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Individual Giving: Engaging Ellenor’s Supporters In The Local Community

As Individual Giving Manager for ellenor – a hospice that supports individuals with life-limiting illnesses in the Kent and Bexley communities – it’s fair to say that Hayley Brown wears many hats.

That’s because ‘individual giving’ – which refers to donations that that come directly from the donor’s pocket, rather than funds raised from elsewhere – takes such a wide range of forms.

It might come from ‘regular givers’, those supporters whose monthly donations are core to ellenor’s survival, or through contributions made in memory of a loved one. Individual giving also includes legacies and gifts in wills – not to mention those who play ellenor’s lottery, and regular raffles.

Haley’s role? Managing all of the above, while creating and executing an annual calendar of direct mail and email campaigns.

"The aim of these is to raise awareness of ellenor’s vital work in the local community, and appeal directly to new and existing donors for urgently-needed support."

It sounds like a lot of admin, but what it really comes down to is understanding not the paperwork, but the people – and this has only intensified since the COVID-19 pandemic.

With events being postponed and all eyes turning to the Individual Giving team, Hayley and her team have adopted an even more personal approach:

“We’ve made a point of calling a lot more of our supporters to thank them, and have seen multiple donations off the back of it, which has been lovely. It’s opened our eyes – sometimes you hide behind emails and letters, when, actually, picking up the phone is the best thing.”

"The Individual Giving team’s coronavirus-enforced tactical switch included launching more cash appeals in 2020, cutting down on costs (the “flashy production”), and placing a greater emphasis on the care ellenor provides."

And the results – which indicate that, even in the absence of most events, ellenor’s support within the community has remained steadfast – speak for themselves.

“We had an outstanding response from our community, and our appeals this financial year have raised substantially more than they’ve done previously. Last year’s summer raffle also raised more than ever. Some of the adaptations we’ve made for COVID-19 have made us think – why weren’t we doing that before!

The struggles of the last year have come with at least some silver linings, then. In one twist, Hayley’s role is now based on-site at the hospice, rather than at an office several miles away. This allows her to work more closely with the care teams – getting to know them, and being able to take away care stories that will resonate with ellenor’s supporters.

After all, as Hayley explains, care and fundraising are inextricably linked:

“Fundraising can’t function without care, and care can’t take place without fundraising. If we don’t raise any money, [our nurses] can’t provide the care, but we also need them to spread the word that we’re a charity – and that we do need people’s support”.

Hayley’s role also involves working closely with ellenor’s marketing, communications, and Supporter Engagement team, in finding new ways to widen ellenor’s supporter base across Kent and Bexley.

Last year, Hayley engineered ellenor’s first cold door drop, an appeal which went out to over 90,000 households. With just 20,000 active supporters in the million-strong Gravesend catchment area, Hayley recognises there’s still plenty of work to be done – although it’s never just about the numbers. “You still pick up individual names, and notice repeat givers. It’s one of the best parts of the job”.

Hayley describes one of her fondest memories in the role as when she called the winner of ellenor’s £1,500 lottery grand prize – a lady whose husband passed away under the hospice’s care – to deliver the good news. And, after seven years and four different positions with ellenor, it’s clear that the charity gives back as much as Hayley puts in.

“I love ellenor. To be able to show and see the care that we provide, and how that makes a difference to the families we look after, is amazing. To know that, by doing what I’m doing, they can continue to provide that service is heartwarming”.

Whether it’s generating innovative ways to encourage individual giving within the community, or re-engaging ellenor’s current supporters with heart-felt appeals, Hayley and her team’s efforts will be crucial in navigating the year to come.

But if their industry and skill is the driving force , it’s ultimately ellenor’s dedicated supporter base within the local community that is the key to the charity’s survival.

That includes not only the family and friends of those who have been directly supported by the charity, but those who, every day, are choosing to pledge themselves to a cause that’s entirely bigger than the individual.