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Major Donor - The pyramid is dead

Major Donor – The pyramid is dead

Our donors are sharing experiences they have with us. This profoundly influences the journey others they know will take and the decisions they will make to become engaged with us. Our marketing efforts have one level of effect but they are always seen as our marketing efforts. What others say, in a peer-to-peer way, are the most potent influencers of all.

Word of mouth has always been powerful. Technology now allows for exponential reach for the person who shares their experience of us. It isn’t what we say about ourself but it is all about what others say about us that counts.

At some point, a donor will start a journey with our nonprofit. It may be small and unnoticeable to us to begin with. Maybe it was that $10 donation they made when a friend who was participating in an event asked them to give. They can give a lot more and they might.

Think of what that experience is like for them. Think through it very carefully. Also think through how to help them along the journey to a higher level of engagement.

Is it all intentional? Major donors don’t go from $10 to $1,000,000 in one big leap. The $10 experience, however, has to help start and support that journey. Every one, marketing, development, advocacy and mission programs need to align to contribute to the experiences that lead to an engaged journey. It needs to be mapped out and it needs to be intentional. And everyone needs to be on board with the strategy.

The framework of internal collaboration is not difficult: listen to the donors, learn, create engagement experiences, and adapt to improve the engagement experiences.

  1. Listening involves the conversations they are having as they discover us. Follow that same path yourself and evaluate how it feels in the context of the more important journey.
  2. Learning takes the form of how key words are used, questions that are asked and how the responses may contribute to a theme and how those themes in fact evolve to deeper levels of engagement.
    1. This requires an ability to apply those key words to learn how donors are engaged which lead to others becoming engaged with us as well.
    2. Refine our key word strategy based on how others are searching and interacting with us.
    3. Your search engine marketing efforts can benefit in a huge way from what we learn.
    4. Look to see how donors are engaged in a search for a certain experiences today that could lead to a discovery of our mission.
  3. Do we have a defined path from discovery to engagement in one of our communities? If so, engaged donors can become a respected resource to attract others into the community.
    1. Develop a content strategy to support community engagement.
      1. YouTube videos
      2. Social-friendly website and landing pages
      3. Useful blog posts
      4. Donor reviews and testimonials on social sites.
  1. Develop a strategy to involve donors in fixing problems. This should be public and rapid.
    1. Develop a social media command center with a team to monitor key social media channels to convert negative donor experiences into positive ones.
  2. Use a continuous improvement process for the donor’s journey that you are creating. This should support internal collaboration and external engagement.
    1. This should create a path between shared donor experiences and program innovation.
    2. The insights we gain can lead us to rethink roles, rules, procedures and processes. A procedure we have may create a kink in an otherwise well thought out donor journey.

Shared experiences (and they will be shared) are ties that bind the decision making potential donors will make. In the connected world with access to mobile, social and the internet anytime anywhere, experiences will be shared on demand.

You have a great mission. That isn’t the issue. The unconnected and siloed experiences we are not intentional about may not be what we want shared on YouTube. Design the type of experiences you want shared. You have to assume the experience, whether good or not, will be shared. That level of design will free you from fearing someone sharing the truth.

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