It’s about their timing, not yours.
Fundraisers, as well as their organization’s leadership and board members, need to come to terms with the fact that donors make decisions based on their timing, needs, wants, desires, and interests, not your organization’s. The next step is retooling all marketing efforts to provide engagement offers that will appeal to each supporter in a way that’s meaningful to them based on where they are in the consideration continuum.
It’s about acquiescence, not moves.
Fundraisers who acquiesce to this paradigm stop trying to move donors through the consideration process. Instead, they provide highly relevant, valuable offers that are precisely aligned with where they reside in the vortex of the donor journey.
Profile them over time, continuously— not just once.
As donors accept and engage with these offers, it’s important to capture more and more actionable intelligence – verbatims and digital body language. Doing so helps you understand who they are now, what they want now, how likely they are to give now (or soon), and what you should do now.
The actionable intelligence you collect also helps you monitor them and capture new information about them as they make their way through the donor journey. This is called progressive profiling. Amazon.com does this better than anyone. As you search for items online, they monitor your searches, clicks, and comments to instantly and seamlessly recommend items that are highly likely to interest you. We’ve all come to expect the Amazon level of service when we shop online.
Similarly, your donors have come to expect that level of personalization and relevance. They don’t necessarily expect it to be as instantaneous, but they do expect you to listen to them and “show ’em that you know ’em.” This is a basic truth in the digital age. Ignore it at your own peril.
Engagement fundraisers continuously employ progressive profiling techniques and technologies to understand their donors better and give them the experiences they deserve. At a minimum, I recommend you survey your high-value donors every year. By doing so, you’ll see who’s moving closer to needing one-to-one contact and who isn’t, who once said they might consider a legacy gift and now wants to meet with someone, and who once said they might consider naming opportunities but are now ready to take action.
Once again, you can leverage technology to progressively profile your supporters. Surveys work great, but it’s also important to use forms on landing pages to collect verbatims while using tracking tools to collect digital body language over time.
Readiness is the key.
When you boil down Engagement Fundraising to its core, it’s about making offers of valuable content patiently and persistently to engage people until they’re ready to meet with a facilitator to build a relationship or make a gift.
The content can take the form of a video, a quiz, a game, an e-book – the list is endless, as long as it’s personal and valuable to that individual. It should be non-threatening. It should be educational and informative. It should be emotional and entertaining. It should be available and convenient. It should not ask for money. It should simply satisfy their needs and, above all else, make them feel good!
Be relevant or be gone!
As you understand each supporter’s individual profile thanks to progressive profiling, you should use technology to deliver ongoing, highly relevant, personalized outreach. Every offer for engagement should provide value in relation to what the prospect told you (and did) in the past and is telling you (and doing) now.
Alongside every donor-centric communication, you should also provide opportunities for the donor to move herself to the next step of the consideration process, eventually moving herself to take action by giving.
For example, one campaign we recommend in certain cases offers supporters who previously took a donor survey an opportunity to see the aggregate results in a downloadable PDF report filled with charts and graphs. For those who previously said they might give, we include in the form on the landing page a question asking where they are in the consideration process now. Have they made their decision? Do they need help? Are they interested in talking to a facilitator? Or, have they decided against giving altogether? Using technology to gather that information from hundreds or thousands of progressively profiled, high-capacity constituents who previously opted in for communications helps fundraisers prioritize their outreach.
Let technology do the impossible to save you time.
Without technology, it would be almost impossible for a human to implement a successful progressive campaign in a cost-effective way. But now, artificial intelligence can help to understand where the prospect is in the consideration process. Then automation can “drip” the right engagement offers over a long period of time to support the donor’s journey as they move themselves from awareness to interest to desire and, finally, to action.
Progressive profiling and automated cultivation works because it allows people the opportunity to self-direct their own mini-actions over time and turn them into big actions (maybe big donations) later with your help.
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