Sunday, May 20, 2012

BIG’s Blog: The Era of the Passive Consumer (Donor) Is Over

Anna Bager works for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a nonprofit association, and writes periodic articles for ClickZ on technology and consumer trends. The focus of a recent article was about changing consumer behavior driven by behavioral changes in how we (all of us!) use technology.

“Whether it is shopping in a store, commuting to work, or sitting on the sofa watching TV, the consumer is not passive anymore. We have changed our media consumption behavior along the same lines as we have changed our way of working – finding ourselves not only working at the office, but on the road, at home, or any location for that matter. As individuals we are getting more and more used to having access to content wherever we are and whenever we want it.”

I have written before about this growing attitude: “As individuals we are getting more and more used to having access to content wherever and whenever we want it.” But this “attitude” also is changing our behaviors in how we make decisions. And this decision making also applies to who we support.

Technology and our increasingly busy lives means our decision behavior is changing: Quick Access, Quick Message (what your organization is doing, who you are helping, and the outcomes), and Quick Decisions.

Competition has long since arrived in the nonprofit sector. There are more and more nonprofit organizations chasing the same dollars. Established organizations should have the advantage by virtue of their longevity, but only if they are online and sharing the results of their work.

Having choices – as in media consumption for example – forces us to make decisions. And decisions mean we “quickly” scrutinize options and “quickly” decide. This applies to what nonprofits are putting online about themselves.

Your parents and grandparents may have been institutional givers. That is, they gave to institutions on the basis of who they are. But starting with the Baby Boomers, this institutional giving default mode begins to fade away.

Scrutinizing the work and outcomes of the organization by potential donors is becoming more and more the norm. They want to know what their dollars are doing. Today’s donor sees their support as an investment in your organization’s work, not as a gift to the organization.

But there is a huge “blind spot” in many nonprofits – especially faith-based organizations – in regard to understanding this. So much of what they put online is “about them” and only secondarily is “the work that they do.” And even more important, there is little, if any, information about “the results of their work (outcomes).”  

I have no doubt that your organization is doing great work. But the criteria for donor decisions are quickly changing. It’s not about “who you are” – there are a lot of great organizations out there today. It’s about “what you are doing” (your mission/ministry) and “the results of that work.”

You must be online and optimized for mobile devices, you must be able to quickly and compellingly communicate the work you are doing, and you must quickly show the difference your organization is making.


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