Why is Engagement important?
In recent times, supporter engagement has taken centre stage in fundraising discussions, emerging as the ‘hot topic’ and it is one that we at Sequoia have seen (and been involved in) many projects commissioned to define and create a single score aimed at understanding and measuring how deep a given supporter’s engagement is with a charity.
Like many things aimed at scoring, ranking or grouping supporters, think segmentations or RFV scores, there is no definitive right or wrong in these projects. It will depend on the context and environment the charity is operating in and their overall aims and objectives. That being said, we have dedicated a lot of time amongst ourselves here discussing all the elements that have been common across these endeavours and built a framework that covers a wide variety of needs. Allowing for a common score which can be created and compared across products, departments, and indeed charities and as such we are pleased to the announce the release of our Engagement Scorecard as part of the Canopy Reporting Suite.
We can all agree that supporter engagement scoring extends beyond the traditional performance indicator of income generation. It also needs to take into account various touchpoints, and other key metrics each with their own significance. Deciding the relevance and ranking of each has been a big part in the process. Measuring supporter engagement is a complex beast, but one that we believe the Engagement Scorecard can help to standardise.
Engagement, along with retention, serves as the driving force behind fundraising efforts, advocacy campaigns, and community building. Engaged supporters are more likely to donate, volunteer, and champion your cause or product so tracking it, and being able to act on changes to the score will give you a deeper understanding of your supporters and give focus to your stewardship programmes.
Before we talk about what the score looks like, let’s first bring to the fore some of the lessons we have learnt along the way.
- Everyone has their own view of what should be included and what touchpoint or behaviour should be given the most importance – but these can be driven by individual priorities and a shared agreement is vital
- Looking purely at value through measures such as average gift or lifetime value is not enough – other dimensions of engagement need to be developed that give a broader picture of the ways supporters interact with your organisation
- Sometimes touchpoints will not have data recorded against them and innovative or new ways will be needed to evaluate these – ideally leading to better data capture in the future
None of these should be seen as blockers though and what is important is to make a start. Whilst your first attempts at creating a score may not be perfect, they will begin your journey towards a more holistic measure of your supporters and will drive learnings and changes along the way. Definitions can be refined as you learn, and data points can be added as you capture more.
The Sequoia Engagement Score
Sequoia have overcome these challenges by creating a standard framework for measuring engagement which we hope can become a common language within and across charities and departments. Importantly this includes measures which can be applied across all kinds of activity so that a full view on an individual’s engagement with your charity can be assessed.
We have boiled it down to a four dimensional aggregated score:
TENURE measures the length of their engagement, ie the time between their first and last interactions
DIVERSITY looks at the range of interactions and highlights where individuals might be engaging in multiple different ways
FREQUENCY includes the number of interactions a person has – whether financial or non-financial
VALUE is a measure of the strength of those interactions, most typically a financial amount but could also be a measure of time or voice
Each supporter is awarded a score across each dimension depending on our own proprietary rules about their level of activity in each area. These scores are then summed up to create the overall engagement score from 1 to 100. This score can then be used to rank, segment or profile your different types of supporters.
The individual component scores can also be used to understand what is driving the engagement of your most engaged or “immersed” supporters. Or, they can be used where engagement is low, or in decline, to understand areas of focus needed to increase this.
Tracking the overall trend of the engagement score can be a good marker to check the health of the file overall. By assigning a score now, and looking at this on a regular basis with the ability to identify which area is affecting the rise or fall could be a key step in making early changes to stem decline or invest in development.
You can also compare and see how your scores compare to other organisations across the sector.
Supporter engagement is a vital aspect of any organisation’s success, but it’s a complex concept to measure accurately. By talking to Sequoia we can accelerate the process and get you on the right path quickly – helping you gain valuable insights into your supporters’ behaviour and their organisational connection. The Sequoia Engagement Scorecard brings all this to life if one place allowing you to quickly understand your overall engagement, how it is changing, and what it looks like for specific groups of supporters. Remember that engagement is not static; it evolves over time, so continuous measurement and adjustment are essential to maintain a strong relationship with your supporters and achieve your goals.
Furthermore the dashboard links directly into our suite of more detailed reports covering areas such as second gifts, crossover, retention and lifetime value.
Get in touch to chat over how we can help or advise you in this key area.
Author: Jon Kelly, October 2023 © Sequoia-Insights.com