In her presentation at the 47th AFP International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore earlier this month, Bridget Brandt, senior marketing manager at Sage Nonprofit Solutions, discussed some keys to creating loyal donors through their experiences with your organization. Here are some takeaways from the session, titled "How You Can Create Experiences That Foster True Loyalty."
- "Identify the one big thing that causes donors problems, and fix it," Brandt said. She mentioned a former financing company she worked for that instead of fixing its one big problem that customers pointed out across the board — too long of lines at the drive-through — ignored it, and the problem still exists today.
- It's very hard for donors to start a relationship with you, but very easy to stop.
- Call your organization as a donor/prospect or get a friend to call. Know who's answering the phone and what it sounds like. Is it appropriate and representative of your brand and mission? Or does something need to be corrected?
- Get as much information about your organization and donors as possible: Do surveys, talk with staff and employees, engage in social media conversations.
- Examine all your touchpoints. Make sure you send out consistent, uniform messages.
- Long-term donors aren't necessarily valuable donors — if they drain your resources.
- A loyalty program is not for loyal customers — they're already happy and loyal — it's for new customers who need guidance.
- Failure to test is a huge problem. Many organizations don't do it for a variety of reasons: time, money, not sure what to test. "It's going to cost you more to fail than it would to test," Brandt stressed.
- It's OK to make changes.
- You don't get to say "sorry" later. If there's a problem, fix it immediately and apologize right away.
- Empower people from the top down and reward them for making right decisions. "People who punish people for making the right decisions, fire them," Brandt said.
- Know what donors want and like in mailings, e-mails, etc., and give it to them. Don't send a donor a basic, vanilla mailer if she only responds to more elaborate ones, and vice versa.
- Be transparent. Tell donors what you're going to do with their money … and then do it.
- "If you have to click more than once to give on your site, that's a no-no," Brandt said. "A login for ease, yes, but NO WAY make a login required to make a donation!"
- Empower people at the front desk to have what they need. They should have all the information and answers for donors and prospects looking for more details.
- Empower employees: Let them make decisions, ask for input, invite them into discussions, etc.
- "We're lucky that so many people want to help our causes that sometimes we ignore people," Brandt said. Acknowledge your donors, employees, staff and volunteers.
To view a slideshow of this presentation, click here.