We are on a hero’s journey for your nonprofit. We have a passionate desire to learn how to harness disruption and innovate in completely new ways to improve the donor experience. Most importantly, we want to transform our nonprofit into a donor focused machine.
We are being introduced to new connected donors. We are seeing how they progress through a dynamic journey. We are discovering how they respond and behave at each moment of truth about our mission. Generation C’ers are different than their traditional counterparts. We can’t reach them through direct mail. Their phone numbers (remember land lines) aren’t published. They may or may not subscribe to our eNewsletter. You can only reach them if they choose to be reached. They are in control of who they do (or don’t) connect with.
We are learning that our donors are far more informed than we ever imagined. They are very, very sophisticated in their decision making. They are extremely savvy in their digital prowess. They have a capacity to multitask across multiple platforms and devices during the day and pick up right where they left off at night. We have to adapt to this new world.
We all want to improve the experience for our donors. We know that experience right now it can be very disjointed. We yearn for our leadership to be innovative and visionary. We want it to be meaningful and not fanciful.
We have this sense that innovation starts with something perhaps simpler than transformation. We must go back to the basics of our mission and vision and align them with desirable outcomes and significant experiences for the donor or event participant. We may need to invest in programs and services that our donors may not even know they need yet.
Here is a summary of some of the things we know:
- The new reality is the “connected donor” who is opening up new touch points for our mission.
- How connected donors are influenced and influence isn’t anything like our traditional donors are.
- Donors expect something different. They are aligning with our missions for different reasons than we think. Think quality of experience. Think about how we treat our employees and donors. Consider how sustainable the footprint we are leaving is visible. Obsess over engagement. This is what is important to our new donors.
- The channels donors use may never cross other channels. They can be fully contained from beginning to end on one device in one network. My children will sit in front of a very nice iMac searching for content on their smartphone.
- On the other hand, sometimes donors will hop channels. They may look something up on the web and call us. What they expect is a seamless experience. It must be integrated. We have to bring these donors with common goals together and intentionally design a seamless experience.
- Connected donors value highly being valued. How can we find a new way express value and measure it?
- What does it take to connect with connected donors?
- An understanding of how donors behave and what they prefer.
- Some ability to read between the lines and innovate programs and services.
- Define the donor experience and what it will look like across every channel and journey.
- A blueprint on how to change the philosophy, culture and technology to lead (champion) a new era of donor experiences and engagement.
Simply saying we need to change probably isn’t the most helpful statement. We know that. Change takes, at a minimum, at least two things. First, you really have to want to. Desire and aspiration are essential. Second, it takes determination, stamina, fortitude and sheer will. It all however starts with a vision for a new donor experience.
Most nonprofits are exploring new media, different technology, and alternative channels for better donor engagement. To start with vision may sound trivial. Without vision, I would advocate, there probably won’t be any significant transformation of the donor experience. Transformation follows vision. Our next step may be to be the one to press pause. We can easily fall into the trap of chaotically rushing to the next big thing with understanding “Why are we doing this?” Be the leader to stop and ask why?
Michael Wilson is a Partner and Global Practice Leader for Fortium Partners. Fortium has over 40 partners. FORTIUM is dedicated to understanding and applying all things digital. A technology leadership services firm focused on providing world-class resources to clients with the most complex issues. FORTIUM serves nonprofit, public and private companies across a variety of industries, placing expert project teams and operational leadership resources in technology-related roles. FORTIUM resources usually have 25 or more years of experience, most recently in a senior leadership role.
I’m interested in a briefing on Donor Experience Transformation from Fortium Partners