The Engagement Cycle: Know, Understand and then (and only then!) Engage

engagement, connection, marketing, fundraising, strategy
Engagement Cycle

In writing my book, Pitchfalls: why bad pitches happen to good people, I encourage people to let go of the idea of having one elevator pitch (creepy!) and instead map their pitches to an Engagement Cycle (see image to the left).

It seems forehead-slappingly obvious when you stop to think about it. Of course a donor would need to know you and understand you before she would engage with you.

But it’s stunning how frequently nonprofits leap straight from know to engage. And that leaping isn’t good for your mission.

This leaping comes from a good place. We love what we do so  much, that we sometimes (often?) have a “to know me is to love me” mentality.

“But of course someone will want to support our organization! How could they not?! We save animals. Who wouldn’t want to save animals?!” 

A lot of people, it turns out. Because not everything cares about animals…or feeding the hungry, or the arts, or education, or whatever your cause is.

Even if, by chance, you got someone moved from knowing you to supporting you in short order, if you didn’t take the time for them to really understand you, the chances they’ll renew their support go down. Dramatically, precipitously down.

You want your renewal rate going up, not down, right? You want more people more deeply engaged in your mission, right? If so, let’s take a look at each step of the Engagement Cycle so you can start using it to achieve those goals.

1.  KNOW: The ‘know’ pitch answers the question: ‘What do you do?’ You want a pitch that is remarkable—meaning interesting enough for people to remark on it to you and (pay attention because this next part is very important in terms of word-of-mouth marketing) to others.

2.  UNDERSTAND: Once you’re on someone’s radar, i.e. they know you exist, you need to make sure they really, truly understand what you do and why you do it. Of all the organizations out there, why should they engage with yours? What makes you special? Compelling? Unlike any other? Your ‘understand’ pitch answers these questions. It answers the question: ‘Why you?’

3.  ENGAGE: Donate. Advocate. Volunteer. Buy. This pitch answers the question: ‘How can I engage?’ This is the pitch that moves people from learning to doing.

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Yes.

***If you want to master this process, check out Claxon University’s Words on a Mission course. In this self-paced course, your organization can create a collection pitches that will effectively and efficiently move donors through the Engagement Cycle!***

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?