Check your donor experience / in-memory fundraising

How do your donor experiences make people feel? Have you created an online giving process which is easy to use and says thank you in an appropriate way? In-memory fundraising has to be particularly sensitive to donor’s feelings.

Here’s an example of how easy it is to get it wrong and a reminder to regularly check your donor experience.

Careless comms

A couple of weeks ago I got the news that a school friend took his own life. His family asked for donations to a specific mental health charity instead of flowers at the funeral. On Monday (which was World Suicide Prevention Day) I made an online donation via JustGiving in his memory to the local branch. The charity did not have a ‘donate in memory’ function on its website and I spent 20 minutes going round the houses to find how to make a one-off online donation.

My donation on JustGiving - 'Donation in memory of my school friend, who recently took his own life aged 43. #WorldSuicidePreventionDay"

The next day I got the following thank you email via JustGiving.

It was careless that they spelt my name wrong (it does happen all the time but it is still annoying) but it was the lack of care they put into the response which was disappointing. The tone of voice felt inappropriate given the message I had left with my donation (saying that the donation was in memory of my friend who had taken his own life). I would have expected more care from a mental health charity.

Message says- You're amazing! Thank you Madeline (spent wrong) from Team. x

I put these mistakes down to two oversights.

1. Because there was no in-memory option on their website, I had to make a standard donation, so was thanked in the standard way. The standard subject line (You’re amazing) would have been fine if I had run a marathon or held a cake sale but this was a donation in memory. I wasn’t amazing, I was doing a normal thing in response to a shocking event. I am sure they wouldn’t have used this line if they had created a separate donor journey for in-memory gifts.

2. Maybe the person who writes the thank you doesn’t read the messages left with the donations. If so, it is risky to use a jolly tone of voice and add a kiss at the end of your message. (The message says: Thank you Madeline from Team [charity name] x.)

Check your donation journey

This isn’t intended to be a name and shame but as a real-life example to remind you how easy it is to get it wrong and a call to action to check your donation journeys. It is easy for mistakes to creep in, especially if you are using multiple platforms or have periodically added different online payment options without seeing the whole picture.

But your donors don’t care about this. They just want an easy process to give. They want an appropriate and timely thank you.

Check yourself – be your own mystery shopper. Put yourselves in the shoes of different donors, get your user-journeys right. Think about their motivations and feelings. Check your thank you processes. For example:

  • Are your automatic responses, appropriate in all situations? Avoid exclamation marks and kisses!
  • Have you got the right pathways for people to give in different ways?
  • Do you have an appropriate tone of voice, especially when talking about sensitive issues?
  • How do you respond to personal messages left with donations? Have you developed standard messages you can modify?

Don’t give bad donor experiences.

In-memory donations

Check your in-memory options. Do you have a separate page or donation journey for in-memory gifts? Most charities have these and offer lots of different options. For example, alongside a link to make a on-off donation (via their own online donation process or third parties such as JustGiving), many provide envelopes to take donations at funerals, links to set up fundraising pages or tribute funds, or schemes for bigger donations.

There are lots of examples of hospices and health-related causes who are good at in-memory fundraising. For example, look at Demelza Hospice Care for Children, British Lung Foundation and Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Non-health organisations recognise that their supporters turn to them at these times too so have similar pages. For example, look at Shelter, Family Action and Freedom from Torture.

screenshot of Freedom from Torture page

In all of these examples, tone of voice is warm, gentle, respectful and positive. As with online legacy content, organisations that do it well, make you feel like they are sitting alongside you as you do something good out of a tough situation.

Each gives an opportunity to make a one-off donation in memory, with most offering an option to leave a message.

A donation in-memory is different from a standard on-off donation. It needs processing in a different way. Are you doing yours right?

Further reading

See also, my top tips about online legacy content.

Your comments

How does your in-memory fundraising measure up? Have you got any top tips or examples to share? I’d love to hear from you. Add your views in the comments.

 

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4 thoughts on “Check your donor experience / in-memory fundraising

  1. Thanks for sharing this, and I’m so sorry about your friend. Lovely of you to make this gift in their name.

    I refused to implement this element into our JG programme at my last role for this EXACT reason. The interface does not give you the message left with the donation and I was worried about this specific thing happening. I passed this feedback to JG but it doesn’t sound like they have implemented it, which is a real shame as it makes this ‘personal thanking’ deeply impersonal. Such a shame and a real missed opportunity.

  2. Thanks Lisa, that’s really useful to hear the feedback about the JG programme. Interesting how their help page doesn’t mention anything about the thank you processes.

    The JG button was used on many of the examples I came across. Because of the system, does that mean that they might all be sending out impersonal and potentially insensitive thank you messages?

    Did you find an alternative way of processing one-off in-memory donations in your last role?

    • This thanking was new when I was in post – you could essentially click a record to send a ‘personal message’ which was extra to the standard thanking. I thought it had great potential so long as all relevant data was available but for some reason there was no data at all available other than literally this is a person who has donated. It’s definitely possible that others have implemented it without full consideration of the missing context, yes. If I recall correctly it allows you to send (theoretically) personalised messages to people who have opted not to pass on details to the charity (as it’s an entirely JG facilitated message!) so very attractive as a tool if set up well but it felt to me like it was only 60% thought through. We had an in mem option online through our own website, though I don’t think our journey was particularly strong – however, the thank you bounce back message was definitely tailored appropriately so long as the in mem option was selected from the drop down.

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