We may currently be navigating crises and economic uncertainty, but relationships are still essential for fundraising. Yes, even in this digital era of fundraising that many of us are operating in relationship building must be at the forefront of our strategy.
Recently I was talking about this with one of my clients. They have an incredibly strong digital program and are killing it with email. While email may be a key mechanism in their strategy, they also recognized the need to think about it as a relationship building tool. I give them props for this because they are doing pretty well since making this change and it shows in their donor retention number increasing by 20% last year.
You might be thinking, “We need to get on that email train,” so let me stop you right there. Email is not what makes their retention numbers magically great. It’s how they connect with their donors at every single turn and what they say. Their authenticity as an organization is what lights the path to relationship building with their many digital donors.
As I mentioned in my last article we are all operating in a social and political landscape that is calling us to great authenticity. Fury messaging may be the default tone and voice for some organizations, but it should it be for yours? Is it true for your organization, its stance on the issues, and your audience?
In overcoming the challenge of standing out when donors are inundated daily with content and communications, we must consider the fact that what we say and how we say it impacts the relationships we are building with donors. At this point in time, it’s no longer optional for non-profits to not explore what authenticity looks like and sounds like for their organization.
Stories are one type of content where it especially pays to get the authenticity just right.
Think about the memorable stories you’ve heard from non-profits. Why did you like them? Why are they memorable? Chances are they resonated with you in an authentic way. They connected with you on a foundational level, be it values, beliefs, worlds views, or some other psychographic data point.
Organizations that master their authentic voice in storytelling and communications are building bigger and better communities around their work. But to get to that point, you must be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work.
How do you cultivate authenticity for your organization?
You must be willing to be true to yourself over following the pack.
You must have values, beliefs, and a world view that are evident throughout your communications. Sometimes this means taking a polarizing stand, which in my book isn’t a bad thing.
You need to consistently show up so that people see your organization. Be there at the opportune moments and have something to say.
Above all else, you need to be in it with your donors and your broader audience. What are they feeling? Why are they feeling that? Be in your feelings and experience together.
There really is no substitute for the power of authenticity in fundraising and communications. It can be a tough shift to make for some organizations, but if you’re playing the long game it’s worth figuring out.