Crafting a Compelling Donor Journey
Get the tried-and-true timeline to guide your new donors through a positive gift-giving experience that makes them feel connected with your organization and crucial to your impact.
Crafting a Compelling Donor Journey TranscriptPrint Transcript
Welcome. My name is Robbie Haley. And I’m really pleased to spend this time with you today as part of the donor, perfect 2020 Virtual Conference. And the topic we’re going to discuss right now is creating a compelling donor journey. So let me pause Read More
Welcome. My name is Robbie Haley. And I’m really pleased to spend this time with you today as part of the donor, perfect 2020 Virtual Conference. And the topic we’re going to discuss right now is creating a compelling donor journey. So let me pause for a minute and share my screen so we can follow along together.
Crafting a compelling donor journey as part of that conversation that we’ve had before about being being donor centered, being donor centric. And as we think about what a donor journey is, we need to think about not just the steps in the journey, but also what our donor segments want from us what different constituencies, we segment for outreach, we need to segment for the journey as well. And we’re going to look at several models, several structures that you may be willing to adopt or adapt for your own mission and your own work. The late Tony l Usher was quite enthusiastic interpreter of the donor journey. And he wanted us he, he challenged us to imagine ourselves as travel agents, not taking the journey we want to take, but taking the journey that our customers want to take. So just as travel agents think tactically and strategically, to create the best journey for their customers, we in our development role, also need to think about how we can craft a really customized donor journey, because after all, the journey is about the donor, not about us. I think sometimes that’s hard for us to remember. And as we look at scarce resources, and we think about how we allocate them, one of the things that I will continually remind you of is don’t start something you can’t sustain. If you wind up with four or five segments of donors, maybe challenge yourself to think Do we really need them many at this point, obviously, as many as you can, but only as many as you can effectively sustain. So think about Tony’s advice to us to think of ourselves as the travel agent. I also like to think of us as relationship managers, I think that can be a very powerful image, especially for volunteers, who may be skeptical about whether we need to spend so much time on the donor experience. My experience is that many of our board members are actually relationship managers in their professional jobs. And when we use that kind of language, creating a customer relationship, a donor relationship, that can help them understand why this is so important. The balance is always tipped to the side of the donor, the donor is more important to us than the organization is to him, her or them. So when we think about where, where the priorities need to be, sometimes it’s hard for us to remember that, that we need the donors to want to have a relationship with us. So it’s not just about the mission. It’s also about the donor experience. So they need we need to know what they want from us and give them what they want and also what they deserve. The Commission on the donor journey, which is part of the Sophie organization, Sophie, the showcase of fundraising, innovation, and inspiration. I think they come up with a lot of very creative they. They gather them, they disseminate them. And if you’re not yet a fan of Sophie, I think you will find their website and their resources. Very interesting. But Sophie had a commission on the donor experience and in their project five, they looked at the supporter journey, and it starts with something we all know our our very credibility as a sector depends upon public trust and confidence. So the idea that we’re ethical, that we’re transparent that we are accountable, that is the bedrock of our reputations. So as we look at maintaining public trust It really does need to be part of our overall messaging our, our organizational DNA, if you will. If we are to thrive as charities that fundraise, we need to really think about that element of supporter focused business, that we will not do this as a temporary band aid because times are tough and that the pandemic is challenging and the economies of the globe are challenged. Yes, that’s true. But the idea that we will permanently become support or focused donor focused organizations, if we haven’t already made that leap, this is certainly a good time to do that. So the seven fundamental principles that come out of Sophie’s blueprint for transforming fundraising for Good is number one, think about the emotional connection a donor has, when they have a good experience with us. I think it’s my Angelou, who’s credited with saying, individuals may not remember what we said. But they will certainly remember how we made them feel. And this is the same principle with with donors. If someone has a great experience supporting your organization, they that will stay with them. And if their lifetime experience is positive, they are someone who’s more likely to remain loyal to us. We as a sector and as individual charities will be stronger. If a donor based a donor focused approach becomes our standard operating procedure. high standards and ideals must govern fundraising not because of organization or, or individual self interest. So when we look at conflicts of interest, and the way we train oriented onboard staff and volunteers, we go back to what Paul preliminar Dr. Paul Priven now said about our codes of ethics, there are a baseline, they’re not a pinnacle. So high standards and high ideals. Yes, they need to drive fundraising, but they also need to drive our organizational culture so that as we work with donors, everyone in our organization has that very high standard in mind. There’s a voice in the sector that says that’s naive, that’s kind of Pollyanna. I think that voice is wrong. If we as the nonprofit sector, the public profit sector are to maintain the credibility and the reputations that are so important to our success. High standards are not to be trivialized. They are something to be understood and reinforced and become part of our overall organizational culture. Fundraisers us as individuals need to exemplify passionate commitment to the cause, and to our appropriate professional standards. When we think about the donor experience, though, it’s the passion for the mission that comes through the latest and greatest video, the latest and greatest gimmick isn’t something that a donor treasures, what the donor treasures is that visceral connection, that emotional connection, that he she or they realize each of us as individuals truly believes in the work we’re doing. So think about yourself, what is it that gets you up every day? What is it that really, really connects with your soul? And if you think about the work your organization does, and your role in that work, does your passion shine through? And if it doesn’t, perhaps some soul searching around? Why would be appropriate in your personal journey? Number five, buy think, well, the next three actually, I think are really the nexus of where some of our organizations struggle. Yes, we absolutely need enough money to pay our bills and we need that money today. But some of the decisions we make in our fundraising aren’t necessarily geared for For the long term. So I’ve already said it once I promised I’d say it again, don’t start things you can’t sustain. If your donor stewardship program is limited by time and dollars, implement those things that you can do when you can do well, with your eyes on expanding in the future, when you know that you can sustain things, one of the questions many people are talking about right now is,
should we pull back? Should we give our donors some space? Absolutely not. If donors are struggling, maybe they can’t give as much maybe they can’t give it all right now. This is not the time to abandon them. What that says to them is, you were only we were only in pool you only important to us, when I could give you a lot of money. And when my circumstances were diminished, I was no longer something you cared about, you don’t want that reputation. So think about the long term, think about sustainability. Results should be measured in the long term, not just on the immediate. So as you look at your benchmarks, as you look at your metrics, are you measuring the number of new contexts you make? Not just the number of new dollars you raised? Are you looking at renewals? Are you looking at gaining lapsed donors? So looking at all of those metrics is got to be part of the successful development program, not just who’s giving today, this week, this month this year. Not all good. Not all fundraising is good fundraising. Some of what we do in this can in part be because of a short term gain. Some of what we do doesn’t paint our organization in the best light. So looking at Fit for mission fit for purpose, the ethics all of those variables need to be part of our plan. Sometimes there are short term sponsorship or branding agreements that we really need to look twice at. Sometimes it’s the reputation of the donor, or the donor’s company that may not paint our mission, our organization in the best light. So not all fundraising is good fundraising. And fundraising needs to be seen as an investment in organizational outcomes, not exclusively as a cost. Yes, there is a cost to raising money. But those costs are investments in our work, not simply expenses. So being mindful of these seven fundamental principles, helps us craft a donor journey that is sustainable, customized, appropriate for our mission, and that holds our organization in the very best light. So what roads does your donor travel and charity dynamics in their n 10 benchmark report looked at the donor engagement experience over a series of actions? How did the donor rate the ease of making a contribution, volunteering, participating in event, fundraising on behalf of the charity, signing a petition or a pledge, contacting elected officials or sharing a personal story? And when we look at the rating the ranking from very easy to very difficult? It’s certainly heartening that very few donors rated any of those as very difficult or somewhat difficult. The vast majority rated them very easy, somewhat easier, easy, but what is it about us about our organizations that a donor would would say is it easy to figure out how to volunteer? Do we put them through necessary screening and training help them understand what and why and how we’re doing that? What if they want to participate in event with us or fundraise on our behalf? If we have to be careful, obviously if someone else is fundraising on behalf of our brand, but if we want people to be actively engaged with us, volunteering, participating in events, or being an active fundraiser on our behalf, is really desirable. And something we want to make easy. When we look at petitions or pledges, advocating with elected officials, those can be very powerful actions that a donor will take. And if they do take it on our behalf, it gives them a feeling of much more engagement, they feel much closer to us, sharing their own personal story, sometimes stories of donors can be really helpful in helping others see their life experience in the life experience of people already involved with us. So making sure that you look through these lenses, how hard is it to make a gift, whether it’s online through a click to give Link? Maybe in one of your social media platforms? How can they volunteer what volunteer opportunities are available? What kinds of events do we offer? Do we make it easy for them to fundraise on our behalf? Advocate for us share their own stories. So looking at it through their eyes, being a mystery shopper of your own nonprofit can give you a sense of whether and how we’re creating obstacles? Or we’re making a smooth glide path for a donor?
What does the donor want from us? What does the donor want us to be able to do? And I think it’s interesting here, again, charity dynamics and 10 benchmark report looked at ways donors can engage with us, and also broke it down by age groups. I think there’s a lot of movement today to want to make most donor experiences electronic, if at all possible. And I think these data prove to us that we’re not quite ready to move exclusively to electronic engagement. Some donors really do want to engage on Twitter. Obviously, from these data, they tend to be donors who are younger, younger than the vast majority younger than 50. Even younger than 40. Facebook has a little bit broader appeal, liking a charity event page on Facebook, goes all the way up to donors who are approaching their 60s. So when we look at Facebook as an opportunity, there’s more opportunity they’re liking a page, however, isn’t the same as giving. So we need to think about whether a donor wants to engage with us or give through our channel. checking us out on our Facebook page has a pretty broad range. Once we get to 60 and older, it drops off visiting our web site. And if we look at that, obviously, there’s a fairly concentrated spread, regardless of age group. And when we look at our websites, think about whether or not your website is really donor focused. Is it services focused for your consumers, your members, your clients, your participants? Or does it also have a robust donor engagement because if it lacks that, then when your donors come to your website, they aren’t necessarily having their needs met as much as your members, your subscribers, your participants, your consumers. Donors do like to receive e newsletters from us. And again, that’s pretty widespread across all of the age categories. receiving emails from us also parallels those age categories. Interesting. Interestingly enough, receiving a phone call is still quite robust across all the age groups. I think we may have people limb leadership roles who say nobody wants to get phone calls anymore? I get so many spam calls. It’s the last thing I want to think about. Well, that’s true. But if we have the right person with the right phone ID calling the right person, the donor will actually answer the phone. So we need to think about, are we doing phone stewardship calls? Are we doing phone check ins? Are we doing phone updates? Are we using the telephone in the way the donor really wants, so that it is an effective and strong tool in our toolbox, and not a nuisance? If we don’t have good matching between the donor and the caller, the call may not be answered right away. That brings an even greater importance to the scripting that we do for voicemail messages. If your voicemail message starts with Hi, my name is Robbie Haley, and I’m on the board of the donors likely to delete that. If on the other hand, I’m calling someone I know well, and I say Hi, there. This is Robbie, I just wanted to check in with you. I’m calling someone I know the tone of voice. My greeting clearly indicates that I’m calling someone I know. So you’ve matched me up. And I just wanted to check in with you to let you know what’s going on at our organization. couple highlights I can leave on your voicemail, ABC, whatever they are, I’d love to have a chance to talk a little bit further with you. I’ll give you a call in a little bit, let you let you know what’s up. If you want to give me a call back. And then your script would have the caller leave their phone number. But make sure that you’re matching the right color with the right donor. And you’re scripting them to be really an attractive message that the recipient will want to actually listen to look here at paper mail. I don’t think anyone would be surprised that donors 70 and older are the highest cohort that wants mail. But look at donors all the way down to 30. And over more than half still say they want to get paper mail from us. And if we’re listening to that voice that says paper mail is dead, and your reports aren’t going to be mailed. Direct mail solicitations aren’t going to happen. Stewardship updates aren’t going to happen. We are clearly missing out a part of the donor experience that donors are telling us they actually want to receive. So we need to look at a broad brush when we say are we going to give our 40 and unders only electronics? Are we going to give our 50 and olders only paper. We’re not at the point where the data supports that. And the donor experience will be significantly shortchanged. If those are the decisions we make. Those are the budgeting decisions that we make. And those are the assumptions that we make. So be very careful with these. Looking at the nonprofit times donor loyalty data gives us yet another way to look at the age cohorts and the way donors engage with the charities they support. Interestingly enough and not surprising, as donors discretionary income goes up millennial Gen X boomers and matures, the number of nonprofits they support on average goes up. But I also think it’s interesting to know that even the oldest donors are only supporting a little more than five charities on average, obviously, some are supporting significantly less, some supporting more than that. But if you have a loyal donor in any of these groups, think about the cost of losing them. If the average Boomer is only supporting four organizations and you are one of them, you want to do everything you can to keep that donor. The median donation, the median annual donation I think is also really significant here because when you look at Gen X and boomers in some of the data, they have yet to significantly differentiate as constituent cohorts. But right now, that median annual donation that they’re making are very similar. So don’t assume that your Gen X donors are less capable of giving than your Boomer donors right now. Because it’s clear from the data that their median gift is just about the same. Millennials, obviously younger still gaining competence in their discretionary income. But if you think about the life time value of a millennial donor, going back to if you give them an amazing donor experience, and they want to stay with you, the lifetime value of a millennial throughout their engagement with you their lifetime with you can be huge. So thinking about that median donation, make sure you have it in the right context. Mature donors, the donors born before 1945, they are giving slightly higher median donations. And we certainly want to keep them, many of them who’ve been modest, loyal donors over a lifetime. Obviously, we want to have on our radar screen as a state gift donors as well.
Think about the next two, what is driving what’s motivating the donor. And we think about customizing the messaging for cohorts. If you can only look at two cohorts, these might be this might be where to draw the line. Gen X and millennials are motivated by their internal passion for your cause. Boomers and matures, knowing that the organization is relying on philanthropy to fulfill their mission. Outcome stories are still critical. But outcome stories because it ignites a passion in the donor is a different way of messaging, then outcome stories of the organization’s ability to serve, because you are part of that philanthropy revenue stream, when we look at a preference for giving online or writing a check across the board, interestingly enough, that the numbers are pretty close for Gen X 41%. Online 38%. Want to write a check when we get to older donors, especially the matures. Clearly, two thirds still want to write checks, but a third is willing to give online. Obviously, we want to have both. But going back to paper or electronic. If we put all our eggs in one basket, we run the risk of missing donor preferences. Whether or not the donor prefers short emails, or letters. Interestingly enough, there’s data that supports longer letters. And what’s fascinating by the donor loyalty study here is that short emails or letters are preferred by all four cohorts. Oftentimes, if you ask a donor, do you want a short letter they will say yes, but if you show them a multi page letter, with lots of pictures, and good captions, and not a lot of text, interestingly enough, the multi page letters with a lot of photographs will test pretty high. So if you’re in an organization big enough to test, test your campaigns, obviously, that’s the ideal but if you’re not, don’t put all of your eggs in the email basket. When we look at how often a donor wants to hear from us, none of them say once a year, quarterly or less for the oldest donors, but every other cohort wants to hear from us, at least quarterly, sometimes electronic, sometimes in paper, but if we’re only reaching out to our donors once or twice or three times a year, we really run the risk of being invisible. So think very carefully about With frequency and messaging? And are we talking about passion for the cause? Or the essential role of philanthropy, in creating outcomes that are changing the lives of the people we serve? What kinds of content does the donor want? And what would be a speed bump of roadblock to a donor? We know donor centric. We know outcome focused 72% of donors said, at least one of the variables in this list will affect whether or not they give 28%. Only a quarter said none of the variables would stop them from giving. So when we think about these, so many of them, we have complete control over are we talking to them in a way that is way too vague, not creating rich, compelling stories about outcomes that we create? Are we talking about programs they’re not interested in? If we aren’t tracking which things we do our donors care about most? We won’t have the capacity to customize the messaging, are the message are the content is the content dull or boring, dull or boring to donor is often organization centric rather than outcome focused? So be very clear. I believe there’s there’s all the outcome stories that we can tell, are very compelling and very exciting. If they talk about outcomes. Does the organization have incorrect organization about me, it’s the old junk in our database, a garbage in garbage out if we aren’t really on top of our database, our data, we run the risk of doing really bad damage by by having incorrect information, the inconvenient format speaks to online social media electronic paper, not suited to my region. And this is of course, particularly important. If we were if we aren’t hyperlocal. If we’re an organization that serves across the region across the country, we run the risk of not regionalised. The information they provided wasn’t person wasn’t suited to my age group. And look at this last one. It wasn’t personalized to me, writing to whom it may concern, dear friend, is the the fundraising kiss of death. donors want to know that we know who they are. So What content do they really want from us? Short, self contained email without links, a short letter or an on line paragraph article, those tested the highest. Obviously, short, YouTube is pretty popular along with emails with links, Facebook, posting, an annual report delivered via email, a medium length YouTube video a longer one, two to 10 minutes, a longer form article more than a page, Twitter posts, longer YouTube videos, clearly a third of our donors will actually watch a YouTube video more than 10 minutes and listen to podcasts. Again, don’t start what you can’t sustain. So when you look at this range of options, and you think about your human resources and your financial resources, only start the ones you know you can sustain over time. Obviously something doesn’t work at all. You’re not going to keep it but with the things that you want to be able to sustain over time. Be very careful with what you start. How often do your donors want to hear from us based on their age group, and this goes much more granular than the previous summary. Looking at millennials weekly 12% With more than weekly 12% Weekly 21 Twice a month 12 monthly 27 quarterly 15 annually only seven and never only 3%. So if you’re able to To divide your age cohorts between two groups, again, you may want to look at Gen X and millennials together, boomers and matures together. This gives you a way of looking at if we’ve segmented, how often are we going to reach our segments. So quarterly does seem to be a sweet spot for boomers and matures. More often than that for millennials and Gen Xers. And if we really have the resources to do it, asking our donors how often they want to hear from us can create a really customized experience. The Commission on the donor experience gave us several really good options for thinking about how to customize the storytelling. Number one, tell donors the story, not just throw random data facts at them. So a story over their time as a donor with us. This is the travel agent planning, multiple stops, not just random destinations without any
attention to those details. Looking at the love story about feelings that way the donor feels about us. If we love our donors, and they know that Steven pigeon, the the expert on the donor messaging, love your donors, the money will follow. Rogue air the fundraising Think Tank gave us yet another way to think about it, describing the stages of the journey as awareness, exploration, expansion and commitment, becoming one with the mission and more connected to each beneficiary with each of their gifts. If a donor doesn’t want to hear from us, we have to be willing to take that information and coded them in our systems as do not mail do not interact with them. If the donor wants that, we it’s not our job to change their mind, but honor their request. So thinking about the five steps on any donor journey, first of all, inspiring them. donors want to feel part of our work and that they make a difference. Secondly, learn and engage with us meet the donor where he she or they are, make them come to us means we fail. Coming to them where they are means we’ll be more successful. Asking them being bold, don’t be afraid to ask. And in our asking, tell them what their gift will do to change lives. Thank them and show the impact right away more than once a quick email thank you a printed letter, thanking them on their their own Facebook page, if we can do that, making sure that they know their contribution is valuable, and that it has made a difference in our organization. So thank them and show impact. Ask them again. Don’t be afraid to ask after time and appropriate time this past May be for a different aspect of our mission, a different aspect of their work. Let them know what their contribution has done. And then invite them to give again, the sixth step again is that this isn’t a five step and done process. It’s a cycle. So the magic sixth step is keep inspiring donors through their journey. Keep telling them about the power of their giving, and keep going through that cycle over and over again. The donor timeline then can be a long, a linear process of getting to know the donor showing gratitude, showing impact. Showing how they can help checking in with them to see how we’re doing surprise and delight them give them something to be joyful about asking them again and showing gratitude. So looking at this linear process over the course of the year. The donor timeline gives us a way to customize and sustain and have have a variety of experiences for each of our donors. And remember, what works, what doesn’t? How do we actually talk about our need? What are the critical pieces? How can our organization implement that? What critical question do we have for our donors in their work with us? Good work and good results have to be the basis for good communication, not the tactic, but the message. So what works we keep what doesn’t work, we discard all of the references to the materials I’ve shared, are here in your bibliography. And I’m now really grateful for the time we’ve spent together and happy to take your questions.Read Less