The art of engagement- increasing donations for your nonprofit.
The true economic impact of COVID-19 is unclear but your organization needs to do everything it can to safeguard its donations from new, lapsed, and long-term donors. But how?
Engagement is a great place to start.
Step 1: Inspiring engagement with new donors
Congratulations! Your emergency campaign was a success and you’ve got hundreds of new donors. Your next steps will set the way for your future relationship, so make sure to take time to:
- Say thank you: Thanking donors within 48 hours means they are four times more likely to give again. So get yours out the door right away.
- Get personal: Automated and blast emails save time. But a personal letter, handwritten note, or phone call is a better way to show you care.
- Celebrate why: Everyone gives for a reason, so use stories, photos, and videos to show your donors why their gift matters.
- Respond: Relationships work both ways. If a donor comments on social media, picks up the phone, or writes an email, is your team ready to respond?
- Catch that data: A good donor journey uses knowledge not assumptions. Build yours from the beginning and use it to create a stewardship strategy that prioritizes people.
Step 2: Techniques to re-engage lapsed prospects
Of course, not every new donor will give again or sign-up for recurring giving right away. It’s a process, and it is important to understand your attrition rates, and the people that leave you behind. You might find that some segments are not worth the investment to re-engage. For others, you will want to go that extra mile.
In some cases, a well-written direct mail appeal, targeted Google Ad, or inspired social media might be all you need to reconnect. Others might need a more tailored approach – think personal letters, phone calls, and event invites (telephone fundraising and digital events are increasingly popular ways to connect in a socially distant world). A few months ago, we would have suggested inviting a few hand-picked prospects for coffee. That might have to wait, but it doesn’t mean you can’t put some time aside for a virtual chat.
It might not always be practical but talk to your donors whenever you get the chance. Thank them for their support, find out why they gave, and why they stopped. If it feels right, make the ask. But don’t worry if it doesn’t. Some people might not be able or want to make a regular gift. Others might prefer to organize a community event, or volunteer. A good fundraiser will give options. They will also know when to stop. You must never persuade. Only inspire. People give because they want to be part of your organization, your solution, and your community. Once you’ve got that, the only way is up!
Step 3: The secret to long-term donor retention
When the pressure is on, it can be tempting to get out there and make the ask. This isn’t always the best way forward. If you always have an agenda, your communications will be become meaningless. Afterall, fundraising is all relationships. If you want to inspire people to keep on giving, you need to think about:
Touchpoints and connections:The more engaged your donors feel, the less likely they are to leave. Volunteering, events, community fundraisers, membership programs, newsletter features, project visits… there’s no shortage of ways to create connections!
Small acts of kindness: Small acts of kindness can go a long way to show your donors that they are more than just a credit card, that they are part of your organization, your family.
Milestones: Donorversaries are perfect just because, so why not use your CRM data to identify potential anniversary groups? A simple matrix will help you match response mechanisms to different levels of gift, with some of the more popular ideas including:
– Donor spotlights to share giving stories in newsletters, on social media, or your website.
– Small tokens like a beneficiary designed ‘Thank You’ card, short video, or photo-book.
– VIP access to a planned event or donor get-together.
– ‘Behind the Scenes’ visits so that individual donors can see their gift at work.
– One-to-one contact from your team, a project manager, or even your CEO!
– A ‘Donor Hall of Fame’ at a project site or in the office.
Shared stories and achievements:Did you know that storytelling is scientifically proven to build empathy and engagement? It’s true. So, take the time to tap into the tales that remind people why they chose you.
With so much opportunity at your fingertips, it can be tempting to try everything at once. You need to be patient, and you need to be strategic. Look at the data you’ve been collecting—a gold mine of information, it’s amazing what it can teach you. Say no to guesswork and assumptions. Use your data to get hard answers to key questions. Is one type of donor giving more than another? Is there a time of day or year that people give more? What kind of event, promotion or campaign are they responding well to? As a fundraiser, your job is to take this information and use it to test, refine, and develop retention strategies that give results.
That’s the secret. A good donor journey will always be designed around people. It will prioritize relationships and recognize that charitable giving works both ways. Because good fundraising isn’t just about short-term gain. It is about engaged, happy donors. Get that right and the rest will follow. You might not take it to the bank today, but you know it’s a currency you can count on.
Your CRM should be an asset, helping you every step of the way. If your CRM isn’t supporting you, contact us to see how thankQ CRM can! Set up your personalized demo today.