Don’t Wait to Create a Personalized Fundraising Ecosystem
Personalization is happening in nonprofits. Though more than 50% of nonprofits already do some sort of personalization, it’s often done on a single channel (usually email or SMS) and/or to a single audience (yes, I’m referring to major gifts).
It results in emails that are 26% more likely to be opened and donors that feel 71% more engaged. Therefore, the opportunity to personalize a donor or volunteer’s experience across your nonprofit’s entire digital ecosystem is huge.
Personalization Is More Than Just First-Name Tags
Personalization can sound scary. We’ve all gotten an email with the wrong name. Or, have been sent a link that doesn’t work for us. This can even end some relationships. It’s much like calling your romantic partner by the wrong name. They may forgive you, but they’ll never forget.
Everything has a risk, but there are a few free or low-cost, risk-averse ways to help your organization ease into personalization.
1. Start With Email Data
Most email platforms provide personal metrics out of the box. Create tags for various content topics and analyze the links that have been clicked in your emails over the past year and see what the data tells you.
For one nonprofit, I found that nearly 80% of its audience only cared about a single solution they provided those in need. As a result, the organization started sending more topic-specific emails. This resulted in a dramatic increase in email opens and click-through rates.
2. Integrate Data Into Blog Recommendations
Blog recommendations are common on websites. They are usually based on tags and recency. This is great for organization, but when it comes to personalization, it often recommends content that the user has already consumed. Exclude content that has already been consumed by tracking that information with a cookie to give engaged, potential donors more impact stories.
3. Personalize Calls to Action (CTAs) in Your Stories
When you tell impact stories, make sure that you tie the story to a specific ask. The ask should be story-specific and allow the reader to see themselves as the hero of that story since they can provide the ask. Think of this as personalizing donation asks to content. A nonprofit that rewrote CTAs on existing blog posts showed a 20% increase in donations directly from those posts.
These are not huge changes, but they can be impactful. They also allow your organization to start testing personalization across departments and creating a personalization mindset.
Nonprofits have what it takes to implement personalization — data, organization and technology. This is why personalization is as much a mindset as it is a tech stack or set of tools or platforms.
Scaling Personalization Matters
Donors and donations are decreasing. There’s no doubt that one reason for this decline is the economy. Any time there is uncertainty, people tighten their purse strings.
Another likely cause is that nonprofits are not connecting with potential or existing donors in meaningful, engaging ways. The conversations are one-sided. The asks are all the time. And the experience is mediocre.
Technology has exploded. It’s moving faster than ever before. This means that there are more ways that people want to be engaged, more places for conversation to happen, and more opportunities for potential donors to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of organizations they can support.
Studies show that 70% of people direct their consumer habits to brands that align with their values. This is an indicator that there’s something beyond the economy causing the decline in nonprofit brand support. Other data shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember and provide personalized recommendations for them. All donors are consumers, so, of course, donor preference can first be seen in the commercial world.
We know people require multiple touch points before they convert. The rule of thumb is they need seven to 12 of them before making a donation. During this time, it’s important to show potential donors your organization’s mission and impact stories. It’s imperative to answer the questions they have and to introduce them to your community of supporters. This takes time and because of today’s fragmented digital ecosystem, it usually takes multiple digital (and sometimes physical) channels working together.
Personalization Increases Donations
The act of donating is personal. We’ve all heard the mantra that your nonprofit should hold up a mirror so that your donors and supporters can see themselves in your mission and community, so it makes sense that people are more likely to increase their donations to nonprofits who provide a personal experience for them.
Personalization is first-name tags in emails. It’s connecting and engaging with communities where they want to engage. It’s recommending stories that your donors want to read and changing your ask of people based on knowledge. In reality, personalization is just an ongoing conversation that picks up where the previous one left off.
Today, technology allows nonprofits to take what’s being done on one channel or for one audience and scale it to all audiences and all channels. With a plethora of success metrics, it seems obvious to start using personalization or to expand existing personalization efforts to more places and audiences.
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of the staff of NonProfit PRO.
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.