By Niely Shams, President, Nonprofit Solutions at Data Axle
Anyone operating in the nonprofit marketing world can attest that these are fascinating times. The charitable giving landscape is in the midst of transformation on multiple fronts, as technological, behavioral, cultural and generational shifts upend preconceived notions about who donors are and where to find them in an increasingly fragmented media environment.
Now, with nearly two years of a pandemic further accelerating change in the nonprofit space, 2022 promises to be a year of recalibration for many charitable organizations’ marketing teams.
Let’s take a look at four key trends that will reshape the nonprofit landscape in 2022, and how marketers can adapt to drive continued success for their organizations next year and well beyond.
From Multichannel to Omnichannel
Most nonprofits today are executing a multichannel approach to reaching donors and prospects, often leaning heavily into channels like direct mail and email for both acquisition and retention efforts.
What’s been changing the past few years — and what we’re going to see lead nonprofit marketing transformation going into the new year — is the need to expand and evolve those multichannel approaches into true omnichannel efforts that put the individual prospects and donors at the center of campaign execution.
The goal of omnichannel marketing, in which efforts are aligned across channels to create a seamless experience and messaging stream, isn’t to be everywhere. The goal is to be where it matters most — and to do so in a data-driven way that is aware of an individual donor’s journey with an organization.
For nonprofits in 2022, this means increasingly expanding efforts into digital channels including social media and connected TV. These channel extensions, when aligned with traditional outreach efforts, are proving highly effective in helping nonprofits boost retargeting campaigns, increase site traffic, lift brand awareness and reach a younger audience. CTV in particular is proving to be a highly cost-effective way to bolster results from other channels while simultaneously connecting with new audiences.
Recalibrating Around Pandemic Donors
A big part of the need to rethink channel strategies right now has to do with the massive upheaval we’ve seen in consumer media consumption over the past 20 months of the pandemic — but that’s certainly not the only, or even the most consequential, change that nonprofit marketers have experienced due to COVID-19.
As the world locked down, nonprofits had to reforecast their budgets and scramble to shift efforts away from live, in-person events. But, at the same time, many nonprofits saw an influx of new donor dollars as people stuck at home looked for ways to reach beyond their walls to make a difference in the world.
The big question now, as people get vaccinated and begin to engage in more social activities, is what will happen to so-called pandemic donor dollars? The answer will vary from nonprofit to nonprofit, but a lot of it will be contingent on how marketers adapt their campaigns to connect with and reengage new donors who made their first contributions in the pandemic.
Based on what we’ve heard from nonprofit clients in recent months, pandemic-giving audiences don’t tend to look much different (from a demographic, psychographic and behavioral standpoint) than nonprofits’ established donor bases.
A recent Data Axle analysis of pre- and post-COVID metrics for select nonprofit clients found the subsequent giving rates for donors acquired during COVID have been on par with pre-COVID (2019) newly acquired donors, or better.
In other words, these individuals have a high potential for conversion into lifetime donors—provided marketers can tailor their messaging and campaigns to acknowledge their unique journeys.
Rethinking Lifecycles to Connect with Younger Donors
The quandary of how to connect with younger donor bases who lack the disposable income of older audiences has long kept nonprofit marketers up at night. But now, thanks to deeper data insights, charitable organizations have more ways than ever to find and establish relationships with the next generation of donors.
By finding the right audiences through social, CTV and other digital channels, nonprofits can establish connections with younger audiences—even those not yet able to give in meaningful monetary ways—through experiences and other opportunities to contribute. It’s critical to always be focusing on how to engage with younger audiences to forge long-term relationships that can evolve with the individual’s life stage and financial means over time.
Younger donors are also more likely than older generations to become sustainers (i.e., donors who contribute monthly through auto-payments). These types of donors are immensely valuable, but for most nonprofits, they don’t yet exist in a number that allows for profiling, meaning it can be hard to target new sustainers through traditional acquisition efforts.
However, there are other data sets—audiences who favor monthly subscriptions and delivery boxes, for example—that can prove immensely useful in finding these individuals with high lifetime value tendencies.
Reworking Media Plans to Tap into Emerging CTV Opportunities
Speaking of younger donors, nonprofit marketers would be remiss to not recalibrate their media plans around the new reality of CTV in today’s media landscape. TV has always represented a powerful marketing opportunity, but it has historically been out of reach for many nonprofits due to the hefty price tag associated with traditional linear buys.
In this regard, CTV is a game-changer. By enabling marketers to target their ads to only the most relevant audiences for their causes, CTV enables nonprofits to tap into the power of TV as a medium while keeping costs down and connections high, particularly among those coveted younger demographics.
Going into 2022, nonprofit marketers have a unique opportunity to tear up their old playbooks and forge new territory for their organizations in terms of channel mixes, data sets and audience insights.
In doing so, it will behoove them to remember that the future isn’t about discarding former channels and tactics, but rather about adapting your data strategy to extend reach, refine targeting and enhance messaging for maximum efficiency and impact.