Great post in the always-wonderful Creating Passionate Users Blog, titled User delight and the guy-from-the-train phenomenon. It's about those "delightful out-of-context surprises" that really please customers by shocking them with something nice and unexpected -- even if it's small. The classic example is the bud vase in the new VW Bug: There's nothing terribly special about a bud vase -- you see them everywhere. But in a car -- out of its normal context -- it's truly delightful.
Read the post -- it has tons of great examples of "delightful out-of-context surprises," along with these ideas for creating them:
- Take an attribute that's normal and expected in one domain, and use it where it would not be expected.
- Take an attribute in your domain that's expected, and do the opposite.
- Do something completely out of character.
- Combine two things that nobody would think to combine.
- Blow a stereotype.
- Add "meaning" where it's not usually expected.
- Care about detail in the smallest of ways, and without using it as a marketing tool!
- "Sex it up" by adding beauty and/or sex appeal where it's not expected.
For fundraising, the most obvious delightful out-of-context surprise would be to contact a donor for some reason other than asking for money. Things like:
- Birthday card or other milestone-recognizing touch.
- Report on the success of a project the donor gave to.
- An appropriate thank-you gift -- flowers, a book or CD, anything with high symbolic value.
- Gift certificate. Find a corporate partner that shares your values and get them to supply discounts or better for your donors.
- Insider news. Something important happening that's not generally known? Tell donors.
Another whole area of out-of-context surprises might be getting personal with donors. Find ways to make your executive director (or whoever is your organization's public face) human and real. Act like a friend. Share life events and feelings.
You needn't (and shouldn't) do these kinds of things with every donor on your file. But it's a great investment with those who give at the middle to higher levels.
A pleasant surprise is a great way to stand out in a donor's mind. Go for it.