There comes a time where we have to make a decision. What will we invest in to make the donor experience stunning? It is a serious question and not a budget exercise. If we are going to be intentional and proactive, we need to make an investment. At first that may be just our time as a nonprofit executive. Eventually it will be about people, our processes, our strategies and our technology. If we don’t become intentional in our approach to our digital donor experiences we will continue to be haphazard in our approach; reacting, responding, solving toxic experiences in real time. This intention however must be about heartfelt experiences. It must create a passion from our donors for our mission as a digital nonprofit.
There is of course, a very real cost to reacting. Scrutinize your budget and you will see that most of our fixed expenses are reactionary. What if we invested in proactive and intentional experiences for our donors, from the heart, up front? Could we radically reduce our reactionary and bloated fixed expenses? In fact, my guess is the reactionary expenses vastly exceed proactive expenses. I know nonprofits that are ramping up their expenses in reactionary engagement and relationships. The good news is that they are succeeding in shifting the negative to neutral or even the positive.
So what is the outcome of taking a negative and balancing it with a positive donor experience? Is it donor engagement or damage control?
So what is the cost and value of neutralizing the negative donor experience? Shouldn’t we start with the amazing?
What is the return on that investment in the stunning?
What is probably most concerning is that most of us are not measuring much of this in terms of the donor experience. And why are we struggling to generate more donations? Now think about that question. Why is our revenue flat? Why are donors not engaged and not renewing their gifts?
Is the experience we are creating wonderfully sharable? If not, what is our investment over the next 3 months going to be in changing that? We must invest in not only a positive experience but an experience that screams out for our donor and clients to share it with everyone they know. That encourages others to join in. It also offsets any negative experiences anyone else has shared. Think about it. We all read the ratings and comments. If there are 100 over the top ones we can ignore the one that is virally negative writing it off to a weirdo.
What is the biggest deal for our donors? Trying to offset the negative experiences or proactively creating amazing ones? Creating amazing ones is everything. That is not an exaggeration. You know, from your own experiences as a donor, that it is true. The cost of reacting is always eclipsed by the upside of the stunning.
Think of what you want. You are a donor. You are the donor who wants something from your nonprofit you are investing in. Are you looking for the ordinary? No, you are looking for an experience, no, the experience.
Any nonprofit that recognizes you, remembers you, and gives you an amazing service experience will win your heart. And it is all about your heart. You will be loyal to them no matter what. That is what we know as relevance. A passion of our heart that transcends anything else. What would the answer be if you asked you donors the following question: Can you imagine the world without (XYZ Nonprofit)? On a scale of 1 to 10, what would your average rating be?
And so, that heartfelt experience is not just a so-so something. That heartfelt, amazing donor experience, is everything. That kind of vision is the father of innovation. Who needs the mother of invention in that kind of world?
You have a number of alternatives before you as a nonprofit executive. Which will you choose? One filter should be which of the experiences will create an emotional connection to your mission. Have you factored that into your decision analysis? You can actually measure the difference in terms of engagement. Does one alternative improve engagement or not? Some level of rigor in measuring the results will help.
There are constraints in terms of investments. Consider small tests with some level of “A-B” spilt analysis. “A-B’ tests are not just for the marketing department.
Here are the key ideas:
- There is a difference in the mediocre / ho hum donor experience and the stunning. Begin to believe in the amazing. If inspires you it will inspire your donors.
- Decide you are going to decide. Not seeing you have alternatives can create inertia that can undermine progress.
- Reacting to donor pain points is a “net zero” game. It stops the bleeding but doesn’t improve your health. You do need to stop the bleeding however. It can’t be ignored.
- Having stopped the bleeding if you need to, start investing in the stunning. It is one thing to prevent a problem, it is another to improve your wellbeing.
- In considering your investment in the amazing donor experience, test your alternatives to help make the decision.