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Why Should Nonprofits Care about Experience?

Donors are consumers. That’s pretty obvious, right? The same person who gives to her local food bank can also have a phone charger delivered within a couple hours of ordering. She doesn't have to choose what show to watch because her streaming service knows just what British police drama she will want to binge on next. Yet, even with the obvious connection to consumer expectations, just about anyone in the nonprofit industry will tell you that there’s an experience gap.

According to a donor satisfaction survey Merkle conducted across leading organizations, donors rated nonprofits as “poor” at developing personal connections and building relationships. Nonprofits are not meeting donors' expectations, not delivering relevant experiences, and not consistently creating deeper and more profitable relationships, while so many commercial marketers are. For nonprofits to close that experience gap, they must leverage insights from both sides of the fence. Here’s where those insights live: Experience Matters: Digital Trends for Nonprofit Marketers.

The playing field of today’s consumer

Today, brands and nonprofits don’t compete with their peers as much they do with an always-on culture. For example, 250 million people are dedicating an average of six-10 hours per week playing Fortnite. Customer content consumption habits are shifting as well. Thirty-three million US TV viewers have cut the cord, 24% of the US population has installed ad blockers, and 84% of millennials take the time to look through their email. Because of these shifts in attention, consumers’ fluctuating expectations and preferences are driving the way that brands innovate. Take Dollar Shave Club for example, a brand that isn’t taking market share from the big guys like Gillette, but instead has created a new segment for customers that prefer buying an experience along with the product.

What it means for Nonprofits

So, what does this mean for nonprofits? Everything. Even though the industry views itself as unique, the fact of the matter is that donors are consumers, and nonprofits face the same competition for attention and increased expectation for experience as commercial brands. While fewer of your donors might be playing Fortnite than Dollar Shave Club customers, there’s probably more overlap than you think (St. Jude and American Cancer Society, among others, are embracing the gaming trend as a platform for fundraising).

While creating personalized experiences may seem daunting (and it can be), you have to start somewhere — or risk becoming irrelevant. At every step of a donor or supporter’s journey, they are providing signals to the organization about their terms for the relationship. This can be explicit, like making a donation, attending an event, or unsubscribing from your emails, or implicit, like whether they come to your site via organic search or paid media, on what type of device, and how long they spend there. The key is to recognize, collate, and analyze these signals, and in turn use them to inform the right experience to put in front of them.

Here are a few signals we identified in our research:

  • Your donors, constituents, and prospects are online year-round, and your media needs to be as well. It sounds costly, but your organization can be more efficient with its digital media spend.
  • 2019 is the year that mobile will overtake TV as Americans’ preferred media
  • Site traffic is underperforming — 80% of nonprofit site traffic comes in via organic channels, yet that traffic converts at just 20% the rate of paid traffic

Download Experience Matters: Digital Trends for Nonprofit Marketers today to learn more about how your nonprofit can win the same attention as leading consumer brands. Because donors are consumers.

 

 

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