How we defined success, identified and evidenced the problem and then created an awesome cross directorate squad, with the skills to explore it. Oh and what we learnt from doing this, twice!
What is Supporter Celebration Week?
Supporter Celebration Week (SCW) is an opportunity for the organisation to pause and celebrate our incredible financial supporters, who through their generosity make the work we carry out and the lives we change and save possible. It’s a time for us to celebrate our supporters' contribution internally and externally thank our supporters in unique and wonderful ways which will meet their needs, improve their overall experience, deepen their relationship with us but overall ensure they feel valued and appreciated.
Watch the video below to see the video we sent our supporters to celebrate SCW2019:
Why? — Evidence & Supporter Insight
The British Red Cross has been transforming the way that it fundraises, with the creation of a new fundraising strategy which has supporter led engagement at it’s heart. Put simply, our ambition is to create a movement of supporters, volunteers and communities we help, all of whom play a role in delivering our mission and are proud to do so.
So to help us achieve this goal, the Supporter Experience team was formed in 2018 with the remit of creating better experiences for our supporters by gaining a deeper understanding of who they are and what is important to them and mindfully designing the way in which we interact and engage them.
The need for our team, and a supporter-led approach, was highlighted by research conducted by About Loyalty which provides charities with a Loyalty score based on the Satisfaction, Commitment and Trust of their supporters. Our result showed at the time that our supporters have the lowest satisfaction of all the charities who participated, it also showed that satisfaction plays a significant role in the ongoing loyalty of our supporters.
The results also showed that a significant number of supporters who took part in the survey explicitly stated they didn’t feel valued or appreciated for their contribution and that the British Red Cross could continue our work without them, which is simply not true and a narrative we needed to change.
- About Loyalty Survey 2019: over 25% of our supporters said they don’t always feel thanked for their gift to us.
- About Loyalty Survey 2019: 61% said that we didn’t need them and could exist without them
As a result of this survey, and also to mark a new, supporter-led engagement approach for the Red Cross, we wanted to create a very visible, physical and loud ‘moment’ to celebrate the hundreds of thousands of people whose donations have made our work supporting people in crisis possible.
Armed with a better understanding of the problem we were trying to address, along with evidence, the next stage was to spend some time auditing and learning from past and current thanking activities by teams across Fundraising (especially High Vaue Giving and Community & Events) and looking outside our charity to the sector for inspiration too. This was a key part of scoping the project as we wanted to ensure where possible we weren’t spending time re-inventing the wheel, but instead building on idea’s for the pilot that were already successful, either internally or across the sector, scaling this up and of course adding our own British Red Cross uniqueness to it.
Externally we looked at example’s of Thanking weeks and activities from the following organisations:
We interviewed and spoke to teams at the above organisations as well as other Supporter Expereince teams across the sector, about how they were thanking their supporters, or lead thanking weeks/moments within their organisations.
We conducted internal research by doing interviews with key team members to ask about their thanking processes and trying to pick apart the problem further, highlighting if there was another solution other than SCW.
Our external research revealed that a ‘genuine heart felt thank you can improve supporter loyalty’ and internally we also found great examples of thanking that we could upscale. Research and feedback from other charities showed, that not only is SCW a good thing to do, but will also increase supporter loyalty if the communication is authentic, thoughtful and personalised.
We also discovered that internally some teams didn’t feel as connected to our supporters, or know enough about them, as was desired to create authentic needs led engagement. This meant we could use SCW as an oppotunity not only to thank and increase supporters loyalty but for internal engagement also, an opportunity to align with our Supporter Expereince principles and objectives of bringing our supporters closer & understanding them better.
Project Scoping, Stretch and Build Workshop
We now had many examples of how thanking moments were designed across the sector and some of the thanking activity that took place across the organisation.
The stretch and build workshop allowed us to bring together key stakeholders who would need to be involved in the project, from process, to design and delivery and begin to workshop ideas of what the thanking moment could look like at BRC for our supporters.
The workshop allowed us to scope the project without any desired outcome, truly focusing on supporter needs, no idea was a bad idea and blue sky thinking at this stage was encouraged.
We split the workshop into 3 parts, firstly focusing on idea generation using ‘How Might We’ Statements.
1. How might we thank our supporters in creative ways?
2. How can we get people across the organisation excited and involved?
3. How might we bring the voice of the supporter into the organisation?
The second part focused on mitigating risk. We ran a premortem exercise which asked participants to think 12 months into the future and imagine the project has failed miserably, then to list all the reasons for this failure scoring the likelihood and impact of this happening from low-high.
We then asked workshop participants to use the template below to brainstorm what could go wrong & list what actions could mitigate this.
Lastly, we got into the nitty-gritty of actually making some of the ideas generated happen. Participants spent time answering the below questions:
1. Who should be involved?
2. How do we deliver it?
3. What are the major considerations we need to take in to account?
This gave us lots to work with!
Whilst SCW2019 was a pilot year, this didn’t limit us in our ambitions, in fact, it achieved the opposite as we used the scope to think outside the box but also balance being realistic with focused objectives & clear success criteria.
We combined our project purpose with the outputs of the stakeholder interviews and workshop, to define our objectives and success criteria as:
- Reach >100,000 supporters with thank you messages via email and social
- Reach >10,000 supporters with personalised thank you messages through the post, phone, e-mail or social
- Staff across the Red Cross are aware of and supportive of our new Supporter-centred approach to fundraising
- We work collaboratively across the directorate and beyond to make this happen
- People across all directorates participate
- Supporters have a positive experience
- Staff gain feel a deeper connection to our supporters
- Breaking down silos between teams and directorates
- Gaining anecdotal insight from supporters
- Engaging content created for social and media
- Uplift in the loyalty of supporters
As the project was focused on our supporters' experience and not immediate ROI, we needed other ways to be able to measure the success such as increased engagement levels, qualitative feedback, participation from staff and volunteers as well as setting ourselves some test criteria, which would allow us to build on ideas further the next year.
Questions we are seeking to answer through this test
- How will a cross-team approach to delivering this project work in practice and what do we need to enable this for the future?
- How will supporters respond to being thanked in this way? Will it improve their engagement with the British Red Cross?
- Can we deliver a project like this that has no direct financial ROI? Are there blockers and challenges and how do we show success that isn’t £
- What are the barriers to colleagues participating and how do we overcome this?
- Will a ‘local’ slant to thanking be more engaging for supporters (and teams?)
Our success criteria and objectives then made up our scoring criteria when deciding which projects to move forward with, we had lots of ideas from our initial workshop and we scored all ideas from the squad to take between 5–10 activities forward and develop our project proposal.
Our project proposal
We proposed to create a British Red Cross Supporter Celebration Week. During the week we will run a number of supporter celebration and thank-you events including:
- Donor thank-you calls delivered by staff from across every directorate
- The creation by staff of thank-you videos for a selection of our most engaged donors and social media followers shared via email or social media
- Thank-you display advertising in key locations around the country and in British Red Cross shops
- Thank-you cards and letters written by staff and retail staff/volunteers that are sent to donors by post
- Sharing stories of inspiring supporters through displays around our offices as well as a ‘Meet the Supporter’ panel/speed dating session in the auditorium
We will select supporters from across the fundraising and engagement portfolio, including individual giving, emergency appeal donors, community fundraisers, events, retail customers, corporate partners, major donors and legacy donors based on their loyalty and engagement rather than just high-value donors. In addition, we will work with teams and offices around the country to ensure this isn’t a UK head office only event.
Next, we needed a group of people committed to making SCW2019 happen!
A project squad is a skills-based cross-organisation team of individuals who are collectively responsible for delivering the Supporter Experience Week. Each member plans and delivers their specific area with support from the Squad and collaboration with other colleagues as required. The squad has a laser focus on delivering this project.
Squads have weekly stand-ups and fortnightly ‘deep dives’ into specific areas of the project that require deeper thought and planning. We outlined the specific time requirements and effort levels that would be needed from each squad member also.
Each member of the squad would be responsible for a separate area of the project and feed into the project manager as demonstrated below:
We asked staff members to apply for the above roles, with the following criteria listed: all members of the squad needed to be skilled in Problem solving, influencing, stakeholder management, strong interpersonal and communication skills and of course be passionate about our incredible supporters/or want to learn more about them.
We made it clear that they didn’t need to be the expert in the area, but were happy getting out and collaborating with the people who have the information or expertise needed!
Some of the questions you might want to ask when forming your squad for any project which will allow you to have diverse voices, new voices but also the right people needed. Although we took slightly different approaches with each squad recruitment, these questions were crucial.
- Who do we need to make it happen?
- Who are our key stakeholders?
- Who could bring a new perspective?
- Who could challenge our ideas?
- Who hasn’t had this opportunity before?
It’s clear from this blog that we spent a long time scoping out SCW before even pulling together a project plan, as it was so crucial for us to have a deepened understanding of the problem, what we wanted to achieve and how we would measure/define success before launching. This really allowed us to develop SCW from a position of confidence that this was the right thing to do, and was being led exclusively by need and our supporter experience principles:
As with all projects, and again living by what we preach after the delivery of SCW2019, we held a day-long review workshop. Which allowed us to reflect on the success and challenges of SCW2019, whether we met our objectives & success criteria and begin to look at learnings we could take forward for the future.
We used the outputs from this workshop to directly inform and set the success criteria for SCW2020. Including key criteria around increasing both supporter, staff and volunteers in the weeks activities and making changes to the way in which the project squad is recruited as well as how we celebrate our different groups of supporters such as HVG, IG, etc.
Currently we have just delivered and held our SCW2020 (part 1), which we had to pivot to allow for virtual and digital celebrations due to Lockdown measures. We are planning to review SCW2020 (part 1) next week, using the retrospective format introduced by central innovation hub, to allow us to very quickly assess to inform SCW2020/21 (part 2) which is launching in Jan 2021.
You can watch a preview of how we celebrated and thanked our supporters this year below, and how our thank you made our supporters feel:
SCW2020 (part 1)Thank you video sent to supporters: