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Any of you reading my blog posts over the last four years are well aware of my focus on one of the most important concepts in fundraising success, Donor Retention. Because of that focus, the research on the subject spans every nook and cranny possible for fresh insights and techniques. Needless to say, but excitement abounds when such a new insight surfaces as is outlined below.

Kevin Schulman, the CEO of DonorVoice, recently wrote about this new angle or concept of how to approach the improvement of Donor Retention.

After exploring commonly used techniques for aiding with donor retention, he jumps right to the heart of his new concept by using a donor’s identity.

Identity Outlined

Kevin zeros in on what identity can mean to charitable giving with the following paragraph:

We all have multiple identities but they are only relevant in certain contexts. A person’s sports fandom is totally irrelevant to their charitable giving. Make no mistake, however, the identity that is relevant is a major, causal driver of behavior (and attitudes). And knowing which identity they are bringing to the party when interacting with your charity should dictate a lot more than copy changes that attempt to sing the right notes.

Striving to correctly find the identity of donors is not easy, but can allow you to differentiate your cause from so many others who are soliciting those donors. Once found, you literally have that direct connection with the donor and their strongest underlying emotions and motivations.

The healthcare example used in the article is an outstanding example of identity coming into play. Many donors have a personal connection to the charity’s cause, like being a caregiver for someone who has a certain disease or ailment.

Failure to Use Identity

What puzzled, if not startled me, is that very few charities use the huge source of differentiation as part of their communications and relationship-building. His company works with hundreds of charities in the US and the UK and he could not cite one example of identity being used to differentiate a solicitation.

This truly surprises me.

Proper Use of Identity

Bringing identity into use requires a change of mindsets. This section of the article states it best:

The sea change to successfully raise money from those with a direct connection to a health charity can be boiled down to two, complementary statements:

  • The number one reason they donate is because of the services side of the business.
  • The number one way to raise more money is…here comes the mindset shift…for the fundraising/marketing team to deliver services (i.e. information, access, promotion of service outlets).

This will cause the fundraising, marketing and communication side of the house to be aware of and in sync with the services side of the nonprofit.

Breaking down silos; what a novel concept!

Imagine if we really know the identity of our donors that is responsible for continued annual giving what is possible…

That identity and our ability as a charity to reach out and connect with it can lead to major gift giving and/or legacy-related giving.

This might be worth trying at your nonprofit!

Stay Together - How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty

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Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.