Every December since 2016, Spotify has pulled off a marketing magic trick.
Spotify Wrapped, the brilliant user engagement tool that allows music fans to review their most listened-to songs and podcasts, was just released a few weeks ago.
Spotify users were greeted on the app with colorful, celebratory graphics and personalized thank-you videos from their favorite artists, and they were even assigned a fun “listening personality type.”
I know it may seem like a digital music app has little to do with the nonprofit world, but Spotify’s creative user engagement can teach us a lot about cultivating donors.
And to prove it, I did a little experiment.
I sat down with a friend, scrolled through our results, and took notes on what I learned.
So now, let’s get to it. What can Spotify Wrapped teach us about cultivating donors?
Send personalized communication to donors
“Enough About 2022, Let’s Talk About You.”
This phrase was the first thing viewers saw when they pressed play on the #spotifywrapped experience, and it is the first thing we can learn from Spotify about cultivating donors.
This tip is simple: Make it about the donor!
I cannot overstate the importance of this. People initially choose to engage with your nonprofit because they are interested in your cause or story.
To continue cultivating donors, however, you must go beyond sharing your story.
You must also cast vision for your donors so that they understand how they individually fit into the larger picture of your nonprofit.
You have to make it personal.
One way you can do this is by adding personalized language and even some personalized statistics to your January donor acknowledgment letters or end-of-year reports.
For example, you can let your donors know how their specific donation impacted a larger project (e.g., your donation of x covered x% of our school building fund in Lahore, Pakistan.)
Go on to express how important your donor’s participation is to the overall life of the organization.
Throughout the year, you can make your communication personal by making sure that you are using first names during email communication.
This may be slightly more work, but personalizing emails is known to increase click-through rates by an average of 14%!
I also recommend sending category-specific emails to donors who are interested in specific elements of your cause.
It is a well-known fact that email marketing performs better when we make use of interest-specific lists rather than bulk communication, and email marketing platforms make it incredibly easy to generate user-specific lists.
It takes time to build up these strategies, but the principle stands.
The more personal and donor-specific your communication, the more likely it is that your donors will stick around!
Use creative and fresh donor communication
Most of us have seen a typical donor acknowledgment letter or annual report.
They are clean, professional, and potentially a little boring.
And while professionalism certainly has its place in nonprofit communication, adding personality is a great way to continue cultivating donors through a report you are obligated to send anyway.
As the digital space gets more and more saturated, it is worth spicing up your communication by adding some personality and having fun!
Spotify Wrapped did this by packaging statistics in fun metaphors and presenting information in fresh and creative ways.
One line that stood out was: “This year you ventured into the genre-verse.” After informing me how many genres I explored (79 - not too bad!).
I was rewarded with a cheeky “Good for you, you little astronaut.”
Spotify also used an Instagram-story-like format to present #spotifywrapped, and the click-through experience was fun and engaging.
With those examples in mind, what are some ways that using creative and fresh communication can help you with cultivating donors?
I recommend taking some time to consider how you can best package your end-of-year reports and January donor acknowledgment letters.
Maybe a simple letter is the best format, but maybe mixing it up with a thank you video, a creative thank you letter for donations, a colorful PDF, or an envelope full of confetti is the best way to grab donor attention.
You do not need to go beyond the boundaries of your nonprofit’s established personality, but I guarantee you will see the benefits if you push those boundaries ever-so-slightly.
Cultivating donors is easy when people are curious to see what you are going to send them next, and creative and fresh communication is a great way to establish audience anticipation.
Make use of data
Spotify’s most powerful tool is not its impressive list of artists or its seamless listening experience. It is their data!
For example, Spotify pays attention to the time of day that their listeners are most active, the genres of music that their listeners lean toward, and the total engagement time of each user.
According to Spotify, my morning listening style was “Uplifting Powerful Joyful,” while in the evening I preferred “Hopeless Romantic Bittersweet Cozy.”
Nonprofits can learn a lot about cultivating donors from this example.
Because Spotify carefully collects user metrics and data, it is able to continue to improve its platform to best serve the needs of its listeners.
With the start of the new year, now is a great time to begin to figure out a data management tool for your nonprofit.
Spreadsheets serve their purpose, but new technology has afforded us sophisticated solutions for cultivating donors via data management.
And remember, this isn’t just about “the sell.” Your donors are people, too.
Just as you work day in and day out to steward your cause, you should also work to encourage your donors as people.
Donors will be the most active when they feel seen, heard, and part of something bigger than themselves, and data management is an incredibly effective way to ensure this is the case.
Create a buy-in strategy for cultivating donors
One of the brilliant components of Spotify Wrapped is its shareability.
Every #spotifywrapped report was formatted to be easily shared across various social platforms, creating something that every business and nonprofit needs: buzz.
That’s right, buzz is the key to the success of nonprofits.
The more people who are talking about your cause, the more people who will volunteer, donate, and attach themselves to the cause in the long run.
And if your online community is actively participating in sharing your content, they will feel like they are part of building the organization. This is a very good thing, and this is why shareability matters.
But there is another, more important reason why shareability matters for cultivating donors: the principle of buy-in.
This same principle is at work when people eat a food sample at Costco. As soon as someone physically takes a food sample and eats it, they have psychologically “bought in” to that food item.
They may still choose not to buy it, of course, but they are far more likely to buy it.
This is because they either discover they like the product through the process of participation or because they convince themselves that it was something they already wanted to buy anyway—Aka buy-in.
This same principle applies to shareability.
When people are given the option to share something on social media and choose to do so, they have demonstrated a small amount of buy-in to your nonprofit.
This means they are far more likely to participate in the future by donating or volunteering.
Get help cultivating donors
It may seem overwhelming to begin implementing these steps, but I promise you, it is worth it!
We know that nonprofits need giving tools that make it easy to cultivate donors and collect donations.
We provide your organization with the solutions you need to save time and money. Donors can give with one click from any device, ensuring safe and secure gift-giving.