In the 80’s Sally Struthers would stand next to a malnourished child and invite you to give less than a cup of coffee each day. If you gave this meager amount, you would “adopt” a child and get regular updates. Thus, you begin your “donor experience.” Through that adoption, they helped you to experience the impact your donation was making on one life. This single, yet significant and emotional impact, truly motivates donors. One of my neighbors adopted a child from CCF, she always shared the updates and pictures she got from the child. As a result, I asked for one of those kids for Christmas one year.

These pictures and updates created an experience for my neighbor for $20/ month. “Donor Experience” has become a buzzword. As I researched it on Google, the common theme was the use of donor management to improve the donor experience through custom emails and record keeping. Keeping records of what?

CRM ≠ Improved Donor Experience

I am a big believer in cloud based donor management systems. These systems are only as good as the information stored in them. Make a commitment to create a full donor profile with dates, digital connections, interests, etc. However though, the donor experience is not how many times you touch them, donor experience is how often and the ways in which you engage them.

Based on your conversations, how have you illustrated the use of their contribution? How is your recognition of that donor unique? One of my colleagues at the Red Cross had collected little burnt pieces of wood in Ziploc bags and stapled a quote from a testimonial that said simply, “on this day of destruction and devastation, Mr. Bill let me know everything was going to be OK.” I will never forget visiting a donor and seeing that on her coffee table (over a year after he had given it to her).

I was at a conference, where a donor was sharing about a brick she had received from a building that she had helped rebuild. The building had been destroyed from a tornado and she was a significant donor in the capital campaign. How does your recognition demonstrate that you listen?

Millennials are a Game Changer

Millennials are requiring an experience. Remember today’s $5 donors are tomorrow’s $5000 donors (we hope). According to a 2017 survey from Deloitte, millennials are looking for ways to support and engage non-profits through work. This means that traditional corporate giving campaigns (like the United Way) may lose its effect if the campaign is not paired with direct engagement. So instead of having a group come and paint the same hallway that has always been painted, what is a project that can demonstrate the impact an organization can make. Could it be sanitizing all the toys, or raising money for materials and then building bookshelves for a reading area? The key is to allow the donor to experience their contribution’s impact, more than just reading a story about it.

As you look at your development plan and discuss events, giving societies, and recognition, identify plans where donors and organizations can be a part of your growth and positive change.

We can HELP

PB&J marComm enjoys helping groups become creative in their development planning. Please contact us if you wish to discuss ideas that create strategic solutions and drive results.

“Donor Experience”