Customer relationship management for nonprofits is not easy. Their lead nurturing strategy, rather than a funnel, is a continuous engagement cycle.
You may be familiar already with the steps of the Inbound Marketing methodology.
In a funnel of attraction, conversion, closing and delight centered on the client rather than the product, you can turn strangers into visitors, leads customers and -finally- create promoters of your brand, with a series of engaging and remarkable content offers.
In our experience, many companies feel just comfortable reaching the Closing stage, where their leads turn into customers, overlooking the delight stage of their customer relationship management and marketing strategies.
If there is an area where failing to nurture existing customers can backfire, it’s nonprofits.
According to HubSpot,
“Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love.”
We may have driven awareness and conversion, and successfully managed to end our summer fundraising campaign. We may have attracted more website traffic and grown your database, converting prospects and visitors. Do we go back to square one? Some NGOs focus so much on raising funds and awareness for one particular campaign, and they inadvertently kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Angus Jenkinson, Branko Sain, and Kevin Bishop, from the Center for Integrated Marketing at the UK's Luton Business School, have studied how to optimize communications for charity brand management. They have found significant performance gaps from NGOs regarding:
As a consequence, foundations face:
To optimize communications, they suggest:
A good way to streamline the conversion and delight of future and existing donors is Inbound Marketing. Its method, focused on demand generation and lead nurturing, can provide automation at the same time that it empowers foundations to develop a quality relationship with all stakeholders.
Fundraising consultant and bestselling author Ken Burnett coined the term Relationship Fundraising as
“An approach to the marketing of a cause which centers not around raising money but on developing to its full potential the unique and special relationship that exists between a charity and its supporter."
Developing this potential shouldn't focus just on a database. Laura Weir and Hibbert Sally, from the Department of Marketing of the University of Strathclyde, has also studied customer relationships for NGOs. They concluded that using a database “is not enough, by and of itself, to improve effectiveness in building donor loyalty.”
“As in commercial situations, to succeed, charities need a relationship with the donor that extends beyond the traditional, one-way, impersonal one.”
In fact, they found that those fundraising departments in which marketing, relationship marketing and database marketing were adopted "had witnessed much better effectiveness gains since the purchase of their database than those departments where various marketing principles had not been taken on board.”
“Converting donors is less about persuasion and more about relationship building—much like dating,” she says. “You’re at the get-to-know-you stage, where you’re both learning about who the other is and whether you want to take further steps.”
For nonprofits, Emily Logan suggests that “rather than asking for money right away, create other methods of engagement or conversations that give supporters a chance to get to know your organization and build an emotional attachment to your work and mission. Then, by the time you’re asking for cash, it isn’t such a hard sell.”
With Inbound Marketing, then, nonprofits can focus on both the close and delight stage, to:
"The best supporters of your nonprofit are the individuals who already know and support your work. If you’ve taken the time to build your audience base, recruit members, and collect donations, the last thing you want to do is let these already-strong relationships fall through the cracks."
"Inbound marketing, at the end of the day, is a means of building long-term relationships. Great options for continued retention include implementing referral programs, educational pieces for current members, segmenting newsletters, opportunities for networking or even a kit that shows them how to launch their own donations campaign—the list goes on."
In fact, the Inbound Methodology’s Delight Stage has a series of tools that can prove especially valuable for nonprofits:
How does your organization approach its relationship with your existing donors/customers?