Create Experiences that Deepen Connections with Donors

Are people ecstatic about giving to your institution? It might seem like a silly question at first blush… but…is it though? We probably don’t think often enough about how the reaction to donating can bring an immense amount of joy to a donor. But we should.

Because it can be an awesome moment. There’s no reason for it not to be, really.

How people react to the experience of donating money to your institution is completely within your control. Don’t believe us? Well, let’s talk about greeting cards for a minute. What do greeting cards have to do with donating a chunk of change to your alma matter? More than you’d think, it turns out.

For most of us, greeting cards are simply a thing you buy because you sort of feel like you should. We stop into a store, pick up something inoffensive with a sappy note or a joke that’d make the worst dad joke groan. Then we dash off a quick note and seal it up. Done and done.

Pretty uneventful stuff. Doesn’t elicit much of a reaction in us or, to be perfectly honest, in the card’s recipient. It’s about as middle of the road as a consumer experience gets.

So then why do people lose their minds with excitement about giving Lovepop cards to their friends and family? Not only are they overjoyed about giving them, but they’re positively thrilled to spend three or four times as much on one Lovepop card as they would on a typical greeting card?

Because as a company, part of Lovepop’s DNA is creating incredible experiences for their customers. It’s baked right into the product itself: Their intricate, laser-cut cards are based on the ancient art form of kirigami, and you won’t find anything like them in the aisle of the nearest pharmacy. The cards are enough to take your breath away in and of themselves.

But they refuse to stop there. Lovepop also creates an unforgettable experience by:

  • Selling cards in their own dedicated stores that highlight their beautiful products instead of piling them behind stacks and stacks of other cards
  • Asking customers about the recipient of the card before talking about the product itself
  • Writing a personalized note in red ink (their brand color) on each and every package they ship out

Those are just a few of the things Lovepop does to make customers feel like they’re dealing with a group of people, not just a faceless corporation, with each interaction.

Lovepop is succeeding in 2019 with physical cards in a digital world because the experiences they cultivate connect deeply with their customers, who go on to become repeat buyers and advocates for the brand.

How can you recreate that formula for your institution? How can you get people to be positively thrilled to donate money to your institution? It’s not typically an experience that people are buzzing about, but it’s not impossible. If Lovepop can create that excitement around a physical greeting card, there’s no reason you can’t do it for philanthropy.

It’s all about following their formula.

It starts with your product

Unlike Lovepop, you don’t have a physical product to sell. But you’re still packaging something up for your donors. Think of all the stories that exist on your campus and among your alumni. No one else is telling those. That’s your product. That’s your secret sauce.

Lovepop CEO Wombi Rose explained that the materials you produce are the gateway to reaching people.

“How can what you put out in the world help create a deeper emotional connection and connect it back to that unique experience that all the students who have gone through the institution have had?”

Instead of just putting out the same old alumni magazine because you’ve always done it, what else could you do? What is your laser-cut, kirigami card that will make people stop in their tracks? How you shape and deliver those stories are what will help you deepen your relationships.

It doesn’t have to be that daunting because…

Personalization only requires a little cleverness

Think about those hand-written notes that Lovepop puts on each package they mail out. It’s not an elaborate addition. It’s simple, quick and effective. You don’t have to bend over backwards or think of some award-worthy innovation that will blow people away. Instead it’s about establishing a simple, human-to-human connection.

Wombi added, “How can you develop experiences around what you’re doing, around how you’re communicating with prospects and donors that form that deeper relationship and that help people feel the connection with the parts of the product that are really meaningful to them personally?”

Once you’ve developed an incredibly compelling video or crafted an interview with some interesting alumni, how do you take it a step further and make the communication of that material special?

Marry the delivery with your materials and you’ve got something truly special.

Use tech to your advantage

You don’t have a store or physical product to display. No one is waltzing into your advancement office asking about your different donation packages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a personal approach.

By creating segments of your donors based on their interests or interactions with your institution, you can tailor your communications just like Lovepop does. You can begin to ask your version of the recipient question instead of getting straight into the greeting card.

To do this at scale, as you so often need to do, EverTrue can help you hyper-target audiences your materials and tactics are likely to resonate with. Which is a critical part of the process. Because if you’re thinking deeply about what materials you’re putting out in the world, and how you are creating experiences around those materials, you need to think just as hard about who you are surfacing it to.

Want more inspiration from forward-thinking visionaries from advancement and beyond? Our RAISE conference returns next July. Get tickets before prices increase!

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