CDE project 3 appen­dix 2: fre­quent­ly asked questions

In our research (see Appen­dix 4), sev­er­al peo­ple men­tioned bar­ri­ers to mea­sur­ing how their donors feel. This sec­tion lists the most com­mon of these and gives our advice.

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
May 01, 2017

“We don’t have the time or budget to do it.”

This is simply a case of prioritisation, and is possibly an indicator that your charity believes that achieving a short-term response is more important than growing long-term loyalty.

This should be an organisational priority. If you don’t get this support, remember that many of these ideas don’t need a lot of time or any budget. Start with something you can do quickly.

“I don’t know what a good score is.”

What’s important isn’t the score, per se. It’s the improvement. Whatever you measure today will become your benchmark, and your goal should be continuous improvement. While some tools allow for comparisons to other charities (and commercial organisations), this isn’t as important as knowing whether you are making the experience of giving better for your donors.

“I wouldn’t know how to use it.”

There are so many ways to use it – the difficulty should be not knowing where to start.

  • Tell colleagues what you are doing and what you have found. Just knowing that you are looking at this will start to change how they think and behave, and when they see what you have found, they will want to be part of the improvement.
  • Look for quick wins: Can you change your creative brief? Or the way you brief your third- party fundraisers? Change your messages? Redesign your giving forms (on- and off-line)?
  • Then look for more fundamental changes: Redesign your processes and systems. Create new donor products. Segment to identify and target your most satisfied donors –  or your most dissatisfied. Create new communications in your supporter journey to grow loyalty.

“My senior managers don’t think it’s important.”

Your senior managers are short-sighted, and it is your job to open their eyes. 

Remember that you don’t need lots of time and budget to make this happen. If no-one will listen, start small and just do it. Gather your own results and use them to showcase your thinking. Gather advocates and champions to work with you to persuade others.

“I don’t think my donors will like being asked.”

They will! It’s human nature that people like to be asked and to share their experiences. (This is especially true if the experience is bad – dissatisfied donors are the most important people to hear from.)

“I am / My boss is worried about what we’ll hear.”

This is the best reason to actually do it! If you have concerns, you are probably right. You will only learn what the problems are and be able to do anything about them by listening and asking.

If you don’t understand how your donors feel, then you want be able to change that. If they aren’t happy, you’ll lose them to someone else.

“I’m worried that by asking, we will raise supporter expectations that we can’t deliver.”

You are right to be concerned about raising expectations beyond what you can deliver, but explain what you’re doing.

Remember, donors don’t expect you to be perfect, but they’ll want you to try.

Click on the image below to see Project 3 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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