Time to think more about supporters

In the coming years, the focus of most fundraising strategies will be on the long-term value of the supporter, argues Joe Jenkins of the Children's Society

Joe Jenkins
Joe Jenkins

Charities wanting to move on from the fundraising crisis have a choice: they can put either supporters or profitability at the heart of their fundraising strategies.

This is what Joe Jenkins, director of fundraising and supporter engagement at the Children’s Society, will tell delegates attending one of this afternoon’s sessions.

Jenkins believes that the collective effectiveness of product-led fundraising – where cost, margins, and profitability are prioritised – has reached its peak.

He will argue that the product-led business model has dominated UK fundraising for the past few decades and underpinned most of its growth, but voluntary organisations are now entering "the era of the supporter", as he calls it.

"Whereas in the past, the vast majority of charities have adopted the product model – with notable supporter-led exceptions – I expect the inverse to be true in the future," Jenkins says.

He predicts that in the coming years, the focus of most fundraising strategies will be on the long-term value of the supporter, with supporter satisfaction, loyalty, engagement, trust and experience prioritised over the profitability of individual fundraising products.

Metrics will be based on organisations’ relationships with supporters. Budgets
will be structured around supporter value and engagement and teams trained and aligned to maximise the supporter experience.

And emphasis will also be placed on valuing supporters’ time and opinions as well as their financial gifts.

The goal, Jenkins says, will be for charities to increase the total lifetime value of all their supporters.

"My hope is that the supporter-led approach might ultimately prove far more successful in not just delivering success for individual charities, but just maybe finally growing the overall level of philanthropy," he says.

During this session, delegates will also hear from Natasha Dinkin, founder of the due diligence consultancy Project Layers, who will talk about the importance of due diligence and transparency in managing the reputational challenges facing charities.

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