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8 Awesome Donor Engagement Tips for the Modern Nonprofit

As technology becomes increasingly advanced, the nonprofit sector is changing rapidly.

To stay up with the times, organizations must figure out how to incorporate new technology and communication channels into their donor engagement strategies.

It can be difficult to determine how to introduce new strategies into your fundraising efforts and overall operations.

Not only will you have to naturally reallocate your resources, but you’ll also likely need some time to figure out the technology required to assist these efforts.

Never fear! We might not be able to teach you how to use your technology, but we can provide you with some engagement tips for organizations on the cutting edge.
They include:

  1. Rethink your fundraising strategy.
  2. Enable online donations to better engage donors.
  3. Provide mobile giving options.
  4. Engage donors on Snapchat.
  5. Host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
  6. Create a viral video to engage with donors online.
  7. Make calls-to-action clear and compelling.
  8. Let software help with donor engagement.

Hopefully, by the time we’re done, you’ll have a better understanding of how other organizations are capitalizing on all of the technology available to them to engage donors in a modern way.

1. Rethink your fundraising strategy.

In order to introduce new donor engagement techniques into your overall fundraising strategy, you’re going to have to rethink your existing strategy.

What we’re referring to here is mainly how you approach your relationships with your donors.

Fundraising strategies have changed drastically for nonprofits in recent years. Traditionally, organizations have run multiple isolated campaigns throughout the year to reach their goals.

There’s also been an emphasis on procuring the majority of funds by cultivating major gift donors.

Although your major gift officer still plays an integral part at your nonprofit, many organizations have already discovered that these long held values are no longer holding up.

The main problem is that running a lot of separate campaigns and focusing on just a small group of donors leaves little room for frequent donor communication and developing more meaningful relationships.

That’s why organizations have been making a shift and placing a greater emphasis on donor stewardship.

The current trend is toward more continuous fundraising that focuses on frequent outreach and cultivating many recurring donors at smaller giving levels.

Recurring donors are much more valuable for nonprofits. In fact, it’s estimated that, throughout their lifetime with the organization, they’ll actually end up giving about two times more than major donors.

So, what’s the best way to encourage donor retention?

Well, there are actually a few:

  • Approach donors personally: Getting to know your donors and targeting them with individualized outreach strategies will allow them to form more personal relationships with your nonprofit that are more likely to result in recurring giving.
  • Run an annual campaign: The continuous and long-term nature of annual campaigns make them an ideal opportunity for outreach and stewardship.
  • Establish a dedicated recurring giving program: Offer and encourage recurring giving anywhere you accept donations. Furthermore, your organization should have the necessary tools in place to process recurring gifts efficiently.

With a greater emphasis on forming deeper and more long-term relationships with donors, your donor base should be much more engaged.

2. Encourage online donations to better engage donors.

Now it’s the case that about 75% of nonprofit activity will happen online.

As such, your organization should, without a doubt, be accepting online donations.

Convenience is a one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not donors will engage with your organization, and online giving is super convenient.

There’s no more having to mail in a check or showing up at your organization’s events with cash in hand. Instead, they can give from the comfort of their homes!

While online donation forms are a must for the modern nonprofit, not all are created equal.

Here’s how to ensure that your online donation pages will successfully engage your supporters:

  • Include the link everywhere, even in offline communications, like direct mail.
  • Keep forms to one page and required fields to a minimum.
  • Offer clearly defined giving options that show donors exactly where their contributions are going.
  • Brand your page so people always know they’re interacting with your organization.

These are, of course, just a few of the best practice tips for donation pages. There are many, many other ways to enhance them for optimal donor engagement.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to make online giving as easy and straightforward for donors as possible.

Anything even remotely complicated could deter them from submitting their donations and further engaging with your organization.

Offer online giving and make it convenient, and your donors are sure to give!

3. Provide mobile giving options.

Mobile giving is technically a branch on the tree that is online fundraising, but it deserves a specific mention.

As you can probably guess, mobile giving is when donors make a contribution from a mobile device, primarily a smartphone or tablet.

About 90% of American adults now own smartphones, and about 50% of web surfers are browsing from a mobile device.

With mobile being such a popular medium, of course you should incorporate it into your engagement strategies.

There are a few mobile giving options your organization can choose.

While text-to-give is probably the most popular, some other forms of mobile giving include:

  • Mobile-responsive online donation forms.
  • Mobile giving applications.
  • Mobile emails.

Mobile giving is a particularly effective strategy because it meets donors where they are and allows them to give from literally anywhere, as long as they have their phones!

Additionally, your organization can use mobile as an outreach strategy.

Many organizations have established mobile lists that allow supporters to subscribe to receive text communications.

Because text outreach is so new, it’s a great channel to experiment with.

Some organizations have even been engaging their donors through fun text games that raise awareness of their cause.

People love mobile and are constantly on their smartphones, so think of how you can creatively use mobile as an engagement strategy.

4. Engage donors on Snapchat.

Social media is one of the most popular communication channels of the modern age.

While many nonprofits have already experimented with popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, there’s recently been a trend in social media toward more visually-based sites over social networking sites.

Why? In the day and age of information overload, it’s more difficult to capture people’s attention with text than it is with graphics.

In fact, studies show that digital content featuring a colored image is 80% more likely to compel viewers to read that content.

To take this a step further, if you can limit the amount of text in your post to just a sentence or even a few words, your organization will really be ahead of the game when it comes to capturing your followers’ attention on social media.

One of the most cutting-edge trends in social media and fundraising lately is Snapchat.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the platform yet, Snapchat allows users to send their friends a picture or video that appears for only 10 seconds or less.

Although it seems like such an impermanent social media site wouldn’t be suited for engagement, its instantaneous nature can be very compelling in this day and age of instant access.

So, how’s it done?

There are a couple of ways organizations can use Snapchat:

  • Cater the content you use for other social media sites to Snapchat’s platform. Keep text short and use striking graphics to really make your content stick in supporters’ minds.
  • Urge your supporters to Snapchat your live events. The footage of actual attendees enjoying your event can really convince others that your organization is worth supporting.

Although Snapchat might not be the best way to accept donations, it’s another place where you can share your content in an innovative way and meet supporters where they are.

5. Host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Peer-to-peer campaigns are very trendy in the fundraising world right now, and they provide another great strategy for engaging your supporters on social media.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with them, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns mobilize your supporters to fundraise on your behalf by requesting donations from their peers.

Running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is beneficial for organizations in many ways:

  • They’re one of the most active forms of donor engagement.
  • They grow your reach, since your fundraisers are leveraging donors’ networks too.
  • They take some of the stress of fundraising off of the organization.

When done right, they allow nonprofits to increase their fundraising results, since they have so many fundraisers working on their behalf.

It’s not as difficult to organize a peer-to-peer campaign as it may seem, especially with the right peer-to-peer fundraising software.

With this software, your organization can give donors the tools to build personalized donation pages that they can link to on social media.

Since they’re linked up to the platform, the donations procured from your fundraisers’ pages will be processed directly by your organization.

P2P software platforms also provide organizations with social sharing buttons that make it easier for fundraisers to share their donation pages.

With these tools on their side, fundraisers can raise money relatively independently and share your cause in a way that’s personally meaningful to them.

Many organizations also opt to host a fundraising event at the end of their peer-to-peer campaign.

The event can be a great place to interact with your fundraisers in person and acknowledge their hard work.

Peer-to-peer fundraisers actively engage your supporters so they’ll have an even deeper connection to your organization.

6. Create a viral video to engage with donors online.

Video has quickly become one of the most engaging forms of content out there.

In the day and age of information overload, users are really looking for things that are going to grab their attention, and video has it all.

It’s a multimedia form in and of itself, including eye-catching visuals, movement, sound, narratives, music, and more!

While some organizations worry about production costs, creating a viral video doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive.
Including compelling content is what matters most.

For the best chance of your video going viral, follow these tips:

  1. Keep it very short. One minute is the ideal.
  2. Get straight to the point. Let viewers know from the beginning what you video is about and what it hopes to accomplish.
  3. Evoke emotion. Whether it be laughter or sadness, people will be much more engaged if your video makes them feel something.
  4. Explicitly encourage sharing!
  5. Create opportunities for engagement throughout your video that will allow donors to keep interacting with your organization.
  6. Teach viewers something. Gaining applicable skills from your video is much more valuable for people than just listening to a recitation of information.
  7. Share your video in all of your digital correspondence.

Above all: Make your video heartfelt.

If viewers can see how passionate you are about the cause, they’re more likely to be moved and stick with your video the entire way through!

Videos are one of the most modern and attention-grabbing ways to engage supporters online!

7. Make calls-to-action clear and compelling.

One of the biggest reasons that supporters don’t take action is because they’re never explicitly asked.

Although this might not seem like a big deal in theory, think about it:

If donors aren’t completely sure of what next steps to take, it will greatly reduce the chances that they’ll actually engage with your organization.

We already touched on how important convenience is to engagement, and it will be very discouraging to supporters if they have to puzzle out what happens next.

This point might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many organizations still make the mistake of not including a clear call-to-action in the correspondence.

If you want to get ahead of the game, make sure you include a clear call-to-action in all of your outreach.

Although your calls-to-action will often be donation asks, there are plenty of other ways to engage supporters and build
relationships with them.

Here are just a few ideas for your CTA. Ask supporters to:

  • Follow your social media pages.
  • Subscribe to your email or mobile list.
  • Visit your website.
  • Attend or volunteer at an event.
  • Comment on your social media or website blog posts.
    Take an advocacy action, like signing a petition or writing to a local legislator.
  • Participate in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
  • And more!

No matter what you’re asking, display your call-to-action prominently and make it clear how supporters can take the next steps.
Additionally, avoid the temptation of including multiple calls-to-action in each piece of outreach. Multiple different or conflicting CTAs can be confusing and distracting.

If supporters know exactly how to engage, there’s a better chance they will. A call-to-action does just that!

8. Let software help with donor engagement.

Your organization doesn’t have to go at engaging donors alone!

Luckily, there’s a wide range of fundraising software to make the engagement process easier and help you reach your fundraising goals.

Some common fundraising platforms include:

  • Donor databases or nonprofit CRMs.
  • Online donation software.
  • Peer-to-peer software.
  • Advocacy software.
  • Text-to-give and mobile giving platforms.
  • Email and social media marketing software.
  • Comprehensive fundraising software.

Here, since we’re discussing donor engagement in particular, we’ll focus on donor databases.

Donor databases, also known as nonprofit CRMs, provide nonprofits a centralized place to store all of their donor data, including:

  • Name and other biographical information.
  • Contact information.
  • Demographics
  • Donor relationships.
  • Social media profiles.
  • Donation and volunteer history.
  • Past event attendance.
  • Interests and affinities.
  • Customized fields with organization-specific data.
  • And more!
  • All data sources can communicate with each other to give your organization the most complete pictures of your donors.

When you understand your donors more deeply, your organization can better target individual donors with personalized outreach strategies that are more relevant, and thus, more likely to engage.

Without fundraising software, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint your donors’ preferences.

When your data sources are isolated from each other, they can’t inform each other and will only give you partial insights into your donors.

For the most personalized and engaging outreach strategies, turn to software for help!

Different donor engagement strategies will work best for different organizations. It’s impossible to know what will really strike gold for your nonprofit.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate some (or all!) of these strategies to freshen up your fundraising methods and add some much-needed modernization to your organization.


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