Believe It or Not, Donors and Nonprofits Are Not Aligned
I recently got my hands on the “Donor Engagement Study: Aligning Nonprofit Strategy with Donor Preference,” a new study by Abila. If you work in the nonprofit marketing industry, get your hands on this data ASAP. The study covers many areas and the goal was to answer the following questions:
- What matters most to donors as they make their philanthropic decisions?
- How can nonproﬁt professionals be better communicators?
- What makes donors feel involved and engaged?
- Is donor engagement driven by industry practices or true donor preference?
There’s a lot of insight to be found in the study, but below are the areas that really drew my attention and gave me the greatest concern.
- Of the donors interviewed, nearly 50 percent indicated that social media is not where they want to engage with nonprofits.
- Social media favorability is based on the generations. The younger generations are very welcoming, but even for Baby Boomers, only 38 percent indicated this is a good channel or believe hearing from a nonprofit “every once in a while is OK.”
Before I address my “concern” for the use of social media, another data point suggests a positive light.
Across the four generations—Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and matures—the lowest percentage of positive acceptance of peer-to-peer fundraising is 63 percent (matures), with Baby Boomers coming in at 80 percent and the younger generations at 84 percent. In other words, most donors consider peer-to-peer fundraising to be a great way to engage. That’s fantastic news!
Are you wondering why I’m pointing this out? Well, in my eyes it is simple: One of the greatest opportunities for peer-to-peer fundraising and marketing is through social media. Now do you see the problem?
The study also showed another critical data point. Outside of volunteering and making a financial contribution, donors feel the most engaged when getting updates from nonprofits and hearing personal stories. Do you see the other problem? Social media is all about sharing updates and reading personal stories.
With all this, if almost two out of three Baby Boomers are not comfortable with nonprofits marketing through social media, it means we are not doing it right!
Social media is a tremendous opportunity. The DMN3 Institute stated that 91 percent of Baby Boomers use one or more social media site, with Facebook—at 85 percent—being the top listed. Furthermore, 17 percent of the group spends more than 11 hours per week on Facebook.
Nonprofits have a perfect opportunity to build relationships and create engagement via social media, so we’ve got to do it right. Here are two points to remember:
- Understanding why people use social media is critical. According to Global WebIndex, 55 percent of Internet users use social media to stay in touch with their friends. Why is this important? Your goal is to create a dynamic where your followers will share your stories and opportunities. Consumers are not going to social media for the advertisements, and in general, they don’t want those advertisements. Your followers need to be your advertisers whenever possible.
- Nonprofits must not view social media as an inexpensive marketing opportunity. Yes, it is cheaper than some other direct channels, but a major challenge marketers reported is the lack of content and resources. Organizations must secure both financial and staff resources to create the relevant, current and appropriate copy. Nonprofits need to have the right storytellers available.
Millennials might be the largest population group (as of this year), but Baby Boomers have critical mass and money. We’ve got to get this right and ensure the Baby Boomers embrace hearing from us while also catching up on news about friends and family.
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.