Keep Your Hard-Earned Donors Feeling Great and Coming Back

“What do my donors want?”

Today, the savviest fundraisers are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so.

In today’s Experience Economy — first described in Harvard Business Review in 1998 — organizations that create exceptional experiences for their customers set themselves apart and reap enormous rewards, including:

  • Stronger donor relationship
  • Enhanced loyalty
  • Reduced churn
  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased referrals

The most successful organizations understand they are in the customer-experience business. Think Apple, Starbucks and Amazon.

Ask anyone in those companies what their central offering is. They’ll tell you their central offering is not merely a product or service, but their customer experience. (Read the book The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.)

Next gen donors crave experiences

Since 1998, the shift to the experience economy has only accelerated, especially among the next gens — Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials — the three generations now giving three of four dollars to charity.

I call these next gens the “experience generations.” (Baby Boomers were known as the Woodstock Experience Generation.) These generations represent almost nine of ten donors to charity today. And three out of four of them would rather spend their money on an experience than merely purchase something desirable.

So, a decade ago, as the leading fundraising success metrics continued to decline, we asked the question, “What do today’s donors really want?” and “How do we create better, faster and more sustainable revenue for our ministry partners as traditional fundraising approaches continue to degrade?”

This led to our saying hello to the experience economy, and the science of Customer Experience Management (CEM), taught in the nation’s leading business schools. Two of us at Masterworks were eventually certified in CEM, which led eventually to Masterworks launching its Experience Design Group two years ago.

Say hello to the experience economy

If you want better, faster and more sustainable revenue, give next gen donors what they want.

What many next gen donors want and crave, it turns out, is an experience — something memorable that creates an emotional connection as they interact with you, as they give their time, talent, and treasure to make a difference. (Positive emotions lie at the root of donor loyalty.)

They want something authentic and real that makes them feel good about supporting you, something that makes them feel less like a cash machine and more of a hands-on participant.

Accomplish this, and you’ll have the loyalty of a mobile, social generation of next gen donors who can’t wait to share their experience with their friends and loved ones.

Want to optimize your organization’s donor experience?

I believe that optimizing your organization’s donor experience is the single most important factor for achieving breakthrough success in fundraising today.

Want to learn how to optimize your donor experience?

We’re offering a special learning experience at this year’s Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) Outcomes Conference, April 17-19, in Dallas, Texas.

On Thursday, April 19, from 9 to 10 a.m. (Workshop Session Four), I’ll be offering the workshop “Fundraising Breakthrough: Unleashing Donor Experience.”

Here’s what I’ll cover:

  1. The quickest path to better donor experience is engagement, engagement, engagement. Learn how to engage donors so they feel less like cash machines and more like passionate participants.
  2. Learn the difference between experience enhancers and experience detractors. Donors place up to twice as much importance on negative experiences than positive ones. It’s not enough to just deliver positive experiences. You must also protect your donors from negative ones.
  3. Learn the three essential building blocks of the donor-journey experience that maximize emotional connection and generosity. Learn how you can leverage these building blocks to design the sequence of interactions with donors to provide them with an experience that leaves them wanting more.
  4. Learn how new technologies can amplify the donor experience and build an experience-creation lifecycle that transforms last-century Fundraising 1.0 into breakthrough Fundraising 2.0.

Until then, keep asking yourself, “What do my donors want?”