Understanding ‘the why’ behind each donor's actions

As marketers, we’re constantly in planning and campaign mode, focused on how we can get our members to increase their donations and become lifetime givers.

We send multiple mailings throughout the year, engage in a variety of digital tactics and always have our eye on the bottom line. Fulfilling on the how is important, but we need to take a step back and understand the why. That is, why members choose our organization to donate to, volunteer their time and advocate for.

So how do you get to the why? It starts with using data to understand each generation that’s part of your donor file.

Today’s marketers need to consider five generations at any given time: silent, baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. Each generation is different in terms of who they are (demographics), their ability to donate (financials), what they care about (lifestyles and psychographics), where they spend/donate (transactions) and what media they consume (survey data).

To understand the why, an in-depth analysis of each segment is needed. Here I’ll take a closer look at the millennial segment to understand the key things to be mindful of when marketing to this group. But remember, this is just one of many segments.

As it pertains to millennials, there are multiple milestones in this one generation. Millennials are graduating and succeeding in their first job, getting married or having their first child. To fully understand these milestones, marketers should perform segmentation for a deeper analysis to understand how behavior differs from each donor.

Additionally, millennials are the most diverse group, ethnically and linguistically. To reach them, marketers need to speak to them. And millennials expect lower donation amounts or frequency. It’s important to find other ways to engage them with your brand and your cause. They are passionate about the cause they support.

Once you’ve developed a clear understanding of the behaviors within each segment leading to the why of your donor’s actions, don’t stop there. It’s important to understand their channel preferences and the value additional data insights adds.

While we know millennials are digital savvy, from our recent research, we learned they shop in store and online equally. The online channel influences the purchase, and while in store, mobile plays a key role.

You might be asking yourself, as a not-for-profit, “Why should I be focused on the in-store channel, I’m not a retailer?” True. But think of ways in which you can create that ‘in-store’ experience for your organization. For example, invite members to your headquarters (quarterly, annually – whatever works for you) to come and see in person what’s inside your organization and inspire them during the visit.

A few years ago, the American Heart Association did an event like this as part of their Go Red for Woman campaign. At their facility, visiting members were able to see how their donations impact the lives of others by meeting and speaking with a few survivors and reading numerous inspirational stories.

In addition to understanding the value of each channel, consider how additional data insights will help determine the why. Demographic and lifestyle data, such as Epsilon’s TotalSource Plus®, reflects how consumers spend their time and money so you can reach them in the most insightful way across all channels.

So take time to get know each and every donor in your file, one generation at a time. Before you know it, you’ll unveil the why behind each members’ giving behavior.