Aligning Brand Strategy and Donor Experience to Drive Value

How a customer-experience-driven brand strategy boosted awareness and loyalty, and radically increased donations for this global non-profit charity organization.

Challenge: Increase awareness of this 70 year-old non-profit charity, to boost donations without cannibalizing other Church giving

Annual donations to the aid arm of this major Christian denomination ranged from $50- to $150-million. Secular competition for donor dollars, challenges within the context of other Church programs, and the wide range itself, drove the need to reposition the brand. In an era of low-growth in giving, this nonprofit wanted to tap into the giving spirit of nearly nine million church members in North America without taking away from other Church fundraising initiatives. The Church turned to McorpCX to increase the size, participation and profitability of the donors, boost awareness, revitalize relevance and increase giving.

Approach: Map the brand and donor experience to understand emotional and rational drivers of desired behavior and beliefs

Working with non-profit leadership and the internal church marketing group, McorpCX used a four-prong research and analytical approach to gather facts and gain clear perspectives of donor, influencer and other key audience beliefs, attitudes, wants and needs. Our first goal was to gain a clear understanding of the challenges, goals and perceptions of primary internal stakeholders. Through 60 in-depth interviews with internal groups, we gathered key information on culture, image, heritage, values and other areas of perceptual exploration upon which the rest of the engagement would be based.

We followed internal interviews with external interviews across four groups, utilizing our Brand MappingSM process to cover nearly every aspect of brand awareness, loyalty and position. To quantify our findings of internal and external audience beliefs, experiences and perspectives, we conducted statistically projectable research with the Church’s massive member base-across donor types, influencer groups and regions - to identify opportunities and codify perceptions of values, strengths, weaknesses and market position. By mapping both the brand and key aspects of the donor experience, this church-based non-profit was able to gain key insights into donor beliefs, and to define a territory between it and church members.

A compelling and emotionally powerful brand was lost under the weight of competing and inconsistent messages to potential donors. The new opportunity for this international charity? Limitless.

Findings: Lost within myriad giving opportunities, most church members didn’t understand or connect with what should have been an emotionally powerful brand

Initial findings included results from a brand and communications touchpoint audit, covering dozens of individual pieces across 24 touchpoint “families.” Though the charity’s good works were supported by powerful stories, analysis revealed lack of clarity across materials, inconsistent visual and verbal branding, and mixed messages about how to support the organization. Donor and stakeholder research revealed four major findings:

  • “Non emergency” donations were hobbled by lack of awareness, vision, mission and articulated brand values;
  • Though key audiences had little understanding of what the charity actually did, an understanding of purpose and mission would compel donors to increase participation without reducing giving in other areas;
  • Significant perceptual overlap existed across other giving options within the Church;
  • An unplanned and inconsistent donor experience led to knowledge gaps and overall loyalty of below 25%.

Marketspace Perspectives Drive Brand and Positioning Strategy

Through the multiple lenses of business goals, process, competition and audience perspectives, we leveraged Brand MappingSM research and a consultative approach to boost affinity and drive future donations.

Recommendations: Articulate and communicate a clear brand, and deliver a consistent donor experience

Major recommendations included adopting a newly defined brand and brand architecture, with vision, mission and values consistently articulated visually and verbally, connecting key audiences with the charity. A system for managing, measuring and improving brand equity was also suggested, including ways to monitor attitudes and interactions. And a series of recommendations was made for leveraging technology and analytics to improve marketing and relationship building efforts such as donor segmentation, donor experience management and consistent brand and touchpoint delivery.

Results: Donor revenue potential is increased by over 40% through brand adoption, increased loyalty, and rigorous management of the donor experience and brand assets

The organization has launched its new brand, with its corresponding vision, promises and more tightly defined focus. It’s also working to close “performance gaps” across the donor relationship lifecycle. Though the full potential of brand and loyalty tracking, as well as back-end touchpoint management and delivery systems are still in development, a stronger brand and streamlined donor experience will drive higher participation, donations and increased affinity across all audiences.

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