Donor Relationship Transformation Through Personalization
The donor giving path today is very different from that of the past. Not so long ago you could draw a straight line from the mailbox to a donation. But for modern constituents—the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials alike—their journey is far more tangled.
A recent study on donor behavior discovered that just “9% of modern donors said material sent by the charity, such as direct mail and email solicitations, triggered them to consider making a gift.” Just 9%. Substantive program growth requires new strategies that treat giving decisions more like buying decisions. And this is a transformational shift in fundraising.
Decisions are now made based on personal experiences, and there is no longer room for a one-size-fits-all approach. We can’t just talk at the donor. We must start a conversation by first serving up the right content at the right time via the right channel. This is the role of personalization. Through it, we can create lasting donor relationships by developing a consistent brand that supporters can trust, while delivering customized experiences that match their preferences, attributes and behaviors in a way that is constantly measuring and adjusting to optimize performance.
The Path to Personalization
It all starts by understanding who your donors are and mapping the current donor journey. What does it look like today? How does it differ by audience? What are the donor pain points you need to address? Leverage analytics and data insights to compile information about your donors’ behaviors, motivators, key decision considerations, as well as organizational differentiators and objections. Use those insights to build a vision for the desired future state of the donor journey by determining where you want personalization to take the program.
Can you reach donors and prospects where they are today across the digital, direct mail, email and social spectrum? Identify the technology solution needed to achieve your organization’s vision. Quantify the level of investment your vision will require. Today’s tools allow communications to be addressable at the individual level, across all channels (not just the traditional fundraising mash up of direct mail, email and telemarketing). Knowing and tracking everything you can about your donors will ensure you can match your message with the content they’ll find most valuable in the channel and at the moment it’s most likely to resonate.
Develop a strategic roadmap to ensure that the evolution of future state capabilities is strategically aligned with desired marketing objectives. The roadmap should consist of detailed project plans containing clearly defined milestones, check-in points and KPIs for tracking and course corrections as necessary. This strategic road map should be developed with a view to the enterprise value of the efforts you are planning and should consider all stakeholder groups. On an ongoing basis, socialize the results of your efforts with your stakeholders. It’s imperative to gain organizational alignment on the overall vision for personalization, timing and investment of resources (both human and financial). A detailed reporting loop allows stakeholders to see progress toward meeting the organizational goal(s) you’ve established and helps maintain organizational alignment throughout the process.
To optimize program success, prioritize activities by determining which donor interactions deliver the most impact to your business. Work to outline the processes that touch all of your stakeholders and reach across departments and silos to ensure the execution is designed to generate the strongest returns and help meet your organizational goals.
Transformation takes time and a commitment to the plan, but it can be well worth the effort. By personalizing the communication streams, content, timing and channel mix at the donor level, your organization will realize a host of fundraising growth: accelerated giving, major giving lead generation and more digital interactions across your constituency base, as well as new donor file growth. It’s a significant undertaking that can be fraught with challenges. But with solid planning and a long-term vision for change, nonprofits can transform their programs into truly personalized donor relationships that benefit not just the organization, but the donor as well.