R.I.P. Donor Pyramid?
- Allows your donor to be engaged at different entry points and move easily between them during the engagement life cycle.
- Has no fixed end point for your donor’s engagement.
- Allows for your donor’s engagement footprint to expand or contract in ways that are unique to and driven by the individual donor.
- Places your donor’s needs — not your organization’s — at the center of the engagement.
Here are some ways to adopt the vortex model:
1. Begin by changing the way you’ve traditionally done fundraising and marketing. In silos. In segments. In “low touch” at the bottom and “high touch” at the top strategies. Boundaries are blurring. You’ve got to integrate all online and offline communications functions across your entire organization.
Social media makes it possible to provide folks with continuous energy. And it enables them to respond in kind. Then you respond back, and so forth. This means putting it on everyone’s plate, then hiring or designating a manager to coordinate your efforts. Speak to donors where they’re most comfortable; shape calls to action to maximize their engagement and impact. Continue to come up with asks throughout the year — not just for money, but for energy, influence and impact. Have periodic trainings for all staffers so they can learn your messaging and how to engage folks online.
2. Reimagine the concept of donor “lifetime value.” It’s no longer simply a combination of average gifts, future capacity and attrition rates. Now it must encompass factors such as the size of a person’s network and her propensity to use that network. In other words, the “connectors,” “mavens” and “salesmen” of whom Malcolm Gladwell wrote in “The Tipping Point” become very desirable constituents.
Stuffing donors into a pyramid model leads to a culture of building relationships only with the folks at the top. A lot of potential is missed. It’s always been thus, but the digital revolution has shined a beacon on this because it’s so much more evident who your influencers are. You didn’t know when your $25 donor was telling 100 of her friends to give to you, so you didn’t lavish attention on her. Today, you can see via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, YouTube shares, Yelp reviews and comments on your blog whom your real fans are. Recruit them!
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.