supporter journey

What is the supporter journey – and how do your charity shops play their part?

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A massive part of running a charity is how you balance your donors. It’s a fine line between enticing new ones to support your cause and ensuring your long-term ones feel appreciated. And there’s a science to fostering that loyalty and making sure you have the donations you need now and in the future.


It’s called the “supporter journey”, and a recent report highlights just how important it is to get this right. The supporter journey is the sum of the experience your donors go through when interacting with your charity. It’s how they go from first-time donor to committed believer. But what exactly is a supporter journey, how do you build one, and what role do your charity shops play in it?


What is a supporter journey?

There’s a term called the supporter experience, which is everything your donors go through when dealing with your organisation. The supporter journey is the end result of those experiences. It’s what they go through from the moment they first hear of your charity up until the point they choose to break away from that journey.


And every person’s journey is different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t influence how it goes. It’s up to you to turn it from a rollercoaster of a ride to something much smoother. The report lists several steps along the journey:


🔸 Awareness and discovery
🔸 Research and consideration
First donation
Trust and growth
Loyalty and advocacy
Legacy donor


From that first donation, each step is about them becoming more and more involved in your cause. And as Giles Pegram CBE puts it in the report: “Every communication with a donor should leave them feeling better than they did before it.”


Why is the supporter journey so important?

Competition for people’s attention has never been fiercer. Consumers are more demanding about their experiences, and aren’t afraid to shift their loyalty if they don’t feel appreciated. By mapping out a true supporter journey, you can overcome the fact that donor retention in first-time donors is only 25%.


When you actively work towards retaining them, that number goes up to 63%. The report also notes some success stories; when Alzheimer’s Society optimised their supporter journey, they saw a 72% increase in donations. So we can see that by focusing on this aspect of the donor experience, you improve your conversions and bring in more vital funds.


Charity shops

So where does that leave you? The first step is knowing what your current supporter journey is. Here are some key considerations to make, and areas you might want to research first:


🔸 Where do most new donors hear about you?
🔸 A
t what point are donors abandoning the supporter journey?
Which appeals are drawing the most attention?
How do they feel about their interactions with your charity?


This is going to provide you with key data on where you’re going right or wrong. Your charity shops in particular are going to come up at various points. It might be the first interaction someone has with your brand. Or it might be that subpar service is causing them to leave.


It’s not always bad, though. You might find that it’s the place where they feel most appreciated and encouraged to donate again. And it’s somewhere you can try to improve the journey. 400% of donors are more likely to give again if they’re thanked for their donations – that’s somewhere your shops can step in.


Understanding what your donors are going through is vital to levelling up your charity. By researching how they feel and creating a map of your supporter journey, you can make changes with purpose and feel confident in your decisions.


Make sure your charity shops are providing the best experience they can. Invest in an EPoS solution that speeds up purchases, improves queue times, and provides an all-round more convenient shopping experience. To find out more, get in touch on 01204 706000.