2106 FUNDRAISING PREDICTION #2: Shared Experiences

SHARED EXPERIENCES: We will begin to see a profound influence of shared experiences. These shared experiences between peers will become the catalyst that fuel awareness and drive involvement, support, advocacy, and donations.

It used to be said that nonprofits should operate like for-profit businesses. This is somewhat true, especially with regard to professionalism, adopting innovation, and being relentless in the pursuit of cost efficiency and increasing profitability. But that’s where it ends.

Businesses are about providing a product or service that a consumer wants or needs while charities are in the “business” of changing lives, moving hearts, and impacting the world in a positive way.

For-profits can get away with blatant hard-sell tactics, while the non-profit organization must present itself as the antithesis to the business hard-sell. To accomplish this, the forward-thinking nonprofit will zealously embrace peer-to-peer networks and avoid mechanized, non-personal, pseudo-personalized tactics. The outcomes that emerge from true hands-off, peer-to-peer shared experiences will be refreshing and attractive to everyone, millennials in particular.

These shared experiences cannot be staged or orchestrated by the nonprofit in anyway – otherwise you will violate a key tenet: being authentic, transparent, and human.

But here is where the rubber meets the road: 70-80% of the actual decision making process takes place prior to someone actually taking action, such as making a donation or buying a particular product. The 70-80% represents the shared experience taking place, virtually out of our control, between peers and other influencers, predominately through online outlets.

Consequently, the power of peer networks is extremely powerful and must be embraced. Not controlled or managed – but embraced for what it is – an organic and natural occurring network of shared experiences.

Here is an example: my sister’s computer broke recently. She needed a new one. She went to Facebook and simply said “Hey, my computer broke, any suggestions for a new laptop.” You have surely seen this type of thing. She got all sorts of recommendations and I even texted her what I thought she should buy. I guarantee she followed the advice she was given and wasn’t influenced by an advertisement or email or sales flyer unless it was simply to determine what price to pay and where to get it – but even that could have been significantly influenced by her peer network.

Here is another example I’m sure you’ve experienced: If you follow anyone on Facebook or Instagram you have likely seen a post of someone (usually a woman) and she just happens to be wearing a beautiful scarf, as an example. The post is about a night out with her husband but the comments are quickly filled with “Love your scarf! Where did you get it? #Gorgeous #HaveToHaveIt!” or something along those lines. There is a high likelihood someone was influenced by that post and will purchase that exact scarf – guaranteed.

So the bottom-line, the chances are very high that it will have been a friend, a peer, a colleague, or a Tweep that provides that Ultimate Moment of Truth. The actual purchase is a perfunctory detail, her decision of what to purchase was the result of a shared experience with others.

Granted I have given you two examples from the for-profit world but there are just as many examples of this type of shared experience happening with nonprofit organizations – actually tons…

Key take-away: Embrace peer-to-peer networks, cultivate an atmosphere of community, obsess over building (or at least supporting and encouraging) a network of shared experiences that add depth to your brand, and let the community of supporters advocate for your organization.

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