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donorflex is the key to stunning success

katharine-house-logoIf ever they make a detective series called Taylor & Crutchley, the theme tune will be energetic, the action will be focussed – and they’ll nearly always get their man.

The staff at Stafford’s Katharine House Hospice can probably already picture it, because that’s the way it’s been since Lisa Taylor became Head of Fundraising in 2002. And with a purpose.

Katharine House needs to raise £1.5m a year to maintain its service to the public of mid-Staffordshire. Statutory funding provides 15 per cent of that – around £225,000 – but the rest comes from the good folk of the catchment area. All 150,000 of them. It’s a huge challenge, and one in which donorflex is now playing a big part.

’Now’ because, until Lisa arrived, Katharine House hadn’t found a way of making donorflex fire on all cylinders.

"Everyone was using it to record money coming in, maybe generating thank you letters, but no one seemed to be sucking information out at the other end," she recalls. She and Donations Administrator Ian Crutchley quickly set about changing that.

First, she made the instinctive decision that the best way to raise funds was through establishing a rapport between the hospice and the donor. Second, she set about convincing the team that the key to success was using donorflex well.

When she took up her post, the figures on donorflex didn’t match those in the Sage accounting package figures. No one respected the data – with the result that they found it hard to respect donorflex as well. Lisa admits the data was "pretty dud" – but they didn’t see there was a connection with the way donorflex was being used.

"To me, converting people who were so negative was something I’ve relished, to be honest. Now they all have the utmost respect for donorflex."

It didn’t take long to be hooked!

A month after she arrived, they did their first direct mail campaign – Two to Go – to open the remaining in-patient unit beds. The database was ripe for picking. It raised £43,000 in about a month and proved to be a turning point.

Staff could see how powerful donorflex was in capturing data, and the enthusiasm grew for the "extra member of the team".

Now they’re razor sharp. They don’t just sit their volunteers at the screen and say ’These are the buttons you press’. They always take them through a refresher first, tell them the history of donorflex, how it’s come about, and try and "light their fire".

"donorflex is our information, which is our biggest resource," Lisa says. "Everyone has this passion for the fact that this is going to help us do what we do."

That was a ’starting to sit up and take note’ exercise. That ended up with the team having respect – Lisa Taylor describes the effect of her first donorflex direct mailing campaign when she arrived at Katharine House. It raised £43,000 in a month

Then there’s the detective work.

"The best thing," Lisa adds, "is turning the information you have into money. That’s Power Search. Some people expect that you press one button and you’ve got the answer. We assume you have to ferret around, and we enjoy that. It’s logical, lateral thinking. Sometimes we’ve done 15 searches, but we’ve found the information."
Ian’s view is briefer: "With donorflex, where’s there’s a will there’s a way."

With the new routine and rhythm firmly established, Lisa’s scanning the horizon for new opportunities.

Every penny counts

Because the funding challenge is so intense, they can’t afford to think of a new initiative and say ’We’ll chuck eight grand at it, and if it doesn’t work we’ve learned a lesson’. They don’t have that luxury.

"I’d love to do donor acquisition, and we will. But until we feel confident that somebody’s going to come in with their £10, and we’ll soon turn them into this or this or this, it’s not worth doing."

It means that the next big case for donorflex will be major giving, managing the relationship, assembling clues about the donors, finding out who they are and tracking what they’ve given before.

"Because we’re using our own data now, we’ll manage that process well," Lisa says and, within a few breaths, she’s summarised why. "Ultimately, for me, if it doesn’t raise money then I’m not really interested in it. Using donorflex isn’t rocket science. You’ve got the information already. It will raise you money."

Tell me about Katharine House

Katharine House Hospice’s 15-place day care unit opened in the grounds of Stafford General Hospital in May, 1993, four years after Stafford Hospice at Home began in response to the needs of the people of mid-Staffordshire.

The 10-bed inpatient unit welcomed its first patient in September, 2000, and a Thursday Drop in Day commenced in July, 2001.

The hospice is independent from Stafford General and relies on voluntary donations for 85 per cent of the £1.5m a year it needs to provide a vast range of free help, care and support for people with progressive life-limiting illnesses across mid-Staffordshire.

Their mission is to improve the quality of life and general well-being of our patients and their families through an holistic approach to care that includes pain management, symptom-control, respite care, terminal care, psychological care, spiritual care, and bereavement support.