Donor Centricity: How Do You Measure It?
I was in D.C. last week for the annual DMA Nonprofit Federation Washington Nonprofit Conference. It's always great to be around some of the top nonprofits and their marketing executives — as well as the top agencies supporting the industry.
As usual, in addition to doing my "day job," which is talking about marketing intelligence and what my company (shameless plug for Eleventy Marketing Group) does, I always have one or two questions I try to spring on anyone I chat with to see what's happening in the industry.
This year, I wanted to know where people were on the topic of "being donor-centric." Why? Because I've seen a lot of proposals and requests for information lately that are focused on organizations being donor-centric, multichannel and even for some "omnichannel."
I wrote my very first customer relationship management plan in the early 2000s so talking about being donor-centric has been a part of my conversation platform for a long time. From this past week's conference, I would say that donor centricity is still a hot topic. With that said, I'm writing this week's blog about what you should measure if you are truly focused on being donor-centric. There are five types of metrics that should be a part of your plan and evaluation process:
1. Retention: This is the no-brainer. If you are trying to be donor-centric, then it is obvious that one of the benefits of this should be that your donors stay around longer with your brand. No need to waste a lot of time on this one because I feel that the industry really focuses on this already. I do believe that the industry needs to expand its view of retention to not just retention to a program but also retention to the brand to truly understand if people are leaving a brand completely versus only moving across the multiple opportunities.
2. New donor growth: This one is not so obvious, right? Well, let's look at it this way — being donor-centric is not about only focusing on what happens when the donors come to the organization. In fact, I would argue the reason you want to be donor-centric is to grow your position in the marketplace. You want to separate yourself in the competitive landscape within your nonprofit's subsector. This starts with how you appeal to the general marketplace and make your case for financial support. So, you must have metrics around new donor growth, which should include not just the quantity but the quality of the new donor by looking at initial value and longer-term value. It's also important to measure the improvement in these metrics from the pre-donor-centric strategy to make sure the strategy is working. Are your metrics actually changing from one campaign to another — one year to another?
3. Competitive metrics: Not that I'm ever going to say that every organization should be involved in benchmarking, but if you are really putting effort and energy behind being donor-centric, you should take time to compare yourself to other organizations. I mentioned it above in a general way, but the benchmark opportunities out there give you a way to compare your growth across your sector. This is a critical way of looking externally in an easy way. As a side note, I would pay close attention to what your direct competitors talk about at conferences and in meetings. If you know specific organizations are really pushing a donor-centric agenda, then you will want to compare your organization to that one in some of these key metrics (new to file growth, retention, etc..
4. Donor satisfaction: Yep, I said it. Of all the metrics I have seen and talked about over the years, this seems to be the one that gets the most "eye rolls." I'll be brief, but do not take that to mean it is unimportant. You need some way of understanding how people feel about your brand. This should not be confused with brand measurement or even brand clarity metrics (aided/unaided awareness, etc.). Becoming donor-centric is about making the marketing and fundraising relationship more about the donor and better for the donor. So, yes, you need to know if that is actually happening. Whether you want to look at loyalty metrics, satisfaction metrics or some other metric, they key is to actually ask donors for their personal opinions and then measure the change in those opinions over time.
5. Process improvement: If you didn't roll your eyes above in No. 4, you for sure will be tempted here. But, again I harp, if you want to be "donor-centric" then you need to understand what this means. There are many, many, many donor processes that affect whether donors are satisfied, willing to retain, etc. You should be looking at all of your donor processes: acknowledgment strategy and timeline, issue resolution process, call-center hold times (if you have a call center or inbound donor care line), etc. This type of input can often be garnered from your donor feedback programs.
So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation about being or becoming donor-centric, take a few minutes and think through how you are measuring those efforts. And, yes, in case you were wondering — the juice is worth the squeeze.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.