New Rules of Engagement
We are, each and every one of us, consumers. We buy things – products, services, insurance, etc. And every time we make a purchase, we compare our experience to other similar experiences in our life – both consciously and subconsciously. Was my experience at the bank better than my experience at the grocery store? I really like the way my insurance agent lets me know what’s going on with my policy; I sure wish my credit card company would do something similar. We have a myriad of interaction channels to choose from when engaging with company x, y or z – online, direct mail, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Every interaction a company has with us – good and bad -- can be publicly scrutinized and publicly broadcast, creating whole new levels of accountability in a new digital world. But are the rules any different for nonprofits?
To put it simply, no. As a matter of fact the evolution of the digital world and the growth in multi-channel engagement requires nonprofits to be even more focused on the experience than ever before (and likely even more than their for-profit counterparts). Behavior drives response. When people donate to a cause, volunteer for a charity or advocate on a nonprofit’s behalf, they do so because the mission and the story resonate with a part of their soul. It’s personal. It goes beyond buying a widget or paying a monthly electric bill. People want to feel connected to a cause in which they believe, they want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves, which creates an entirely different set of expectations when simply buying a new TV set (although we all still want to be made to feel like we are human beings even when filling the tank with gas).
So, what should I focus on if I’m a nonprofit?
For the most part, what holds true in the for-profit sector carries over to the nonprofit sector as well – a seamless, integrated engagement experience that feels as though it has been personalized for me. Organizations that do this well are: Amazon.com, Hilton Hotels and Southwest Airlines. Nonprofits could learn quite a bit from these organizations in terms of these new rules of engagement that boil down to:
That’s all well and good, but how do I get there from a practical perspective? Glad you asked. Nonprofits that have any degree of success in creating a unique and memorable experience for the constituent base they engage have spent time, energy and money implementing the right technologies and understanding the right processes that pay significant dividends at the end of the day.
That’s a tremendous amount to absorb in very short article, but the reality is the world has changed for nonprofits. There is a greater need to create a unique and personal interaction in a world in which there are multiple distractions and multiple communication channels. We are all seeking a positive experience we can remember, and the more nonprofits embrace this brave, new world – the more successful they will be.
This post is by Dennis McCarthy, Convio's Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Practice and originally appeared as an article in 1:1 Magazine.
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