Depending on the source, experts suggest it takes between seven and 12 “touches” for a donor to make the decision to support a nonprofit organization. These touches, or touchpoints, take many forms and can occur throughout the lifecycle of the relationship.
Whether through a newsletter, social media post or an article in the local newspaper, each touch is designed to bring that prospective donor one step closer to becoming an active supporter of the organization through their time, talent and/or treasure. At Angel Oak, we’re all about maximizing the impact of these touchpoints to tell your nonprofit’s story and motivate people to invest in your organization. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom to help you understand touchpoints and how to use them to create champions for your brand:
First, let’s answer the most obvious question, What are the touchpoints in your communications universe? Each organization is going to have their own touchpoints, but there are many common ones most nonprofits utilize. These include:
- Direct mail
- Social media posts
- Media coverage
- Phone calls
I’m guessing by now, you’re thinking, yeah, we do all of those things. What’s the point? The point is, if you’re like most organizations, you’re doing each of these activities in a silo without a strategic, integrated plan focused on how each touchpoint is part of a process and not just an isolated incident.
For example, does your website drive visitors to a specific call to action so they can experience that next touchpoint? Or, does your brochure focus on a target or marker or does it attempt to be all things to all people? Ultimately, if your organization frames its communications around touchpoints, it will be more effective and strategic.
So, now that you’re convinced touchpoints are important, what can you do to leverage this knowledge?
Developing a Touchpoints Mindset
1. Listen to your current donors and champions to better understand your supporters’ lifecycle. You can do this with surveys, focus groups, town halls and one-on-one interviews. Ask questions about how they learned about you, what moved them to get involved and what keeps them engaged with your organization. Look for trends and commonalities. Do regular check-ins to determine if trends are shifting within your donor base.
2. Develop a strategic marketing plan that leverages the most important touchpoints in your supporters’ lifecycle. Do most of your donors hear about you on social media or from a friend? Did they read about you in a newspaper article? Your marketing strategy should focus resources on the highest priority touchpoints first, while not ignoring the less impactful ones.
3. Create content with touchpoints in mind. One mistake many organizations make is to try to cram as much information into every piece of content hoping that this one piece will tell the full story and move the prospect to take action. Not only is this short-sighted, it’s also ineffective. Trying to produce the one piece for everybody actually makes it targeted to no one. Think about creating content specifically for each touchpoint, becoming a piece of the puzzle. Remember, most donors will be touched seven to 12 times before they get engaged.
4. Be consistent. In their effort to be everything to everybody, many organizations speak with different voices. While this may seem like a good idea as you try to reach different audiences, it usually just confuses prospective supporters. As you develop your organization’s brand and communicate with touchpoints in mind, be sure to define not just your visual identity, but also your organization’s voice. Your voice is the consistent tone, personality and content of your communications across all channels. Are you serious, funny, quirky, authoritative? Do you use slang? If you don’t define your brand, it will likely drift and become a mashup of those who manage your communications rather than a true picture of your organization.
Your organization is always communicating, but is it doing so effectively? One way to ensure you’re on track is to examine your donor lifecycle and to plan your communications around the touchpoints important to your prospects. It will not only help you be more effective, it will also help you tell a more compelling and complete story. So, don’t just shout into the wilderness. Make sure the touches you’re making are making a difference.
For more marketing tips and tricks check out our Angel Oak Creative Nonprofit Nuggets.
– David Chatham, Senior Marketing Consultant