I am always reading the newest and latest survey of donor motivations, online giving and other factors abut donors. Recently, my friend Ann sent me a new report and white paper based on a new segmentation entitled, "champions, friends, and acquaintances". You can find the entire report here. But for those of you without long subway commutes (I highly frown upon reading charts and graphs while driving) I thought I would give you some key point and my thoughts on them here.
This study truly reinforces a multi channel approach to donor communications that I have been advocating for years now. What is most notable here is the donor's strong preference for email. This preference encompasses an ever increasing shift in constituent mindset. While personal communication for many of us is king, what we realize here is that our donors rely on email not only for its convenience but also for its perceived cost savings to an organization where fiscal responsibility is paramount. However, before we dismiss print and face to face meetings altogether, we must realize that, once again, data must drive our strategy. If we do not possess the email addresses for our champions, how can we effectively communicate in their preferred manor?
This leads me to advocate to all of you the importance of email acquisition in every part of your donor interactions. But how can we obtain email addresses? Here are a few tips: in order to attend an event, they must give you an email address. Period. That means guests, alumni, friends, anyone who gets a free cocktail and passed snack, gives an email address. When they register or RSVP, if you don't have their email, ask for it or have an iPad out with an easy email form to imput data as they come in the door? Go to your fundraisers and empty their outlook contacts and input them in your database, you'd be surprised what you will find. Run an in house email acquisition campaign. That means faculty, administration, and staff, anyone who has contact, pull those emails out and place them in your database. Finally you can run an email acquisition campaign through social media and to help find lost alumni and friends. To see an example, click this link and watch what we did at NYU Poly using a comped seat on an alumni travel program and some creativity.
One of the best takeaways from this new segmentation of constituents prompted me to think about my friends and acquaintances and what I can do in my daily work to bring them to champions. As many of you know from my talks, I am a big believer in the bless and release philosophy based on the popcorn eaters story I tell, if you want to hear the story, email me and I will tell you. The fact remains that for all of the good work we do and the effort and dollars spent, some of our acquaintances will never become friends or champions. Bless them and then release them. Focus your efforts on moving those friends to champions. When you have perfected that and have tons of hours on your hands, and have exhausted your online shopping budget, you can focus on the disengaged. When you get there, call me, I want to know what that feels like.
How exactly do we do this? Here are some tips: we must find out from them through feedback methods and analytics, what it is that is meaningful to them. From the three case studies in the white paper, we can see that depending on the organization, these populations can differ yet some of their behavioral tendencies are mirrored. We must segment and adapt our messaging, sometimes by repurposing the same message and targeting each group intentionally, and then analyzing their engagement, response and interest. Once we have tendencies and donor motivations for each group, we can better communicate with our friends and acquaintances and ask them what would it take to move them into the champion group. Additionally, learning from our donors what other organizations they support and benchmarking with those other organizations and learning from them is vital. We all have a great deal to learn from not only our donors (if we ask them) but also from each other. See something constantly cross your desk from a board member or champion that is produced by another organization? Pick up the phone and call them, learn about their methodologies and how they view their segments of constituents. You'll accomplish a couple of important things. You'll make the day of the person you call to flatter. You'll come away with new ideas for your program and you'll be able to tell your donor about the experience and build a stronger bridge to them by demonstrating you can listen and that their feedback is meaningful to them.
I would love to hear what your reactions to this white paper are, and how you intend to think of your segmentation. Also congratulations to the many of you closing the fiscal year this week! Take Saturday and Sunday off as a reward!