Donor data is all about insight leading to action


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Customer Insight

Customer Insight

Data is very useful if it allows us to understand our donors better. Collecting data is of no value if it doesn’t lead to insight. Think data, insight and action.

There are all kind of insights that will lead to further action.  Here are several:

  1. The value and potential of the donor
  2. The next step in building the relationship based on other similar donors
  3. Channels they may prefer
  4. What is the level of engagement
  5. Nonprofits and organizations they may have a relationship with.
  6. Summaries of how recent and frequently of buying and engagement.
  7. What kind of experience they are having. How satisfied they are.
  8. What they are interested in. What type of content should be sent to them? How to render the content via static content, graphics or video.
  9. Who is in their network and who influences them?
  10. What kind of referrals do they make?
  11. Real time data from Smart devices

The list goes on and on. In thinking about what data to gather, always think through what insight that it will give and where it will lead the relationship.

The intent is to develop a deep understanding of donors, using a disciplined approach, which can be leveraged across the organization to improve the experience for the donor and profitability for the corporation. Deeper knowledge of donors assists in uncovering and clarifying opportunities. In addition to data you may already have, there may need to be in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys and industry analyst sources.

There could be several types of insight to look at:

  1. A predictive model
  2. Attitudinal understanding
  3. Product behavior

The digital executive should also consider leading the charge to go beyond traditional quantitative and qualitative approaches. A new model is emerging know as real-time experience tracking (RET).

Real-time experience tracking was born of two insights. First, while a market researcher can’t easily follow customers around 24 hours a day, those donors’ cell phones can, and unlike human observers, they don’t sway people’s perceptions of experiences. The second insight was that although customers may interact with a company in thousands of ways, you really need to know only four things about each encounter: the brand involved, the type of touchpoint (TV ad, say, or call to the service center), how the participant felt about the experience, and how persuasive it was. (Did it make the customer more inclined to choose the brand next time?)

Source: Harvard Business Review Article

The digital executive has to be obsessive in understanding the donor. Without that passion and commitment, the voice of the donor may not be heard. This, at its core, is not about collecting data just because we can. It is all about understanding the donor, improving the experience and increasing the top line for the corporation.

Gaining the type of insight that brings real results may require investing in getting the right kind of data, different tools to analyze the data and staff that can accurately understand the data. Looking at the total economic benefit will be useful.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with a clear commitment to understanding the donor with deeper levels of insight.
  2. Begin with some questions that need to be answered with the eye toward action to improve results.
  3. Encourage a collaborative approach that cuts across departmental silos.
  4. Obsess about understand the donor.
  5. Create a culture that always looks at what we know from our donors before proceeding with an initiative.

Assess the total economic benefit of understanding the donor

Should We Have This Meeting? (Infographic Decision Tree)


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So many corporate employees spend their workday bouncing from meeting to meeting. In many organizations, the de facto method of getting anything done has been: “Let’s meet about it.”

In the spirit of eliminating unnecessary activities to increase productivity, use this handy meeting “go vs. no go” decision tree. And please share it with your manager or overly-dependent-on-meetings colleagues!

Source: Should We Have This Meeting? (Infographic Decision Tree)

Will your company be customer experience driven?


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Growth in Customer Experience (Forrester Research)

Growth in Customer Experience (Forrester Research)

There is no denying that companies are embracing the whole “customer experience” phenomena. This year even more companies will adopt approaches to transform their business. The trend will only continue to accelerate.

What does this mean to you? Why should you not ignore what is going on with your competitors?

Disruption is around the corner. Others may be about to overtake you. Now is not the time to to ignore what is vital to your digital transformation efforts.

Some key areas for focus are:

  1. Understand your customers
  2. Measure the experience they are having with you
  3. Set up a governance or oversight team
  4. Create and execute a clear strategy
  5. Build better design into your processes
  6. Accurately assess where you are from a “culture” point of view

The value of offline donor data


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Smart Data

Smart Data

Not all data is as valuable as others. The human resources to manually enter offline donor data can be daunting and so many times it is the last priority. There are great services that automate the collection of offline data at a reasonable cost. The first step in the automation process is to create a data value strategy. That will help justify the cost of capturing the offline donor data and integrating it into your donor systems.

The opportunity to collect offline data for most nonprofits is huge. We tend to underestimate how much of it we really have. For some retail oriented businesses it is close to 100 percent. Think about what you know about donors online and what you know about them offline.

Offline can include knowledge gained in the call center, by donation staff, from surveys, point of sale transactions and retail interactions from service personnel. It may be helpful to do a quick audit of all that you really have. If may be more than you think. And it may lead to great insight than online data which leads to action and engagement.  It also getting easier and more cost effective to get the data via scanning / OCR technology.

Digital executives are passionate about getting insight on what is important to donors. Think about a world where you could act on the insights gained from your offline data. The cost of integrating may be worth its weight in gold.

The other side of this is that when donors give us information and tell us something, they expect us to remember it to provide them better service. The point of integrating offline data is to gain insight into donors that can’t be gained otherwise and to be able to act for better service.

Everyone can be involved in the effort. Imagine having a simple card that service personnel fill out with the answers to 3 questions what will give you great insight. They ask the questions and write down the answers. You have a service scan it and integrate it with your other donor data. What if you could get their email address? It may not be as difficult as you think. You can get everyone involved in the effort.

There is always the constraint of the budget. It is just too costly you think. Creating a value framework is not that difficult. A simple table can help you assess what offline data you have, what it would cost to get it into your systems and what insight it will give you to build relationships (leading to greater donation).

Alert!! Do you have a privacy policy? Is it up to date? How good is your data security? Has someone independent from your technical team assessed risks in your donor data security? Not having a budget to look at this is a high risk. The damage to your credibility is at stake.

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the value of the offline data you have about your donors? How much of it do you have? What would it cost to get it integrated with your other data?
  2. If you have that additional insight, what could you do with it to increase engagement, cross-sell, and up-sell?
  3. What don’t you know, that if you started asking and integrating the data, would be hugely valuable?

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start by creating a strategy based on your offline data value framework.
  2. Begin by testing high insight data integration. Have a plan of what action you will take based on that insight.
  3. Encourage frontline staff to gather critical data that provides a high level of insight you can act on.
  4. Focus on insight and action.
  5. Create a team to oversee the effort and serve as ambassadors.
  6. Establish a budget to do something to get started.
  7. Pay attention to privacy and security.

How did I feel about that experience? Was it fun?


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The customer experience

The customer experience

Many things make up the customer experience. Three that many agree on are achieving a goal, the effort it takes and how I feel about the experience.

Am I successful in achieving my goal? When I interact with a company, I have a goal in mind. Maybe I am just doing some research. Maybe I am ready to buy. Successful companies understand the goals of their customers and design the journey to meet the goal.

What kind of effort do I have to put into this? Is it easy? How many times do we go to do something and it is so difficult. We have a problem with our bill and we want it straightened out. 2 hours later after talking with 5 different customer reps and it still isn’t straight. It is more common than not that by understanding the goal a customer has in mind, we make it difficult to achieve it.

How did I feel? Was it fun and enjoyable? We are all creatures of how we feel about an experience. It may be the most ignored driver of amazing experiences.

All of these items have an impact on loyalty. So where do we focus?

The most impactful and overlooked is the emotion of it all; how I feel about the experience. Since most companies over look the emotional connection customers have with a company, starting there maybe the most impactful thing I can do. Competitors may never, ever get there.


What donor data should we collect?


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Donor Relations

Donor Relations

We probably shouldn’t try to collect everything. We also should be collecting the “right” donor data. We should consider enhancing the data we collect to make it more valuable. Several suggested priorities are all online transaction detail and insight, most offline transaction detail and insight, social media data and insights and finally, call center transactions and insights.

There has been a lot said and written about the 360 degree view of the donor. A quick Google search will bring up 13.7 million results. Many in favor and some questioning the strategy.

I believe donor data is important. One thing to think about, however, is how much data do you need to know to make actionable decisions? Perhaps more than you have and perhaps less than you plan to gather which could be holding you back from acting today.

Most of us have a ton of online data. It is easy to gather and relatively inexpensive to integrate. That said, many of us have no to very little offline data. Another gap can also be unstructured data.

A core question is how important is a 360 degree view anyway? No human can see 360 degrees. Here is something interesting to think about.

To draw an analogy from the physical realm, out of 360 potential degrees, what’s our actual field of vision? Approximately a 120-degree arc. But even most of that is peripheral. In fact, when it comes to seeing in high resolution — say for reading purposes — our actual field of view is only about 6 degrees.

What happens if something important happens in our peripheral vision? We move our eyes to look at it. In other words, we’re not primed to look at everything at once. Rather, we focus on the essentials and filter out the rest so we don’t experience information overload.

Source: The Cloud Sherpa

In thinking about data integration, it will be helpful to suspend any discussion of what data can we integrate. Any data can be integrated. The real issue is what results you want for your business and what data do you need to improve the donor experience. From a planning point of view it is helpful to start with the end in mind and not the details of how we integrate everything. It is critical to know what data will give you actionable insight.

Donors are using many channels to engage with your nonprofit. They expect a seamless experience across those channels. At a core level, that will involve collecting and integrating the data that donors expect to see across those channels. The important issue to think through is what does the donor expect you to know about what they have told on the mobile app and what you know about them when they make a purchase. It is all about the donor expectation.

If you ask for information from a donor and they are willing to give it to you, then they probably expect that you will use it across channels to create a seamless experience. Donors also expect that you remember them. They get very upset when you don’t. They love you when you do. Know and remember is key to service.

Alert!! Do you have a privacy policy? Is it up to date? How good is your data security? Has someone independent from your technical team assessed risks in your donor data security? Not having a budget to look at this is a high risk. The damage to your credibility is at stake.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do you need a deeper understanding of donor sentiment from both internal and external sources?
  2. Do you want to increase donor loyalty and satisfaction by understanding what meaningful actions are needed?
  3. Are you challenged to get the right information to the right people to provide donors what they need to solve problems, cross-sell, and up-sell?

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start simple and don’t get carried away with all the possibilities.
  2. Begin creating a strategy now.
  3. Encourage collaboration and create a team to “oversee” your efforts.
  4. Decide, up front, what data is worth
  5. Commit to not collecting everything and be ok with that.
  6. Focus on key channels like online, offline checks / credit card transactions, and direct response.
  7. Create a data value framework to help set priorities.
  8. Pay attention to privacy and security. Your reputation is at stake.

Who’s responsible for building a digital business?


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A board room set up for a meeting

A board room set up for a meeting

Who’s Responsible for Building a Digital Business? While someone with a specific title may be accountable for the digital business, leadership in this area is the responsibility of the entire C-Suite. Ownership in this area is huge.

This is not an area that the C-Suite can punt on. Without a willingness to change the culture, not much of value will happen. If this is not a priority, those with the titles in the digital world will be frustrated.

So if you ask me who is responsible for an organization’s digital success, my answer is that the entire executive team needs to develop a collaborative approach to creating value in this new space, and all of them own the responsibility for a company’s success. In my opinion, in excellent organizations this is true of everything that gets accomplished.

via Who’s Responsible for Building a Digital Business? Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at


Is this the year of purpose?


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It is a great question to think about. Will I be purposeful?

It’s once again the time of year when I publish Temkin Group’s CX trends. In my post last year, we named 2016 “The Year of Emotion.” With my previous post, we declared 2017 “The Year of Purpose.” During this year, companies will be: Elevating Purpose. Over the past year, we’ve seen more articles discussing purpose, and leaders are beginning to […]

via 2017 Customer Experience Trends, “The Year of Purpose” — Customer Experience Matters®

Strategy People Process Technology

Business Strategy

This is a donor ecosystem built for data, insight and action


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Resist the temptation to focus and organize around silos. While silos can maximize a part of the system, they sub-optimize the whole. We are building a donor (digital) ecosystem.

There is something as “not seeing the forest for the trees”. In the case of donor data (including big data), that can certainly be the case. It is easy to get lost in the data. It is important to see data as a way to gain donor insight. Having gained insight, we must take action to improve results for our donors and business.

The digital executive needs to evaluate whether the department silos are structured properly as a part of the overall ecosystem. One area to look at is what is the overall level of accountability around supporting the total results (including renewal and upgrades) from donor experiences and relationships. Structural change may be needed to support optimal results.

In scientific terms, an ecosystem is formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. The ecosystem has multiple, interdependent components that function as a unit. Innovators have long envisioned a similar environment where data, technology, people, and business processes operate in synchronization to improve donor satisfaction and business performance. The key to achieving this vision is having the capacity to discern the true nature of donor relationships in an intuitive manner. This capacity is known as “donor insight.”

The concept of the donor data ecosystem can be further broken down into two key aspects: the Donor Lifecycle, and the Information Lifecycle.

Below is an example from Forrester Research of how an ecosystem could look.

Forrester Ecosystem

In the donor ecosystem, there are several components that are important.

  1. The value of data
    1. Donor interaction data
    2. Contact and account data
    3. Donor information files
    4. External data
  2. Turning data into insight
  3. Turning insight into action

Integrated donor data forms the cornerstone of the donor ecosystem. Organizations have rich sources of data including donor interaction data, account data, external data sources, and donor information files. This data must be cleaned and properly linked together as fast as the data becomes available.

Digital Business Ecosystem

Digital Business Ecosystem

Individual data elements provide undeniable value in the ecosystem. Integrated data provides even greater value. However, integrating donor data is far from an easy task. Disparate systems and errors in the data typically prevent all of the data from being used by analytical processes. To turn all of this data into insight, sophisticated technologies and techniques are needed to clean the data, discover hidden relationships, and integrate it. This integrated view must then be fed into analytical models to discover and predict patterns in donor behavior. This deep insight into a donor services help organizations fully understand donor profitability, attrition, and retention.

Providing insight, however, is only one part of the solution. This insight must be turned into action to achieve real benefits. Two best practices have emerged in a donor relations focus: dashboards and scorecards.

Dashboards provide a quick way to get an immediate picture of business processes. Similar to a dashboard in a car, data is displayed in an intuitive manner that allows employees to see how the processes that they are responsible for are working. In the donor ecosystem, a dashboard contains multiple information displays that show how donor processes are working.

Scorecards are a vital part of the dashboard display that show specific measurements, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs), for a specific employee role. Unlike financial condition ratios reported to the Board and the IRS, KPIs always reflect strategic value drivers. For example, Return on Investment or functional expenses are common metrics used to judge financial performance, but it doesn’t measure a specific driver of value.

For the donor ecosystem, a KPI measuring the average value of a new donor reflects a strategic objective of acquiring more profitable donors.

In order to drive the right behaviors in the ecosystem, these mechanisms must be part of the daily job role for donor-focused employees. That is, insight must be “in sight” of people in day-to-day operational roles. Therefore these capabilities must be quick and easy to use.

In the business world, there is an old saying that “what gets measured gets done.” Dashboards and scorecards also provide a strong way to clearly communicate business strategy and objectives across the enterprise.

When viewing a report, graph, or KPI, people often need to understand why a specific number is different from what they expect. For insight to be truly “actionable”, a user must be able to drill down into the details. This process is typically called “Root Cause Analysis” because the user must get to the “root” of the problem. For example, if the KPI Average Value of New Donors is lower than expected, the user needs to be able to look beyond the KPI to the underlying data.

Insight Ecosystem

Insight Ecosystem

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with the view of “the forest”.
  2. Begin with simple integrations of valuable data to create insight.
  3. Encourage taking action on insights. Structure everything around actionable outcomes of data and the insights.

Unifying Online & Offline Donor Data for a Consistent Experience


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Donor Experience

Donor Experience

The challenge of creating meaningful relationships is complicated by an abundance of data from both online and offline sources, as well as a multitude of communication channels to contend with. A big issue is how to consolidate donor information to drive consistent communications across channels.

By taking a unified approach, development staff can better shape interactions with their organization to create outstanding donor experiences.

What should we think through?

  1. How to collect and manage online and offline donor data to truly understand our donors
  2. Why a unified donor experience is essential for growth?
  3. Common inconsistencies and gaps in the donor experience, and how to handle them
  4. How to use data to track donor interactions, and use this information to improve communications across multiple channels

Here are the key ideas:

  1. This is an ecosystem built for data, insight and action – Resist the temptation to focus and organize around silos. While silos can maximize a part of the system, they sub-optimize the whole. We are building a donor (digital) ecosystem.
  2. What we should collect – We probably shouldn’t try to collect everything. We also should be collecting the “right” data. We should consider enhancing the data we collect to make it more valuable. Several suggested priorities are all online transaction detail and insight, most offline transaction detail and insight, social media data and insights and finally, call center transactions and insights.
  3. The value of offline data – Not all data is as valuable as others. The human resources to manually enter offline data can be daunting and so many times it is the last priority. There are great services that automate the collection of offline data at a reasonable cost. The first step in the automation process is to create a data value strategy. That will help justify the cost of capturing the offline data and integrating it into your donor systems.
  4. Understanding the donor – Data is very useful if it allows us to understand our donors better. Collecting data is of no value if it doesn’t lead to insight. Think data, insight and action.
  5. Unifying the data – Even 2 pieces of unified data is more powerful than one. Having a plan for the most valuable sources and at least integrating some of the data will move insight ahead.
  6. Unifying the experience – This is not all about data. At the end of the day, donors will expect a great (unified) experience across multiple channels. This is not all about data. At the end of the day, donors will expect a great (unified) experience across multiple channels. While it takes data to know the donor and systems to remember them, only great experiences lead to amazing service.
  7. Doing something about the gaps – Knowing you have a gap in the data and the experience is one thing. Doing something that improves the experience is another. Insight is very useful but it must lead to action.
  8. Creating a value framework – Not all data is of equal value and not every donor is either. Part of the framework that leads from insight to action is understanding which donors are of more value and those that will lead to greater levels of renewal.
  9. An “Omni-Channel” approach – Unified data and a unified experience is created by an Omni-Channel approach. Omni-Channel creates a unified approach seamlessly across channels. All channels need to be fused into a single approach.

“Cultural change takes six months per layer in your organization.” ~Mike Capone


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How long does it take to change culture?

How long does it take to change culture?

Think about how long it takes to change. As leaders, we think it won’t be so difficult.  Is it any wonder change management initiatives are so challenging?

It also speaks to what we may choose to focus on. Too many change initiatives lead to cynicism. They seem to be abandoned before any real change takes hold.

Cultural change takes six months per layer in your organization. If you have eleven layers, you won’t live long enough to get anything done.

— Mike Capone, CIO, ADP

Continue reading

How important is mobile? Money Follows Eyeballs – Mobile Ad Boom Continues



One of the golden rules of advertising is that money follows eyeballs. And since people are looking at their smartphones pretty much all the time these days, it’s no surprise that advertising budgets are shifting to mobile devices as well.

According to Zenith’s latest global advertising forecast, advertisers will spend an additional $80 billion a year on mobile ads in 2019 compared to this year. By then, mobile devices will have overtaken the desktop internet to become the second largest advertising medium behind television. Zenith expects annual mobile advertising spending to reach $160 billion by 2019, well ahead of the $88 billion expected to be spent on non-mobile online ads.

Source: • Chart: Money Follows Eyeballs – Mobile Ad Boom Continues | Statista

The Rise of Mobile Customer Experience



Mobile can’t be ignored. The mobile experience can be painful to delightful. None of it happens by magic.

There is a variety of Temkin Group research on the mobile customer experience including: Data Snapshot: Channel Preferences Benchmark, 2016, Five C’s of Mobile VoC Disruption, Data Snapshot: Media Use Benchmark, 2016, and The State of CX Metrics, 2015.

Source: The Rise of Mobile CX (Infographic) | Customer Experience Matters® Continue reading

So … let’s start the journey. What is our promise to our customers?


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Now is the time to think it through. This is the start of the journey. Whether we know it or not, our customers think we have made a promise to them.

We need to be clear about customer promises. That isn’t easy. What is our promise?

So there are some stages to this:

  1. Thinking and talking it out. There may be many stakeholders to consult on this.
  2. Making the promise. This is a solid communication plan that is faithfully executed.
  3. Embracing it at every level and making it our own.
  4. Keeping it. This is the tough part.

So  … let’s start the journey. What is our promise to our customers?

Why Nonprofit Executives should care about Master Data Management (MDM)


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Master Data Management

Master Data Management

Do you struggle keeping 2 or more sources of data up to date with name changes, address changes, email updates, phone number changes or more? The reality is that most of us do. If you have 3, 4 or more data sources to integrate, then you know the challenge increases geometrically. If this is your donor world, Master Data Management can help.

Master Data Management (MDM) is not just a technology. It is a strategy, it involves people, it has standard processes and it is also a technology. MDM is based on the premise that a nonprofit must have a single master copy of donor data or a single version of the truth.

MDM is not just about technology and MDM program managers should use a business driven framework to ensure that all the component parts of MDM are addressed. MDM programs need to align with the business vision and strike the right balance between technology and governance and organizational issues.” ~ Saul Judah, Research Director at Gartner

For our purposes, we talking about master donor data. There is also an enterprise approach that includes other data like finance and human resources. Departments that will be interested in this approach are development, marketing, donor service and others. Nonprofits should consider a donor MDM approach when you are large enough and have several significant donor data bases to integrate and analyze.

With donor MDM, you want to create a master data file that keeps track of differences in donor data from multiple systems. As you integrate two or more donor systems, you may have addresses that don’t match for the same donor. In one case, you may have a maiden name and in the other system the current name. In one system, you may have a home address and phone number while in the other you have a work address and phone number. In one system you may have a first name of Pat and in the other Patricia. All of these differences make it extremely difficult to create and maintain a single set of master data and can throw your donor analytics out of whack.

It is common to think that Master Data Management (MDM) and Data Warehousing (DW) are the same and can accomplish the same results. They are in fact remarkably different and nonprofit (non technical) staff should appreciate, at a high level, the distinctions. Nonprofit goals for creating amazing donor experiences, are at stake. Donors do not tolerate bad and duplicate data. It is a common source of complaints at call centers. Great donor journeys can be derailed because of simple donor data problems. Executives who are obsessed with donor experiences will appreciate that attention to donor data detail is critical. If staff see duplicates in a donor system like CRM, they will not tend to trust analytics in a business intelligence solution.

  1. Different Goals – The primary goal of a DW is analytical in nature. It looks at historical transactional data. The primary goal for MDM is to establish a single version of the truth for a donor from one or more donor systems. MDM requires solving the root cause of the inconsistent data, because master data needs to be propagated back to the source system in some way. In data warehousing, solving the root cause is not always needed, as it may be enough just to have a consistent view at the data warehousing level rather than having to ensure consistency at the data source level.
  2. Different types of data – MDM looks primarily at donor data but not transactional data. A DW generally looks at donor (a little) and transactional data (a lot).
  3. Different reporting needs – In MDM, the focus of reporting is more about oversight of the data, duplicates and data quality. In DW reporting is all about analyzing the data and providing insight.
  4. Where data is used – In a data warehouse, usually the only usage of this “single source of truth” is for applications that access the data warehouse directly, or applications that access systems that source their data straight from the data warehouse. Most of the time, the original data sources are not affected. In master data management, on the other hand, we often need to have a strategy to get a copy of the master data back to the source system. This poses challenges that do not exist in a data warehousing environment. For example, how do we sync the data back with the original source? Once a day? Once an hour? How do we handle cases where the data was modified as it went through the cleansing process? And how much modification do we need make do to the source system so it can use the master data? These questions represent some of the challenges MDM faces. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to those questions, as the solution depends on a variety of factors specific to the organization, such as how many source systems there are, how easy / costly it is to modify the source system, and even how internal politics play out.

Master donor data that is trusted is of huge value to your donor initiatives. The reverse of that will cripple many donor systems. If the insights gained from your analytics isn’t trusted because of duplicates and poor quality donor data, it will be hard to gain traction. Fixing that, after a CRM implementation, for example, is almost impossible. Employees will not use a system they do not trust. Management will not require a system to be used if it is perceived to have useless data. Establishing a single version of the truth, early on, is foundational to a donor focus.

It is critical that clear definitions of donor data are established. Who is going to do that? A Steering Team (with a focus on strategy) should be appointed with business leaders heavily involved. At a minimum, staffing should include a data steward. If you have enough donor data, a dedicated team should be appointed.

Master data management should be both a local and corporate responsibility. Many times duplicate data has to be resolved by staff who are closest to the donor. That may be at the local level. Clear timeframes for resolving conflicts should be established and enforced to make sure duplicates do not linger too long.

There are some natural constraints that we face in establishing master donor data management as an important initiative. Here are 8 requirements for an effective master donor data strategy.

  1. Secure an executive sponsor early.
  2. Create a business case for why master donor data is important.
  3. Pursue an iterative approach and avoid “big bang” implementations.
  4. Plan for organizational and culture change.
  5. Take a multi-dimensional strategy.
  6. Understand the importance of data governance and appoint a steering team early.
  7. Establish clear metrics for success.
  8. Rely on the “right” technologies.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start by defining your goals and strategies for managing master donor data.
  2. Begin by appointing an oversight team.
  3. Encourage a culture that values quality donor data.
  4. Understand that nothing frustrates donors more than not getting the basics of donor data right.
  5. Establish quality donor data as a norm.
  6. Great insight flows from quality data.
  7. Recruit an executive sponsor “who gets it” early.
  8. Make quality data everyone’s business.
  9. Recognize the barriers and “deal” with them early.

What is organizational culture?


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Transform Culture

Transform Culture

Management guru Peter Drucker is credited with saying that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” It is hard to find any leader who doesn’t think so but many don’t understand what their own culture is like. It can be the blind leading the blind some days. Much of building a culture is about intentionality, particularly when it comes down to a customer focus.

Culture can make or break the success of a company, which can be a scary phenomenon for executives. While leaders tend to be comfortable around strategy discussions, they’re often painfully awkward discussing corporate culture.

What Exactly is Organizational Culture?

Culture is how employees think, believe, and act.

  • Think: Employees are intellectually bought-in and understand the company’s vision and why it is important to the company. What is the company communicating?
  • Believe: Employees see that leaders are truly committed to what is important to the company. What are leaders demonstrating with their behaviors?
  • Act. Employees adjust their behaviors to align with what is important to the company. What do employees do when no one is looking?

Companies often focus on the think level, hoping that a barrage of communications can drive culture change. Well it can’t. You need to develop plans that deal with all three levels: Think, Believe, and Act.

Do our leaders:

  • Understand why customers, not products, are all important to our efforts?
  • Demonstrate a true commitment to the customer experience?
  • Support alignment to the customer vision?

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.” ~Sybil F. Stershic


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As corporate leaders, we make investment decisions all the time. We have investment formulas that help guide those decisions.

All the data concludes that engaged employees lead to higher levels of profits. Do we give investments to improve employee engagement a higher priority than other types of investments? Should we?

Engaged employees are extremely valuable assets. They’re worth even more of your investment.

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.” –Sybil F. Stershic

The Healthcare Experience Revolution


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Transform the health care experience

Transform the health care experience

What if your goal (strategy) is to revolutionize the health care experience? I think most of us would agree there is a lot of room for improvement.

This is not so much about technology (although technology is a big part of it) as it is all the processes that make up the experience. I would think the process would come first before any technology is enabled.

To fundamentally transform healthcare, it is critical for payers and healthcare providers to embrace technology and redesign processes. “To succeed and differentiate in the healthcare market of the future, stakeholders must leverage technology,” stresses Pat McCaffrey, TeleTech’s senior vice president for health care and public sector. This includes using cutting-edge technology to build multichannel communication strategies that are customized to members and patients. “Those stakeholders who are successful in this regard will command mindshare with their member and patient population and build lasting ties with them,” McCaffrey says.

via The Healthcare Experience Revolution.


What is the future of Artificial Intelligence (A. I.)?



Statista on the Future of A.I. – “When many people think of the future of artificial intelligence, they imagine some form of robot, diligently serving them and completing the mundane tasks of everyday life, perhaps stopping once in a while to have a chat with their human overlord. While something along these lines may well come to fruition at some point, the most lucrative use cases of A.I. until 2025 are forecast by market intelligence firm Tractica to be a little less fantastical.

“With expected cumulative revenue of just over 8 billion U.S. dollars, ‘static image recognition, classification and tagging’ is forecast to lead the way, ahead of ‘algorithmic trading strategy performance improvement’ ($7.5 billion) and ‘efficient, scalable processing of patient data’ ($7.4 billion). Although our childhood dreams may have to wait for a while longer, A.I. seems set for some fruitful years ahead.

“This chart shows forecasted cumulative global artificial intelligence revenue 2016-2025, by use case.”

Source: • Chart: The Future Of A.I. | Statista

SMART goals are attainable in transformation initiatives


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Attainable Goal

Attainable Goal

Goals should be both realistic and attainable for the digital business. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme in nature. We all should have some expectation that it can be achieved.  Goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless.

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You and your team develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. An attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals. Attainable goals help focus everyone’s efforts.

Goals should be motivating. They should galvanize the whole team to accomplish something great. They certainly can be aspirational. The work of transforming a company is not easy. Everyone knows that. Everyone wants to be motivated and your transformation goals are important in the work.

If they are not attainable, they become demotivating. We all must have a sense that we can reach the goal.

The purpose of a goal is to actually accomplish the result we have in mind. There is never a purpose that is useful to suggest something that we know can’t be done be a goal. It does happen, however, where a result is suggested and then nothing else is “taken off the plate” or resources aren’t devoted to making it happen. In those cases, it is common that everyone involved knows they are being set up for failure. That is, of course, devastating.

Senior management has a special responsibility to make sure that goals can, in fact, be reached. Employees may suggest goals that are beyond stretch and not attainable. Or employees may suggest goals that are a “cake walk”. In either case, realistic conversations need to occur to level set and make sure everyone is comfortable that strategies and tactics are in place to get us to the destination. If may be very difficult, if senior management sets a goal that is clearly unattainable, for employees to push back and talk about why that is true.

In setting an attainable goal, great consideration needs to be given to what resources need to be devoted to making it happen. Return on investment is real. To expect a return, with no investment, is a fool’s errand. Want something great to happen? What cost are you willing to bear to realize it?

Do you need more staff? Do you need a different kind of staff with different skills? Do priorities need to be set so it is clear this goal is important? Do other initiatives need to be eliminated or delayed to focus on this goal? Making a goal attainable may be about the resources and focus to make it attainable.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Goals should stretch our performance but be realistic and attainable.
  2. Goals should not be easily attained.
  3. Goals should not be added, one on top of another, so that it becomes impossible to achieve any of them.
  4. Resources need to be devoted to achieve the goals.

Bellhops lead the way in amazing customer service


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Amazing employee engagement

Amazing employee engagement

How can you create more autonomy in your work environment?

We know that engaged employees lead to engaged customers. Investing in our people pays off with an enhanced bottom line.

So bellhops? Yes, there is a lot to learn.

And these are college students.

Here are five ideas.

  1. Create parameters, then offer choices.
  2. Reward the grinders.
  3. Relinquish the 9 to 5. Seriously!!
  4. Find a way to unify the culture.
  5. Instill values through training.

Here are five principles from the Bellhops that you can borrow to create more autonomy in your workplace.

via 5 Ways to Give Employees More Freedom |

“This is the age where digitally empowered customers are driving firms to become customer-obsessed, digital businesses.” ~Eveline Oehrlich


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Business Transformation

Business Transformation

There is a new imperative in business. Our technology partners, the traditional IT department, and the CIO all need to be customer obsessed.

How does this look? What should we focus on?

  • Technology enables dramatic business transformation. Customer-obsessed digital businesses exploit digital technologies to create new customer value and increase operational agility in service of customers. Companies that understand how to master these challenges are driving digital transformation to become digital predators. Forrester predicts that by 2020, every business will be either a digital predator or digital prey.
  • Customerled business value drives technology investments. Tech management organizations must understand, manage, and communicate technology’s role in delivering customer-obsessed outcomes like digital customer experience. Technology executives responsible for service design and delivery must minimize the cost of MOOSE (spending to maintain and operate the tech organization, systems, and equipment) for ongoing operations, deliver the agreed quality of service, and shift investments to customer-obsessed innovation. Only 14% of budgets for new IT initiatives and projects support sell-side business operations. This must change. Our typical infrastructure is way too costly, taking budgets away from technology investment in our business.
  • Tech organizations must manage the customerobsessed digital transformation. To transform to a customer-obsessed business, the CIO needs a road map for focusing technology investments on the four customer-obsessed operating model principles. To help organizations in this transformation, the CIO and other C-level executives must intentionally apply these principles to technology investments, creating better customer outcomes and profitable growth.

This is the age where digitally empowered customers are driving firms to become customer-obsessed, digital businesses. ~Eveline Oehrlich, Forrester Research


What is this moment about?





It is so easy to be unfocused. The things to compete for our time are endless and getting more so every day.

Here are three questions to help get focused.

· What is this year about?

· What is this day about?

· What is this moment about?

Knowing the answer to the first leads to great focus on the second. And know the answer to the second leads to great focus all the time.

Simple but not easy.

How will you know when you’ve arrived?


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Measurable Goal

Measurable Goal

How will you know “when you have arrived”? How will you measure progress? What does success look like? When will we know that we have transformed our business?

We all want concrete criteria for what success looks like in our transformation efforts. To be effective as digital executives, our teams need to how progress will be measured. SMART goals are always measurable. Measuring progress will help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.

A measurable transformation goal will usually answer questions such as:

  1. How much transformation should we achieve?
  2. How many initiatives should we tackle?
  3. How will I know when it is accomplished?

Indicators should be quantifiable. Measurable goals are important for several reasons.

  1. Motivation is increased.
  2. Weaknesses will be uncovered.
  3. Problems will be reduced.
  4. Stronger teams will be created.
  5. Value for teams and individuals is demonstrated.

It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure that goals are specific and measurable. Anyone, however, can ask the right questions to gain clarification if they are not. If the requirements aren’t clear or constraints identified, it is our responsibility to make sure the goal is restated to make if very measurable.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Make sure the goal is very specific and can be measured.
  2. Once you think you have it measurable, rework it again to take it to the next level.
  3. Recognize that the measurable goal is probably a “lagging indicator” and begin to think about the 2 or 3 strategic levers that will produce the right outcome.

What does AT&T Gets for $85 Billion


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What does A T & T get for $85 billion? Statista reports that “AT&T has made it official: The U.S. telecom giant has agreed to acquire Time Warner in a deal worth $85 billion. Still subject to regulatory approval, the deal would put AT&T in control of world-famous media brands such as CNN, TNT and HBO alongside Warner Bros. Entertainment, the world’s largest film and television studio in charge of franchises such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and the DC Comics universe.

“Interestingly, the Time Warner deal would mark the second multi-billion dollar acquisition in as many years for AT&T. In July 2015, the company completed the $49 billion acquisition of DIRECTV, making it the largest pay TV provider in the United States and the world. Adding Time-Warner-owned HBO and Warner Bros. to the mix would give AT&T control over the entire value chain, from content production to its marketing and distribution to people’s homes and mobile devices. While that could open up interesting possibilities such as distributing premium content exclusively to AT&T subscribers or exempting Time Warner’s pay TV services from data caps, it is all but certain that such anti-competition practices would be forbidden by regulators should they greenlight the deal at all.”

This chart shows the revenue of AT&T and Time Warner in 2015 by business segment.

Source: • Chart: What AT&T Gets for $85 Billion | Statista

Can relationships be managed?


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We have had “customer relationship initiatives” for a long time. Some have paid off. Many have not.

Is it just about the technology (most of which has failed)? No. Absolutely not.

It is all about our goals and strategies, our people and great processes? Is it about our culture? Is it about our leadership? CRM Symbol

Customer service interactions are becoming your primary means of creating true customer relationships. To be a successful business today, you must understand how relationships actually work, and how to build them. While the ways in which you do this may be specific to your business, here are some fundamentals about relationship-building that are universal:

via Beyond Customer Loyalty Programs: 7 Ways To Build Lasting Relationships | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

And so, can relationships be “managed”? Should they “be managed”?

Relationships are not easy. Some will say that relationships can and should be managed. They will give you acronyms that promise to solve all your relationship troubles. But unfortunately, in business, as in life, relationships cannot be managed. ~~Mikkel Svane is the founder and CEO of Zendesk

Transformation requires being focused


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In addition to be obsessed, the other essential ingredient to success in transformation efforts is focus. It must be recognized, when you are obsessed with your customer, that you can’t do everything. If you think you can, disaster is looming around the corner. You can do a few things very well.

Strategy is about deciding which ideas should be implemented. Focus is doing them. Focus is not about swinging at every pitch. Focus is about swinging at the pitches that are most likely to get you on base or to advance another player so they can score.

It’s not a big surprise that big league baseball players can hit a pitch far better than the rest of us. Research on the game’s best hitters has shown that they have excellent hand-eye coordination and can respond quickly to visual cues. Indeed, one of the keys to a superior ball player’s performance is excellent vision and focus that allow him to see a baseball perfectly as it travels at high velocity toward home plate.

Baseball players who have achieved greatness at the plate have done so by persistently keeping their eyes on the goal at hand: connecting with the ball.

Entrepreneurs must likewise keep their eyes and focus on their companies.  They achieve greatness by avoiding any situations that might distract them. As such, they must constantly and tightly fix their vision on the most important components of the enterprise.


Wanting to accomplish everything you think needs to be fixed isn’t useful. Strategy is about tradeoffs. What will make a difference in the next 6 months for your customers? If you could only focus on 3 things, what would they be? 3 may be too many still but it is better than 5 or 10 or 20 or 100.

Everything can’t be done. A few critical things can be done. What are the right ones right now?

As an aside, a culture of meetings can suck the life out of focus. People need to be given permission to say no to meetings that are of marginal value to their real focus areas.

Not making a decision about priorities is the enemy of focus. When meetings do occur, one outcome should always be about how important, relative to other priorities, the initiative being discussed is relative to other ideas. Forcing a delay of something else to do the new thing should be question that is always asked. If you live in a world of focus, the question should be, of the 3 things I am focused on right now, which of them should I stop doing so I can take this on? People should be given permission and encouraged to ask. Management should be clear in requiring it be done.

What if you had an accountability culture that said that your year end evaluation would be determined by one result that would be worth 80 percent of your evaluation? What would that one thing be? What if that allowed you to veto other things without formally changing your evaluation criteria to take the new thing on?

Greg McKeowan has written an amazing book, “Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, that lays out the necessity of focus. As he so aptly has discovered, focus is about getting the right things done. In this world, the essential question is: What is the right thing to do right now?

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

See more at:

Focus allows you to see things clearly. It also allows you to see what is working and what isn’t. If you are doing a lot of things, which ones are working? If something is working, what if you did more of it and not less.

The only way to do more is to do less. It will require going counter to what others want to do. Everyone, including your boss, wants you to do more. Let’s add one more thing to the plate. It is rare that leaders want to stop doing something or think before asking you to do more. Focus will require results that justify doing less. That is the rub.

Focus is your responsibility and yours alone. No one can do it to you. No one can do it for you. Accountability for focus is all yours. If you are a manager, you should help others understand why they need to focus. They will be relieved and give you their all because of your leadership.

Focus is needed at every level of the organization. Everyone needs to spend time to stop trying to do everything. Management, in particular, needs to support this approach.

What if management doesn’t support this approach? You can proceed anyway. The question is will you have the courage to do it. It will take courage. Are you confident?

There is a need to understand constraints. Constraints are real. Everyone knows it but we all like to pretend when we start a project that if we make the case, resources aren’t going to be an issue. Resources are an issue. Resources will always be an issue.

We need to be clear about what can be invested and how much time is available to get the job done. It is easy to live in a world where we “pretend” the amount of hours available to work on something isn’t an issue and that constraints don’t exist. They do exist and they are real.

We believe that if we demand that requirements be added to the work, the money and time to get it done will magically appear. The reality is that they won’t magically appear but failure will.

Focus is amazing. Doing the few “right things” can bring about real transformation in becoming a digital business.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Be clear about constraints of money and time to get things done.
  2. Narrow the list of things to get done to no more than 3 over the next 6 months.
  3. Be strategic and make choices.
  4. Give people permission to say no.
  5. Give people permission, when there is a new idea, to ask which of the current priorities will be placed on hold to take this on.
  6. Recognize the constraints of time and money up front.

Is it worth it to delight the weird?


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Is it worth it to delight the weird?

Seth Godin, as usual, nails it. It is not about being “average”. It is all about understanding what individual services will delight the customer.

It takes some effort to know your customer, remember what delights them and serve them. That is the role of the digital executive. The payback is huge.Seth Godin

Everyone who eats at your restaurant expects a good cup of coffee, and it’s difficult to wow them, because, of course, your competition is working to do the same thing.

But of course, it’s not everyone who wants a cup of coffee. Some want a cup of tea, or a cup of herbal tea, and those folks are used to being ignored, or handed an old Lipton tea bag, or something boring.

What if you had thirty varieties for them to choose from?

Everyone who stays at your hotel expects the same sort of service, and it’s difficult to wow them, because, of course, your competition is working to do the same thing.

But of course, it’s not everyone. Some people travel with their dogs, and they’re used to being disrespected. What if you gave those people a choice of a dozen dog toys, three dog beds and a special dog run out back?

When you delight the weird, the overlooked and the outliers, they are significantly more likely to talk about you and recommend you.

Seth’s Blog: Delight the weird

Why Amazon Gives so Many Perks to Prime Members



Free shipping, special deals, free video streaming and, since last week, free access to a selection of digital books and magazines – Amazon Prime members get a lot of bang for their buck. But why is it that Amazon keeps adding new perks for Prime members? After all, the company is a for-profit organization whose objective is to earn money, not give away stuff for free.

The answer is simple: Prime members tend to spend a lot more money on Amazon than non-members. Hence, getting more people to sign up for membership is worth a lot to the company because it ultimately promises an increase in sales.

This chart, based on data published by Morgan Stanley last week, illustrates just how valuable Prime members are to Amazon’s core business. While more than 40 percent of Prime members spend more than $1,000 a year on Amazon, 80 percent of non-members spend less than $500. On average, a Prime subscriber in the U.S. spends $2,486 a year on Amazon, the average non-Prime shopper merely spends $544 a year.

Source: • Chart: Why Amazon Gives so Many Perks to Prime Members | Statista

Leaders talk about customer needs and wants, not what the company needs.


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What we talk about as leaders is important.

It can’t be faked.

Our customers and employees are listening.

As leaders, how familiar are we with what the customer wants? What are their goals? Are they being met? If they aren’t being met, why not? What are we going to do about it this quarter?

Look at what you have said to employees and your team this month. How much of it is about the company and how much of it is about our customers?

Customer Needs

Customer Needs

Is it time to act like you are a global nonprofit?


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You are a global nonprofit. Do you act like it?

Your audience is 2.4 billion potential donors. You have international reach.

Are you designing experiences with an international audience in mind?

The top 15 countries saw year to year growth of about 15% new users in 2012. Much of that is in emerging markets. The U.S has the highest penetration with 78% of the population connected. China added 264 million new users last year with only 42% penetration.

Key takeaway: You are a global nonprofit. Keep that in mind as you design the donor experience.


How do we know who the customer is behind all the devices connecting with us?


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How do we know who the customer is behind all the devices connecting with us?

We live a world of the connected customer. Can the “Internet of Customers” be fulfilled?

We all wish that it could be done easily.

Here are some thoughts from Forrester Research on Salesforce1 and it’s promise. For the digital business that is obsessed about it’s customers, this is a huge issue. Salesforce1

After one of the biggest announcements in the marketing technology space of 2013 —’s purchase of ExactTarget — few were surprised to see the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud feature prominently at Dreamforce in San Francisco. But the real headline grabber was the introduction of Salesforce1, a cloud-based platform for what the company calls the “Internet of customers.” We’ve got a deeper look into the implications of this for marketers for Forrester clients, but some of our key takeaways were that Salesforce:

  • Gets the age of the customer and what it means for their products. CEO Marc Benioff spoke at length about the “customers behind the devices” and the importance of engaging with those individuals, rather than the things they use to connect to the Web. We are in what Forrester calls the age of the customer, where “the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.” The Salesforce1 vision is to be the technology engine behind those firms — and the announcement takes a big step in that direction.
  • Commits to an integrated future . . . at some point. Salesforce1 offers a slew of technical changes that make integration not only a priority but also a possibility. Marketers who increasingly need to deliver a consistent experience across all interactions over the course of the customer life cycle will find some of that need met in Salesforce1. The details around how the different clouds will connect remains vague, however. (For more about the technical elements of the integration, check out  John Rymer’s post.)
  • Needs to answer questions about how marketers will unlock the benefits of Salesforce1. The vision and demos we saw at Dreamforce whet marketers’ appetites, but it remains unclear how they will tap Salesforce1’s potential without more information around pricing, inter-cloud connections, and ROI of a new approach. Without that clarity, it’s hard to call Salesforce1 a true marketing technology platform.

Source: For Marketers, Salesforce1 Aspires To Be The Platform Of Customer Obsession | Forrester Research

What is more important, advertising or amazing customer service?


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How important is the experience that customers have with you? Before you answer, consider this:

  • 40% of people began purchasing from a competitive brand because of its reputation for great customer service.
  • 55% are willing to recommend a company due to outstanding service, more than product or price.
  • 85% would pay up to 25% more to ensure a superior customer service experience.
  • 82% have stopped business with a company due to bad customer service.
  • 95% of customers have taken action as a result of a bad experience. Of those, 79% told others about their experience.

The Internet has amplified the ability for news to travel and instant speed, especially bad news. Many customer service management software providers focus on developing more effective tools to help you stay on top of managing your customer experience and ensuring that your customers are getting good customer service from your staff, all of the time.

The fine folks at Zengage, the Zendesk blog put together a fantastic infographic outlining the importance of customer experience and the impact that it has on getting new customers and keeping your customers happy.

Source: Customer Experience Is More Important Than Advertising (Infographic) – Business 2 Community

Power of Persuasion

Faking the customer experience


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Image result for fakeIf the product really stinks can you fake the experience to generate more profit?

You can’t fake the real experience. The real experience is vitally connected to the product itself.

Customers and employees will always figure it out. That spells disaster in the short and long run.

Once they figure it out, they will act and behave accordingly. That means your product is doomed.


Why a nonprofit focus and alignment around the donor experience is critical


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Donor Experience

Donor Experience

A great donation experience with the development department doesn’t make up for a poor billing experience. The donor’s experience is the sum total of all interactions, not just a single departments. One bad experience at a key touch point can bring down several great ones by other departments. While departments are necessary, silos created by them can be deadly for the overall donor experience.

Aligning your organization around the donor experience is hard work. It is easy to say we are going to do it and we are going to create a donor focused culture. It is harder to do it. It is necessary work though. Creating alignment starts with defining the stages of a donor’s journey from their point of view from start to finish.

Delivering a unified experience is the end game. To do that we have to stop doing one off work that optimizes part of the experience but sub optimizes the whole experience. What difference does it make if we improve the call center experience but ignore the reason why they were calling was a really bad web site experience?

Creating a reliable and repeatable experience isn’t tackled by each department having separate priorities and metrics. The “big things” need to get fixed. That requires the hard work of seeing the whole journey and creating big and stunning “wow” moments.

Creating alignment is accomplished by spending hours mapping out the whole experience, from the donors point of view, and fixing the big “pain points”. Alignment is not created in a series of one off improvements.

This process doesn’t have to take forever. There are always a few big things that can be tackled quickly. A continuous donor experience improvement process is the key to getting sustainable results.

The CEO and the C-Suite must require a holistic approach to the experience. Creating accountability for unified improvements is key. Middle managers can make or break the success if their efforts are always seen as departmental and not corporate.

The voice of the donor is usually best represented at the point where the moments of truth occur. That may be the donor service representatives, donation representatives, billing clerks or other front line personnel.

The main resource needed, which can be a big constraint, is requiring that multiple departments participate with commitments of time in mapping and improvement exercises. Once major pain points are identified, funds need to be allocated to actually solve the problems and just gloss over them by applying band aids.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. The donors experience is the sum total of all interactions, not just a single departments.
  2. Start by defining the stages of the experience and the moments of truth that comprise all of the experience touch points.
  3. Begin soon. This can’t wait.
  4. Encourage cross-departmental buy in.
  5. Shoot for sustainable results.
  6. The CEO must make this a priority and personal time devoted to being engaged.
  7. Focus on middle management as a key fulcrum for change.
  8. Significant time commitments are required.


In the age of communities, how important is our nonprofit brand?



Image result for nonprofitWhat does your nonprofit stand for? What (and who) does it represent?

Now, more than ever before, our brand is vitally important. More time needs to be spent making sure it is clear.

Our donors are connected when our brand is clear. The values we share, the personal believes that we hold in common, the life experiences that are combined with personal and professional objectives are creating a need for personal engagement with our mission.

Is it about apathy? Is it about empathy? It isn’t either/or. We have to align with donors in order for them to be passionate about us. We have to go beyond being donor-centric.

Notice I didn’t say our donors need to align with us. This isn’t about us. It is about what our donors love and can connect to in terms of why we are in business as a nonprofit.

The best way to think about it is to think of community. That can mean a group of people living in the same place or it can mean having some characteristics in common.

As nonprofits, we need to understand communities. We need to know why our donors align with our community or why they don’t. In most nonprofits, there isn’t a single view of the donor because we work in siloes. And so we slice up the donor by department and by desired result. Are they a donor? Have they given recently? Did they renew this year?

Or … are they an advocate for us in promoting the emotional connection they have for us?

The list goes on. We wish it wasn’t true but while nonprofits truly value collaboration we typically aren’t measured by collaboration results.

The traditional opportunity funnel is no longer working with the connected donor. What is happening with the connected donor is very dynamic and can feel like it is spinning out of control to you as a leader. We will need to adapt our mission, vision and models to react faster. Speed is paramount to the digital nonprofit.

There really can’t be a “top-down” movement to create a singular experience for the donor. When we dissect the nature of a transactional relationship, there is never to be found a unified experience. Movements don’t create unity.

We have to change our minds.

In deciding to be intentional and design a better experience, we need to dig deeper and understand more about community. A simple example is Twitter. What are #hashtags if not a simple way to create a community around a topic? And it works.

Now community is much more than that. It is about doing something that matters and being a part of it. Why has the revenue of Habitat for Humanity exploded at a time when other nonprofits are in decline? Formed in 1976, the last revenue totals I saw placed them at $1.491 billion in total revenue. My niece can tell you about her experience. She gives her time and money to make a difference. And she does. That is what she wants to do. Habitat for Humanity simple aligns itself with that passionate desire she has.

So let’s think intentionally and design it from start to finish. To build a community starts with the passion of the donor and then our nonprofit vision aligns with that passion. That passion is unified with our mission.

It comes to life with our brand commitment. We must then define the experience we want people to have with our brand (the embodiment of their passion and our vision / mission).

We then must align that experience with everything we do.  From donation to marketing to donor service to finance, it must fill everything we design. It must be on the whiteboards in our conference rooms. It must be aspirational. It has to be something worthy of the communities we are building. Our donors have to feel at their core that they personally and the entire world can’t live without our nonprofit.

The “old world” of branding has moved on. It isn’t about the jingle or tagline anymore. Today we have to build an identity, a persona, the essence of a feeling, a promise and most important, deliver on all those things. This is the new world of branding. And, thanks to technology and the deeper connections it can facilitate, it can happen.

How we as nonprofits connect with our donors is directly impacted by technology. If you don’t believe it just look at the controversies that Susan G. Komen, LiveStrong, Wounded Warrior, The Clinton Foundation or the Boy Scouts have/are dealing with. These great nonprofits have seen issues escalated as a result of blogging, social media, texting, etc. Look at how fast Blockbuster declined. It really wasn’t about finance. It was all about deep changes in how we all watch video.

Increasingly, in all these cases, the role of technology means that a nonprofit’s brand is very important. It is probably more important than it has ever been before. Brand is all about being intentional and design. Donors want certainty.

Donors rely heavily on the symbolism our nonprofit brand offers. Do we think nonprofit controversies are linked to a brand promise? Did technology accelerate the firestorm?

Nonprofit brands that fail to instill core confidence in their donors run the risk of failing and failing fast. Nonprofit brands that survive (even during economic downturns) will be the ones that are best able to evolve because they recognize the need to do so before their competitors do.

Meet the new nonprofit donor, digital and connected


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Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

We are beginning to know a new donor. These donors are a blend of the traditional, the digital and the connected. They may still be some who use traditional media and occasionally read a magazine or paper, but most have moved to the web (digital) and social world (think Facebook and Pinterest) and are rapidly becoming connected via smartphones and tablets.

It is still a blend for most but for many, the connected world is becoming predominant. It will help you from being disrupted by thinking in a blend of digital and connected with more and more moving to connected.

The connected donor is perhaps the most disruptive for you. What percent of your donors would you classify as either traditional, digital or connected? How fast do you think the digital and connected will grow in your mix? Have you allocated your investment portfolio adequately to avoid being disrupted?

Now would be the time to begin the hard analysis so you have greater insight into how to create great experiences for our digital and connected donors. With the insights we gain, we can develop relevant and meaningful strategies. Those strategies can create real return on investment (ROI) for your nonprofit.

Our connected donors are closing traditional touch points and constantly opening new digital and connected avenues in real time. The expectations of the digital and connected donor are for an experience that is enjoyable, simple and relevant to their needs is fast locking the doors on the traditional approaches.

It isn’t helpful to focus time and energy on the closed door. It is helpful to define the experience in the digital and connected world by understanding that they are two-way channels for learning and engagement.

What we want to learn is how to design experiences that lead donors down a path that alter the decisions they make to engage with your mission. With our new digital and connected donor, we can see what paths work best and how engaged or disengaged donors are as a result of that experience.

What is more important, customer feedback or customer behavior?

We get feedback every day from our customers.

They don’t open the email we sent them.

They don’t buy a second time even though we asked.

They do open the email but don’t click on the links.

They open the email and click on a link.

It isn’t feedback but the behavior tells us a lot and may tell us more that feedback.

What do we do with what we know? How does it change our approach?

Feedback isn’t the only (nor necessarily the best) source of customer insights. Examine behaviors.

Image result for customer feedback

Are we witnessing the “last breath” of the donor funnel?


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Image result for donor pyramidOver the years, nonprofits have developed various models to explain donor behavior. Most of the ones I have seen have been very linear. The most famous is the donation (donor) funnel where a donor moves over time from one stage to another.

Perhaps at one point the world was that simple. For today’s connected donor, it is no longer a linear path to engagement.

Experience Path - Constituent ExperienceThe connected donor is following a journey of experiences with your brand. The visual is more a loop that includes awareness, consideration, evaluation, mission engagement (advocate or participate), sharing the experience, where they start to become loyal and continue engagement through another journey along the loop. This level of engagement requires dedicated monitoring, not just listening, to shepherd people along this delicate journey. In this new world of constant distractions, the journey can go astray without proper leadership.

This is why intentional journey design in creating the experience before, during and after it is experienced is so critical to relationships with connected donors. If people can’t connect with the intent of your mission, then they won’t contribute to the intended outcomes you desire to see.

The Smartphone Platform War Is Over


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“While the global smartphone market is as competitive as ever in terms of manufacturers fighting for the consumers’ love (and money), the long-raging platform war appears to be over. According to a recent report by Gartner, Android and iOS now account for 99 percent of global smartphone sales, rendering every other platform irrelevant.

“As the chart below illustrates that hasn’t always been the case. Back in 2010, Android and iOS devices accounted for less than 40 percent of global smartphone sales. Back then, devices running Nokia’s Symbian and BlackBerry accounted for a significant portion of smartphone sales and Microsoft’s market share stood at 4.2 percent.

“While Symbian is long extinct and BlackBerry has started transitioning to Android devices, Microsoft has not yet given up on Windows 10 Mobile as a platform aimed at professional users. Whether Windows, or any other platform for that matter, stands a chance against the dominance of Android and iOS at this point seems highly doubtful though.”

Source: • Chart: The Smartphone Platform War Is Over | Statista

“Technology’s promise is not simply to automate processes, but to open routes to new ways of doing business.” ~~MIT Sloan Management Review


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Where did we go wrong in thinking that technology, in and of itself, would get us where we want to go? Could it be that we have forgotten the role of leadership?

Technology is important but without digital executives driving to transform the business into being a digital business, technology won’t get us where we want to go.

We need clear goals and strategies. We have to focus on the people that will get us there. We must enable processes that work.

AND then, technology will enable the transformation.

Companies routinely invest in technology, and too often feel they get routine results. Technology’s promise is not simply to automate processes, but to open routes to new ways of doing business.

via Embracing Digital Technology | MIT Sloan Management Review.

Digital Technology - Embracing

What will the workforce of the future look like?


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What will the workforce of the future look like?

Great question. It will be the same and it will be different.

If the focus on the customer experience looses traction, a few companies who stay the course will dominate.

It is clear that great customer experiences pay off. That isn’t anything new. Employees and leaders who get that reap the gains.

What about those who don’t? A life as a cog in the machine. Not too exciting but it may pay the bills. We need people who want more than that.

Because customer experience initiatives continue to dominate the executive agenda, businesses often fail to nurture internal resources in pursuit of external gain. However, as consumer expectations evolve, so must company culture, for future employees will rely upon collaboration, adaptability, and purpose to further personal and enterprisewide success

via Spotlight | The Workforce of the Future.

How should we organize ourselves to deliver a stunning customer experience?


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Bruce Temkin does great work on customer experience.  He has identified characteristics of mature customer experience approach. This is essential to the digital executive who is focused on great customer experiences. They are:

  1. CX core team
  2. Reporting executive
  3. CX Steering Team
  4. CX Working Group
  5. CX Ambassadors


Organizations need both formal and informal structures to drive change and improve customer experience (CX). In this report, we begin by identifying the five elements of a customer experience management group operating inside an organization: a CX core team, a reporting executive, a steering committee, a working group, and CX ambassadors. We describe how five organizations—Arizona Public Service, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Cornerstone OnDemand, Hagerty, and Safeco Insurance—combine these essential elements to create effective CX management groups. Our research also found that CX groups come in all shapes and sizes, and that the needs of these structures vary according to the maturity level of a company’s CX efforts. Across all different structures, the success of a CX organization is based on three characteristics: make-up of the CX core team, executive commitment to CX, and organizational readiness for CX. To evaluate your CX organization against these characteristics, use Temkin Group’s CX Organization Assessment.

Source: Report: Blueprint for a Successful CX Organization | Customer Experience Matters

The customer has spoken: Every employee must be socially engaged



Social media interfaceIt doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what position employees hold in your organizational hierarchy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2C company or B2B, a nonprofit or for profit, or whether your workforce is younger or older.

Employees in your organization will use collaborative media on the job. There’s not one thing you can do to stop it, so you might as well figure out how to turn it to your advantage.

Fortunately, regardless of industry or hierarchy or demographic, there’s a lot of advantage to be gained.

In virtually every call center, performance is measured based on the number of calls a representative can complete during a shift. That means reps have incentives to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible. And despite the fact that nearly 70% of consumers believe social is a necessary customer channel, 60% of companies have no formal support for social customer care.

That’s a bigger problem than you may think, since the customer experience eats product/service quality for lunch. Customers who are happy with your product or service—even those who are inclined to recommend you to others—could drop you like a an ebola-infected garment for a competitor if you don’t engage them frequently enough with meaningful interactions, according to an Ernst & Young survey.

It’s not just customer support staff who should be engaging customers via social media. Edelman’s Trust Barometer is clear: technical experts are more credible than just about anybody else in your company. When I blogged about a frustration with a Microsoft product several years back, it wasn’t a customer support rep who responded. It was the executive responsible for the product. In his comment, he suggested someone from his staff could offer more insights; one of them did. My subsequent praise for this response undoubtedly led people in my networks to think more highly of Microsoft. In fact, research supports the idea that when one person sings a company’s praises over a great experience, the people with whom she’s connected develop improved perceptions of the organization’s reputation.

It’s not just me. Customer service inquiries on Twitter are up 44%, according to research from SimplyMeasured. According to Mike Lazerow, chief strategy officer for’s Marketing Cloud, “If you get things wrong, customers have more ways than ever to tell everyone they know about it (as well as several thousand people they’ve never met).”

via The customer has spoken: Every employee must be socially engaged |Customer Service | Blog | Holtz Communications + Technology.

Are you On the Path to Omnichannel Excellence?


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According to SAP’s recent “The Race for Omnichannel Excellence” report, consumer product brands are, on average, three years away from achieving their overall omnichannel goals.

Conducted in partnership with Loudhouse, researchers surveyed 839 global marketing decision-makers from consumer product organizations to gauge the extent to which omnichannel data has created business value, as well as the challenges that come along with increased customer intimacy.

The following statistics underline how consumer product brands currently operate and which strategies will garner the most attention and care throughout the coming years:

  • Though companies have access to an array of customer aspects, such as transactional data, social interactions, and consumer profiles, 72 percent agree that their businesses struggle to transform omnichannel data into tangible, actionable business assets.
  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents say their omnichannel sales approaches are integrated “to an extent,” while only 16 percent claim that their company currently meets all business and analysis needs for consumer experience via omnichannel.
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents agree that omnichannel has increased the average consumer’s brand expectations, and 86 percent believe that the benefits of investing in an omnichannel sales strategy outweigh the challenges.
  • Of those companies that have implemented an omnichannel sales strategy, most claim that their organization has experienced increased sales (74 percent), improved loyalty and acquisition (64 percent), competitive advantage (62 percent), and better customer experience (57 percent).
  • When asked to prioritize the focus of their organization—promotion, optimization, innovation, or forecasting—42 percent of consumer product companies agreed that innovation would be their brand’s primary concentration over the next 12 months.
  • Over the next two years, respondents believe the main competitive differentiators will be quality of consumer experience (66 percent), integration of channels or omnichannel excellence (60 percent), and consumer data and corresponding analytics (58 percent). Only half (51 percent) believe the number of channels will carry any advantage.
Omni Channel

Omni Channel

via CPG | On the Path to Omnichannel Excellence.

‘Ice Bucket’ Stewardship by Barb Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association (guest article)


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‘Ice Bucket’ Stewardship by Barb Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association (guest article)

In the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge soaked the world. What was started by three young men living with ALS turned into the greatest social media and philanthropic event of all time.

At least 17 million people dumped ice water on their heads to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a 100 percent fatal disease that takes away a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, move and eventually breathe – and challenged their friends to do the same.

We immediately embraced the campaign and responded to public interest. Nearly 2.5 million people donated $115 million to The ALS Association, the largest and only nonprofit fighting the disease on every front through research, care services and public policy efforts.

Last week, the two-year anniversary of the challenge, we had some exciting news that received great coverage in all the top-tier media outlets. Ice bucket donations led to the discovery of a new gene, NEK1, now known to be one of the most common genes associated with ALS. We sent an email to all of our donors the day the news broke, continuing our two-year effort to thank, inform and engage people, demonstrating their impact in the fight against this disease.

From the moment the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started, we were determined to be good stewards of the donations. Thanking was our first priority, and transparency in our communications was paramount.

How did we steward these 2.5 million new donors? How did we meet their expectations?

We initiated a robust thank you strategy including this video, which was emailed out to donors and was also posted to social media. We created thank you graphics and implemented them across all communication channels.

Before we made any decisions as to how the money would be spent, I engaged a panel of advisors made up of people living with the disease, and also listened to many other constituents. Along with our National Board of Trustees, I read countless emails and letters, looked at comments on social media, really taking time to truly understand how our donors wanted their money to be spent.

On October 2, The Association issued a press release detailing some initial Ice Bucket investments: a commitment of $21.7 million to ignite six projects, the bulk of which was to support four collaborative research initiatives. The Association contributed $1 million to one of these initiatives, called Project MinE, which led to the NEK1 discovery I described above.

And since that time, we’ve put out additional infographics and press releases with more details. Our core stewardship infographic includes a breakdown of committed and anticipated spending of the $115 million.

To introduce new donors to the organization they were supporting during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, we overhauled our email welcome series, to highlight The ALS Association’s integrated mission and give readers the opportunity to tell us more about themselves and their interest in remaining committed to the fight against ALS in their communities.

Our Development department delved into data and analytics. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out who all these new donors were. Most recently, we developed organizational “personas” to better understand the needs and motivations of The Association’s key constituencies, which will help drive a personalized, constituent-centric communications and marketing strategy.

Finally, we’ve made changes to our donate form, to make it easier for people to give to research or to support their local chapters.

The ALS community is at the center of everything we do. Going above and beyond to meet the needs and expectations of our strongest allies is my top priority. As we continue to grow, together, my mission is to ensure that The ALS Association remains the leading resource of information and support for the people we are here to serve.

Barb Newhouse is the President and CEO of The ALS Association. Barb holds a bachelor degree in social work and a master’s degree in health care administration. She received a certificate with the Leadership Institute on Aging in 1994 and has attended various continuing education courses with the Kellogg School of Non-Profit. Barb has recently completed a Certificate in Leadership program through the University of Notre Dame on leading transformational organizations. Throughout her career, she has served on numerous non-profit boards of directors including chairing both a community mental health center as well as the Governor’s Conference on Alzheimer’s disease for the state of Iowa.

What do you do if you currently work for a leader that isn’t helping you?


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What do you do if you currently work for a leader that isn’t helping you? That is a tough issue. It happens all the time. And, there is there is the question about who is really the problem. Are we expecting too much?

Michael Hyatt has some very insightful ideas. All five of these are spot on. Leadership - Feels like

But what if you are in that situation right now? Here are five ways to cope:

  1. Manage your expectations. When you read a lot of books and blogs about leadership, it is easy to become idealistic. If you are not careful, you can create a set of expectations that no one could possibly meet. You have to remember your boss is human—and fallen at that. He struggles with his own fears, wounds, and weaknesses. He has his own accountabilities and pressure. He will experience good days and bad.
  2. Evaluate the impact. What kind of effect is your boss having on you and your teammates? Is he over-bearing and abusive? Incompetent or careless? Or is he checked out or inaccessible? I have worked in all of these situations and each of them requires a different response. Some are easier to put up with and manage around than others.
  3. Consider your options. If the situation is bad enough, it may warrant your resignation. I have only been in one job where I did this, and frankly—knowing what I know now—I wish I had stayed. But your circumstances may be different. Most situations provide an opportunity to learn, if you are alert and teachable. Some of the best lessons I ever learned were from bad bosses.
  4. Be assertive. Bad bosses have a way of creating a culture of fear, where people are afraid to speak up. But this may be the perfect opportunity for you to become more courageous. This doesn’t mean you have to be disrespectful. Nor does it require that you become inappropriately aggressive. Being assertive means giving voice to your needs and establishing clear boundaries.
  5. Support him publicly. Someone once said, “public support leads to private influence.” I think that is exactly right. When I have been in these situations, I have refused to publicly debate my boss or to gossip about him behind his back. I looked for positive attributes (everyone has them) and publicly affirmed them. I was loyal when he wasn’t present. This gave me credibility when I needed it later.

Source: What If You Work for a Bad Leader? | Michael Hyatt 

Donor engagement is not about voodoo


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Engagement is not about voodoo. It is however as much about art as about science. It also draws heavily from social sciences; psychology, sociology, ethnography, and digital anthropology.

The behaviors of donors are critical to understand. These behaviors expresses patterns that are important to the journey you hope they take with your mission. It highlights for you new touch points and resources for potential investment. Your empathy and creativity are inspired by the decisions your donors make. This journey is very dynamic and every evolving.

What is a game changer from a research point of view? It is what your donors are doing online today. Certainly not what they did 2 years ago or perhaps not even 2 months ago.

Your nonprofit needs clarity. You can gain it now and learn where to focus investments and scarce resources. There are many moments of truth around something as straightforward as making a donation.

Be aware that the engagement path is not linear but more elliptical in nature. Many touch points that create amazing experiences continue to influence the journey. There are very specific factors, strategies, people, communities, and resources that come to influence engagement and loyalty.

Experience Path - Constituent ExperienceThis elliptical journey tends to repeat itself and levels of engagement increase. Regardless of how many times the journey is taken, the experience at all the moments of truth always wins greater engagement.

As you think about someone taking a journey with your mission, you might envision moments where they become aware, start considering you, decide to evaluate you, become engaged in some aspect of your mission and become loyal. The experience at each stage influences the connected donor to continue on the journey or opt out altogether.

Continuing on through multiple cycles creates donors who become advocates who volunteer. Each loop through the cycle creates a level of loyalty that is hard to break. Donors who opt out after one loop through a cycle probably did so due to a bad experience at one or more points in the first journey.

Here are the core experiences that need to be intentionally designed to be enjoyable, simple and meet donor needs.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Evaluation
  4. Mission engagement (donate, volunteer, advocate or participate)
  5. Share the experience
  6. Become loyal and continue engagement through another journey along the loop

We used to view these factors as a linear path. Much research has occurred to help us understand that the connected donor moves in an elliptical path that is tilted in a positive or negative way based on the overall experience. When it becomes negative, they begin to loose awareness, stop considering you, etc. In other words, the brakes are on and they fall out of the path. When the experiences are positive, they continue on.

Whether through social search or traditional, shared experiences, whether good or bad, influence the connected donor in meaningful ways. Their shared experience will affect others on the same path who are following them.

There is a stunning truth to come to grips with about the connected donor. Before they can truly become loyal and promote you to others, they must experience the journey a second time to validate their experience. If anything comes up different in the second journey, they may consider other alternatives.

No matter what, the entire journey is very social and very public. Donors are more connected than you may be able to imagine and it is this truth that can define the experience for others who may be considering to make the same journey. Shared experiences are fed into the experience loop. Those experiences are now being indexed and extracted by others who are considering the same journey with your mission.