The fine art of looking after Pilgrims supporters
Pilgrims Hospices Supporter Relations team are the listening ears, guiding people through the immensely important journey of making a donation, whether through fundraising, in memory or legacy giving.
This team is surprisingly small, consisting of just three dedicated and knowledgeable individuals, whose skills help to make gifting to Pilgrims Hospices a warm and memorable experience.
Picking up the telephone to make a donation could be one of the most challenging things to do, especially as this can evoke memories of troubled and sad times. Speaking to a skilled and compassionate member of Pilgrims Supporter Relations team can be the beginning of a long and successful relationship as a donor, making a difference to people who need Pilgrims’ care now and into the future.
Hannah Sole, Supporter Relations Manager has a wealth of almost nine years of experience with the team. She joined with her administration skills, and now heads up the team who can handle hundreds of calls and enquiries from supporters each month.
When we volunteer at events, it’s lovely to meet face to face with some of the people we’ve spoken to on the phone, they are always heart-warming moments.
Hannah, Supporter Relations Manager
Hannah explained: “It’s a diverse role, and the team is trained to handle all aspects of the job, therefore any one of us can help with any enquiry.
“We process donations, event registrations, and compile the data for colleagues in order for them to run challenges and fundraisers throughout the year.
“Last year, the team processed almost 54,000 donations from our generous supporters. We deal with most departments across the charity, and on all three sites in Canterbury, Ashford and Thanet, whether it’s financial or supporter and fundraising led. We mail more than 7,000 letters each year, conveying thanks for donating or registering to get involved.
“We’ve recently finished our administrative support on the Tree Recycling campaign, which raised a staggering £57,000, and we’re now working on the campaigns coming up for the early spring and summer, Cycle Challenge, Pilgrims Way Challenge and will soon be supporting the In Memory team with Sunflower Memories by preparing the sunflower markers and mailing supporters.”
The team are regularly found volunteering at events on the registration desks, marshalling supporters or presenting finishers medals, amongst many other things.
Hannah added: “When we volunteer at events, it’s lovely to meet face to face with some of the people we’ve spoken to on the phone, they are always heart-warming moments. And, this can really help us to understand more about the people who support us and how we can best help them with our roles within the team.”
Toby Frost is the newest member of the team with 18 months of Pilgrims experience, he said: “I never get a Monday morning feeling with this job.
“It really is no accident that people come to work for Pilgrims Hospices, my mother-in-law was cared for by the Ashford team, and I’d seen first hand how people have the very best care to support their quality of life until the very end.
“My wife Jane saw the job vacancy advertised, I had become disillusioned with working for a large company, I just wanted to have a role that would help to make things better in the world. Jane knew this would be a brilliant role for me, and I applied and was offered the job. It’s great not to have that sinking Sunday feeling anymore.”
Speaking with people about their donations and enquiries is so interesting, if not very emotional sometimes. However, I’m always rewarded with knowing I’m helping our supporters to do something very special and ensuring that Pilgrims can continue with important care in our community.
Toby, Supporter Relations team
When asked if he had a particular favourite part of the job, Toby said: “Speaking with people about their donations and enquiries is so interesting, if not very emotional sometimes. However, I’m always rewarded with knowing I’m helping our supporters to do something very special and ensuring that Pilgrims can continue with important care in our community.
“With training, I’ve learned new skills and adapted existing ones to meet the compassionate environment that I work in. I’m very proud to be part of the team.
“Everything here at Pilgrims is so inclusive, we work closely with our clinical and non-clinical colleagues to provide the very best care for the patients and their families.
“I particularly love lunchtimes at the hospice, I get a chance to meet volunteers and colleagues from across the charity in our staff cafe.
“The catering team provide the most amazing menus, to meet the individual needs of patients and also the best lunchtime meals for staff and visitors; there’s always something lovely to try!”
Trisha Smith has been a valued member of the team for over three years.
She told us: “I’ve always been an active fundraiser, ever since I can remember, supporting charities by taking on challenges and raising funds for important causes.
“I also have personal experience with Pilgrims Hospices; my dad died at the Canterbury hospice in 2009. The care we received was very special, I was also looked after by the bereavement team after Dad’s death. Thereafter, I became a regular Pilgrims’ volunteer, helping at, or taking part in fundraising events, and helping with donation bucket collections. I have a background in administration and education and knew that I’d like to be part of the Pilgrims Hospices workforce. I regularly checked the Pilgrims website for vacancies and applied when I saw the Supporter Relations role appear.
“I really enjoy all aspects of my job, helping people with queries regarding donations, listening to their stories, and generally being able to allow them to speak freely about their Pilgrims experiences.”
The team are sometimes one of the first calls that a grieving family member has made after the death of someone close to them; people find comfort in speaking to someone who knows about the hospices and the care and support offered here.
What could appear to be a quite a simple day-to-day role within the charity, is actually a very important cog in the Pilgrims’ wheel. We hope this small insight into our friendly trio will help you to feel comfortable and able to pick up the phone if you need to, and speak with your supporter relations team.
To find out more about the different ways you can donate to Pilgrims Hospices, visit pilgrimshospices.org/donate.