Jul
30

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Getting into our supporters shoes

A guest blog by Claire Leslie.

Today the housing crisis is getting worse, with more than 98 households being evicted every day. Shelter must raise significantly more income to be able to provide help and support to homeless families that need us – as well as to campaign for better housing provision.

To improve how we communicate with out supporters we wanted to consider what we know about the real people who give to Shelter.

We wanted to get into the shoes of our supporters. Our objective was to help us understand what our fundraising could be like if we really put our supporters needs at the centre. And we wanted to enjoy the process and engage the whole individual giving team because we knew in order to really offer our supporters the best experience everyone had to be on board.

Our data insight team produces a supporter profile report each month. It contains detailed demographics and graphs. We chose to focus on these 6 groups from the report:

  • Supporters who have given a cash gift recently
  • Regular givers who have stopped giving
  • Campaigners who sign petitions to lobby government on housing issues
  • Participants in our challenge events like the London Marathon
  • People who have pledged to leave a gift to us in their will
  • Supporters who give gifts of £300-£3,000.

Bringing insight to life

To bring to life insight from our team beyond what was in our report, we wanted to find an exercise for small groups.

We put the team into groups and asked each group to write a persona (like a pen portrait) for two types of supporters, by filling in the gaps in the template, and cutting photos of people and strapline to represent the supporter who typifies the group.

What we discovered

  1. Looking at donors simply by their giving patterns is not the most useful way to think about them as real people. For example, the top-line demographics for our active cash, pledgers and active campaigners look very similar but our supporters may vary a lot in their outlook and motivations for supporting Shelter. Some groupings such as lapsed regular givers are made up of such a variety of types of people that it’s impossible to sum them up in a persona.
  2. We realised just how hard it is to take ourselves out the picture when we were talking about what our supporters are like. We kept saying “I like, I think that, I would want” or overlaying someone we know who is like that person in some way, in the absence of any real information about their motivations, likes, dislikes.
  3. It was a creative experience! Our team loved cutting out photos from the magazines and newspapers to illustrate the points we were making, naming the person and their hobbies. We made up a lot of colourful details.

The biggest take home was that the exercise made us want to find out more about our supporters. We wanted to have real qualitative research to fall back on for true supporter insights. We’re currently working on new strategies for our individual giving teams and this will form part of our insight. We’re now even keener to find out about why our supporters chose to give because when we know why they give, we can make sure our communications are relevant to the issues around homelessness that they are interested in.

All in all, we will become more supporter driven and focused, this was a very useful, helpful and fun exercise to help us start on this journey.

Claire Leslie is Senior Direct Marketing Executive at Shelter. Claire is passionate about sharing client stories that show supporters why their gifts are important, and when not working loves hosting games nights and going to indie gigs.

To download the persona template, go to www.lucidity.org.uk/freestuff and check out the Leadership Launchpad.

Do you know what your old classmates are up to?

Think back to when you were at school. What do you remember? The smell of the school hall (kind of musty gym kits and disinfectant) cross-country in the freezing rain or drinking warm milk out of a glass bottle with a straw?

What about the people? Did you have a favourite teacher? We all loved Mr Sykes (I wrote about him before) none of us did very well at French with Ms Schmidt and we were all a bit scared of Mr Callard.

What about your classmates? That time when David Savage shaved half his eyebrow off in geography class, when Stephen Perkins did a loud fart in a maths exam or when Sharon Taylor got caught smoking behind the bike sheds?

Are you still in touch with any of them?

Who you know matters

I’m still in touch with some classmates from school. Some I still see regularly, others I’ve not seen for years but we know what each other are up to because of the wonder of Facebook.

There is a saying that ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. I do think you need to know some stuff, and I do agree that who you know is more valuable.

Research into human networks show that large and diverse networks can bring benefits to both your professional and private life. However, it’s not necessarily in your immediate network that the magic lies. It’s in the weak ties. It’s the people who you know less well, that are outside of your immediate circle that are more likely to facilitate your next promotion, your new job or even your next relationship.

And your weak ties include those classmates from school – those people who at one point in your life you had much in common and spent a great deal of time with. What are they up to now?

Often I’ll ask Facebook for help and advice, for example recommendations for places to visit or expertise on a topic (you may have even helped with jogging memories from school in this blog). I’ve asked my friends to buy my book (thank you) and back a crowdfund (thank you again) and whilst I’ve not done a detailed analysis of which friends help out, it does feel that there is a disproportionately high number of classmates that have helped (thank you). For example:

When I was writing the Innovation Leadership Report I was looking for innovators; those doing something new and I remembered my old school friend Neil Cloughley was working on a hybrid aircraft. I asked if I could interview him. No problem. We did talk about guinea pigs for a bit because that is the main thing he remembered about me, but once we’d discussed Biggles and Fergie I got to learn about his vision for his aviation company. You can check out the original article here. 

When I launched my book to get my Amazon ranking up which (sadly) is important I promoted it everywhere. If you are my friend on Facebook you’ll already know this. One friend from school said, ‘I’ve not seen you in 25 years, I only know you though Facebook and you want me to buy your book?’

‘Of course I will!’

One classmate worked at a marketing agency that the organisation I was working with had been trying to get an introduction to for a long time. When I asked it was no problem to introduce me to the right senior executive and arrange a meeting that I’d never have got without a personal contact.

And when people help you out – you step forward to do the same back when asked. And that’s how networks and weak ties work.

I’ve talked about school, but you’ll have weak ties from many different parts of your life, for example college, university or a Saturday job. Who are those friends who you’ve lost touch with and what are they up to now? I encourage you to get in touch and find out. They just might be able to introduce you to your next major donor, provide an opportunity to fundraise through their workplace or have a fresh perspective that could help develop your fundraising strategy.  You just might be able to help them too.

If you’d like to build your networks and get better results you might also like the Lucidity Network – an online and offline learning and support network. Already we have members from a mix of sectors from around the world. I don’t think any of your classmates have joined yet though. The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

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