There’s at least one thing we know for sure about the human brain. Our reactions and choices are heavily influenced by our basic needs for food, water, sleep, and shelter. Another big influence is rooted in our reward system. It’s been scientifically proven that virtually any object, event, or activity that invokes a pleasurable feeling can act as a motivator, thanks to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
This “reward system” is at work throughout the day, directly or indirectly influencing our decisions. It’s that same principle that leaves donors feeling rewarded by the knowledge that their gift is having a real impact on the cause to which they’re contributing. Simply put, it feels good to do good, which is why it’s surprising to see nonprofits overlook this basic human characteristic when it comes to motivating repeat donations.
Donors feel a strong connection to the particular causes they support. Their financial contributions are an outward indicator of inner gratification. There’s a real neurobiological payoff. Converting a first-time donor into a sustainable, recurring donor – or closing the loop – has a lot to do with regular, ongoing, targeted messages, in a consistent tone with an immediately recognizable look and feel in each interaction. But most important of all is showing them the actual results their support is helping to produce.
Much of this, in other words, comes down to cultivating the donor experience.
The Rewards of Closing the Loop
Closing the loop is impossible to achieve without a rich donor experience, and it commences from the moment a donor is acquired -that’s when the door to the donor lifecycle is opened. Yet, too often, NPOs focus purely on getting donor dollars. Capturing a contribution from a newly acquired donor becomes the main focus and the final step.
With this short-term thinking strategy, NPOs fail to do a good job of telling the full story, not just about the problem needing to be solved, but about how the donation dollars received are being put to work to solve that problem.
Consistent, relevant communications tied directly to showcasing the real-world results of a donor’s contributions will activate the advocate in every donor.
A significant amount of time, money, and resources are invested in developing the operational systems and processes used to execute the fundraising function. But adhering to a purely functional and operational view of fundraising stifles the personalized, results-focused communications that go hand-in-hand with an effective donor experience.
Enlivening the Motivated Donor
Anything that reinforces a donor’s experience as a personally invested stakeholder — a process that I refer to as “donor-raising” — will activate the “good feeling” that our brains reward us with under these circumstances.
In the course of doing so, a motivated donor emerges. Invoking the reward-response in donors is imperative for nonprofits that want to close the loop and ensure long-term sustainability.
Our Digital Fundraising Platform (DFP) paves the way to a donor journey that leaves donors feeling intrinsically gratified, aligns with what they care about, and strengthens ties with donors. Visit our website and talk to our team today at the link below to learn more.