August 9, 2016 Douglas Shaw & Associates

The Hidden Value of The Value Proposition

2016 Value Proposition Index Study just released by Douglas Shaw & Associates and NextAfter answers this age-old question through qualitative and quantitative research, measuring the effectiveness of nonprofit institutions and their digital strategies across several industry categories. In this study, a simple question was posed to 127 top nonprofits. The insights were then put to the test in a series of digital online experiments.

The shocking results reveal most organizations do not provide a great reason why someone should donate. In most organizations that did make the attempt, we discovered the answers were inconsistent across all communication channels including: website, email, phone, and social media. Within the 127 participants in this blind study, the vast majority received a C-level rating. Furthermore, responding Christian ministries appear to fall even shorter in the mix due to inconsistencies in the ability to communicate a convincing and consistent value proposition across all channels.

These inconsistencies would seem to support an industry benchmark for nonprofits called “The 1-in-4 Fundraising Principle.”

In other words, only one in four people who visit your website will make a donation to support. That means most people who visit your site are not falling into your fundraising funnel, they’re actually falling out. Gravity, meaning organic forces in the marketplace, are not leading people to convert—they’re actually turning donors away.

These determining factors include:

  • Weak or ineffective value proposition
  • Inconsistently communicating value proposition across channels
  • Unnecessary clutter and donor friction impeding the “ASK”

So what is the Value Proposition?

If you spend any time in donor fundraising you will soon find yourself asking this question: Why did this appeal work and that one didn’t? Even better, why is one charitable organization better at attracting donors than others? At the heart of these questions is: “The Value Proposition.”

It’s the same fundamental question job seekers must ultimately ask themselves: why should an employer consider hiring you? Your ability to effectively answer this question will ultimately determine your success.

That success can therefore be defined as a sacred pact between you and the donor . . . just as it is between a jobseeker and employer.

Savvy fundraisers recognize this pact of trust must be earned every day. If you’re worried your organization may be nearing the bottom of the grading scale, consider that the following steps may improve your value proposition messaging:

Just like an elevator speech, know your answer

If someone were to ask you right now why they should give to your organization, what would you say? Start by providing a reason that is inspiring, appealing, exclusive, credible, and clear. Try asking your staff how they would answer this question from a potential supporter—from the front desk to volunteers to the accounting team. Sift the answers and you’ll begin to identify what truly makes your organization unique—and why someone should really consider donating to your cause.

  • Offer something that your donor can “Believe in”
  • Make that “Reason to Believe” so unique people will be hard-pressed to look elsewhere
  • Ensure your answer is credible—would you believe in it?
  • Make sure others understand it, especially if they don’t work for your organization
  • Reinforce “why” you are unique

Self-Evaluation is like golf . . . consistency wins the game

Now it’s time to look at the different way donors can receive information and connect with your organization. Ensure your online and offline communications answer why a donor should respond to your appeal mailing, press releases, and in the digital space, your email, website, and social media.

  • Ensure they can understand the “Why” without drilling down several webpages or after a long phone conversation
  • Make sure your supporter can submit and receive questions from your website and that your responses are timely
  • Incorporate active, direct messaging on your social media platforms
  • Make it all easy and seamless

The sad fact is almost one third of organizations surveyed don’t respond to questions when submitted—ever! On Facebook, 27% of organizations even disabled the ability for someone to submit direct messages. This clearly communicates to your donor that you are not interested in them and it actually chases people away. But you don’t have to be included in that statistic!

Build a Value Story throughout the organization

Now that you’ve taken steps to answer the Value Proposition and checked it across all your communication channels, what’s next?

Do a little rehearsing. Any person involved in public contact within your organization, from answering phones to posting social media, needs to be comfortable with your Value Proposition and have the ability to effectively communicate it through their channel of responsibility. Identify donor friction points and eliminate them immediately. This extremely valuable practice will not only impact traditional and digital appeals, it will have wide ranging implications in volunteer coordination and in-kind donation. Share your Value Proposition in engaging and meaningful ways as often as you possibly can.

Then you will be on the road to answering the eternal question “Why” with a resounding “Why Not?” You might also consider consulting with a professional fundraising partner to define and optimize your Value Proposition.

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it with others who may profit from answers to the eternal question: Why? The hidden value of The Value Proposition

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At Douglas Shaw & Associates we have a unique approach to defining and harnessing the Value Proposition to help drive more business to the ministries we serve. We also conduct offer summits to insure powerful, proven, and tested reasons to give to your organization. Then we optimize your messaging strategy to be just as effective in digital space as it is in traditional communication and appeal channels. The results will simply astound you.

It’s all part of our unique approach and philosophy to ensure your fundraising success.

Douglas Shaw & Associates More Donors. Better Donors.

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