Protect the donor

April 14 2011 - Mark Phillips

We all know the old adage, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, but it should probably be extended to supporters too. Because if we take care of our donors, we won't need to worry about income targets.

That might sound brave or foolish (or both), but following the launch of Animal Protector for WSPA, it should ring true.

Animal Protector has been built using Bluefrog's uSpace donor loyalty engine. If you'd like to know how uSpace works, I featured it in this previous post and others have mentioned it too.

Animal Protector was created in response to WSPA's desire to improve donor retention. It aims to build a relationship with regular givers by showing them exactly how their donations are protecting animals. Through regular updates, supporters can see projects unfold and get to know some of the animals they care so much about.

But more importantly, it gives people a chance to interact with WSPA and define themselves as supporters – in a way that works best for them.

Because if there is one thing we've learned as we've moved from the first generation of uSpace to the second, is that choice is important to donors. But not in the way that many people might think.

WSPA works with a wide range of animals in many different parts of the world, and it seems obvious that one way to enhance a donor's relationship with the charity is to allow them to choose to fund work that benefits a favourite species.

It's obvious. But it's wrong. Donors may have a preference, but that doesn't mean they want to fund work that only benefits that type of animal (if they did, there are many species-specific charities they could easily discover on Google).

By choosing one specific creature, donors have to say no to others. And that can make people feel uncomfortable, particularly when their primary aim is to stop cruelty to ALL animals.

So rather than ask people to choose just one project, we gave them the opportunity to align themsleves with their favourite animal in a different way – by customising their Animal Protector site.

When people sign up, they are presented with different menus, one of which allows them to choose their masthead…

 

Picture 10

 

I've chosen a cow, but if people prefer a bear or a dog, they can choose that header instead. All the time knowing that they are helping all animals…

 

Picture 12

As you'll see, the logo also changes to match donor choice. It's based on a human thumbprint, but developed to represent each animal through the use of the relevant paw or footprint. Donors can use this as their default avatar, but many are uploading pictures of their own pets or animals they have seen in the wild. We've examples of everything from dogs to bears, to ducks to tortoises. And, shock horror, some donors are even uploading photographs of themselves. It's going to be very interesting to look at how the type of avatar relates to giving behaviour.

Picture 12 But choice doesn't stop there. Supporters can also choose a travel wallet or keyring that publicly demonstrates their commitment.

And those people who don't think that donors are interested in these devices, might be interested to hear that over 90% of donors who are signing up are actively requesting them.

And of course, donors can share their opinions too. Each post is accompanied by a growing list of comments. This is perhaps the most exciting (and rewarding) part of the project as donors are showing just how much they value being an Animal Protector and the the insight that goes with it.

A comment from one particular supporter, that summed up the sentiment behind many of the thoughts being shared, simply said…

"Thankyou to those in the midst of this wonderful rescue work for their dedication to animals that come in to their care. The animals can't say "thank you" themselves so I will say it for them. They send you lots of love."

However, I've left the best to last. The site has only been live for a week or two, and has already attracted thousands of supporters. But one of the most interesting side-effects of offering this combination of self-definition and in-depth feedback has been the number of people who have upgraded.

When we launched the site, we simply wanted to get as many people as possible to join. But donors have been so happy to know their money is making such a big difference that almost 8% of current regular givers who signed-up have chosen to upgrade their gift without even being asked.

See what I mean about income targets looking after themselves?

If you'd like to know more, why don't you sign up for yourself and see just how rewarding being an Animal Protector can be? Just click here to find out more.

  • Brilliant! What an imaginative way to connect the donor with the organization’s mission. Financial and program sustainability are linked, particularly in today’s “new normal”. WSPA has created their compelling voice and mobilized it into a strategy that will drive them forward and upward. Well done!

  • Mark, what a fantastic example of personalization and donor engagement! Thanks for sharing!

  • Fabulous.