Keeping your supporters motivated
Updated: Mar 26
Earlier this week I held a Cuppa and Catch up for around 16 fundraisers. Nearly a year on from the first Lockdown, and we’re all starting to feel the struggle.
Here are some ideas on how you can continue to keep your supporters motivated over the next few weeks and months.
With many of our supporters not loving technology, and all of their regular fundraising events or volunteer activities cancelled, our supporters are finding it really hard to find their place at the charity they love so much. A global pandemic isn’t exactly the time to learn new skills. So instead, empower your supporters to do what they can.
Community get togethers, bringing together a group of your supporters via Zoom. The objective is to allow them space to connect, and share ideas. You may need to have some suggested conversation topics or questions, but once the conversation starts flowing, you’ll probably just need to take notes. Plus it might help feel the “social” gap some of your supporters are feeling. You can involve your “non-digital” supporters too by turning the ideas into a one pager and sending out by email or post afterwards.
“Treasure mapping” (my new favourite phrase from a fellow Sarah in the group!)
Work with your groups or donors to map out who they know and their connections. Let your supporters know that they are your connection to their local community. And that’s really important and powerful. Together map out:
Who do they know they could introduce you to? This is the most powerful part of the session. Make sure you write down all the potentials, who knows who, and who to make introductions to who.
What are their groups or networks doing? If they’re meeting online, what could they share or promote for you?
What could they do now to prepare for when they can meet face to face again?
Be brave to ask supporters to do something new or different. One large national charity said some supporters are keen to look at other ways to support just hadn’t found the right way for them yet. Don’t be scared. Make the ask. Here are a few suggestions from the group of what else you could offer supporters or volunteers:
Give a regular gift – in this instance it’s really not about the amount they choose to give. It’s the action in standing with your charity when you need them most. Think carefully about how you word this ask.
Share your current appeal or campaign through their networks. Include a short and snappy ask or quick win that can be shared easily. Some gorgeous examples from an animal charity was 'show our dogs some love, £10 can give them a toy and a treat' – it’s a small, doable ask.
Set up mini challenges for type of group. For instance, all churches in an area have a fundraising page each and challenging them to raise an amount each. 10 Churches, (or Rotaries or gyms or any other type of group) each tasked with raising £100 from their members, and together knowing their borough or area raised £1000 is a great way to bring communities together, engage in some friendly competition. If it ties back to your emergency appeal or a bigger campaign so much the better as it means your community supporters are spreading the word too. This was a great suggestion from the fundraiser on the call and I can see this working really well for smaller, local charities in particular.
Often our volunteers just want to be seen and appreciated for all they do. When they can’t fulfil their normal ways of supporting, it’s important we let them know they are still appreciated and needed.
“Just to say thanks” First and foremost please do this by phone. If you’ve not been phoning your supporters, start now. If you think you’re too busy; find time. Especially if many of your supporters are older, socially isolated or not tech-savvy. You may be the only person they speak to all week. And they will appreciate it. A note or letter in the post makes everyone smile. So much like with your calls, get some thank you cards or maybe even postcards with a photo of your charities work printed. If handwritten and posting is tricky due to working from home, look at digital alternatives that still send a physical card to someone. Touchnote was suggested, and also the big photo companies such as Snapfish, Funky Pigeon etc all do similar services.
Merchandise Never underestimate how much a supporter loves a tote bag or a pin badge!
One fundraiser said she was using items as incentives for virtual events. It increased how much people raised as they really wanted the tote bag/hoodie/ medal etc and also meant they were then displaying support for their charity.
A thank you gift. At a hospice I worked with last year we had these badges made for staff and volunteers, sent with a personal letter from the CEO. No ask, no branding. Just recognition. The volunteers loved them!
One small charity launched supporter of the month. They get a social media shout-out, a story profile on the website and a card and box of chocolates sent to them. This works really well where you don’t have a large amount of supporters fundraising at the moment as it means you can recognise more of them.
During all of this, your charity is still continuing to do amazing work. But do your volunteers and supporters know about it? To keep them motivated, it’s important to remind them exactly how their support is making a difference.
Information sessions. A Hospice fundraiser shared that rather than trying to ask multiple members of staff from across the charity to do different presentations, she brought them all together for one larger online session for a wide range of supporters. Sharing news and insight from your charity. Programmes updates and stories on the charities work that may not have been available elsewhere is really valuable to your supporters. You could record it to make it available for others at other times, and possibly even burn onto a DVD for special supporters who are struggling with engaging online.
Another charity shared that they’d organised a Community Conference over two evenings. Similar idea, lots of talks and sessions and volunteers or supporters could pop along as they wanted to. This connected fundraisers and donors together – let them share ideas and inspire each other.
What can you send in the post? If you produce a regular newsletter, do your fundraisers, volunteers and supporters receive it to? If not, pop a copy in the post. Maybe you’ve heard a lovely story about your work recently can you turn that into a “I heard this and wanted to share it with you” letter or note? It doesn’t have to be complicated – your supporters just want to hear how they’re making a difference. Can you create a special publication for a particular group? This example on Twitter from Chris Williams is a brilliant example of this.
This was all shared in a 45min chat over a cuppa. My Facebook group aims to bring fundraisers working across Public Fundraising – and especially those in small charities or who are sole fundraisers – together to support each other. To connect with other fundraisers and join future Cuppa and Chats, you can join the Facebook Group here.