Giving is Going Digital – Has Your Donor Outreach Kept Up?

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” So proclaimed the late, great New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra. Although not quite Shakespeare, the man had a point. Most of the time, prognosticators’ timelines are naively optimistic. (We’ve been promised a four-day workweek for literally decades.) 

The Speed Of Change

Yet every so often, change comes quicker than experts forecast. The rate at which Antarctica’s ice shelf is melting is one example of professionals failing to accurately judge transformational velocity. Another is the pace at which businesses and their customers have transitioned from analog to virtual activity. In fact, the speed of change in this sphere is so swift that for charitable and other non-profit entities in perpetual need of donor support, the importance of effective digital outreach is no longer optional. It’s the key to their very survival

Just how fast are consumers moving to the digital realm?

A recent report by the global business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company reveals that as we enter 2022, digital activity is closer to where business prognosticators expected it to be in 2029… putting the transition at least seven years ahead of schedule

The prime accelerator here is, to no one’s surprise, COVID-19. Pandemic lockdowns, disease-triggered labor, materials shortages, and the need to work from home have, for an increasing number of people, combined to make the Internet the most desirable place to work, shop, and congregate. (And this is even before the so-called Metaverse comes to fruition. The “next evolution of social connection” Facebook wishes to create, will be a fully immersive digital realm supposedly capable of facilitating all the above and more.)

Technology Expected to Gain More Strength

Unfortunately, though, the pandemic shows no sign of waning. In fact, thanks to the vaccine-resistant Omicron variant, it is only getting worse. As a result, we can expect this technology trend to gain even more strength in 2022. “During the pandemic, consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels, and companies and industries have responded in turn,” the McKinsey report notes. “The survey results confirm the rapid shift toward interacting with customers through digital channels. They also show that rates of adoption are years ahead of where they were when previous surveys were conducted—and even more in developed Asia than in other regions. Respondents are three times likelier now than before the crisis to say that at least 80 percent of their customer interactions are digital in nature.”

Even if science can defeat COVID or it simply goes away on its own, the societal changes it wrought are likely to remain permanent, at least according to the study. “For most [companies], the need to work and interact with customers remotely required investments in data security and accelerated migration to the cloud. Now that the investments have been made, these companies have permanently removed some of the precrisis bottlenecks to virtual interactions. Majorities of respondents expect that such technology-related changes, along with remote work and customer interactions, will continue in the future…. Respondents say that funding of digital initiatives has increased more than anything else—more than costs, the number of people in digital or other technology roles, and the number of customers.”

So, what does this mean for the realm of charities and non-profits?

Clearly, donor outreach needs to focus on digital channels rather than such legacy methods as direct mail or in-person events. Yet simply relying on email blasts is not enough. People get so many fundraising requests daily that such entreaties are likely to be ignored… if they don’t end up in the spam folder.

DonorSearch Ai

As we move rapidly to what experts are calling Web 3.0, the linchpin to effective digital communication will be personalization, tailor-made messaging made possible via the application of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning. DonorSearch Ai is an example of such far-sighted technology. Rather than simply targeting potential donors based on, say, net worth (an all-too-common criterion), DonorSearch uses its advanced algorithms to identify likely supporters based on their interests, brand affinity, passions, past giving behaviors, and even temperaments then aid organizations with outreach efforts to engage and motivate prospects to open their wallets. 

Perhaps ironically, as interactions become more and more virtual, the secret to future successful soliciting will be to treat prospects as people—as individual human beings—rather than as members of a class or group. What’s more, recent advances in AI now make such personalization practical on a vast scale, allowing charities, universities, faith-based organizations, service groups, and other non-profits to appeal effectively to the right individuals.

If you are eager to follow your donors into the increasingly active digital realm and to maximize the impact of each outreach, please contact our team of experts to arrange your demo of DonorSearch Products today.

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