Who is your client? In the for-profit world, it’s pretty clear: To attract the business and continued patronage of clients and customers around the world, you must provide an excellent customer experience around your products and services. Actually, the philosophy to motivate nonprofit donors isn’t far off that same course of action.
What’s the point of providing an amazing customer experience? It’s creating passionate fans who proclaim to everyone how wonderful your brand is and who come back time and again to purchase. Wouldn’t it be great if donors and others felt the same loyalty and motivation to continue to give and to proclaim from the rooftops how wonderful your non-profit is?
While it’s easy to identify shoppers, customers, subscribers, end users, and others who benefit from a company’s products or services, it’s harder to appeal to donors and stakeholders in the non-profit realm. In fact, according to The Chronicles of Philanthropy, less than 25% of Americans invest in charitable giving — a big indicator that you need to do something different to stand out.
How to identify a non-profit’s customer experience
Your non-profit can turn stakeholders into raving fans. A non-profit’s customer can be donors, volunteers, contributors, and anyone else who supplies tangible or intangible support. An easy way to look at this designation is to think of anyone your non-profit would consider a “friend.” This term encompasses anyone who believes in supporting your non-profit’s mission and vision, regardless of how or what they give. You wouldn’t want to call them “customers” because it’s a limiting term. Instead, consider their role: Perhaps they are friends ready and willing to support your mission-critical initiatives, volunteers or contributors who help you meet program needs, or even beneficiaries of your services.
Your goal is to provide an experience that turns your “friends” into fans who recommend your non-profit to others and shout from the rooftops how wonderful you are. Close to what for-profit enterprises do to create engaging and impressive customer experiences, a non-profit must ensure every communication speaks directly to their desires, fears, or needs.
Consider how a for-profit airline speaks to its customers and prospects. While they might point out their competitive airfare costs, they’re more likely to focus on how their customer service goes above and beyond others. Who wouldn’t want to fly with an airline that provides adequate comfy seating with free treats, or one that provides one-on-one customer service to make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you need for your flight?
If you’ve ever flown on a a budget airline, you know how important an amazing customer experience is. In fact, you’re probably willing to spend a few more dollars to ensure you get the customer experience you expect.
Creating raving fans for your non-profit entity
Your donors and friends have a choice: They can choose your non-profit because you ring all their bells, or they can donate or volunteer with another agency that sounds really good. It’s up to you to first, understand exactly what your donors and volunteers need, and second, how to reach them with engaging and compelling words that draw them in.
You must create raving fans. You have a few options. Your donors and friends provide the essence of what you need to fulfill your mission. But don’t forget about your target audience who hopefully will some day turn into volunteers or donors. You should treat your beneficiaries as well as you treat donors because someday they can and will “pay it forward.”
Regardless of your friends, donors, beneficiaries, and other involved in your program, show appreciation for their abilities. Consider how transparency helps you with your mission and vision, as does gratitude for everyone and communications that speak to that gratitude.
Don’t forget to envision the steps your friends and donors go through as they become raving fans. You must visualize their”customer experience” from beginning to end to make sure you accommodate donors along the journey. Once you understand your customer experience journey, you can help funnel them into the marketing tracks you’ve set up to meet or exceed their needs.
Empower your staff to exceed expectations
When everyone on board assimilates the organizational culture, understands intimately the customer experience, and focuses on being creative, adventurous, and open-minded, you can create magic for your target audience. When you empower your staff to address these issues, they can create donor loyalty through effective, personalized communications based on your nonprofit’s work philosophy.
Giving your staff freedom to tap into their creativity can boost not only your marketing and volunteer management program, but enhance fundraising strategies. When you align each arm of your nonprofit to the same strategic initiative, your chances of donors feeling valued and inspired skyrocket.
Creating a solution for your nonprofit’s extensive outreach program doesn’t mean you must put your mission and vision aside. Rather, creating a “customer experience” that donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries can connect with puts you at the top of the list for customer satisfaction. Because while they may not be as obvious as with for-profit organizations, non-profits have customers, too. Each customer category has different wants, needs, desires, and fears, and it’s up to you to understand and reach out to them as personally as possible. Making these connections allows you to better serve your customers and to continue to grow your impact.