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The Path to Donor Centricity: Knowing Your Donors through Analysis

I am asked something about donor-centric strategy every day. The question may be about any number of functions but my answer is always the same: "Don’t overthink it or get ahead of yourself." First and foremost, you need to get to know who your donors are as people.

Shifting the Marketing Paradigm

Getting to know your donors does not require a strategic plan, organizational restructuring or a technology shift (we’ll worry about those later), but it does require a fundamental shift in your marketing paradigm.

Most current paradigms select the channel and fundraising offer and then consider who best to target.  The future paradigm will focus first on better understanding the donor.  From that understanding, you can select the offer mostly likely to drive a response and the channel most likely to reach them.  For example, you identify your donor “Chris” and learn that he prefers monthly giving and direct mail or email communication.  By focusing on developing a full picture of “Chris” rather than segment X of your mailing, you can better customize your message to him and enhance the mutual value of your relationship.

At this point, you are hopefully saying that sounds great, but then you start thinking about your strategic plan, organizational alignment, technology platforms, etc. Don’t do it!

The shift to donor-centric marketing is a process and you should not expect to make the change from today’s single-channel world into the desired end-state overnight. Start by getting to know your donor as a person and not as a revenue stream. That understanding starts with analysis.

Analyzing the Donor Journey

Perform your analysis by asking the critical questions that serve as the building blocks of your donor journey. The following four questions will provide a straight-forward summary of who your donors are. The results will enable you to build a more effective donor journey.

Let’s revisit the Chris persona using the critical questions from our analysis. Before you probed into the person behind the donor, you had a limited amount of information about Chris. You knew he was a 0-24 month, under $75 donor.  

After asking the critical questions you know that Chris: 

  1. Is likely to be worth $300 -$500 in the next 24 months 
  2. Has been giving you small gifts ($40) in each of the past 5 years, is 35 - 45 with income over $100k, is well educated, well-informed, and a parent of young children
  3. Is motivated to build a better world in order to feel like a good parent 
  4. Is likely to be interested in sustainer giving

Would that help you build a better journey for Chris?

Knowing this information is not as daunting as it may seem. I encourage you to follow me along a blog journey over the next few weeks where I unpack each of the four steps in the people-based analysis process. Continue to learn about this analysis with the second post in this series, The Path to Donor Centricity: What is the Future Value of my Donor? and tune into my webinar, Path to Donor Centricity: The Analytic First Steps.

In the meantime, please connect with me and let me know: Are you a people-based marketer today?  What are your roadblocks?  Reach out at [email protected]