Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Thoughts on the Four Types of Donors

I wanted to write a follow-up post to my piece on the "Four Types of Donors." For a refresher, here's the matrix I used to divide up the donor market into four quadrants (for more information on this, see the original post):

The type of donors organizations want are in the top right quadrant: Donors with a high interest in whatever the organization is working on, as well as a high capacity to give. Organizations have many options to mobilize their donors into the top-right corner of this matrix. I discussed the movement upwards in my previous post on this topic--that is, making it easier for donors to give their resources through simplified ways of giving, like texting donations or social networking sites. (Of course, another way to do this would be to increase donors' overall resources, which is a lot harder to do and probably not the goal of most fundraisers.) But what I didn't really touch on was how to move donors to the right--that is, make them more interested in what an organization is doing.

To do this, I think non-profits need to have a broader communications strategy, focused on increasing awareness and engagement in their issues. Which is much easier said than done. When thinking about non-profit advocacy, I always come back to the marketing adage: "I know that half our marketing is working, I'm just not sure which half." It's hard, if not impossible, to tell if information being put out there is increasing engagement or donations and what is wasted on deaf ears. With limited resources, it makes sense most non-profits don't devote a lot of time to raising awareness in the broader public. Philanthropy Action did a study a while ago about the ineffectiveness of social media on leveraging support for non-profits, which I think shows the difficulty of using engagement techniques to increase support--i.e., moving donors from the left of the matrix to the right.

However, the original reason I created this matrix was to discuss my issues with "slacktivism"--the notion that we can do good without doing a lot. The most concrete and (unfortunately) prevalent example of slacktivism is embedded philanthropy, like the RED campaign, where people make a consumption purchase that has a small donation to a specific organization tied into that purchase.

This is only one of many examples of corporations partnering with non-profits to help increase support. I think it's these partnerships that have the most potential to increase engagement. Instead of a simple donation, why not include some information about child labor in the garment industry along with that GAP t-shirt? When Apple starts marketing their next generation of I-Pads, why not create an advertising campaign about the use of conflict materials in common electronics? These types of campaigns could have a much larger impact on what non-profits are working for than any amount of increased monetary giving. Corporations with the expendable resources to get behind these initiatives could start a new wave of corporate responsibility not just centered around dollar donations. This could really get people moving into that ideal top-right corner of the donor matrix.

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