3 Steps to Shape Nonprofit Constituent Relationships in the New Age of Experience
Consumers today are looking for authentic, personal experiences with the brands with which they do business. While nonprofits acknowledge the importance of personalizing their constituents’ experiences, they lag the commercial market in delivery, historically relying on constituents’ emotional connections to their missions to acquire and retain them. But that’s no longer enough in an economy driven by consumer expectations. It is imperative for nonprofits to prioritize the systems, skills and strategies that focus on improving the experience and engagement they’re delivering for their constituents.
The increasing speed of change is driving the need to be more personal. Constituents expect to have a personal experience across channels — regardless of program or any label the organization gives the constituent (donor versus volunteer versus service recipient). Done right, the moments and experiences that matter build lasting relationships, substantial lifetime value, and sustainable competitive advantage.
Industry research shows:
- 73% of constituents agree that having a positive giving experience online makes them more likely to donate.
- 65% percent of donors would give more money if they felt their nonprofits knew their personal preferences.
- 71% of supporters feel more engaged with a nonprofit when they receive content that’s personalized.
- And more importantly, 75% of respondents say they might stop donating to an organization based on poor content (including vague or irrelevant content).
Experience is more than transactional — it equates to real financial impact. But David Ragones, senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud recently shared that, “76% of nonprofits lack a data strategy, and almost the same amount report difficulty when it comes to sharing data across their organizations.”
This absence of a data strategy and the lack of focus on experience is causing nonprofits to leave money on the table, while they’re simultaneously falling further behind consumer expectations.
It can seem overwhelming, but the road to prioritizing the constituent experience consists of three primary steps, which can help coalesce an organization’s approach to experience delivery.
1. Expand Your Vision for Constituent Data
With today’s rapidly changing marketplace, it’s time to start thinking about data differently. Start by interrogating your current data strategy. Some questions you should ask and answer:
- What are you asking constituents to tell you?
- What do you plan to do with the answers they supply?
- When are you asking for this information?
- Do you have a deep enough relationship to ask for specific data from your constituents?
- What are constituents getting in return for providing their data? (e.g., better experiences, smoother transactions, more rewards, more personalized content, transparency about giving, direct access to giving records, etc.)
- What insights are you building with the data you have?
- How fast is the data becoming useful, and how quickly is it engaged in your fundraising and marketing?
- How are you equipped today to deliver on constituent expectations while simultaneously complying with data privacy regulations?
Developing clear answers to these questions (or identifying the lack thereof) can illuminate gaps in your strategy and identify new ways to make the experience more valuable for your constituents. Use this phase to help you identify the technology, tools, skill sets, roles and activities that are missing to deliver on increasing expectations.
2. Use Data Measurement as a Catalyst for Change
In a fiercely competitive experience economy, adjusting your measurement framework from focusing on what you can measure to what you should measure can make a world of difference. Brands mired in legacy approaches to measurement, disconnected teams and misplaced focus will find it difficult to drive growth. You must measure the factors that drive the desired outcomes. If you change what you measure, you can change your teams’ behaviors. And when teams examine not only the performance in their area of focus, but also how it connects to the organization’s greater vision, they can achieve amazing things.
This phase is not about reporting or dashboards. It is about developing the right set of connected metrics that align the organization around a common purpose and track what it takes to achieve it.
Measuring what matters requires:
- Identification of a shared purpose across your organization.
- Implementation of an unambiguous measurement framework that straddles every part of the customer ecosystem.
- Alignment of data and technology across the organization to deliver against this framework.
- Adoption of an agile and adaptive mindset geared toward a shared vision of the future.
One relatively easy place to start is to identify the KPIs that will help your organization measure its success and gaps — a series of KPIs that should be strategically-linked, actionable and goal-oriented.
By aligning your entire enterprise around a common set of goals and developing the right KPIs to measure progress and gaps, you can drive cross-departmental and cross-program collaboration to a bolder outcome — the experiences that your constituents desire.
3. Deliver Experiences to Drive Next-Generation Loyalty
Loyalty is much discussed as the nirvana of fundraising and marketing. Driving loyalty requires both an emotional connection to your cause and a rewarding experience that drives significant engagement and interest in your brand. And because your brand is likely one of several focused on your cause, it’s imperative to stand out from the market to drive that constituent loyalty.
There are six primary factors that drive constituent loyalty — consistency, dialogue, creativity, transparency, service mentality and authenticity. An examination of your organization’s ability to deliver across these factors can help you shore up your gaps and identify new ways to make that connection more rewarding.
Loyalty also requires organizations to build cross-functional teams focused on optimizing the constituent experience. This means your IT group needs to embrace rapid iteration and all teams need to focus on the consumer, while sharing objectives and a roadmap.
Though these steps will take time and effort, making the constituent experience a top priority across your organization will pay off in multiple ways, driving increased revenue and loyalty that will reach your ultimate goal: increasing your organization’s impact on society.