7 tips to improve your fundraising

sky-earth-galaxy-universeCharities do not operate in a vacuum, consumer trends will impact on your fundraising techniques and in a rapidly changing world charities must be responsive to these trends in order to thrive.

I’ve outlined some evolving consumer trends that might impact your fundraising over the coming months, together with some tips on how to respond to them.

1. The value of trusted recommendations. Amazon, Airbnb and Trip Advisor know that a recommendation from a trusted source will positively influence consumers buying decisions. Authentic, trusted product reviews will only become more valuable in 2016.

Tip: Consider how you can work in partnership with your audiences to facilitate authentic recommendations for your fundraising and services, both online and offline.

2. Customers are for life. Many companies are investing in providing an excellent customer experience as part of a longer-term business strategy to create a happy workforce and maximize income from repeat, loyal consumers. Check out Zappos.

Tip: Focus on activities that create lifetime value for your supporters. Change your measures to reflect this, e.g. measure supporter satisfaction. While a fundraisers key measure is income this financial year, there is no incentive to change activity to truly drive supporter satisfaction and lifetime value.

3. Relevant and personalised content. Consumers expect content that is relevant to them. If it is not they unsubscribe.

Tip: Pay real attention to your supporters, use the data available, talk to them, find out what they are interested in and as much as you possibly can tailor content to their needs.

4. Consumers have high expectations. I remember when 28 days for a reply for a query was standard. Now if you don’t get something back in 28 minutes it’s a poor service and if an email response is slow many consumers broadcast their frustration on Twitter.

Tip: Agree appropriate service response times for your audiences (not what is most convenient to you) across all channels, and solicit feedback from customers. Keep improving.

5. We are multi channel. When you are considering buying something, you might see a TV ad, and then look at the product on your phone, look in more detail on your laptop, speak to a friend and then go in store to buy it. The experience in every channel has to match up.

Tip: Ensure that every interaction any audience has with your charity is of the same high standard, that messages are consistent and work across online devices as well as offline.

6. Trust is currency. Consumers will continue to give their information to brands they trust, but with a growing expectation that in return for their data, they will receive a better experience.

Tip: Trust is especially relevant now as stories in the UK unfold about charities selling of data. Ensure your data protection policy is robust and that you provide an excellent supporter experience.

7. Simplicity rules. There is a trend for one page scrolling websites, strong images and simplicity. See the Resource Alliance, The Climate Reality Project and Airbnb.

Tip: Make everything you do as simple as it can possible be.

Of course there are more than 7 trends, and these are the ones that I think might affect fundraising communications most. I’ll give you one more for free – hurry up – the world is changing fast. Throw away your 5-year digital communication strategy it will have been obsolete before you finished writing it.

Look at what is going on around you now and think about how you can test new ideas quickly and cheaply. Check out Lean Methodology and the Innovation Workout for tactics that will help you.

This blog was first published at The Resource Alliance. 

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