involved methods of providing a better donor experience need a bit of time and investment:

  • Considering determining the impact of donations instead of using ‘could’. For every £x you receive, what are the outputs and related impact your organisation achieves? Share this information when you reply to donations. Better still, equate the donor’s impact to their gift.
  • Make your entire donor process for giving online simple and quick. Consider investing funds to improve the forms and minimise the number of fields people have to complete. 
  • Ask people WHY they gave to you as an optional field when they give (both online and offline). It adds to the donor experience and it could give you insights about your donor’s motives, both generally and specifically to help engage them further. Take this a step further and, with permission, share these donor comments. 

Question to ask: How could you inspire donors to share your story after giving to you?

There are several CDE projects that have more focus on the area of donor care. Please refer to CDE project 4 – Thank you and Welcome compiled by John Grain, and also CDE project 16 – Creating a service culture that delivers a great donor experience compiled by Joe Sutton.

Click on the image below to view project 18 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.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 18 summary: supporters as champions for your mission

This project will look at the basic fundraising model differently, to try to define how supporters in future can be used as channels and networks to spread opportunities, grow income and to provide donors and potential donors with a rich array of rewarding experiences.

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CDE project 18 section 3: action 1 - understand the paradigm shift

Putting the principles & actions into practice.

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CDE project 18 section 3.1: action 2 - adopt the right mindset

Adopting the right mindset is probably the most important action of all. It is what you need in place at the outset and it influences the actions that follow. In time, it will be part of the overall culture within the organisation.

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CDE project 18 section 3.2: action 3 - ask the question ‘WHY do we exist?’

‘With consistency people will see and hear without a shadow of a doubt what you believe.’

Simon Sinek

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CDE project 18 section 3.3: action 4 - tell your mission story

All fundraisers are aware they need to tell stories well so they can convey quickly in a way that engages people. Now it is even more important to spend time to understand how to tell powerful stories

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CDE project 18 section 3.4: action 5 - get your supporters to share your story for you

‘Your best marketers and your best fundraisers today are not you. Your best marketers and fundraisers are the people - the ecosystem - you create around - the audience you build’

Grant Leboff.

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CDE project 18 section 3.6: action 7 - be ready to react

As your story begins to spread by your supporters, you should get an increase in inbound enquiries or offers of support that are not a result of a direct response communication, i.e. they are a result of people hearing your story from others they know and trust.

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CDE project 18 section 3.7: action 8 - set up new measures

Adopting a mindset of how to inspire people to spread your story rather than target them for money will need new measures away from direct ROI. 

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CDE project 18 section 4: characteristics of applying these principles

Check here to see the characteristics you would expect to see of a charity applying this approach.

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CDE project 18 appendix 1: sources

Sources that informed and influenced this project.

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CDE project 18 appendix 2: Sticky Marketing & Digital Selling

In November 2016, Rory White, founder of Flow Caritas, hosted an event with Grant Leboff, author of ‘Sticky Marketing’ and ‘Digital Selling’. A group of Directors of Fundraising were invited to hear his views on marketing, and how it applies to fundraising. Here is an edited transcript of his key address to the group, reproduced with permission from Grant and Rory. 

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