Donor Relationship Stage 6: Endear Me – ft. Cassandra Bailey from OzHarvest

Donor Relationship Stage 6: Endear Me – ft. Cassandra Bailey from OzHarvest

Endear Me.

This is the rekindling stage. A time to focus on reminding your donors of why the relationship exists. What attracted you to each other in the first place and why you still belong together? Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to reflect on all you have accomplished together so far, through the impact that has been made from your relationship. How can you re-ignite the passion to continue your journey together?

For this stage of the donor relationship journey, we were joined by guest NFP speaker Cassandra Bailey; the resident Development Lead at OzHarvest.

 A bit about Cassandra:

15 years ago, Cassandra’s favourite philosopher, Peter Singer, changed her life. His work led her to a place where she wanted to help change the lives of others. Prior to that, Cassandra’s experience was in loyalty & memberships in the corporate world, working with the likes of Ticketek and hotels.com. Fast forward to now, with 10 years of experience in the not-for-profit industry under her belt, Cassandra would be described as a motivated, driven individual who is determined to improve the world we live in. She also has a love of process and automation and believes there is no limit to the technology we can implement to grow and diversify revenue streams and strengthen our relationships.

Cassandra is proud to have worked with World Animal Protection, Four Paws Australia, Sea Shepherd Australia, and now OzHarvest.

I grew in the fundraising sector with a strong supporter-centric focus, which has shaped a lot of how and why I approach my work now. One of my earlier mentors introduced me to a quote by Maya Angelou who was a wonderful poet and civil rights activist; “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – and that is how I approach fundraising, by giving people an opportunity to feel good about what they are doing. I focus on how it makes the donor feel and the impact it creates for our beneficiaries. For me, it is all about creating lasting relationships and genuine connections. So, today’s topic of endear me really resonates with the way I work.  

I believe it is important to talk with your audience, not at your audience. Creating a 2-way conversation, means giving back and not just taking. Donor recognition and gratitude are a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Delight, delight, delight and endear all the way!

Several years ago now, I had a wonderful volunteer at one of my earlier orgs. A vibrant and dedicated soul who was pushing 80 years old. When I left that organisation, she chose to come along with me to my new org. This volunteer used to write birthday cards, call donors to say thank you, reconnect with lapsed supporters and generally be our resident “endearer” who made each and every supporter feel special, connected to cause, and strengthened the sense of community and belonging. Now we can’t all be lucky enough to have such a treasure like this, but we can all learn from her. Whether it is leveraging our technology to make supporter journeys personal and customised or sticking to grassroots tactics and picking up the phone at every chance we get. It is important to plan and make time for these moments. Even if it can’t be every day, but perhaps scheduled twice a year to share gratitude and impact and keep those relationships alive. Our funding is a by-product of the relationships we make, a necessary by-product yes, but without these relationships, the bottom line runs dry.

(You can view the full session show notes from the Endear Me stage here).

Regardless of the path you choose to take, your journey towards donor-centricity should be underpinned by 4 core principles:

(Ref. LemonTree – The Donor-centricity e-Book – Page 30).

Remember, trust and loyalty, are the building blocks of any long-lasting relationship.

If you’d like to hear more from the likes of Cassandra and your fundraising peers, we invite you to join the LemonTree Donor-centric Collective; a community built for fundraisers. The community attracts 1000+ fundraisers across Australia, ranging from small to large NFP’s and guess what…its completely FREE! Enjoy member-only access to community luncheons, webinars, our LinkedIn community group, the chance to speak on behalf of your cause, and most importantly be involved in the donor-centric movement!

The power of relationships

The power of relationships

If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that donor-centricity has really taken off around the globe. However, as Adrian Sargeant, renowned author, Fundraising Professor and co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy asks in his recent blog post, how far have we really come?

Whilst some charities are doing ground-breaking work, too many are merely swapping out a few keywords in their communications, ticking a non-existent donor-centric box and hoping for the best.

Why is this?

Well, according to Sargeant:

“Because the metrics organisations use to assess fundraising are still all about the money. Very few charities measure the quality of the donor experience, and how giving makes donors feel or contributes to their sense of wellbeing. Almost no-one rewards their fundraisers for improvements in any of these latter relationship metrics, so financial measures continue to dominate.”

As detailed in our recent publication, The Donor-Centricity e-Book, we believe that donor-centricity is the ongoing dedication to increasing the depth and breadth of your donor understanding, so you can connect more meaningfully, collaborate more effectively, and – most importantly – genuinely care for your donors in order to create ongoing value exchange, build trust and increase loyalty.

By continually seeking to understand your donors, you gain insights that can be used not simply to tailor your communication, but also to adapt your engagement efforts, provide a more positive donor experience, and demonstrate to your donors that they are at the heart of your entire organisation. This builds trust and loyalty – the critical foundations of any lasting, sustainable relationship.

How do we know this?

Because we’ve seen it before in the commercial world, with our parent company Marketsoft.

Whether we’re a customer or donor, a positive experience makes us feel good and – as humans – we are motivated to act based on how we feel. We tend to make decisions based on emotion, then find a way to justify that decision based on logic.

To deliver the best customer experience and earn a sustainable competitive advantage, businesses need to earn trust and build loyalty by adopting a customer-centric approach. They do this by:

  1. Understanding what their customers want, need, like, dislike, hope, fear and value at each stage of their life;
  2. Infusing these customer insights across all their business functions to help shape decisions;
  3. Creating a unique and ongoing value exchange for their customers;
  4. Engaging in open, honest and transparent two-way conversations with their customers, across many different channels; and
  5. Empowering customers to interact with their brand on their own terms.

This same applies to not-for-profits looking to generate sustainable giving, you need to earn trust and build loyalty by adopting a donor-centric approach.

Sustainable giving will only ever come from sustainable relationships, and therein lies the source of donor-centric gap. Too many organisations underestimate the power of building and nurturing meaningful relationships. Instead, they measure fundraising teams purely on the literal sense of the word.

But fundraising’s true power comes not from focusing on the dollar, but from focusing on the relationship between donor, charity and beneficiary. If an organisation can keep their focus on the donor, on finding ways to forge genuine connections, of caring for them whether they are giving or not; if they can listen and learn from their donors; if they can involve them in decision-making, and if they can make them feel heard, recognised and a valued member of the ‘family’, then trust and loyalty will follow.

So, yes, we’ve come a long way on the journey to donor-centricity, but there’s still a long way for organisations to go, especially when it comes to where their priorities lie.

“Let’s focus instead on what we ourselves are well placed to do best; the building of deeper, more fulfilling relationships, that can grow the human capacity to love others. That should be the real purpose of fundraising.”

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If you’re guiding your organisation towards donor-centricity, you’re not alone! We invite you to join our FREE donor-centric community and learn from your peers, share the successes (and the failures!) and together we can grow sustainable giving in Australia.

The 8 Steps (& 4 Principles) to Becoming More Donor-Centric

The 8 Steps (& 4 Principles) to Becoming More Donor-Centric

Having explored some of the barriers to donor-centricity, it’s time to focus on the 8 steps you can take to help your organisation become more donor-centric.

At LemonTree, we define donor-centricity as: “The continual dedication to increasing the depth and breadth of your donor understanding, so you can connect more meaningfully, collaborate more effectively, and – most importantly – genuinely care for your donors in order to create ongoing value exchange, build trust and increase loyalty.”

Much like the relationship we have with each of our friends, the members of our family and the people we work with, there is no single, linear path you can take to build trust, earn loyalty and nurture a long-term, sustainable relationship with your donors. However, there are some critical steps we can take to create the right environment for a relationship to flourish.

It’s a bit like growing a lemon tree. You have to do some groundwork first before you can expect a seedling to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. You need to consider the type of lemon tree you want to grow, the seed itself and whether it’s viable, the soil, the pot, the light, the positioning, the climate, the water, the fertiliser, and so on. You have to cultivate the perfect conditions for your lemon tree to grow. Even then, with all your nurturing, it can still take upwards of three years for it to produce fruit…and some trees never will.

The same is true when it comes to creating a donor-centric environment. You need to be in it for the long-haul. This isn’t a quick ‘low-hanging-fruit’ strategy (excuse the play on words!). It takes time and effort to cultivate the perfect conditions for your donors to grow – but it’s an effort worth taking because it leads to long-term, sustainable relationships.

8 steps to cultivating a donor-centric environment

Step 1 – Maximise the quality of your data: the most important asset you own right now is the data on your donors, both past and present. When it comes to data, quality is just as important (perhaps even more so) than quantity. Data is your key to building sustainable relationships between your donors and organisation, so be sure to practice good data hygiene!

Step 2 – Find ways to collaborate: your own data will only ever tell you so much. Donor-centricity is a commitment to increasing the depth and breadth of your donor understanding. Finding ways to partner and aggregate data insights will fuel your donor understanding and lead to best practice communication and donor management.

Step 3 – Ensure strong donor governance: your donors are the life source of your organisation and the beneficiaries you serve. Without your donors, the solution to your cause disappears. Protect your donors by introducing strong governance practices for all your donor engagement processes. Remember, protect your donors to protect your cause!

Step 4 – Recognise their life stage: a donor’s ability and willingness to donate to your cause will vary in both time and dollars as their circumstances change and evolve. Always take into account the life stage and household composition of your donors in order to provide the most engaging experience.

Step 5 – Listen to their needs & wants: “seek first to understand, then to be understood” – so Stephen Covey told us. To build trust in a relationship you need to listen to and understand the wants and needs, hopes, fears, likes and dislikes of the other party. Only by understanding and capturing your donor preferences can you communicate with them in a way that will resonate, connect and build trust.

Step 6 – Lifetime value & share of wallet:  with a wider donor understanding of engagement, a level of sustained giving over longer periods is achieved. History has shown us when donors are over-communicated to, they suffer donor fatigue and reduce overall giving. Factor in share of wallet when calculating lifetime value. Know what is fair and reasonable for your donors.

Step 7 – Optimise your communication: sometimes silence really can be golden. Your messages, channels and the timing of your communication should be based on your donor insights. It’s not always about when you have something to say, it’s about contacting a donor when and where it is appropriate for them.

Step 8 – Nurture & grow: just like any other relationship, it takes time for donors to get to know, like and trust your organisation and the work you do. Invest the time in leveraging your knowledge of your donors, your cause and its beneficiaries to find common ground, make connections and demonstrate your value. Grow the size of your donor pond, by nurturing tomorrow’s givers, today.

Regardless of the path you choose to take, your journey towards donor-centricity should be underpinned by 4 core principles.

4 Principles of Donor Centricity

  1. Donors are people, not ATMs: loyalty will be created by treating donors as equally as important as your cause itself.
  2. Knowledge is power: the best, most engaging donor experiences will be created by leveraging the data, analytics, insights and observations available to you.
  3. Relationships are ‘give and take’: trust will be created by having meaningful, two-way conversations that foster reciprocity and fair value exchange between you and your donors.
  4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint: create the maximum return on your investment by measuring the lifetime value (LTV) of a donor, not just the campaign value.

These principles are the cornerstones of creating a donor-centric environment. They are non-negotiable. They are a mindset. They are a manifestation of your intent to connect, collaborate and care for your donors…whichever path you choose to take to get there.

If you’re on the journey to donor-centricity, why not join LemonTree’s free Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC)? As a member of the DCC, you can learn from your peers, share your experiences, ask questions and keep up-to-date with the latest strategies to become more donor-centric…AND be part of a movement to help grow sustainable giving in Australia! Simply click here to sign up for free.

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Next up in this series:

  • The different stages of the donor relationship and how they impact donor-centricity

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How to Endear your Donors: Insights from the Commercial World for the LemonTree community

How to Endear your Donors: Insights from the Commercial World for the LemonTree community

Speaking at our last Donor Centricity Collective (DCC) event, Mark Jenkins, CEO of Resurg Group asked the audience a series of thought-provoking questions designed to help them endear more donors to their cause. LemonTree asked Mark to share those questions with you here to get you thinking about endearing your donors.

 

At Resurg, we’ve managed to turn the concept of endearing customers on its head. Instead of us trying to endear them, we have created an environment where our customers actually endear themselves to our business. We’ve achieved this through a relentless focus on the client relationship journey and addressing a few key questions through that lens:

  1. What combination of events will almost guarantee endearment?

You can’t expect immediate endearment. Nor should endearment be treated as a one hit wonder. However, if you can work to successfully engage your customers – or donors – across a series of interactions it will ultimately lead to endearment.

  1. What does ‘endear your customers / donors’ mean to you?

Endearment can mean different things to different people and different organisations. For Resurg, a truly ‘endeared’ customer:

  • Owns their relationship with us
  • Feels empowered in the relationship

We know that if we can put our customers in the driving seat of their engagement with us, then we simply facilitate their endearment to the product and to Resurg.

3: How can your customers / donors ‘own’ their relationship with you?

We have worked hard to make our product all about the customer. It wasn’t always like that. For a long time, it was all about the product. Whilst the product worked, our customers weren’t fully engaged with it. They were passive participants.

We wanted our customers to be active with our products. So we found a way to make the product far more about them and their needs. We introduced benchmarking.

The benchmarking function indicated what other customers were achieving with our product and how. The customers themselves were demonstrating the potential value of the product to each other. We weren’t involved. Our product simply showed the different benchmarks for different metrics. In doing so, we created a common connection between our customers, aligning them more closely with people just like them and putting them in control of their journey with us.

 How can you make your cause more about your donors? How can you incorporate them into your cause, so they feel a greater sense of ownership in the charity from the outset? 

4: How can you empower your clients / donors in their relationship with you?

We recognised that we were pushing a lot of information out to our customers. Sometimes this was well received; other times not. We realised that if we simply allowed our customer to set their own criteria for how and when we reached out to them and with what content, they would engage with it far more readily because they had requested the information. They were in the driving seat. They were empowered.

What sort of engagement criteria can you offer your donors that could help trigger their giving?

Reflect and refine:

Reflecting on our own journey, perhaps the greatest success we’ve had when it comes to customer endearment has been facilitating the connections between our customers. We invite them to become part of a network – a performance group – where they can openly communicate with and learn from their peers, as well as share their own insights and best practices. Together, they influence and shape each others attitudes, decisions and behaviours.

Again, Resurg is not involved in these group. But simply by creating a platform for connection and facilitating these relationships, we have built an ambassador network within our customer base. A tribe of people who endear each other to the Resurg products and business.

I encourage you to consider how you can leverage the power of the peer-to-peer donor network to help influence individual donor attitudes and behaviours. For example, how can you harness the power of LemonTree’s DCC community and the collaborative insights of its members?

Remember, endearment does not stem from a single occurrence. Create a journey for your donors where they own – and feel empowered in – their relationship with you, not the other way around. Focus on a combination of events and interactions, and you will be rewarded with their endearment.

As one of Australia’s finest business intelligence, performance management and analytics specialists, Resurg provides businesses with the tools for smarter decision-making by integrating their forecasting, data analysis and reporting into a single platform.