Nonprofits & IoT: Voice-Activated Fundraising Anyone?
That’s what I thought when I read recent findings about the growth in voice-activated commerce.
I’m talking about “smart pods,” like the Amazon Echo.
Just when you thought you already had too much to worry about with figuring out how to maximize social media and make your communications all mobile responsive, now there’s one more thing.
Can You Wrap Your Brain Around Voice-Activated Giving?
It’s going to happen.
And donors are going to want to be able to give to you this way.
Because it’s going to be super donor-friendly.
Think about it.
I’m sitting at home on Dec. 26th. I’m full of family cheer and turkey. I’m also tired, and feeling a bit lazy. Suddenly I remember. “Oh, dear! I haven’t yet made my year-end donations!” So I casually say…
“Alexa. Please make a gift to my local food bank.”
Alexa says, “I’m sorry. Your food bank doesn’t accept voice-empowered donations.”
I say, “Who does accept voice gifts in my community?”
Alexa says, “Checking.”
Then Alexa names six local charities, including a local soup kitchen that had the savvy to develop a “skills app” that makes this possible.
If this seems bizarre and remote to you, think again. Already organizations on the leading edge have developed “Amazon Skills.”
- Audubon Society has released an Amazon Skill to teach bird calls.
- NRDC has released an Amazon Skill to combat food waste.
- Mayo Clinic has released an Amazon Skill to provide first aid assistance.
How Were These Forward-Thinking Charities So Prescient?
It’s simple. They were paying attention.
According to the recently released Smart Audio Report from NPR:
- 87 percent of smart speaker owners bought one to ask questions without having to type.
- 69 percent of smart speaker owners bought one because it makes it easier to do things.
- 57 percent of smart speaker owners have bought something with their voice.
In other words, these devices are all about the customer experience. They make people’s lives easier. Just like washing machines and dishwashers in the past were considered “helpful” machines. Before too long, such “luxuries” and “conveniences” were perceived as “essentials.”
Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT).
And it’s just a matter of time until v-commerce leads to v-fundraising (voice-fundraising).
If there’s a bottom line here, it’s this:
Make Communications and Fundraising Planning All About Your Donors
Their needs. Their convenience. Their experience.
This shouldn’t be a new concept.
Penelope Burk has been talking about it since 2001, when her ground-breaking “Donor-Centered Fundraising” research (and book) was released.
Relationship fundraisers have been talking about it.
All the major fundraising conferences have sessions devoted to it.
And customer experience experts have talked about it ad nauseum.
It comes in many flavors. Donor-centered fundraising. Donor experience. Relationship fundraising. Culture of philanthropy. Customer service culture.
Whatever you choose to call this, it’s about more or less the same thing. Your constituent’s needs, not yours. Helping, not selling. Listening, not lecturing.
Too Few Nonprofits Are Embracing This New Reality.
They’re not only not naming it, they’re not doing it. They’re acting as if donors will continue giving as they did in the past, regardless of how everything around them—and you—may have transformed.
This won’t work. It won’t sustain you.
A recent report came out concluding “donors are more valuable to nonprofits than nonprofits are to donors.”
You see, donors have myriad ways to get their needs met in today’s inbound marketing world. They don’t have to rely on you to tell them about important issues, and how they can become involved. They can “google” anything they want to know. And, in fact, 80 percent of donors will visit a nonprofit’s website prior to making a donation.
The fact remains that the digital revolution changed business as usual.
And it will continue to do so.
Believe it or not, as far back as 2008, there were already more objects connected to the Internet than people on earth. By 2020, we’ll see an increase to as many as 50 billion internet-connected things.
How easy do you make it for people to find you? To get involved with you? To give to you? To stay informed about the impact of their philanthropy?
That’s what you need to plan ahead for.
There are many ways the IoT will transform nonprofits.
- It can help you forge greater bonds with supporters.
- It can help you build donor personas so you can find more donors like your current ones.
- It can help you secure valuable donor data.
- It can help connect supporters to your social networks.
The Era of Nonprofits Embracing the IoT is here
With you, or without you.
People today are busy. They’re overloaded with stuff to read and things to do. Their time is precious. The easier you make it for people to donate to you, the greater success you will have in our digitally revolutionized world. Remember, you need donors more than they need you.
But… you can still be really, really helpful to donors. To those folks who want to find greater meaning in their lives by being part of something larger than themselves. To those folks who are part of the growing “Generation Connected” who access more and more of their information online. The easier you can make it for people to join you in your important mission, the more folks will jump on your bandwagon.
Will you be there for connected donors who are looking to be philanthropic?
Note: Need help figuring this all out? You can join a new Nonprofit Internet of Things LinkedIn Group moderated by Heather Mansfield of Network for Good. You can also follow the #IoT hashtag on Twitter.
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.