Episode 50: 50. More ways to create an AMAZING experience for your supporters – Richard Turner

Episode Notes

If you’d like tangible examples and wise principles to help deliver successful fundraising during the pandemic, I hope you’re going to find this episode really helpful.

It’s the second part of an interview with a brilliant fundraiser named Richard Turner, who shares highlights from a new piece of research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Supporter Experience group.

Over recent months, Richard and his colleagues have studied charities that have been achieving fundraising success this year by giving their supporters a great experience. They’ve just published an inspiring report entitled Fundraising in the time of COVID-19 and have created a webinar to share their findings.

In the episode we explore some powerful principles, as well as lots of examples of how charities have been looking after their colleagues and inspiring their supporters during the pandemic.

If you want to get in touch or share this episode, we’d love to hear from you – we’re both on linked in, and on twitter Richard is @ifundraiser and I’m @woods_rob.

Further Resources

If you found this episode out, check out these episodes:

Episode 45 How to create fabulous experiences for your supporters, with Richard Turner

Episode 49 FIVE listens to help you handle 2021 – with Rob Woods and Ben Swart

There are lots of great examples in the Supporter Experience group’s report, Fundraising in the time of COVID-19 or search online for CIOF Special Interest Group Supporter Experience.

And my Free E-book. If you’d like more powerful strategies to help you raise funds during the pandemic, then do check out my new free E-book: Power Through The Pandemic – Seven ways to raise money with major donors, corporates and trusts, even now. You can download it for FREE here: brightspotfundraising.co.uk/power


‘Remember that when you ask for a gift, that too is part of the supporter experience. People need to feel good and supporting a charity is one way of doing that.’

Richard Turner

Transcript of Episode 50


Hello, and welcome to episode 50 of the Fundraising Bright Spots Podcast. My name is Rob Woods, and this is the show for anyone who works in fundraising and who wants ideas to help you raise more money, really enjoy your job and make a bigger difference, especially during the pandemic. And this time, if you’re looking for helpful principles to guide your fundraising decisions over the coming weeks and months, I hope you’re going to find today’s episode really interesting, because this time I’m sharing the second part of an interview I carried out recently with Richard Turner, about a fascinating piece of research that he and his colleagues, Giles Pegram and Angela Cluff have carried out under the auspices of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising supporter experience group.

Over recent months, they researched out charities of different sizes and with different causes that have been working especially hard to give supporters a great experience. They then created an excellent report as well as an inspiring webinar sharing the six principles that these charities have followed to generate their success. I’ll put details for where you can find their report, Fundraising in the Time of COVID-19, in the episode notes on my website, but for now here’s the second half of our interview. If you find this episode helpful, do check out episode 45 as well. But for now we pick up the conversation at a point where Richard is explaining some of the messages for regular supporters that he has seen to be successful over recent months.


Don’t underestimate how engaging supporters, saying we are here, and even people who… Take your regular givers, so if you have regular givers, chances are, they’ve probably funded a fair bit of your reserves over time, because it tends to be fairly flexible funding. So the message is, because of you, we’ve managed to see through this period. So even if they’re not giving right now, or they need to stop, actually they have helped you. So you can get that communication across to people and make them feel good about the support they’ve given, and of course let them know, or the last thing your supporters are to want to hear is, “Oh, we’re going to have to close down this service because we haven’t got the funds.” What they want to hear is, give them the opportunity to help you avoid having to make choices like that in the first place and you might be pleasantly surprised at how people will respond. If you communicate authentically, I’m not saying spice things up, I’m saying, communicate genuinely to organizations about your situation, the demands on your resources, and like I say, you might be pleasantly surprised.


The other thing I was going to say is, when you talk about that feedback loop, just in practical terms, what do you think as the UK seem to do and, or what are your top tips for getting that feedback loop right so that if we are going to be potentially a little more bold in making this opportunity in more places or on the same page of the website where we’re giving advice or whatever, how do we do it in practice to make it easier for us to learn as we go through that process and indeed any tips about how we handle complaints and, or learn from them in a timely fashion?


Yeah. So a variety of techniques we came across. There were organizations doing supporter surveys and that gave them insights. There were others just simply asking people when at the moment people gave, whether it was online or on the phone or even from a mailing. Can you tell us why you’re supporting us right now? Getting on making those phone calls. I mean, I cannot think of a better time to speak to people and say, you’re certainly, when they’ve given to say, we’d just like to say thank you, but an opportunity to speak to people. So it’s sort of clocking all those touch points that you can have and using it as a way of feeding back. Sometimes it’s just stopping and thinking about your supporters. We tend to focus on our work and the beneficiaries, but if you stop and think about your supporters, it can really readdress how you might message something.

Jayne George of the RNLI, and they got an amazing campaign lined up, it’s going to be fantastic. But they’ve actually held back on it. And the reason is, they felt that the key thing people are thinking about right now is, what? Is family. We’re all thinking about families and our family and friends and so on. And so their Christmas appeal, they’ve decided to change and they’ve gone out with this message. They’ve gone out with the thoughts of the families of their Lifeboat crew volunteers. So the mums, the fathers, the children, who are basically saying thank you to supporters for looking after my dad, my mum, my daughter, my son, when they go out because they have the best kit possible when they’re doing these extraordinary rescues in, let’s face it, British waters are not the nicest places to go out particularly at this time.

You just know that’s going to work, don’t you? It’s just going to land and resonate right now. Whereas if it’d gone out with the other campaign, which is as a fabulous campaign as it is, they realize, “We need to hold off on that.” And that has just come about by rooting themselves and thinking about their supporters. So it doesn’t have to be that sophisticated, it’s just have that mindset. And then if you can layer it on, because there’s nothing more powerful when you got, maybe a chief executive or a trustee who’s kicking back a bit and you can say, “Oh, well, I did speak to someone and this is what they told me.”

And I’ve learned, you only need one or two of those and that can shift a meeting, because it sort of knocks on the head some misplaced assumption that people don’t want to give right now. I think that’s why it’s really good to just have a few. If you can boost it with surveys and so on, that’s great, but you if you haven’t got that capacity, don’t worry. It’s just thinking about your supporters for a moment. And most organizations are able to… Should be able to put themselves in their supporter shoes. One of the tips I give in the workshops we give at the moment is, you should be thinking about a real supporter all the time, and what their name is. What would they be thinking right now? I think if you do that, it’ll help reframe how you go about your fundraising in this rather strange period.


Yes. There’s all those kinds of things we could do, but at its simplest, if we’re planning a new approach, a better approach, a new appeal in the next few months, and we want to, step one to check that that approach is likely to succeed and be good for supporters. If you haven’t already done so, do whatever research you can, and rather hopefully will inform and make it more likely to be insight driven, but equally an extra benefit of doing that at its simplest. Making those extra five phone calls to those people who support and care, that can absolutely give you the internal positioning to help your colleagues who may have to sign off on the decision see that we’re not doing this because it’s your good idea. We’re doing it because it makes sense and even is in the interests of the people it’s designed to serve.


Yeah. I mean, a similar principle why we created this booklet, if you like. We want it to be used as a resource that fundraisers can point to and say, “Hey, look at this.” To help not only give them confidence, but also as a bit of evidence that they can share. Whether it’s with their senior team, whether it’s with their colleagues or trustees, that fundraising done well is getting good results. I think it’s all about building your confidence, because if you… That’s one of our other insights. If the fundraiser is feeling good in themselves, if they’re not feeling stressed out, pushed on, then that will come across when they talk to supporters. I know there were fundraisers under a lot of pressure, and are particularly those maybe in small organizations or maybe those are heading up the team, and so that can work against them particularly when they’re engaging supporters. Whereas the opposite happens. If they’re enthusiastic, if they feel supported by the organization when they engage with supporters, I’m sure they’ll be able to tell that.


Yes. And if we just pick up on that bit, it’s been one of the themes we’ve talked about on the podcast inevitably over the last six months. But in terms of things that leaders can do or organizations can more proactively deliberately do to help look after people, help them feel trusted, to be able to notice if someone might be struggling because they’re isolated or grieving or have health challenges or just the stresses of juggling workload with childcare and so on. Within your research, did you notice some examples of things that some charities, large or small, have been doing to help get that first bit right of looking after the people within the organization?


Yeah. Well, the best… There was as an example in the report that we used, which is The Children’s Society, and Joe Jenkins there talks through the work that they did. Not just with fundraisers, but across the whole organization, because they realized that they needed to do it across the whole organization in order for the fundraisers to be able to do their job as well. But it’s… I guess it’s acknowledging the pressure that fundraisers are experiencing. Thinking how to inspire and motivate them, how to help them still get close to the course, perhaps giving them freedom and permission to go out and hear what’s going on. Whether it’s using free resources like Sophie, or taking part in listenings in some of the webinars and podcasts that are available right now so you can seek out new learning.

It’s just seeing a part of your fundraising strategy is about how to maintain the energy levels of your fundraisers. That’s quite key, and that seems to come up so many times and I’m sure that plays out in terms of just the… I mean, we’ve been in this situation since the end of March, it’s a long time. So it’s a marathon not a sprint barely, isn’t it? And so therefore, how are you going to maintain that energy across the team? Absolutely, it comes back to your why or your mission, how that’s been affected and that case for why you need support right now. But if you go to the booklet you’ll see lots of great little practical tips and real examples like the one from Children’s Society. And we know we haven’t got all the answers but we’re pretty sure it will point you in the right direction. And of course we’d love to hear about this so we can continue to get this message out over the coming months as well.


I remember one of the examples I really liked in terms of tactics, I think it was the Children’s Society where the organization quite deliberately helped people find others geographically in the country close to them and making it easier and more likely that they could meet up for a walk or something similar. Was that your understanding of that tactic?


Yeah. I think they called it in-your-neighbourhood. So you connect with people who live locally because they couldn’t be in the offices. And Joe shares an example of walking on the South Downs with colleagues who lived on the South Coast. But they did other things. They sent out notice boards, which includes everything from Netflix recommendations, books to read, feedback and learning from conferences and events. So encouraging this so you can set the framework that makes people think, “Oh, we’re okay.” It’s to do this. Having obviously Zoom sessions together, and if you’re a large organization creating breakouts just so people can connect with others who they might not otherwise deal with on a daily or weekly basis. So there’s lots of creative examples there and I think it just sends out a right message that the organization is there for you and they realize that you’re having to really step up at this time. I think it’s making that point, is you can’t just say, “We really value your mental health.” You’ve got to see some practical actions and senior leaders leading by example as well.


Yes. And another key thing Katie Simmons from the British Red Cross, was recently on our breakfast club talking about the importance of regular surveys that you’re really serious about and you genuinely want your colleagues to fill in and taking that regularly so as to… Not just at a micro level because managers are good listeners but at a macro level. You’re seeing in the data, are our efforts to look after our people currently working or are they’re not and what could we learn to do more of them? I get the Children’s Society have been doing some similar things really well as well.

Hi, it’s Rob and I wanted to jump into the middle of this episode really quickly to tell you about something I’m so excited about, which is the way that our Bright Spot Members Club has been helping fundraisers to not only survive, but also to do really well to raise funds so effectively during the pandemic. Through the club, our 300 members get access to a whole library of my best training films, as well as regular live coaching sessions to help you handle whatever challenges are coming at you each week.

And we’ve also found that handling these challenges is not just been about getting the right advice or strategy, it’s also been about morale. And we’ve found that the encouragement and help that our members get from each other has really helped them to stay positive. If you’re not yet a member but you’d like to find out more, go to brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join. That’s brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join. I would love to welcome you to the club, do my utmost to help you succeed in your fundraising. For now though, back to the interview, as I wanted to ask Richard about a particular example of don’t I care that I liked from the report. I want you to pick up on one of my favourite examples that you were telling me about the other day from your research again, to do with a relatively small organization, which was Guts UK. Could you remind me of some of what they’ve been doing so well in the last few months?


All right. So Julie Harrington is the chief executive there and a fundraiser by background, really understands the importance of giving supporters the best possible experience. And the example she shared was of a young man who’d done a fundraiser, and I think it was in memory of his mother, and he got friends to join him. I think he was climbing various peaks, so I guess they were in a bubble. Anyway, he wanted to somehow acknowledge the support from his friends that helped him get through a difficult time and raise some money.

That’s again fundraising helping people when they’ve lost someone very close to them, it can be fantastic for that. And without hesitation, Guts UK just organized medals for each of his friends. It’s that sort of thing where just acting on, “You know what? We need to help him thank his friends for the support that he was given.” And I just thought that was just a great example. Really simple.

There’s an anecdote I heard in a much larger organization, in Oxfam, where someone I think tweeted something to the effect that his daughter was a great supporter of Oxfam but wasn’t old enough to perhaps receive some of the communications, and the team that look after supporters spotted this and then put together this wonderful pack and sent it to his daughter and of course he was amazed and just really loved it. But it was the fact that they had permission to do so. They didn’t have to go up the ranks of… They’d been told, “When moments like this happen, just get on with it.” And I think that’s pretty much the essence of what Guts UK are doing. Just feel what’s right in terms of making supporters feel valued. We know it’s not just for what they’ve just done, it’s for what’s to come.

As I’ve learned, you do not know who people know. And an ordinary donor that you may have tagged on your database, they could open the door to a foundation, a corporate partner potential to give a major gift. It’s not just about, I know we talk about the legacy gift at the end, nowadays we’re so much better connected and therefore… I think right now, if you make people feel good in this period, they’re going to remember you far more than any other time, and that has got to count to something. So I think it’s thinking about that. If you can give people such a good experience, a really good feeling, they’re going to value that. And maybe there’s a time where they feel, “Oh, okay. I can give back in response to how such and such an organization helped me get through what is…” It’ll be looking back in years to come when we we’ll be talking about this for some time.


Yes. What I find interesting about when I hear examples like that excellent story from Guts UK, is I have found many charities respond saying, “Well, of course, why wouldn’t you send the metals?” And what I found is, you’d hope that you would, wouldn’t you? But my key question to any leader listening is, have you as a leader properly helped everyone in your team know that you want your staff to take a risk, maybe find a tiny bit of budget, have you made it easy for them that that is what you want them to do? Or actually if you’re really, and this is a key thing that comes through in that excellent book, the Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, when they give examples of these extraordinary, generous, wonderful things that hotel staff sometimes do.

People who have been on my courses they know the Joshie The Giraffe story, which I won’t go into now. But the point in the book is, does everyone in your team know that they’ve got permission to take what might feel like small risks or large risks to go the extra mile for people? Because if you haven’t quite deliberately been really explicit that you want them to, you’re not only aiming for efficiency, you’re sometimes wanting to be able to go the extra mile and find a bit of money for some medals or go to the extra trouble of putting together that special pack for that child even if it wouldn’t initially seem like an efficient way to spend your time.

I think, unless we’re careful as leaders of an organization, we might think, “Of course my staff would do that. They know to do that, don’t they?” But in practice, we have to be aware that our teams might feel under pressure to be efficient and therefore they might have the good idea to put together the special pack or to get the medals, but they might also fear that they would never get it signed off, or that they might be accused of failing to meet their initial KPI.


Yeah, it’s exactly that. It’s leading by example, giving permission. But is also going to be quite difficult, isn’t it? Sending a thank you card, handwritten thank you cards. It’s going to be harder to do now but it’s going to be valued more. So get across the message. It’s not about the quick, or let’s just do responses by email, it’s making it… It’s going to that trouble.


So Richard, if the listeners would like to read this report or they’d like to find out more, maybe even watch the webinar you recorded, how should they go about doing that?


Probably the most straightforward way is Google supporter experience, and then Chartered Institute of Fundraising or CIoF and it will come up. It will come up in the feed, you’ll see it on the home pages of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. We’re going to put the webinar up on their YouTube channel, so that will go up. Might not be for a few days yet, and so listen to that. I think you can listen to that and that will inspire you to read the report or you could do it the other way round.


Okay, great. So I really would encourage the listeners to go ahead and do that. Well, really there’s loads of great examples there, some sound helpful principles that (a) inspire you, but (a) also potentially help you persuade some colleagues to work more in line with these sound ideas. Richard, thank you so much for sharing all these ideas, examples, and tips. We need to finish very soon now. I look forward to catching up with you very soon, but for now, Richard Turner, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.


You’re very welcome, Rob. Thanks for inviting me on.


Take care. Bye.


Thank you. Bye.


Well, I hope you found our discussion helpful. If you enjoyed this episode, do check out episode 45 as well to get the first half of our conversation, and also do remember to subscribe to the podcast today so you don’t miss from the other episodes we have planned to help your fundraising during the pandemic. To see a full transcript and a summary of the episode, you can find those on the blog and podcast section of our website, brightspotfundraising.co.uk. I’ll also put a link there to help you find the group’s excellent report Fundraising in the Time of COVID-19.

If you’d like to find out more about my training and inspiration site for fundraisers, do check it out at brightspotmembersclub.co.uk/join, as well as regular coaching sessions on a wide range of fundraising and leadership topics. You can take advantage of more than 40 of my video training bundles as well as our super supportive community. If you’re curious, you can join for a single month to test for yourself how helpful this coaching support is for your fundraising. And if you want to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. We’re both on LinkedIn. And on Twitter, Richard is @ifundraiser and I am @woods_rob. Finally, thank you so much for listening today, I really do appreciate it. Until the next time, good luck with all your efforts to create great experiences for your supporters and to make a positive difference this year of all years.