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From Fundraising to Engagement - building a new experience for supporters

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This was the presentation I gave at the Fundraising Regulator Conference in Manchester on 21st February 2017. It outlines the steps The Children's Society are taking to move from 'fundraising' into a new era of 'supporter engagement'. I hope it is of interest!

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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From Fundraising to Engagement - building a new experience for supporters

  1. 1. Fundraising Regulator Conference Manchester – 21st February 2017 Henry Rowling Director of Supporter Experience @henryrowling 23 February 2017 1 Changing our charity Fundraising model, for ever
  2. 2.  In 1881, a young Sunday School teacher named Edward Rudolf was appalled by the poverty affecting the lives of children in his parish and reached out into his community to do something about it  Thus began The Children’s Society  135 years later, the concept of a community taking action together to achieve positive change for children is still at our core  Each year over a million committed volunteers, donors, supporters, campaigners, and communities join forces with the professional staff  They ARE The Children’s Society  They have done so for decades - and will continue to do so because they want to stop children facing terrible problems in their daily lives The Children’s Society 23 February 2017 2
  3. 3.  Like other charities we watched with great sadness as the events of 2015 unfolded after the death of Olive Cooke and subsequent media coverage of poor practice in the sector  As the spotlight swung sharply onto the fundraising practices of charities in the UK, we paused for thought. The sector was found wanting.  The reasons for this are multiple and complex - and for discussion another day  We had never stopped valuing our supporters – but were we behaving in a way that genuinely demonstrated this?  We have been raising money for children through building relationships for 130 years  Was the experience of getting involved with The Children’s Society as positive and inspiring as we believed it should be?  We know some fundraising methods have become over-used and put the sector in a poor light. From Fundraising to Supporter Engagement 23 February 2017 3
  4. 4.  We can fix this by taking firm, principled and positive actions.  People still want to support building a better world and community through engaging with charities - but we must listen and adapt to them more and build better internal systems to do this  We need to change our business model:  We are moving away from product led fundraising – to true supporter engagement – with the experience of supporters paramount in key decision making. We are not there yet - it is hard work and we don’t have all the answers. Continue Fundraising 23 February 2017 4
  5. 5.  We took immediate action from mid-2015  Reduced our investment in recruitment channels with high cancellation rates – particularly street fundraising, door to door and telephone campaigns.  Created four work streams and 18 priority change projects that will catapult us into a supporter-led future.  Committed to using a different set of metrics to measure performance  Our Life Time Value takes into account non-financial actions as well as financial contributions to include campaigning, volunteering and networked contributions, so that we are considering the total value of our supporters engagement.  We know that if we only use metrics that focus on short-term returns on a campaign by campaign basis then that will focus the way our supporter engagement staff behave Actions 23 February 2017 5 YES: supporter satisfaction, lifetime value, % of opt-ins by channel and a loyalty index NO: shorter-term product-focussed ROI, response rates and net present value
  6. 6.  Longer term measures of success focus staff on building better relationships with supporters  Reduced the number of “solicitation” communications (with sole direct financial asks) and increased the number of “engagement” communications (with no direct ask to supporters).  Using the ‘non-ask’ communications to find out and understand more about our supporters, thank and recognise their contributions and offer more feedback on impact.  Increased focus on innovation and insight so we understand supporters lives better and how they can support children through what they do day to day Continue Actions 23 February 2017 6
  7. 7.  Increased the amount of call listening we conduct with our telephone agency and ensure we have a systematic way of recording outcomes of that listening  We are seeking to increase non-financial engagement with the organisation that will build supporter trust, commitment and satisfaction – creating much stronger loyalty across the supporter base.  Became full members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  Immediately audited the activities of the supporter facing teams against the IOF Codes of Practice Continue Actions 23 February 2017 7
  8. 8.  There are limited charity cases that prove greater supporter engagement definitively increases income in the short and medium term.  We have a financial picture that suggests it will – but we have taken a leap of faith and are doing all we can to make it a reality.  If ultimately it does not increase overall value to children and young people we will not have succeeded.  Moving from a business model that delivers short-term returns to one that may take longer to deliver results there is a danger that we lose patience if we cannot see immediate results. Risks 23 February 2017 8
  9. 9.  But we have a commitment at CEO, Trustee and senior leadership levels to this new supporter engagement model  We are committed to making every single interaction with The Children’s Society an enjoyable one. We won’t always get that right. But when we don’t we will listen, adapt and learn. Continue Risks 23 February 2017 9
  10. 10. • So far we have had staff discussions around why we want to take this approach – when in the short-term it will mean we have less money to fund our work with children and young people. • This is a difficult conversation to have with colleagues in an environment when funding from all sources is being squeezed. Continue Risks 23 February 2017 10 • We have painted a picture of a richer future – with more engaged supporters – who fully and deeply understand our work – and support in a variety of different ways – to create better opportunities for young people.
  11. 11. Yes there are risks in this approach  But it is not an optional decision.  It is something we have to do.  We are confident - in 5 years time when we have supporters who have positively opted in to hearing from us; who have the right communications from us, at the frequency they want they will be more involved and engaged in our work – And that can only be a good thing for children. Opportunities 23 February 2017 11
  12. 12. Building a movement 23 February 2017 12 Conducted a thorough internal and external review, Considered data, theory and case studies from a wide range of sources, Undertaken research with our supporters (existing and potential), Engaged with trustees and staff at all levels. We have: • Nevertheless, this approach still requires a leap of faith. • We can’t “know” that deeper richer engagement focussed on long-term relationships over short-term transactions will grow our income. • But everything about our values, philosophy and approach to achieving social change gives us confidence that this is the right direction for us.
  13. 13.  Of course, we have to perform well against our planned approaches – and hold firm and true to the Supporter Engagement principles.  We will not retreat into the old ways of working at the first sign of challenge.  Our aim and vision is to build a dynamic movement of people collectively transforming the lives of vulnerable children and young people through their actions. Building a movement 23 February 2017 13
  14. 14.  Seeing the whole person: from “fundraising” to “supporter engagement”  Moving beyond siloes - don’t treat people ‘just’ as donors, see all the huge value they can bring to your organisation  Compliance vs experience: much of the regulatory debate has focussed on codes and compliance  Seeing the whole person and putting supporter experience at the forefront, we see compliance as the baseline but the quality of the supporter experience is the key driver above and beyond sector codes Key Shifts 23 February 2017 14
  15. 15.  Importance of innovation: we must innovate around how we fundraise and engage our supporters; the wake-up call has not been one of refining/revising business-as-usual, but the need for step- change in our sector  Joy of giving: science and personal experience tell us that the act of giving – be that money or time – brings joy to the giver as well as making a difference to those in need  Our new approach focuses on releasing that joy so we can both maximise the impact of our supporters for young people AND maximise the positive experience for our supporters;  We’ve changed our team name to “Supporter Impact” because that’s our priority – connecting people directly to the cause Key shifts continued 23 February 2017 15
  16. 16.  Whole organisation approach: to achieve great supporter experiences and maximum impact for our beneficiaries everyone must be involved – trustees, senior leadership, colleagues from across the charity; it must not be seen as a job just for the fundraisers.  We have been lucky that The Children’s Society gets this, and our new approach to supporter engagement is owned by the whole organisation not any one team, with trustees acting as proactive champions for our approach Whole organisation approach 23 February 2017 16
  17. 17.  We are still only starting on our journey to supporter-led fundraising but if Edward Rudolf were still with us today he’d approve – and across The Children’s Society we are excited about the Building a movement 23 February 2017 17

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