The election of Donald Trump has served as a booster rocket for giving to groups on both the left and right.  Same with the intent to continue giving which is at record levels — also on both sides of the ideological spectrum — according to this report in Fast Company.

Right now — not six months from now — is the time to take action regarding these new Trump donors. And the action you take should not necessarily be the same action you routinely take with new donors.

Why? Because these new donors may be quite different than the ‘normal’ donors you’re accustomed to. At least that’s my experience.

I’ve been through various ‘bumps’ on the left side of the ideological spectrum over the past 45 years — from Roe v. Wade, to Watergate, to Ronald Reagan and the Iraq War — and in every instance, as the political climate cooled, those donors who rushed to an organization in the heat of the moment were quick to abandon ship.

One possible reason for the difference between these new ‘bump’  donors and those new donors you’ve dealt with in ‘normal’ times may be the degree of rage or fear that drives them to support an organization in politically worrisome times.

Whatever the reason, experience shows they are different in terms of ongoing retention and response. So, figuring out the donor journey you offer and the messages with which you communicate with these donors should probably be different than your ongoing efforts.

You’ll want to take a look at Nick Ellinger’s post on this subject over at the DonorVoice Blog, where he deals with the importance of determining the difference by focusing early on determining the donor’s identity, the reason he/she gave and creating what Nick terms “identity-based donor journeys”.

This is the most sure-fire way to make certain that you understand the difference between these ‘bump’ donors and your other donors and modify the donor journey/messages accordingly.

To get a sense of how this works you can also watch this video clip from a longer Agitator/DonorVoice Webinar on Donor Journeys. This clip demonstrates how one nonprofit increased its revenues by decreasing their mailings but firmly focusing on their donors’ identities and what their donors want.

Because ‘bump’ donors are so often driven by the emotions of fear or rage, take some time to think through how you’ve used emotion for your ‘normal’ donor base and consider whether you need to modifiy this approach.

At the very least be mindful that while ‘rage’ or ‘fear’ emotions may be driving new donors to join or contribute to your organization in this current climate, those same emotions are not likely to be helpful in the longer-term.

So double check the key element essential for bonding a new donor for the long term — a proper and timely thank you and recognition … good reporting on how the donor’s contribution is making a difference … proper and responsive donor service … and easy ways to get involved and make their feedback known.

In fact, treat yourself to what is for all intents and purposes a marvelous mini-course in the effective use of emotion in fundraising — read this terrific post by Mark Phillips of Blue Frog Fundraising, a favorite thinker and hell raiser.

Mark’s take on the use and misuse of emotion was written for the Commission on the Donor Experience. You can find the full-length version on SOFII by clicking here.

Until you can read the full version, here are Mark’s top 10 tips:

  1. “Communications that create fear and anger will drive action, but long-term commitment is generated by organisations that offer the most potent means to tackle these negative emotions.
  2. Donors want to feel good about giving. They want to know they have made the right choice, that they are recognised and that they are connected to a like-minded group of people.
  3. We are more likely to be persuaded to act by those who make us feel good about giving. Endorsements from people we trust, value, or recognise can be very powerful.
  4. Generating feelings of guilt is a short-term strategy that loses power over time. Guilt initially makes us feel sad which we resolve by giving but this will turn into anger if used too often.
  5. People often give to prove they are ‘good’. Do not confuse this desire to look and feel good with connection to a cause. These donors are rarely loyal to specific organisations and will learn to avoid the charities that don’t take no for an answer.
  6. The thank you is the key part of any fundraising programme. If the recruitment device is the ‘box’, the thank-you piece is what’s inside. The more personal and thoughtful the thank you, the better.
  7. Poor treatment such as getting a name wrong, delayed thanking (or receiving none at all) impacts on a donor’s self-worth. The thought that they don’t matter creates negative thoughts.
  8. Avoid donor regret by addressing donor needs after a donation. If a donor doesn’t see how they have made a difference with their gift, it creates a feeling of loss, which they can explain away as inefficiency on the part of the charity or their own ‘stupidity’.
  9. Do not think that barriers to giving can be overcome through aggressive, rational arguments. When someone appears unsure about giving it is because they don’t feel emotionally close enough to give.
  10. When donors first give, make the charity accessible to them. Welcome and reward curiosity.”

As Mark notes, “In the final analysis, emotional fundraising is about recognising the emotional needs of donors and answering them rather than exploiting them. The evolutionary process gave us feeling before thinking. That means in order to build long-term support, we must connect with donors emotionally first and then provide rational support.”

There’s no better time than right now — while you’re benefitting from the ‘Trump Bump’ — to recognize that the ‘Trump Slump’ will follow and take appropriate action — today.

What steps are you taking? Please share.



This article was posted in: Donor acquisition, Donor Centricity, Donor Centricity - Case Studies, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Nonprofit management.
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