The Future of Fundraising: Destroying Data Silos and Delivering Exceptional Donor Experience

We are in the middle of a digital revolution and if charities and fundraising organizations want to continue attracting donations they need to act now to keep up.

Consumer behavior is changing and these changes are coming from how we use technology. Digital titans, the companies we use every day for shopping, entertainment and banking are using personalization, artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain insight into their customers and deliver experiences that keep customers engaged and happy.

The Future of Fundraising: Destroying Data Silos and Delivering Exceptional Donor Experience
The Future of Fundraising: Destroying Data Silos and Delivering Exceptional Donor Experience

This guide explains how you can better enhance your technology to optimize your data, increase digital engagement and attract more donations. Including:

  • The new benchmark for fundraising and donor engagement in the digital age
  • How to avoid creating data silos that result in bad user experiences
  • The context of the Charity Digital Code in the future of fundraising

Content Summary

Fundraising in the digital age
Where fundraisers are going wrong
Technology for technology’s sake
Data silos creating a bad user experience
Build a relationship with your donors
Understand your donors
Engage your donors successfully
How will fundraising of the future impact your organization?

Fundraising in the digital age

We are in the middle of a digital revolution and if charities and fundraising organizations want to continue attracting donations they need to act now to keep up.

Consumer behavior is changing and these changes are coming from how we use technology. Digital titans, the companies we use every day for shopping, entertainment and banking are using personalization, artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain insight into their customers and deliver experiences that keep customers engaged and happy.

Consumers are digitally savvy and as a result your supporters are beginning to expect more from their interactions with you. Think of Amazon and Uber in terms of how you as a consumer evaluate all other customer experiences. They are the new benchmark for user experience.

Fundraising in the digital age
Fundraising in the digital age

25% of people will defect after just one bad experience. – McKinsey Customer Experience Compendium 2017

This statement is especially true for charities, where the motivation to donate is driven by desire rather than need. Your charity is never going to be as high up the priority list for spending money as grocery shopping, bills or socializing.

If you make it at all difficult for your supporters to donate or interact with you, they will simply stop bothering, or get distracted by another charity and shift their focus to them.

So, while the reasons to volunteer or donate haven’t changed, our expectations have. Gone are the days where people meet a fundraiser in the street, set up a direct debit and ignore it for years. People are changing how they want to support charities. They want to volunteer at events, donate online – often to an individual and know exactly where their money is going. It seems strange to consider other charities as your competitors, but to make sure your supporters keep choosing your charity you will have to up your game.

By 2020 customer experience will be the number one differentiator, beating price and convenience. – Walker Report 2013

Where fundraisers are going wrong

As personalization has become more commonplace, people are expecting more from their customer experiences and relationships. They order takeaway through an app, always know exactly where their taxi is and can find their phone/keys/ friends at the touch of a button. This means their expectations from the charities they support have increased too, and rightly so. You should know how much your supporters donate and how regularly. If they are actively fundraising on your behalf, you should know that too.

Technology for technology’s sake

Too many charities get caught up in technical features without considering what they need their tech to do, or how it relates to the broader strategy. New tools to communicate with supporters and donors are emerging all the time. Organizations can engage with their supporters through social media, email, WhatsApp, SMS and app notifications, but new tools can mean new data silos or complex integration challenges.

We regularly see organizations who are paying for social media scheduling tools without having a strategy – posting on Twitter when their supporters prefer Instagram, or emailing long-standing donors when they’d prefer a letter. Creating personalized experiences is key to building affinity with your supporters – it’s the start of the donor journey.

65% of UK consumers count customer experience as a key factor when making purchasing decisions. – PWC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18

Data silos creating a bad user experience

People consider themselves a supporter of your cause whether they put their spare change in a bucket, leave a gift in their will, make a one-off donation through social media or participate in a 5k fun run.

Managing the mountain of data that this support generates can feel impossible to manage. For most charities this data exists in silos across the organization, meaning they don’t have a clear picture of who is supporting them and how.

Some charities are using systems that help to manage their donations and report on their fundraising programs and activity. More often than not, these platforms are standalone. They don’t integrate with your marketing automation and social media platforms, meaning that the experience for your supporters can be clunky.

When your data is siloed, you can’t provide the user experience that your donors and supporters expect and deserve. Give your supporters a bad experience and they’ll simply stop donating. Send them a hard-selling appeal for donations when they have recently raised money for your charity and they’ll take their efforts elsewhere.

So how do you stay successful as a fundraising organization?

Build a relationship with your donors

Building real relationships with your supporters is going to be key to the future of fundraising. With the influx of crowdfunding platforms, people are often choosing to donate directly to individuals and areas that need their help. Before your charity becomes an unnecessary middle man standing between your donors and the people they want to help, evaluate your technology and rethink your communications strategy.

Move from Systems of Record to a System of Intelligence Dynamics 365 is a huge part of this digital revolution and charities should get on board. There’s no longer an excuse for sticking with legacy platforms that manage donations instead of relationships.

Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact exists to create CRM tools that specifically support not for- profits. Earlier this month they announced version 2 of their Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator which means Microsoft partners like us can develop CRM solutions specifically for charities.

Integrate and improve Fundraising directors are crying out for integrated systems that benefit supporters as well as employees. Delivering a seamless experience for your donors is a vital part of building that relationship with them. You can only hope to do this when your donations management platform, marketing automation, finance, operations and website all speak to each other. Another benefit to Cloud-based software like Dynamics 365 is that they can integrate with almost anything.

Understand your donors

A data audit will help you to see a clearer picture of your supporters. Many CRM partners will undertake this work for you, identifying the gaps in your data and helping you to clean it. When your data is all under one roof, it is significantly easier to manage.

When your systems are integrated, you can see whether someone you’re emailing regularly engages with your social content. You can see whether they visit your website and how they like to donate.

Personalize their experience KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre has developed a customer experience best practice model known as the six pillars: Personalisation, Integrity, Expectations, Resolution, Time and Effort and Empathy. Personalization – using individualized attention to drive an emotional connection – is arguably the most valuable. Demonstrating that you are familiar with your donor’s specific circumstances and will tailor their experience accordingly creates an experience that feels truly personal. (KPMG CEE Report 2018).

Use technology to better understand your donors, provide a personalized call to action that is meaningful and relevant to them and you will see a better return from donors who feel a greater affinity to your cause and mission.

Engage your donors successfully

To truly engage with your donors and supporters you need to be able to confidently deliver the right messages, to the right people at the right time. This isn’t just about email either, it’s across all channels. Armed with the intelligence that your integrated systems can offer – a 360-degree view of your supporters – you can engage with them in ways that previously weren’t possible.

  • Those supporters who donate sporadically online: Thank them through email and targeted social adverts – show them other ways that they can get involved if monthly donating isn’t for them.
  • Your loyal monthly givers, the lifeline of your charity: Show them how their money is helping and show your appreciation of their support.
  • Volunteers and fundraisers: Allow them access your staff in ways that suit them. Connect them and encourage them to keep ongoing.

Basing your communications strategy on meaningful intelligence from your integrated systems means no more asking your 15-year old fundraisers to leave a gift in their will, or asking pensioners to follow you on Instagram to understand where their donations are going.

How will fundraising of the future impact your organization?

Integrated solutions that improve your bottom line as well as user experience Integrating your systems doesn’t only improve the donor experience, it makes your employees and volunteers live easier too. With all intelligence about your donors, fundraisers, volunteers and other stakeholders in one place, your internal processes become more efficient. This means you are wasting less money, which is what you should be aiming for as a charity. It will also make the finance department happy too.

Systems that enable you to comply with regulations The new Charity Digital Code of Practice makes improving your systems and processes even more urgent. Using legacy, proprietary systems already makes this difficult. You can read more about the Charity Digital Code on the Trillium website.

Some of the main principles of the Charity Digital Code are:

  • Leadership: Digital should be an integral skillset at board level, with appropriate governance and policies for data, cybersecurity, etc.
  • Users: Digital transformation is about people, so put them first. Understand how your users are behaving digitally, and then deliver that experience. E.g. make your website mobile-friendly if lots of traffic comes from mobile.
  • Culture: Lead from the front and show resistant staff the benefits that digital transformation has for them and the donors.
  • Strategy: Plan how you will use your technology to improve the experience for your donors as well as your internal processes.

Another case for integrated systems is the GDPR. Housing all of your intelligence about employees, stakeholders, donors, supporters, volunteers, fundraisers, prospects, etc. in one place means you are much more likely to be GDPR compliant. Dynamics 365 can ensure GDPR compliance too.

Source: Trillium