Here, we share a roundup of our quick-fire Loyalty Lightning Talks held at last week’s Fundraising Convention 2023 (#CIOFFC).
Host and About Loyalty director Richard Spencer opened the 2023 Loyalty Lightning Talks by asking the audience to consider who or what they are loyal to, what actions their loyalty creates, and how they would describe how it makes them feel. Said Richard:
“Loyalty is not what people do... loyalty is why they do it.”
“It’s a feeling of connection, support and allegiance...which leads to long-term support.”
He then welcomed and introduced all the panellists — should you wish, you can click to jump to the relevant section:
Richard continued by talking about the decade of research we have done with hundreds of thousands of charity supporters, and how, through this, we have identified the three key drivers of loyalty – commitment (the passion and belief a supporter feels), satisfaction (with the communications they receive) and trust (that you will deliver). Read more about our research here.
Richard then introduced the first two panellists who work for charities who have just begun their supporter loyalty journey.
Jenny Russell-Cairns, Head of Digital Marketing at PDSA.
At PDSA, understanding and tracking loyalty across key segments is an important part of the charity’s strategy to become more audience led. Led by Jenny, PSDA is working to implement loyalty as a strategic measure and are using About Loyalty’s Chase Index to set a baseline. The tools this provides also enable them to segment and track over time beyond any financial relationships.
Said Jenny: “We know we need more than transactional relationships; we need deeper emotional connections to build loyalty, and being able to measure that gives us a baseline upon which to grow."
Jessie Gurr, Supporter Experience Manager at NHS Charities Together.
Jessie leads a small team responsible for developing and implementing a Supporter Experience strategy, embedding new retention and engagement opportunities through appeals, stewardship products and innovative supporter comms, with a passion for insight and analysis.
Following their successful Covid Appeal Jessie and her team suddenly found themselves needing to thank more than half a million people and develop their stewardship plans. They turned to About Loyalty for help.
Said Jessie: "Our loyalty journey included a data audit and loyalty research, scoring our donors' loyalty. Results showed we needed to improve our supporter communications and refresh our strategy that included capturing motivations at the beginning of our relationships."
They can now build on this valuable insight to improve their stewardship and have been able to start segmenting and tailor communications to the donor.
Richard then introduced the next two presenters who were slightly further on in their journeys...
Cassandra (Cass) Dutta – Supporter Experience Manager at Friends of the Earth
"We built a network of loyalty advocates across our organisation to help influence other teams like our comms and activism teams that are gateways to reaching donors and influencing supporter loyalty. We wanted to help the whole organisation realise that every one of us is crucial in building loyalty."
Friends of the Earth joined The Chase Index in 2021 and this was the catalyst to set up an ‘Improving Loyalty’ informal Working Group within the charity. Cass and her team recognised they needed more strategic engagement to develop loyalty champions in key roles so they could be more targeted. They brought together teams from all areas of supporter comms including High Value, Legacy, Digital Engagement and Supporter Relations teams.
They identified areas to look at, considering the crowded nature of the Climate Activism space and how supporters can be loyal to climate change cause more than Friends of the Earth. They created a shared activity log to document how they can build loyalty and include a ‘loyalty focus’ in all their project action plans. They hope to grow this programme of loyalty advocates to other teams and colleagues across England, Wales and Northern Ireland too.
Said Cass: “Start championing your supporters internally and showcase them. Find ways to put loyalty at the forefront.”
Shabz Khokhar, Head of Supporter Care at MND Association
Shabz has more than 20 years’ charity experience and has worked in many different teams within fundraising at MND Association. She strongly feels that exceeding supporters’ expectations and giving them the best possible experience and service is the key to any charity’s success.
In her experience, she found that GDPR made charities focus more on retention. MND Association for example created a Supporter Care team and in 2021 MNDA joined The Chase Index. They got a 10% response rate from their supporters and a good score, but it was clear they could do more to grow their supporter loyalty especially around satisfaction and trust. Eight recommendations, an action plan and a workshop with all areas of fundraising followed. They picked five areas to focus on, including the impact of supporters on helping MND Association [using the SIMPLE competencies developed by About Loyalty]. They now meet monthly internally to review, and plan to re-measure loyalty next Spring to see if it has improved.
“We are keeping supporters at the heart of what we do.”
Richard introduced the final two charity speakers who have been on a longer supporter loyalty journey with About Loyalty...
Claire Whitney, Head of Acquisition at Shelter
Claire has been in the acquisition team at Shelter for five years. During the pandemic in 2020 they realised they needed to amplify other voices to help them solve the housing crisis. This required an investment in loyalty across the organisation, not just in acquisition, to cultivate supporters as well as campaigners to take action. They used the SIMPLE model, staff survey, roadshows and in-depth interviews to help shape outcomes and get organisation-wide buy-in.
"We needed to understand our supporters more and give them experiences that would make them want to be loyal to Shelter and continue to support. We came up with a simple plan and worked hard to champion this to eventually get buy-in from the rest of the organisation... we've implemented some of this, and being able to case study and showcase this is helping us get buy-in and push forward loyalty as central to our organisation's thinking. Tenacity pays off!"
The work with About Loyalty gave them a clear action plan. It’s still a work in progress but they now have a centralised Insights team, audience strategy, are championing supporter experience and loyalty.
“Quick wins and some big ideas take time.”
David Smart – Director of Neighbour Experience at Compassion UK
In his role at Compassion UK, David and his team are working to increase the effectiveness of all acquisition and retention strategies across their community covering staff, volunteers, supporters, participants and partners.
Said David: "If we can understand what our donors want and need from us, we can address that to build long-term trust, satisfaction and commitment - the three main pillars of supporter loyalty."
Measuring loyalty means they can see year-on-year progression.
“Do they trust us more? Do we satisfy their needs and their commitment to us? We can look at segmentation of our supporter audience and measure and tailor communications and resources.”