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.

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