Background In 2015, a series of scandals exposed aggressive fundraising practices by charities that had caused distress to donors. In contrast, business has understood that the customer experience is vital to their success (Bitner & Brown, 2008; Lusch, Vargo & O’Brien, 2007; Martin, 1999). Services marketing theory describes the role of the customer in ‘co-creating’ their experience to increase customer satisfaction (Grönroos, 1994). Fundraisers now recognise that how donors feel about their experience of fundraising is crucial. Community fundraising is driven by donors who organise and deliver their own fundraising events and experiences. But there is a gap in our knowledge about the role donors play in creating their own experience and the effect on donor satisfaction.
Aim To examine whether academic models derived from services marketing literature can be applied to community and supporter-led fundraising to improve the donor experience. In particular, we examine the concept of value and the role of the donor in value creation.
Methods A literature review was conducted which highlighted the limited research available. Consequently, an exploratory approach was adopted. Empirical primary data was captured through a series of interviews at case study organisations. Three case studies were identified within a specific typology of organisation: hospice charities that fundraise using similar techniques within their local communities.
Results The concept of value-in-use described by Grönroos (1994) and the role of the donor as an independent creator of value in the customer sphere (Grönroos & Voima, 2013) was supported by the research and can be applied to the donor experience.
Conclusion It has never been more important for fundraisers to deliver an excellent donor experience. Fundraisers must employ coaching and facilitation skills to empower supporters to create value. Further research is required to ascertain how managers of fundraising can deliver service encounters and tangible resources that best facilitate the creation of value for the donor.
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