This is a story about how one fundraiser has made the importance of the supporter experience real in his own organisation. It’s a riveting good read.
Duncan Batty is Director of Income Generation & Marketing at Kirkwood Hospice in Kirklees. Duncan joined Kirkwood as Director of Income Generation & Marketing in September 2017 after a career spanning 18 years leading fundraising teams in health, children’s and conservation charities.
This piece was written by him for the internal newsletter, addressed to all staff.
The Dream of something better
38 years ago, six years before the first foundation stone was laid in Dalton, Kirkwood was just an idea. The vision of one person – David Stocks, one of Kirkwood’s founders – that local people deserved the very best care at the end of their life.
It could have ended there, but David took the next step – he took action to make it happen, to change things for the better. He started by seeking out those who shared his belief; people who had experienced the care system as it was or who simply believed in creating a better society for others. And he gathered those people together.
From David’s original idea, a community (including 30 individual community groups across Kirklees) grew together around a vision of better care for everyone affected by a life limiting illness. These communities were made up of local volunteers – people dedicating their time and efforts on top of their busy daily lives. They set out to change things by doing something that ordinary people do each day to change the world… they started raising money.
For the next six years, this community pulled together to raise the £1m needed to build the Hospice and open its doors to the first patient, and their family.
Why does the history of Kirkwood still matter today? What are the lessons we can learn from David and all those who founded Kirkwood?
The simple answer is this: we would not be here, or continue to exist without those who support us. It also means that, as we seek to care for more people, we need to continue to grow and nurture our community.
And, just as caring for our patients and families and reaching more people with our services is the responsibility of all of us here at Kirkwood, so is growing and looking after our supporters – whether that’s our donors, fundraisers, lottery players, customers or those who give their time to support us.
We can learn some important lessons from David Stocks and his team here too. It starts with what brought them together and, just as importantly, what held them together as they navigated the ups-and-downs that come with raising money – long hours, cold outdoor events, people saying no.
The most important things were:
A shared purpose – those who came before us saw and shared David’s vision of a better world for local people and, when the first brick was laid, they could see the difference they were making. They took time to celebrate this, and feel good about it.
They felt part of something bigger – not just ‘funding’ it, but genuinely being part of it. Living it day in, day out. The money and the care were two sides of the same coin.
They supported each other and they formed relationships with each other through Kirkwood. Some of these friendships have lasted a lifetime.
They gave what they could, when they could – time, ideas, money and many other kinds of support . Each and every gift was valued.
Over 20,000 local people now support Kirkwood in some way each year. Today’s supporters deserve to feel as much a part of our community as those who founded the charity. If they do, they will stay with us for longer, and encourage others to join.
As we look forward to 2020 and beyond, we will face some important challenges.
And here’s where you come in:
Your colleagues in Income Generation & Marketing are working every day to create memorable moments for our supporters. Many people from other departments already help them to do so – whether that’s by identifying and introducing potential supporters, meeting with a supporter to show them how they have made a difference, or helping the team to understand the impact our services make for local people so they can share that with others.
Early 2020 will see the launch of a new Supporter Experience Group. It will bring people together from across the charity, to look at ways in which we can grow income by ensuring those who choose to support us do so over many years, because they feel valued by Kirkwood. We’ll also look at ways to encourage supporters to introduce others who might also support.
If you would like to contribute to improving the experience of our amazing supporters, and through this, help to grow our services, I’d love to hear from you. By giving just a small amount of time each month, you can make a real difference. And, I promise you’ll feel great doing it!
For an informal chat about this group or to GET INVOLVED drop me an email at: Duncan
This article appeared in the December issue of Kirkwood’s internal newsletter, Insight.
Establishing a Supporter Experience Group is something that Duncan has agreed as part of his annual objectives for 2020 with his Chief Executive and Board, who have never forgotten the charity began with its supporters and who believe that Kirkwood will only thrive for as long as its local community continue to feel connected and passionate enough to give their time, energy and financial support.
Are there any other charities out there with cross-departmental Supporter Experience Groups?
Giles Pegram CBE