You’re the One That I Want! How to Be Your Donors’ Favorite Cause

Robin Fisk

Robin Fisk

5 ways to increase engagement and be your donors’ favourite cause.

I don’t suppose they meant to, but John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John neatly summed up every charity’s desire — to be their donors’ number one cause. OK, the analogy may quickly wear thin, but it turns out there are rewards for being chosen as the favorite, if not the one and only.

Seventy-eight percent of donors give to more than one charity, according to the Charity Dynamics/NTEN 2012 Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study, but it’s never even. One of those causes gets most of their attention — their money, time and talents — while the others get what’s left.

Similarly, only 2 percent of U.K. donors think that charities engage with them properly, and 17 percent of U.K. consumers say that they would give on average £15 ($23) per month more if charities provided a more personal approach via their websites or e-mail, according to the Eduserv 2013 YouGov research.

“Consumers increasingly expect good online interaction with websites because the likes of Amazon have done it so well,” says Eduserv’s Haylie Oriot. “Genuinely good Web engagement, which understands a donor’s previous interactions and uses this information to provide a more bespoke experience, has yet to take off in the charity sector.”

So how do you become your donors’ favorite cause? Maybe it’s just a case of natural selection because of the type of cause you are. Or is there something you can do about it? Putting it another way, are you the — understanding your customers’ wants and needs, and serving them accordingly — or a traditional bookstore waiting for customers to come in and buy something? Of course you can choose to be whatever you want, but ask Borders and my bet is it will tell you it’s tough being the latter.

Unsurprisingly, the answer to a 21st century question like this is partly about technology, as Oriot suggests, but it’s also about making the effort to engage. The rewards are huge, of course — not only are these donors of a higher monetary value, they are much less likely to leave you.

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