3 Ways the Corporate World Has Shaped Donor’s Online Expectations
All donors are consumers, but not all consumers are donors. It’s good to remind ourselves that at their core, donors and consumers are people. They buy coffee, watch TV, drive to work, and interact with brands and companies that compete for their attention.
Because of this fact, the corporate world has helped shape people’s online expectations of the brands and organizations they support. Here are a few examples of online expectations created by the corporate world and how nonprofits can meet them with their digital ecosystems.
1. People Expect Their Online Interactions to Be Personal
We can all laugh at the names that Starbucks baristas call out when pouring coffee, but we can also admire the data-driven personalization that Starbucks has built with their customers. Open the app and, you’ll see “your usual” order so you can order from Starbucks on your morning commute almost with your eyes closed.
Personalization at scale can be achieved at nonprofit organizations as well. Google Analytics is free, so you have data on the visitors of your digital ecosystem. You can see what people do, how they navigate your website, where they come from, etc. You can integrate this data with your donor database and have a complete picture of how your supporters make their donation decisions. From the content they consume to the channel they consume it on, you can use this data to personalize recommendations and even donation ask amounts.
Practical Tip: Tagging content on your site with topics and showing like tags at the bottom of pages can keep donors engaged by showing them what they want to see more of, allowing them to build a strong connection with your work and encouraging them to amplify your stories.
2. People Need You to Be Direct With Them
It’s been said that time is money. So, it’s important to be direct with people. In the corporate world this can be seen through Harry’s advertising. From its “Refer a friend and get free stuff” to “Shave or not,” the brand’s campaigns use direct messaging to attract new customers.
Show your donors the impact their donation can have. It makes your ask more tangible and authentic and allows your content to be more personal. Online content should be created at less than an eighth grade reading level. Any educator will tell you the importance of clear directions and next steps at this level, so tying a donation “ask” to the story you’re telling in a succinct way can make all the difference.
Practical Tip: Write a donation ask at the end of every blog post that uses an actual donation value and relates to the story for perspective.
3. People Want You to Be Authentic
Remember the Mac/PC ad campaign from the early 2000s? It visualized Apple as a young, calm, cool creative and PC as a bureaucratic, older, nerdy (before it was cool) gentleman. Yes, the goal was to convince people to get a Mac, but it did so by showing you an authentic personality. Being authentic means empowering people to amplify your story, it means having real conversations about the state of things and presenting the face(s) behind the brand as true embodiments of the brand.
Nonprofits change the world. Your employees live your mission. Being authentic is something that should come naturally. Sharing your “why” allows you to connect to more people. Sharing your ups and downs can become a rallying cry to your supporters. Yes, SEO, likes and engagement are important for discovery, but when someone finds you, it’s important that you’re authentic. Your message should be optimized for human emotion and algorithms, not one or the other.
Practical Tip: Do live streams to allow donors to connect with you and share a real moment instead of just polished messages.
Creating interactions that fit into people’s online expectations allows them to focus on your content and see themselves in your stories. This means they can create a stronger bond with you more quickly because they experience your organization in a similar way to other trusted brands that they already see and use in their daily lives.
Joe Frye is the account group director for nonprofit and cause at Town Hall Agency. He has spent more than a decade helping organizations make an impact and connect their missions with individuals. He has led award-winning projects and campaigns for organizations including PBS, Partners of the Americas, the Identity Theft Resource Center, Showtime Networks, Duke University, UNESCO and many others.
Joe's experience at the intersection of technology, data and creativity provide a unique perspective that allows organizations to create impactful digital ecosystems, increase donations, grow membership, improve member retention and increase overall revenue.