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Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Death of Conventional Fundraising

We live in a world of information overload, where our attention is constantly being seized by promotions, sales pitches, and newsletters. Inboxes have been embedded with smart technology, filtering mass emails into folders called "promotions", and telephone recognition software is making it harder for conventional fundraising phone banks to get through.

Charities today, big and small, seeking to adapt amid the COVID-19 pandemic, are faced with rethinking their communications strategy.  They need to be more personally-engaging as they put themselves in their donors' shoes. No-one enjoys receiving generic, mass messaging and being pestered or guilt-squeezed for donations. As patrons, we support causes to which we feel an emotional connection and are confident there is a trusted team at the helm managing our gifts in an efficient way. This is one of the reasons why we now see a rise in personal video emails (from companies like Bonjoro) from nonprofits. Unlike mass email, personal videos allow a charity to cater their messaging based on an individual donor's history with the organization, their donation patterns or even location.

A personal video helps to build trust, fosters familiarity, and demonstrates to the donor that they are more than a name and number in a database. Some of the most common applications around personal video are:
  • To reactivate lapsed and former donors to their cause;
  • To thank donors for their support and build brand/mission loyalty;
  • To invite donors/community members to events/galas (I have seen a big uptick in such usage over the last month as charities are taking events virtual); and
  • To showcase “before and afters” around causes donors are supporting.
According to Harvard Business Review, personal video emails had nearly double the open rates of conventional text email:
"In the control group, which didn’t receive any digital contact, 1.3% of people activated their account. In the email condition, that number increased to 4.3%. However, the personalized videos doubled the activation rate, with 8.2% signing into their accounts." 
Personal video works because it breaks down many impeding barriers in static, text-based electronic communication or traditional scripted fundraising telephone calls. Personal video showcases facial expressions, voice inflection, tone and body language, which all create a more intimate, personalized experience.

So, as you build a new roadmap for the remainder of the year, remember the importance of projecting a personal connection with your audience. Remember the value in reminding donors that human beings are behind the scenes delivering the impact around causes they care about. The need to rally and bring our donors together is now more vital than ever.

Casey Hill is currently the Head of Growth at Bonjoro. With more than a decade of experience working with non-profit organizations,  from one-person operations to major multinationals like CURE International , Casey has seen what is keeping brands relevant and seen in the 21st century.

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