In conversation with David Reeves…

We were delighted to end Loyalty Day 2021 with a special Q&A session with David Reeves, newly appointed Chair of the Supporter Experience Group (CIOF) and Supporter Journey Manager at the Woodland Trust.


David shared his thoughts on what makes a great supporter journey and the common barriers and challenges for charities, as well as discussing the importance of measuring the supporter experience. Putting him in the spotlight we listened as he drew from his experience and offered his top tips and takeaways.


Q. What makes a great supporter journey?

That is not an easy question. A great supporter journey needs to be relevant, timely and effortless.


The analogy is that it is like a relationship where you traditionally have a first date, go out, move in, get married and have children.


A supporter journey has a general pattern for each charity. But like any relationship, that order can change from person to person.


That is why charities must not chase the fallacy of a ‘perfect supporter’ as they risk alienating other supporters.


You need to find out what goes on under the surface of your supporters, good and bad, and then react to that. Don’t plan your own timeline, plan around what a supporter is likely to do, or want, and try and influence that.


Q. What are the barriers and challenges for charities?

With so many people having different needs, it can be difficult being relevant and timely to all. You need to take a more social science approach to your insights and data and ask the right questions to uncover the right elements of supporter experience for your charity.


There are also internal challenges including the importance of KPIs, structure and processes.

Supporter experience cannot also be the responsibility of just one person or one team. It has to be everyone. The utopia is to get entire organisations being in tune with their supporters.


Q. What can you do to get there?

No matter how good your structure is or the technology you use, it is about truly understanding what your supporter experience is and what it means to your organisation.


You need to convince people, internally, why it is important and show them examples of other organisations.


Q. How important is it to measure supporter experience?

Right now, it is incredibly important. It might be less so in the future, but only when you are totally connected to your supporters. It is currently the only way you can articulate and demonstrate the need for change.


Every supporter, new and old, is different and how they support charities are different. You can use a variety of measures that cover all the bases and understand them in context with each other.


Use data to test assumptions and hypothesis rather than things you already know.


Q. What are the top tips for charities to become more focused on supporter experience?

  • Start at the top. You need to demonstrate why supporter experience is so important and that starts at the top. Influencing your leadership and getting them talking about it will make things a lot easier as you go through the process.

  • Lean on your peers. Talk to others in the sector to demonstrate what they are doing and what they are learning. This will bring everything to life.

  • Enforce collaboration. You need to behave how you want everyone else to behave. Be pro-active in reaching out to other people in your organisation.


Q. If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you give charities to help grow supporter experience?

I would remind every person in every charity, every day, of the two reasons they go to work:

  1. I would remind charities they are there to solve a problem in society. If they forget that, their supporters will as well.

  2. To focus on your supporters’ needs by working to solve a problem they want to solve.

If you wake up every morning and you remember those two things, change will organically happen.



Watch David’s full session at Loyalty Day 2021 via YouTube.


To find out more about the Supporter Experience Group (CIOF), click here.