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Thinking outside the box: Chapter 2- Redefining DX (Donor Experience) through the Apple Standard

Welcome to this mini-series of 10 chapters, Thinking outside the box. This series is dedicated to looking beyond the fundraising field but become part of another industry to learn from a random article, non-relevant news, or an upcoming trend. And how do we do that? We draw parallels for the world of Philanthropy (and I am going to try not to divert towards data as always, but hey, no promises there!). Today's topic — Redefining DX (Donor Experience) through the Apple Standard.

I recently bought a Fitbit Versa 2 watch. I am not a fan of long hours in the gym or the girl who takes stairs for the fun of it. So, Fitbit seemed to be like a good motivator when otherwise I would blame the gloomy winter weather outside for lack of my exercise. One of my friends, however, pointed out that my purchase should have been an Apple watch instead. There is still time; change it, Meena. I heard it repeatedly for a few days from my other Apple user friends too. To give you the complete picture, I am an android user, and hence Fitbit seemed more logical. Even though my friends were unsuccessful in making me change my purchase, yet, they made me realize, perhaps once again, user experience speaks for itself. I want to take those Apple lessons and apply them to our field of Philanthropy and re-design donor experience.

Abraham Lincoln meant to say this for Government, but it is the whole field of Philanthropy as well, that is composed of the people, by the people, for the people. Hence, Donor Experience is inevitably essential. Your mission is your product, and without a worth-while experience for your donors, your product is not going to make the impact you desire to create.

I am going to pick the fundamental six design principles and extend them here below:

1. Aesthetic Integrity:

In terms of Apple experience, Aesthetic Integrity refers to how visually appealing features of a product integrates well with the function of it.

For Donor Experience, here are some ways, Aesthetic Integrity can be adopted:

- When speaking with the donors, stick to the real value proposition of your work.

- Convey exactly how your mission and your work is going to impact your the cause.

- Provide various ways for donors to interact with your product, i.e., your mission. Be it a clear document, your website, a one-page flyer, or a quarterly magazine. Donors do not need information in one conversation or one single email buried under 1000+ email inbox. They need a medium to interact with your mission when they want and how they want.

- Keep the appearance of all those channels of communication simple. Be it your website or a document; it should be simple, to the point and very clear of what you are stating and how you are making a difference.

2. Consistency

Pick an Apple phone or any Google product; consistency is the key to simplify their user experience. I am going to elaborate on Google, probably because half of my day is around one of its products personally. Take Google Drive or Google search or Google Forms. All of them have their structure similar. The consistent look makes it so simple to navigate and intuitive enough to find any particular feature.

For Donor Experience, your channels of creating an experience for your Donors should be consistent. Be it your website, one-page flyer, or your detailed document PDF that talks about your mission, all of those should have a cohesive look. Consistency will help your donors to get the same idea no matter which channel they prefer to understand your mission and your work.

3. Direct Manipulation

Going back to Apple watch for a second. The extent of direct manipulation on the watch is actually impressive. All mobiles or desktops give touch-option, but Apple watch not just tracks your health and integrates options from your phone with the same easy, touch-option. And, no, I am still not changing my Fitbit. Its non-refundable!

For Donor Experience, your channels of giving should be simple enough for donors to use without any external help. That means

a). There should be ample giving channels,

b). Every giving channel should be accessible 24x7, and

c). Every giving channel should be tested for all the potential roadblocks your donors might come across and that you can take care of beforehand.

4. Feedback

Why do you think we, as a society, are more and more hooked on our digital toys? For the most fundamental reason that we can talk to those digital products in a way we want to. Are you stuck on a website? You will get an apology message. Did you make a new Gmail account? You will receive a confirmation. Or, did you reach a website that no longer exists? You receive the error notification on your screen. My point is, humans thrive on feedback. And, almost all good designs should ensure there exist all critical feedback channels.

For Donor Experience, both your channels of communication and your channels of giving should have a proper feedback system incorporated. Every action that your donor takes, e.g., visiting your website, sending you an email, or giving you a gift, should always have appropriate feedback. They should know that their time is valuable and yet if they chose to spend a few mins of that time with you and your mission, then you acknowledge and value it.

5. Metaphors

Metaphors refer to leveraging the day to day word associations people have in the world of technology. For example, Gmail has an icon of envelope, YouTube looks like a play button and sticky notes look like pages.

For Donor Experience, you need to use such real-world associations as well. Your channels of giving, for example, should have the appropriate terms and graphics so that your donors can rely on their intuitive navigation capabilities.

6. User Control

User Control refers to behaviors that make users feel familiar enough to a product that they remember their interaction with it without much effort. For example, getting to test a feature before paying for it.

For Donor Experience, you need to create such scenarios where your donors feel in control, even before they have become your donors. Give them a distribution of how you would invest their gift towards your cause. Show them if they become a donor, what items would they receive, or what channels would they have access to know the impact of their giving to your cause. The point is, provide them with the control to drive your cause and see what happens.

Donors are becoming mature every day. It's only inevitable to create a Donor Experience where they feel the real value of being associated with your mission and your organization.

Don't forget to share your thoughts on how are you creating DX at your organization.


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