Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Aligning Nonprofit Strategy with Donor Preferences

Last week I attended the "What Really Matters" webinar from Abila to discuss the findings in their latest Donor Engagement Study. There were a few surprises in their latest findings, and several confirmations of what we've always known, or at least should have sensed.

On of the key points that should be obvious, but bears repeating, is that Content is King. What you say is more important than the frequency with which you communicate, or even what medium or channel you are using.

And, when it comes to that content, what donors are most interested in is stories. Again, many of us have been harping on this for years, but too many nonprofits have still not heard the message: Your data may help get a signature on a large check, but to get to that point you need to share just one personal story of how your nonprofit has helped one individual.

When it comes to Abila's findings that should come as a wake-up call, the most startling is the how misaligned most organizations are with the preferences of their donors.

For example, while many nonprofits are dividing their donor lists by gift range, and are differentiating their strategies for large versus small donors, only 3% of groups are always dividing and strategizing differently by age group.

Age of donors matters! Each generation has different communications preferences, from what channel (mail, email, social media...), to the frequency, to the message. If you have the same strategy for reaching millennials as you do for their grandparents, one of them (at least) isn't going to be impressed.

As presenters Tad Druart and Rich Dietz pointed out, our donors are consumers as well, and they are used to communications from companies like Amazon or eBay that are highly differentiated and targeted based on dozens of factors. When we, as nonprofits, treat all donors like just another member of the herd, donors are noticing and turning away from us.

There's a lot more in the report, but I'll leave it up to you to discover. You can visit the website to download the full report (it's free).

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