It is estimated that 95% of the healthcare foundations in this country have identified donor engagement as a top priority but less than 27% actually have programs that effectively address it. This simply means, there is often poor or limited donor intelligence, rarely a strategic communications plan and almost never a way to measure success. Now, add in the fact that donor engagement has and is evolving at an accelerated rate due to lifestyle, technology and generational transition. Finally, consider the steady increase in competition – nearly 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. as of 2015 and growing, coupled with overwhelming advertising fatigue (nearly 5,000 images per day), and you can begin to see the full magnitude of the problem.
While fund development is clearly different from selling a product or service, there is still a great deal that can be learned from traditional marketing. Fundraising still relies on value proposition – what your donors want from you and what you want from your donors. The first step is accepting that certain individuals are not now or may ever be ‘customers’. You simply don’t have a product they want. How much of your communication budget is spent chasing down and hounding prospects who really aren’t prospects? Good donor intelligence is a must. It enables you to identify, segment and customize your message, so it resonates with real prospects. At Accordant, we have built our entire communication philosophy around being; Experts in healthcare philanthropy and, being experts in knowing donor psychographics (what makes your donor tick).
Can you right now, list your top 5 communication priorities and explain why? Can you point to your budget and your data to justify this? Do you have the next six months of your communication plan mapped out strategically and only rely on 20% of it to be responsive? If you were able to say “yes” to these questions, chances are you’ve already learned the key to communication planning —it’s all about focus.
Every organization on the planet has to prioritize – Harvard Business professor Michael Porter says it best, “Strategy is choosing what not to do”. The backbone of our communication planning process starts with prioritization. We analyze your data, audiences, touch points, frequencies, creative and engagement funnel to determine where to focus.
Don’t just wait for it to rain–make it rain. Our communication planning process is unique in that we don’t limit it to goals, measures and budgeting – which ultimately gets left on a shelf somewhere. We believe you must incorporate Creative as part of the planning process. You must proactively pursue the stories you want, or they will most likely not be captured. Content is expensive, so be strategic and understand how and where you can repurpose that content to string together a narrative over time that engages your audience. This is how you free yourself from being reactionary, vague and lost.
Align, Piggyback and Advocate
Creating a plan that runs parallel to your hospital’s marketing plan is a great way to gain speed and momentum. As a leadership organization, Accordant is focused squarely on bringing together the most critical levers for success and removing constraints before they happen. In communication planning, this means — leveraging all internal assets to their fullest.
Your foundation and your healthcare partner are one – sort of. You have a shared purpose, but you might–at times–speak different languages. They sell quality and compassion —you sell hope. Aligning with one-another based on similarities instead of focusing on differences can empower your foundation and create and strengthen donor relationships. Providing a single, consistent and unified message to your donor’s builds trust.
Brand synergy does three fundamental things for your organization:
Sets the vision and framework for communications
Serves as the trust glue in your relationships both internally and externally
Multiples the awareness, understanding and reach of your shared brand
Start with Why
Can you answer this question: What if your foundation went away? Why would it be such a bad thing for the hospital, your donors or the community? Your ‘why’ is simply your truest, most passionate belief’s. Understanding and being able to articulate your why is incredibly powerful and shapes your organization’s entire vision.
Case for Support
If you look beneath the surface, you’ll discover that this innocent looking document is the fundamental communication lever within your organization. More than words on a page, it represents the very thing your organization believes in most. It’s the ‘why’ behind everything you do. Don’t settle for mediocre. Engage, inspire and elevate your collective vision. Our process for delivering a truly breakthrough, enduring and contagious Case for Support, focuses on the rational and emotional benefits to your audience. We can help embolden your organization’s vision and deliver a powerful yet practical core building block for philanthropy.
Famous rapper Ice Cube once said: “I make a mean cup of coffee if you give me the right ingredients.” This is true for many things – even your case for support. A great case needs a great cause. Together, we’ll identify the absolute best projects at the right time and align those projects with the hospital’s strategy. Once we have the right ingredients, we craft your case for support in a way that is emotionally compelling and rationally sound.
How you package and deploy your case for support is immensely important. After all, this is about donor engagement – two-way communication. The goal is to get donors excited enough about your case that they willingly share it. A share strategy for deployment means using your case for support to entice conversation, feedback and opinions. This may mean developing a video, social media strategy, collateral, campaign or other forms of communication channels to deploy.
Donors make decisions to give based upon emotion even more than fact. Stories provide the powerful and emotional experience of your healing mission in action, and Accordant can show you how to craft high-impact mission stories based on best practices and research from a variety of fields including psychology and behavioral economics.
Secrets to Great Mission Stories
Get personal. One person’s individual story creates the strongest emotional connection.
Be resonant. Tell stories that connect with people’s values and beliefs
Don’t resort to drivel or shock factor. Use emotion without being so sappy or upsetting that donors shut down.
Be authentic. Be genuine and trustworthy in the stories you tell. Feature stories of indentifiable, real people in your community.
Be relevant. Make stories relevant to donors; show them why they should care and show them what’s in it for them and their community.
Tell it well. Great stories move on the power of action, not adjectives.
Be specific. Give people a specific, concrete, understandable way to help.
Skip the jargon. It’s more accessible but no less authoritative to say “cancer” instead of “oncology.”
Walk the fine line between problem and dream. Ost organizations have a gap between their reality and their dream, so it doesn’t take away form the current care to point out opportunities for a higher standard.
Do it right. Ensure compliance with HIPAA in sharing patient stories.