Personalization Pays Off When It Comes to Fundraising

A new survey points to the power of personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts. Here are a few ideas on how associations can personalize relationships with their donors.

I recently traveled down South for Thanksgiving, and it always amazes me the difference that just a few states’ drive makes: The accents change, the menus include more biscuits and sweet tea, and there’s monogramming on everything from cars to diaper bags to shoes. Southerners seem to really appreciate the personalization that the stamp of three initials provides.

Do you know who else likes personalization? Donors.

In a recent survey, Accenture Consulting found that 55 percent of nonprofit donors would give or volunteer more in exchange for a more personalized experience. In fact, 59 percent of survey respondents said would give up to 10 percent more for a more personalized experience; 25 percent would donate up to 25 percent more; and 8 percent said they would donate up to 50 percent more.

In one sense, these statistics aren’t rocket science. “If an organization can’t remember me, knows what I gave to, or why I attended a cause, then I’m likely not going to stay engaged,” said Amit Patel, Accenture’s nonprofit consulting practice lead.

So, how can associations deliver a personalized experience to their donors?

Figure out why donors give. The first step, Patel said, is understanding your donors’ motivations. Stop categorizing donors by how much they give and instead begin understanding why they give. “What you have to do is start looking at the person behind that donor,” Patel said. “You have to talk to them. You have to understand: Why are they donating? Why are they motivated? Each donor has a story of why they’re affiliated with the cause or what motivates them—and it’s really getting to those motivations that’s going to be the game-changer here.”

Digging through data is one way that associations can start building an idea about the interests and motivations of their donors. For instance, which events or fundraisers are certain donors attending year after year? Another way is to survey donors or interview them in focus groups. Patel suggests that associations ask questions like, “What are you looking for from an experience standpoint that’s going to motivate you to give more?”

Offer an individualized experience. Understanding donors’ motivations informs associations about what kinds of personalized communications and experiences they should offer them. For instance, Patel said some donors don’t want digital communications. They’d rather have physical mail with an update on how their donations are being used, while others want to easily search a website and find that information. Then there are those who enjoy the big black-tie galas or golf tournaments, and donors who are more interested in networking events or leadership-development programs.

In addition to creating more engagement among donors, associations will also have a better idea on how to budget for their fundraising outreach. Asking donors what they want is “really going to help the association or nonprofit figure out where their investments are going to be,” Patel said. “If number-one on that list is networking and the bottom of that list is a member portal, well, then I think you know where to focus, given the limited number of dollars you have.”

How has your association employed personalization in its fundraising efforts? Please leave your comments below.

(Jirsak/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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