As we come to the end of the first quarter of 2015, I have been watching to see what might be the biggest trends for nonprofits this year. One thing I’ve seen nonprofits want and need to do this year, is evolve. They just are not sure where to start. Since evolving is a rather broad term I found it helpful to break it down in to a few “micro-trends” that when compiled together could create the paradigm shift an organization needs to grow and change with the new nonprofit landscape. Breaking down this process into a few smaller chunks also helps make the thought of evolving seem less scary and far more attainable.
Big Data: Data—we know it’s important, but how do you use it and what story does it tell? Capturing supporter information while not overwhelming them with too many questions takes practice and testing. Start with the basics like age, location, mobile number and build from there. This information will help build your buyer persona which is just a fancy way of saying your ideal supporter. This will also help you understand how to deal with the next trend…donor strategy.
Donor Strategy– How do you acquire a new donor, cultivate them and make them a lifelong supporter? It’s about the engagement and how we communicate the message to our audience. Taking and utilizing the data provided by supporters will lead us in the right direction. Communicating with Millennials versus Boomers or gen Xers is not a one size fits all proposition. Think about breaking the groups down into segments and communicate in the most effective way for the respective group. This strategy will help turn supporters or one time gift givers into lifetime supporters. The next key is making sure you share what’s important by telling your story.
Storytelling – This is the most important one of all! Supporters turn into donors when they are moved emotionally to take action. Our most successful telethons thrive when a person describes why the cause is important to them and how or why it’s affected their life. An inspirational appeal will resonate so share your mission, passion and story to keep a connection with supporters. As a donor myself I want to feel that what I am contributing to is really making a positive impact in the world. Embrace storytelling! Share information about your staff, your programs, challenges you’ve recently faced and even failures you’ve had. All these will create connections and compel the reader to engage with the organization. Be visual too, a photo or video can tell your story even better! Be authentic, be honest, and be human! Of course, none of this is possible without a strong digital presence.
Digital Presence – Whether it’s via your website, mobile or social media, we have seen our digital lives explode over the past few years and there is no reason to think that is slowing down. Most online content is being consumed on mobile devices in 2015. In fact we should expect our digital presence to increase dramatically in the next few years. A lack of presence online could put your cause at a grave disadvantage. This doesn’t just mean having a donate page on your website. Create an online identity on multiple social media channels, you can do this by taking what you’ve learned about your donor, deciding on the story and distributing it with your digital presence. User experience is also important when creating your digital presence. Ensure your visitors have a positive experience by having responsive website pages and mobile friendly designs. After all once you get them to your site, online or mobile, you want them to continue through to the desired end result.
Staying ahead of the curve, or at least in the curve is much easier than playing catch up. Much like email was when it first came out these micro-trends might seem hard to embrace at first sight. However, change although it’s a challenge at times should also be fun and welcomed. Nonprofits who embrace changes and evolve with the landscape, in my opinion, position themselves for greater long term success. Spending a little time upfront analyzing your data, creating great stories and getting them out there in the best and most viral ways will catapult your organizations success in 2015.