PuzzleTraditionally, the fundamental focus of the nonprofit has been to market, solicit and service donors. This has become known as CRM (Constituent Relationship Management).

Over the last 10 to 15 years, managing relations via marketing, development and donor service functions has become an important new source of value, and is increasing the “top line” at an appreciable rate.

Relationship management has changed. It is important, but so is the experience the donor has online. Does that experience meet their goals? Is it simple and easy to use? Do I feel good about how it worked for me? Important questions to know the answers to on any given day.

Frequently the donor experience is perceived as a technology issue. It is not.

First and foremost, it is about culture then strategy.

Today, donor expectations are more important than ever before. Donors are in charge of the “giving” process. Not providing a great donor experience has significant risks associated with it.

The expanding responsibilities of donor relationships and digital donor experience

The marketing, development and donor service departments and functions possess traditional mechanisms for acquiring donors, building relationships, and providing service. Most of this is transaction oriented.

Where is the strategy, people, processes and technology-maturity mechanisms for our increasingly valuable connected donors?  As leaders, we need to answer these and other important questions.

Today’s nonprofits exist in a world constantly susceptible to donors becoming “unengaged” and abandoning the nonprofit as an active donor. The digital and connected donor group is growing and expanding at an alarming rate:

  • The average donor experience today is “below average” and donors are taking advantage of choices.
  • Employees feel incapable and unsupported in providing amazing service.  Employees want to do the “right thing” for the donor but are handcuffed by outdated and very controlling policies and procedures.
  • Donors are increasingly digital in their approach and systems that are usable are lagging behind in capabilities to deliver a great experience.
  • Processes are old, outdated, inflexible and perhaps even worse of all, non-existent. The inconsistent approach to service is creating massive challenges.

The need for a different approach

For these reasons and more, we need an approach that considers more sophisticated, mature and responsive methodologies for addressing this challenging donor environment.

Maybe even more importantly, we need a sustainable relationship/experience management program seeking to acquire more donors, create amazing experiences, build relationships, renew donors, take advantage of opportunities as they emerge, and sustain a responsive framework for this rapidly-evolving area to “manage down” the uncertainty level.

It is important to discover where you are today, plan for where you want to go in the future, create real action that produces results and optimize your initiatives for continuous improvement.

So what about transformation initiatives? They seem so hard and fail so often. They don’t have to be. In this day and age, just improving may get you out of business.

Rapid, transformative results are possible. It does take discipline. It does take a culture obsessed with the donor experience. It does take leadership

Strategic Imperatives to consider

Strategic issues to be considered is having a knowledge that digital invaders exist and that they are experts at rapid disruption. As a result, the entire C-suite now sees digital as the biggest game-changer. It can fuel growth, but drastically change the landscape.

While most CxOs believe they see the “Big Picture,” few actually know how to create that view.  Industry leaders are looking beyond the immediate future, and employing a full range of strategies.

Coming to market second or third is a luxury few can afford. Creating a business model that offers both speed and scale can be tricky. Nonetheless, some leading nonprofits are using their resources to out think the “competition”.

Strategic Imperatives

Do you want to:

  • Be First – this approach is costly and risky but may be your cup of tea. If so, there are ideas that no one else has tried yet that could catapult you ahead.
  • Be Best – this approach has costs but excelling in most areas, particularly the giving and post giving experience will pay off.
  • Be left behind – this approach is obviously to be avoided. Unbeknownst to you, someone may be about to disrupt your business model.

Other issues to be considered

  • The overall retention rate for first time donors is 23.7%
  • In 2014, overall fundraising increased 2.1% while online income increase 8.9%
  • Major givers are moving to make their gifts online. Can we afford a mediocre digital donor experience?
  • 37% on nonprofits do not send an email with 30 days of signup
  • 44% of nonprofits asked for a gift within 90 days of signup
  • 65% of nonprofits require 3 or more clicks to give
  • 84% of nonprofit donation webpages are not optimized for mobile

What makes up the digital donor experience?

There are five key steps in the process. Not all of these are of equal value but they are all important to do well to create outcomes that meet the donor’s goals and needs, make the online experience easy and create an online experience that is enjoyable.

  1. Pre-giving experience
  2. Donation experience
  3. Online acknowledgement experience
  4. Email acknowledgement and thanks experience
  5. Post giving experience

The digital donor experience is becoming crucial to all nonprofit efforts.

One of the current challenges is to know how we are doing and have a strategy for continuously improving.