Updated: May 26
When we talk about a ‘journey’ we’re trying to get across the idea of progression; moving from one place or state to another. And there’s typically a purpose or goal associated with a journey.
When applied to customers, simple journeys often refer to a short-term sequence of communications, or steps. For example, for someone buying something online, the customer journey after confirming purchase might include receiving a thank you email, containing information about despatch and delivery times. After receiving the goods, there might then be a short survey asking the customer to rate the product which might then be followed by a promotional offer to purchase a related product.
This is a simple sequence of communications, based around a transactional experience. The aim of this journey is to align the customer and the company’s objectives: i.e. more sales of something that the company believes that customer wants to purchase.
When we consider charity supporters, there is a less clearly defined or delineated product that is purchased. Charity supporters are buying into a vision for a better world, they are buying into hope and into a belief. And one supporter’s perception of this could be very different to another.
What then is this supporter’s journey? It would certainly seem wrong to reduce this to a short-term sequence of communications based around increasing donations.
We regularly receive feedback from charities, that they wrestle with ‘supporter journeys’, struggling to define and implement them. It seems to be something that many want to be able to deliver, but often don’t know how to take this giant leap, or sometimes even where to start.
Charity systems, processes and budgets are usually hard-wired to support and deliver ‘products’ which can make it even more difficult to create supporter-focused journeys and experiences. And unfortunately, this can default back to journeys with transactional, product or financial objectives.
A supporter journey should arguably be reflecting and strengthening the hope and belief that a supporter has that the world can be a better place. It should be about nurturing those feelings and emotions and increasing the sense that together, the charity and supporter, alongside one another are bringing about their shared vision.
Our approach is to bring this all together around the idea that any supporter journey should be focused on growing loyalty, as it’s this emotional outcome that leads to long-term, sustainable support. This is where the supporter’s and charity’s objectives come together in alignment.
Hearing that some charities need guidance with this, we set out to create a resource, a tool, a guide, something to help charities (wherever they are on their own journey) to define and implement supporter journeys to grow loyalty.
At this stage, we didn’t really know what the tool would look like, nor what we might discover along the way, but we committed to setting out on this quest.
We began by running a workshop with our member charities in September 2022 kicking off an exploration of supporter journeys by using the following simple prompts:
How does your charity approach supporter journeys?
What are the key elements that make a good supporter journey?
What are some examples of good supporter journeys?
We had six separate groups (32 people in total), working together to answer these questions, with a number of representatives each from: The Woodland Trust, Barnardo’s, Friends of the Earth, British Red Cross, Mind, Breast Cancer Now, Shelter, Diabetes UK, Cats Protection, Cancer Research UK, RSPCA, NHS Charities Together and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
This initial session generated over ten pages of raw material and notes to digest and reflect on, and to consider where to head next. Two excellent people from Diabetes UK volunteered to collate and organise the raw material, grouping it into key themes that emerged from the workshop.
Reassuringly, the themes made complete sense and fit well within a range of operational models:
Supporter data and insight
Strategy and planning
Culture and working together
For each of these themes, we’ve started developing content and guidance, including:
How are different charities approaching this?
What are the key elements in place when it’s working well?
What are the common challenges to success?
And we’ve recently included some case studies and lists of ‘top tips’ to help charities – again, wherever they are on their stage of the journey, to take that small step.
We’ll be sharing more of our work around these themes at our annual Loyalty Day taking place 16 November 2023. Start planning your journey there now!
Apply for your charity to join The Chase Index *by 15 June* and be part of our Autumn 2023 wave of supporter loyalty research and benchmarking.