The burden of choice is squashing your donors

Ever been to The Cheesecake Factory? Think about that menu. It’s seemingly endless pages, right? With everything from 4-cheese rigatoni to Thai lettuce wraps to steamed artichokes and countless cheesecake flavor options.

There are so many options that I get a headache just thinking about it. And in the end, when eating there, I’ve panicked, ordered just something, anything, to let me close that menu and move on.

Now, contrast this with an experience I had a few years back at a restaurant in San Francisco. It was for a team dinner. We sit down. We are asked if there are any food allergies or intolerances at the table, the server walks away and that’s it.

She didn’t take our order. There were no menus. Instead, she brought out amazing food to try. And instead of feeling panicked that I didn’t get to pick, I felt taken care of. I felt relaxed. Someone else made the decision after a day where all I did was make decisions.

So why is it that our nonprofit community so frequently decides that the best way to communicate with and serve our constituents is to ask them, constantly, to make decisions – to make a choice?

In fact, when it comes to (warning: marketing lingo coming) getting the right message to the right person at the right time, we ask our audiences to tell us what they want to hear by asking them to make MORE choices, more decisions, check more boxes.

Do you want a subscription to our action newsletter? Or to our Ray of Hope newsletter? Do you want to hear from us once a month or once a quarter? What issues are the MOST important to you? Puppies? Or kitties? Or chickens? Or something else? Do you want your money to go to the area of greatest need? Or a specific program? Would you like to also know about our Get out the vote efforts? Do you maybe just want it all to stop?

When working with our clients, we focus a lot on shifting from being organizationally focused to donor focused. And what that means for us, is that we work on building up a relationship that allows the donor to TRUST what you are asking of them at any given time.

So that the experience for your donor starts from “I want to help your mission, and I believe that what you are doing is making the world a better place, and I want to be a part of it.” That’s it.

The burden of choice is then lifted off the donor and squarely placed on the shoulders of the organization to guide the engagement and communications experience – and rely on data, stellar strategy and content, and more often than not technology to determine if that message is getting through to the right person at the right time.

So do I like puppies? Or kittens? Or chickens? Turns out, I like animals – and if you tell me that right now chickens need me, I’m there.

And most of all, I like knowing that I’m doing a good thing in the world, because I trust that YOU are taking my money and doing the right thing with it.

Want to hear more about the burden of choice and how leading nonprofits are tackling it? Then VOTE for this session at the upcoming Nonprofit Technology Conference before August 31st! Stop asking me to choose! The burden of choice in your digital program.


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