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Audience Insights and Strategy for Nonprofits in the New Normal

We are living in unprecedented times in what we call the “new normal” which is shaped by multiple market factors influenced by the pandemic, from financial impact, restricted mobility, evolving consumer sentiments, and competition for wallet share.  The majority of these market factors have impacted many of us as consumers of goods and services; and as nonprofit marketers and fundraisers.

The “new normal” has also accelerated evolving trends in marketing as digital adoption increases, consumers think more locally, and physical events are reimagined virtually; all of these trends are actively shaping the future of nonprofits.

Needless to say, to capitalize and succeed in the changing landscape, nonprofit marketers and fundraisers need to think more holistically and locally which starts with asking: What are the evolving market forces (felt at the local level)? How are these market forces influencing your constituents and their giving behaviors? How should you rethink your audience strategy as markets re-open?

 Here are three ways in which nonprofit marketers and fundraisers can prepare to succeed in the new normal:

1) Understand and assess evolving trends in your local markets

We know that the impact of the pandemic is being felt at a local community level. Hence, it’s imperative to first understand the dynamics in your local markets and its influence on charitable giving. Understanding these dynamics is important because, for the first time ever, we are starting to see that local market dynamics could be influencing the ways in which people engage and behave in charitable giving.

To get a strong pulse on local market conditions and charitable giving, we’ve developed COVID-19 dashboards that are available for free, here. These dashboards leverage data from Johns Hopkins University’s COVID database, Merkle’s propriety DataSource database (that includes data on 95% of U.S. households including charitable giving across 10+ different causes), Google’s movement tracker data, and additional spend behavior data. Additionally, the dashboards provide us with a well-rounded understanding of COVID-19 confirmations, economic resilience, and pace of economic recovery at a local level.

The dashboards can monitor shifts in mobility patterns at the local level. As expected, lately we’ve started to see an increase in visits to parks and physical grocery stores as various states proceed with different phases of their re-opening plans. These changing mobility behaviors signal the pace of reengagement to normal commerce at a local market level and can be very useful to potentially inform where you can plan future local events.

Dashboard image

2) Leverage your first-party audience insights to quantify the impact of market conditions

With an understanding of the evolving local market dynamics, we can begin to anticipate the market forces that are constantly reshaping our new normal. However, positioning yourself for success in this environment requires a deeper understanding of what these market conditions mean for your nonprofit. Therefore, combining these market insights with insights around your audience and their charitable giving behaviors is the natural next step. Given that the market conditions vary from market to market and county to county, it’s important to understand your constituents, their sentiments, and evolving giving behaviors at a local market level. This will help you to not only anticipate more accurately what to expect in terms of future giving, but more importantly, it will enable you to position a tailored, localized strategy for fundraising or future event planning. This means rethinking your audience segmentation by factoring in audience and market level dimensions and tailoring your fundraising and engagement strategy to these audience / market segments.

first-party audience

3) Build an audience strategy governed by what you need to consider as markets re-open

It goes without saying that we can no longer rely on the tried-and-tested strategies from what we knew in the past; every fundraiser should be rethinking their audience, engagement and fundraising strategies with a new lens that is reflective of current market conditions.

To illustrate, we have segmented the local markets based on market readiness into three categories: sustain, transition, and rebuild. The constituents residing in each of these markets are very different in terms of their mindsets and behaviors. On top of that, constituents within each of these markets vary significantly based on how they’re personally being impacted by COVID. Thus, a more nuanced and differentiated audience strategy is warranted based on market and individual readiness.

Audience strategy

It’s imperative, now more than ever, to lead with audience insights and strategy that’s informed by the dynamic local market conditions. The new normal is constantly evolving with accelerated trends in digital adoption, shifts in consumer mindsets, and moves to virtual events. To succeed in this “new normal”, we need to be agile in our audience-led fundraising and marketing strategies.

Want to learn more? Check out our other Nonprofit specific blogs here.