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Crunching the Numbers: How ellenor Uses Data to Deliver Tailored, Personalised Experiences to Supporters

ellenor provides care and support for patients with life-limiting conditions; from both its Northfleet-based inpatient and outpatient wards, and within the community. 

As the only hospice in the local Kent and Bexley areas supporting life-limited patients of all ages, ellenor is committed to holistic care. That means it aims to treat all aspects of the patient – taking into account their psychological, emotional, and social needs, in addition to their clinical ones – as well as supporting the patient’s family throughout.

As a not-for-profit hospice charity, few people would compare ellenor with a commercial enterprise. But there are, in fact, several ways in which ellenor mirrors practices from the business world. Most notably, that’s in its approach to using data, not hunches, to drive value for the patients and families it supports.

Chiefly responsible for this is Rebekah McMorris, ellenor’s Database and Insights Manager. A self-confessed data head, Rebekah heads up the charity’s Supporter Care team. She’s also in charge of collating, interpreting, and utilising data from a variety of platforms to inform ellenor’s marketing, supporter engagement, and donor retention strategies.

“I love working in data, because you can really build a picture, and see things from so many different angles.” 

Rebekah says. “You can really get to know your supporters in a particular way. I’m quite lucky in my role, because I get to chat to supporters on the phones and hear all about their exciting fundraising activities. But then I’m also able to dive into the data to understand, as a whole, who our supporters are, and what they’re interested in.”

Rebekah is supported by a team of three: Supporter Care Assistant Meghan and Supporter Care Officers Jacqueline and Manel – both of whom have been with ellenor for several years,

“Jacqueline, Manel, and Meghan are really the face of the Fundraising team,” says Rebekah. “They’re the first point of contact for incoming queries and are very much on hand to support – and be there for – our supporters, in every way they can. They also handle a lot of the entry of information into our database, as well as income reconciliation."

As a charity dedicated to delivering the utmost levels of care not only for the patients and families it supports – but for its volunteers, supporters, donors, and patrons, too – Rebekah’s role at ellenor is a vital one.

“I am responsible for managing the database, which holds all of our supporters’ details; like their personal and demographic information, to send out informative mailings and important notifications. I configure all that data to inform all our supporters about our exciting activities, and about ways in which they can get involved. We also are able to keep track of all our supporters previous fundraising activities and their plans to fundraise for ellenor in the future.”

Importantly, Rebekah’s role also feeds into the efforts of ellenor’s Fundraising team, as well as its Finance and Resources department.  Through regular reporting and governance, the latter aims to ensure that the charity is upholding its commitment to the long-term goals of sustainability and transparency.

“I provide insights to other teams at ellenor, to gain a better picture of how we can make evidence-based decisions, based on what kind of stewardship we feel the supporters should be getting that’s right for them as individuals. We also use data to inform our income reporting, and make sure that we’re investing in the right areas for our supporters.”

Rebekah moved to the Gravesend area in late 2020 – at the height of a global pandemic – and joined ellenor soon after.

“It was always about being able to give back in the way that my skills would best allow me to. I think that from the get-go, I wanted to do something that I was proud of, that gave me a purpose. Working for ellenor certainly gives me that and provides me with the motivation every day to do something I’m really excited about and know that I’m making a difference.”

Plus, it’s clear that it’s not only the data that drives Rebekah, but the people, too. "I love having those conversations with supporters, who – ten years after their friend received care from ellenor – are still supporting us because of the interaction they’ve had."

"That’s why I wanted to work for ellenor; because of how much of an impact they have on those they help."

Of course, Rebekah is quick to stress that, despite the importance of data to ellenor’s endeavours, the charity doesn’t simply collect data for ‘data’s sake’. Knowing more about the kind of factors that motivate an individual to donate allows Rebekah’s Supporter Care team to provide accurate answers to requests for information and assist donors in understanding exactly where their money is going.

“We will always accurately record what we know about our supporters and try to build a bigger picture of our supporter base. That way, it means that when somebody calls to ask about their donation, we can pull up their record and find out who they are, what they’re interested in, and why they came to us in the first place. We can then better get to know our and deliver a personalised journey.”

Certainly, maintaining all that data doesn’t come without its responsibilities – or its challenges. The Supporter Care team are all trained in the relevant legislation (including GDPR, and the Data Protection Act), and Rebekah herself sits on an internal governance group. This helps ensure ellenor is not only compliant with the relevant regulations but is also processing data in a way that is fair, secure, and in line with what the charity’s supporters and volunteers expect.

“We will always respect our supporters’ preferences and engage with them in the way that they would like us to.”

In terms of the challenges Rebekah’s team faces in their day to day role, she cites striking a balance between effective data collection and interpersonal sensitivity as the biggest consideration.

“I think [the biggest obstacle to my team] is acquiring enough data to build a picture of our supporters, while not prying. You don’t want to be asking too many questions that could be perceived to be inappropriate, especially with some of the sensitive conversations that we’re having. It’s a challenge, to get that right.”

Ultimately, Rebekah believes the key to using data at ellenor is to keep the spotlight shined firmly on the heart-warming, life-affirming stories at the heart of hospice care.

“It’s about bringing it back down to the person with case studies, but also being able to pull together statistics in our annual reports to tell people exactly what we’ve been able to achieve. It’s kind of going back to the grassroots and demonstrating how we’ve been able to help our patients and families.

“We want to keep our supporters up to date not only on the activities ellenor has going on, but also sharing stories about the amazing patients and families we support – showing the local community what we’re doing, and what that means to so many people.”

ellenor relies almost entirely on the generosity of the local community to continue its care for Kent and Bexley-based patients with life-limiting conditions, and their families. With events such as the Twilight Walk, Ellie’s Mini Marathon, and the Fire Walk coming up – plus a range of challenges, quizzes, and runs to get excited about – there are so many ways to get involved.

Head to ellenor’s Events and Challenges page to find out more, or make a donation here to help ensure that ellenor is able to meet the almost £8 million per year in funding it needs to keep going. Even the smallest of donations will go a long way towards helping the local community’s life-limited patients and their families through the toughest time of their lives.