Fundraisers can mentor donors to help them create more value in the way they support charities, says a new paper from fundraising thinktank Rogare.
Value creation and the role of the donor in supporter-led fundraising is the third in the fundraising thinktank’s series of ‘praxis papers’, which showcase research recently completed by a fundraising practitioner for their PhD or Master’s degree. The paper is written by Katie Mitchell, head of supporter engagement at UK mental health charity Mind, and summarises the work she did for her Master’s degree in Business Administration, in which she considered how services marketing theory can be applied in fundraising.
While there are obvious differences between the services delivered by charities to donors and those provided by businesses to customers, Mitchell maintains there are enough similarities for strategies developed in the commercial sector to be deployed by charities to improve donors’ experiences, increase satisfaction, drive trust and improve the chances of donors carrying on giving.
The key part of her thesis is that fundraisers can help donors create their own value in how they conduct their own fundraising efforts, particularly community fundraising. This, the paper recommends, could be in the form of practical advice for the supporter to organise their fundraising, demonstrating the impact of their donation, or by building a relationship with the donor in a way that helps them feel part of a team or wider movement of people.
Author Katie Mitchell commented:
“The aim of my research was to understand whether and how services marketing strategies developed in the for-profit context can be used by nonprofit organisations to improve the donor experience for individual donors, increase donor satisfaction and therefore drive loyalty and increase the likelihood that donors will give again in future.
“Fundraisers perceived the role of the donor as an active participant in the creation of value, and not a passive recipient of communications or services.
“This is important because it means recognising that value creation happens beyond the control of the fundraiser and away from our interactions with the supporter. A skillset that includes coaching and empowering supporters to create value is therefore vital to the donor experience. The role of the fundraiser in empowering supporters maximises their contribution to the creation of value during their interactions with the donor.”
Dr Claire Routley, the editor of the Rogare paper series, added:
“Relationship fundraising is a totally intuitive idea but it is only relatively recently that we have begun to see scholars and practitioners build the theory that underpins this. Katie’s Masters research has taken ideas established in the commercial sector and, rather try to shoehorn nonprofit practice into them, she’s adapted them to the charity context.
“As ever with our praxis papers, the aim is not that fundraisers copy or blindly implement the recommendations they find here, but to critically reflect upon how they can adapt these ideas to their own practice in their own contexts.”
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