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3 Elements of Strong Supporter Relations

Part 1 of 2 Digital Marketing for Charities

In a world where a lot of uncertainty exists, there is a rising request from supporters for more meaningful relationships with charities. It is more important these days that supporters know that they can trust you. The key is, building a relationship, rather than a following and there are practical ways to ensure this happens from the outset.

"It takes two to do the trust tango--the one who risks (the trustor) and the one who is trustworthy (the trustee); each must play their role.

Charles H. Green

1. Understanding

A relationship is successful when each party understands one another. There needs to be time to explore how each supporter thinks, behaves and communicates. As greater understanding about your supporter builds, you will be able to communicate to them because you 'get' why they are bothered about your cause.

Whilst it is is encouraging to feel there are more people passionately ‘on the bus’; why would this add significantly more value? A deeper relationship will lead to more emotional engagement with the organisation and its cause. This will of course lead to more financial support but potentially even more valuable will be the support in other ways. For example, a supporter promoting an organisation through their digital networks.

2. Authentic Content

The essential in building deeper relationships. People are becoming more discerning and responding only to other people and organisations which they see as honest - a good example of this are the ‘self grown' celebrities on YouTube who make videos about what they think about causes and issues e.g. Zoella. Young people watch them because they know that the YouTubers will be honest.

This approach does require an organisation to be transparent in its impact and to show what differentiates it from other organisations. Part of this, means crafting content that demonstrates impact in addition to advocating the cause and organisation's solutions. 

Authentic content will also benefit and impact the supporter's life and well-being. Relationships involve giving to the other party without expecting any direct return and it is important for organisations to ‘give’ to supporters. Unilever is a commercial example of this. They share recipes over social media to build brand loyalty by offering something to engage with and use.

3. Dialogue

Two way communication has to be part of a relationship and digital makes it a lot easier for supporters to talk to an organisation for example, contributing ideas and providing feedback. We all know that knowledge is key; imagine the power of harnessing the minds and skills of an organisation’s supporters, as well as its staff and volunteers! We aren't talking about participation in the organisations' activities or volunteering on a specific programme but collaboration between supporters and the organisation. Working together to achieve impact in the same mission.

6 Key Steps of Digital Marketing

We've shared the 3 elements that need to underpin your approach to supporter relations in the Digital Landscape. Once you've grasped the need for this approach, then it is about making it happen. PlanLab has come up with a 6 step process to bring this approach into your digital marketing. The 6 steps will help you plan and manage your digital marketing, ensuring that you end up with deep supporter relations with these 3 elements.

The 6 steps are listed below and in our next blog (Part 2: Digital Marketing for Charities), we will explain how to put them into practice, along with tools that can help. Additionally, we will provide a downloadable resource to help you.

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  1. Personas: Create these for your existing and potential supporters to help understand how they think, respond and communicate.
  2. Supporters Journey: Create a map showing the different touchpoints or interactions you may have with them.
  3. Content Strategy: Develop this to match the personas and their journeys.
  4. Manage: Schedule and manage your content and communication with supporters. There's lots of tools out there and we will fill you in with some suggestions in Part 2.
  5. Review: Make sure there is an effective review process of your personas, user journey and content with key data.
  6. Strategy Hack: Collaborate and explore the unenvisioned possibilities with supporters and acquire new supporters along the way. 

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