‘Tis the Donation Season

Opinion: There is no better time to reach potential donors to solicit funds for those that are in need

Nonprofit organizations are creating their foundations within social media channels
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As we move into the holiday season, many retailers and e-commerce providers are keenly focused on doing all that they can to drive sales and profits over the next 90 days. It is the season when consumers worldwide spend a significant amount of their disposable cash and available credit lines purchasing a widening array of gifts and services for their friends, family and loved ones.

If you have a product or service that is “gift worthy,” you started planning months ago to take advantage of the billions of dollars that will be spent this year in giving to others. Consumers extend themselves to show others just how much they care about those who are near and dear to their hearts.

It is with this understanding that the season is also mission-critical for many nonprofit organizations.

Giving hearts are displayed everywhere. Other than the periods directly surrounding a tragedy of some sort (this year we have had several), there is no better time to reach potential donors to solicit funds for those that are in need.

The challenges for nonprofits during this season are manifold.
The holiday season is always packed with all sorts of consumer messages in all channels focused on “Sales, Deals, Cyber this and Black that.” There isn’t a moment of time when the frenzy subsides. It is a daunting task for a nonprofit organization to break through all of this frenzied media assault to deliver a much softer message of supporting those who could be “forgotten” during the holiday season. Those who are in tremendous need and enduring all sorts of pain could be easily overlooked.

Add to the consumerism of the marketing messaging during the season, and the nonprofit arena is packed with many local charities, coupled with the very large organizations, all focused on making their “year-end appeals and requests.”

This year; with all of the tragedies that our country and the world have endured, many nonprofits have received significant “one-time” donations during the course of the year, placing their goal of driving sustained giving donations in peril. The donor could rationalize that they “have already given” to the charity and that their commitment is “covered “for 2017.

This year the challenge transcends the placement of bell-ringing Santas and display media banners. Nonprofits need time to share their messages with greater depth with an audience of engaged consumers and donors in their venue of choice.

As we have discussed many times, media consumption patterns continue to shift in real-time. The donor channel that was almost exclusively driven by direct mail has now migrated to the online transactional channels.

Generations X, Y and Z continues to demonstrate a growing affinity to the entire idea of giving back their time, resources and support to a collection of charities that provide transparency around the use of donor dollars to help ease the pain and suffering in need. This new donor base continues to congregate within the social media sphere for much of their shared decision making. They exchange thoughts, ideas, preferences and their affinity and/or lack of regarding a range of brands and offers. Most important, they seem to spend “time” within these venues connecting with others.

Increasingly, nonprofit organizations are creating their foundations within these social media channels. They have become active in providing relevant content within these venues. Whether it is video and/or long form informational content, the nonprofit is spending time understanding the audience in each social venue and matching their content with the profile and persona of the social media venue.

Their marketing presence appears to be more relevant and contextual than formulaic from an advertising standpoint. Some are presenting their “need” in a way that appears to be more conversational. When speaking to “moms,” their appeal is constructed to connect with moms about the plight of other children in desperate need.

We need a much more “human” and sincere message coming within the social channels versus the standard, one-click display banner running in a more broadcast manner across the web. Since nonprofit budgets are not limitless, there is a greater focus on placing contextual messages that yield measurable results from a donor standpoint. Results from this approach are very promising.

Several leaders in the nonprofit arena are leveraging new tools and strategies that enlist their most ardent and evangelical supporters as social media ambassadors. In these efforts, the charity recruits others to “spread the word” to their social contacts as a means of generating a larger collection of new donors for the charity. The premise is that ambassadors are connected socially with others that share their common values and would be more likely (with a not-so-gentle nudge) to join in and help with a charitable effort.

Through the work we have done on behalf of several nonprofits, the challenge of converting a one-time donation and donor to one who enlists as a sustained giver is very much top of mind.

This holiday season, we see significant efforts around capturing these donors as new and doing all that can be done to convert one-time donors to monthly partners. A consistent presence is reinforcing this messaging—the desperate need for ongoing support is likely to be front and center this holiday season.

‘Tis the season for every sector of our economy. While many e-tailers and retailers are doing battle for their share of the holiday purchasing pie, there is no greater life-and-death struggle happening than within the nonprofit sector.

Jim Fosina is founder and CEO of full-service subscription-marketing agency Fosina Marketing Group.