It is important to create a friction-free online experience: one that makes it easy and delightful for your donors and supporter audiences to connect meaningfully with your brand on social media, your website, in email, video and on your donation page.
Elements of a robust online donor experience
Donor experience is the nonprofit version of business customer experience. In a company, customer experience is the sum total of all the interactions with a brand. Donors are different from consumers so this model has to be adapted in a charity context.
One way to use this model is through the lens of donor experience. Donor experience is the umbrella guiding principle for all aspects of the donor journey with key elements focusing on emotion, effort and successful execution.
A donor journey starts with 1) awareness of a cause leading to 20 consideration of a gift. Somani calls these two steps the "discovery loop." Examples of this may include donors checking out the organization with family and friends or visiting your website. In many cases, your social media presence is often where your charity comes alive to donors.
When a donor gives to your cause, Somani characterizes the donation and post-donation process as the "loyalty loop." As a charity, it is key to focus on loyalty and strengthening the relationship. While stewardship is valuable, the goal is to build a partnership relationship with your supporters.
The three principles of building a better online donor partnership experience
One way to make donors feel valued is by giving a little bit back. This method of giving back is known as "surprise & delight." It is receiving something completely out of the blue with no strings attached. A strong surprise and delight experience can include elements of inspiration, entertainment, usefulness, and exclusivity.
Friction is anything that slows down or prevents the completion of a donation. Effort should be reduced friction particularly on your online donation page. Giving online should be quick and easy. This concept also should apply for your email, social media, website, and direct mail.
The goal is to build a relationship beyond stewardship to build loyalty. A strong donor relationship starts with gratitude. Once that has been started, the next steps are to inform the donor of the impact of their gift and involve them. In your email updates, it is important to be timely and concise. Once you have that in place, it is valuable to get your donors involved. Involvement may include petition signing or letters to government.
From strategy to tactics, tools like online donor journeys and other methods can boost online engagement, increase donor conversions, and create strong emotional connections. In this process, you will establish a foundation for brand loyalty for your charity.
Taslim Somani is the Director, Digital Strategy for Stephen Thomas Ltd., working with a variety of nonprofit organizations including Médecins Sans Frontières, CUSO International, Kids Help Phone, St Johns Ambulance, Jane Goodall Foundation, Sick Kids Hospital Foundation, Food Banks Canada, Diabetes Canada and more. She has written on fundraising and marketing for various publications, served on the CMA’s Digital Marketing Council, and is on the Board of Directors at Myseum of Toronto, Toronto's museum of history and culture.
Session summary by Ann Rosenfield who thanks to AFP for the media pass for Congress 2021.