When I was in your shoes, leading the development operations for a multi-million-dollar non-profit, I wish I had the insider knowledge I have now about digital...
This is the third and final post of a three-part series on digital transformations for nonprofits.
We’ve discussed why technology isn’t the cure-all, and how to engage employees in your digital transformation, so now let’s talk about your content strategy and the role it plays in driving ROI.
It’s not uncommon that nonprofit leaders assume they’ll be able to rapidly scale once they have the right tools and the right team in place. My question to them is, would you invite a top donor to your fundraising gala without any decorations? How about without food or refreshments? A photographer and entertainment?
Compelling content serves a similar role that interior design, food, and entertainment serve at your gala. Both make people feel like they are part of something impactful, and like they are personally appreciated. Those are very motivating emotions.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with your target audiences and draw more donations. Apply these content strategies to attract new leads, convert supporters to donors, and build loyal, long term donors that drive consistent revenue streams for your organization.
Use an Audience-Led Strategy with Segmentation
When I say audience-led, I mean literally put pen to paper and list out your core audiences. Then break those core audiences into subsets so you can begin to imagine the different tones and topics you’ll share with each group. This is the process of segmentation.
Once you’ve identified your audiences, you’ll want to build profiles by describing characteristics about them such as what motivates them, what holds them back from investing further, and what benefits they gain from supporting your mission. You should begin to see how each group is unique, and why the content you send them should be also.
According to a recent survey conducted by Accenture, donors expect nonprofits to give them a personalized experience that caters to their interests and action history, similar to companies like Netflix and Amazon. Personalization also means sharing where a person’s money is going and how it will make a direct impact, positioned in a manner that is meaningful to your audience (ex: Your money is protecting rescue animals from euthanization by increasing adoption rates).
“A more personalized donor experience can result not only in richer customer engagements but also in potentially higher levels of giving. In fact, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they’d donate up to 10 percent more if, for example, fundraisers could be more explicit about where their money is going.”
- Amit Patel, Philanthropy Journal
Use Multi-Channel Storytelling
Individuals who get a nonprofit’s content from multiple channels convert to donors at much higher rates.In fact, a study conducted by our friends at NextAfter found that multi-channel donors give more than three times as much as single-channel donors, yet only 3% of nonprofits sent multi-channel communication to online and offline donors. The study also found that very few organizations used all four channels, email, direct mail, text and phone, to engage with their donors.
Simply put, if you aren’t using multiple channels, you are leaving thousands of dollars on the table. To truly tap into your fundraising potential, get strategic about the numerous channels you’ll use to share stories in different formats to drive engagement.
Tap into These Two Motivators to Shape Your Content
Much of philanthropy is driven by two compelling motivators - the donor feels inspired that they can make a direct impact on a larger issue or they identify with those they are helping. I’m going to demonstrate how one of our clients, a human rights nonprofit, DigDeep, used these two motivators across multiple channels to massively increase their engagement with donors on two occasions. I highly recommend you give these two motivators a try within your own organization’s content strategy.
#1 - Heroism
DigDeep’s mission is to provide clean drinking water to millions of people in the United States. With CauseMic’s assistance, they ran their most successful year-end campaign to date for an arm of their organization, the Navajo Water Project. With personalized, compelling messages that spoke directly to the donor (ex: “Help me keep the water flowing, friend.”) and a sense of urgency amidst a real-time threat (ex: “Because they’re counting on us to deliver during COVID-19.”), they raised $1.6M, a 237% increase in revenue year-over-year since the previous Giving Tuesday, and a 324% increase in revenue year-over-year since the previous year’s end.
By making their donor the hero of the day, that could provide water directly to Navajo families in lockdown, DigDeep blew their target revenue out of the water!
#2 - Kin Selection
On World Water Day, we helped DigDeep run a campaign that leveraged kin selection to inspire donors to give to the Appalachia Water Project. With personalized content that highlighted the shared characteristics of the hardworking Americans without clean, running water in West Virginia and the donor (also hard working Americans), DigDeep raised 127% of their fundraising goal. Moreover, the email that was written in a conversational tone and sent by Bob, the project’s manager who resides in the community he is supporting, raised more funds than all the other email communications.
Use the Elements of a Story Arc to Inspire Your Reader
Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been telling stories. The Hero’s Journey appears in everything from the Bible to Greek mythology to Broadway musicals and so on. Your nonprofit can leverage the power of storytelling by including these elements in your messaging:
- Exposition - This is the backstory that sets the scene by describing the who, what, when, where and why.
- Rising Action - The event/s that triggers a challenge or obstacle.
- Climax - The highest point of tension in the story, or the breaking point where something must happen/change for things to improve.
- Resolution - How the story ends can be either positive or negative, but it should paint a picture of how the events of the story have changed/or will change the outcome for the characters and the world/humanity.
When you plan your digital transformation, I hope you keep content front and center as a critical driver of revenue and the connective tissue that makes all the other aspects of the plan work. Multi-channel, personalized, audience-led storytelling can literally double or even triple your fundraising results, so it is absolutely essential to get right.
As we close out this series on Digital Transformations, I invite you to explore how CauseMic can support you on your journey to rapidly scaling in two years or less. I used to be in your shoes, leading the fundraising strategy for a top-performing nonprofit, and I speak with leaders, just like you, every day about their challenges and successes. When you work with CauseMic, you can expect an honest assessment of where your nonprofit is at, and how you can grow to reach your goals. You can also trust that any solution we suggest is one that we’ve tested and can prove is effective. It sounds cheesy, but we have your back. Our goal is to help you achieve your mission and sustain your organization so you can have the largest impact possible.
I’d love to hear from you.