It’s that Halloween time-of-year. So, grab your mask and try this very simple exercise with your fundraising team.
The Halloween mask is to allow you and each of your team to become someone else for a little while.
Forget who you each are … and put yourself in the shoes of your donors.
Find a quiet, confidential setting where you can bring your team together that will allow each person on your team to be transparent and completely honest about their opinions. Remember, the mask is not to hide behind, but to allow each person on your team to become one of your donors for a little while.
Have someone take notes and capture every person’s feedback and input.
With your masks on, ask each participant to totally take on your donor’s character and identity. Walk in your donors’ shoes.
With your donors’ shoes on, discuss the following two questions:
- Think about your overall donor experience with our organization. How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend, family member, or colleague?
- As a donor, how would you rate your most recent interaction with us?
Experience Your Donor’s Experience
I’m a great fan of these two questions, and I think that every nonprofit organization should ask their donors these questions following each donor mailing.
Let’s imagine this situation. If you are the typical nonprofit organization today, the only time that your donors ever hear from you is when you are seeking the next donation … and the next … and the next.
As you might expect, donors can grow very tired of constantly being treated like an “ATM.”
Think about it. It’s like clockwork. That direct mail appeal and/or email appeal asking for that next donation. It may not always be for the same need, but it’s the same old pitch … “we need your money, we need it urgently, and we need as much as you can give … now.”
As a donor, how would you respond to the never-ending appeals?
The first thing I would do is complain to all my friends that I hate the way this nonprofit treats me.
“The nonprofit obviously doesn’t know me; I’m a number on a mass mailing list. Wouldn’t you really like to know what moves me to support you? Don’t you want to hear my opinion and know my pain points? I have a voice; I want to be heard.”
“The nonprofit is constantly demanding my attention and always asking for my money. And every opportunity the nonprofit has to communicate with me — that is, to engage with me in an authentic, human way through an authentic, human interaction — it relentlessly solicits my money, even after I have long stopped giving.”
I would certainly let all my friends know that they should never support this nonprofit. I will probably write an appropriate, negative review on social media. In the future, every time I hear the name of this nonprofit, I will share my story strongly recommending others to choose another charity.
Not An Overreaction
You might think I’m overreacting, but believe me, I’m not.
I’m a next-gen donor and I’m very typical of all next-gen donors.
I’m not anything like my direct-mail-loving elders of the last century who responded to charities out of a sense of duty, obligation, or altruism. Along with my fellow next gens — Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials — we are already giving three-quarters of all dollars today and represent 88 percent of the donor universe in the U.S.
“So why do you treat me like you treated the Traditionalist donors of the last century? I haven’t licked a stamp in two decades. I do everything online. And, in order for me to support you and be loyal to you, I expect a donor experience that delights me and brings me a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.”
For us next-gen donors:
- Two-thirds of us will stop giving or reduce support to a nonprofit that over-solicits.
- Three-quarters of us will stop giving or reduce support to a nonprofit if we perceive the cost of fundraising is too high.
- Fully half of us have stopped giving to charities for reasons unrelated to our personal finances.
- And, three-quarters of us, after responding to an initial appeal, never give a second gift. Never. Despite the incessant asking for money, and maybe because of the relentless asking for money.
And, by the way, here’s why nonprofits need to be concerned about the social behaviors of next-gen donors in today’s social-media-dominated world:
- News of a bad donor experience will reach more than twice as many ears as praise for a good donor experience.
- For every donor who bothers enough to complain, 26 other donors remain silent. (This would keep me up at night!)
- Next gen donors today would rather tell the world about how much your experience sucks than confront you with this fact!
Time to Be Honest
When was the last time you met and chatted to one of your organization’s donors? If you can answer positively to this question, I take my hat off to you.
In reality, many nonprofit leaders stare uncomfortably at the floor or ceiling whenever I ask this question in one of our workshops on optimizing the donor experience. I personally have met countless fundraising executives who have NEVER met a donor of their organization — NEVER!
Astonishing, or not. In our fundraising world where so many of us are focused on inspiring compassion and generosity, it is all too easy to lose sight of the fact that a donor actually exists. If you never take the time to meet, talk to, and listen to your donors, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have any comprehension of how your organization and the donor experience it delivers, actually makes your donors feel.
At the heart of what we call Donor Experience Management (DXM), the single most effective organizational approach for achieving breakthrough success in fundraising today, is to understand how it feels to be a donor. The over-used phrase of “walking in the donors’ shoes” is one that must not just be said, it must be one that is genuinely and authentically applied in today’s Experience Economy.
An Upcoming Opportunity to Learn More About the DXM Approach
Join us for the Boom! Workshop, a 3-hour introduction to Donor Experience Management:
- Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the Carmelite Retreat Center in Darien, Illinois