Before you can start to use the techniques below you need to figure out what engagement means for your nonprofit. Does it meaning getting involved in other roles like volunteering or getting more donors to read your communications?
Once you have an idea of what that engagement looks like, use the following seven techniques to amp up donor engagement.
- Be genuine when asking donors to engage.
- Use software to help your donor engagement.
- Establish text communications.
- Maintain the traditional ways you reach out.
- Encourage donors to join the conversation.
- Build a peer-to-peer campaign.
- Suggest ways donors can get more involved.
No matter what motivates you to get donors more involved, these tips will help you reach out to donors in a way that will interest them.
#1: Be genuine when asking donors to engage.
The first thing that your nonprofit needs to keep in mind is that donor engagement isn’t just about technique. It’s about having the right mindset.
Strictly speaking, engaging donors requires a genuine approach. That means wanting to engage donors not just for the sake of raising more money, but instead, for the sake of growing relationships with donors to develop more dedicated supporters.
Having the right mindset is important for two reasons:
- It builds trust. Nobody wants to feel deceived or used. If you’re transparent with donors about what’s happening in the organization, they can be more confident in supporting you.
- Your nonprofit can reach donors better. When you get to know your donors on a personal level, you’ll have a better understanding of their interests. This will allow you create an outreach program that is as relevant as possible.
To show a genuine interest in donors, you need to develop a two-way relationship with donors. This means that your nonprofit needs to:
- Have regular conversations with donors to develop relationships.
- Be honest with your donors and don’t trick them into engaging.
- Learn about your donors’ interests and use the information to encourage donors to get involved in ways they will enjoy.
The right mindset that focuses on the donor will put your nonprofit one step closer to getting donors engaged in your mission.
#2: Use software to help your donor engagement.
As a nonprofit professional, you’re well aware how challenging it is to keep track of hundreds or thousands of donors. There is a lot that goes into staying knowledgeable about your donors.
And while creating a completely individualized approach isn’t always feasible, building successful relationships does require some customization. Having a place to track all your information on donors will help you create the best plan for how to engage with them.
Using donor database software, also known as a nonprofit CRM, will give you the knowledge to create more personalized information based on your donors.
In addition to tracking all aspects of your donor relationships, donor database software lets you segment your donors into different categories. This feature allows nonprofits to personalize communications to some extent.
Your nonprofit can segment donors into lists based on:
- Donor status,
- Giving history,
- Preferred giving channel,
- Communication frequency,
- And much more.
By segmenting your donors, your nonprofit can provide donors with the most relevant information. When you take your donors’ interests and preferences into account, they’re more likely to engage with your nonprofit.
Donor database software can be helpful when trying to engage with donors because it keeps all your donor information in one easy-to-find place. And, the more you know about your donors, the better you can communicate with them.
#3: Establish text communications.
Over 80% of Americans are using text messages to communicate with others. Has your nonprofit considered texting to communicate with donors?
Since it’s such a popular communication method, your nonprofit should take advantage of text messaging as a way to engage with donors. Many donors are already using their mobile devices to make donations, but you can use text messages to engage donors in other ways as well.
If your organization wants to use text messaging, many services help donors build a text messaging list. Similar to email marketing, these services will let organizations send out a mass text message to all the donors who have subscribed for this type of communication.
What you decide to send to donors is all up to your nonprofit. However, creative content is traditionally more effective. Here are just some of the ways you can use text messaging to engage donors:
- Set up reminders for donations, volunteering, or events.
- Send updates and the latest progress on goals.
- Ask cause-related questions and reward donors with the correct answers.
- Share images or videos of your various projects.
- Text live during fundraising events.
With text messages you have the freedom to communicate with donors in a fun and immediate way. Unlike other forms of communication, text messages appear to the donor wherever they are and usually necessitate a response.
Text messaging lets you communicate with donors using a channel that they find comfortable. Since text messaging is something donors use regularly, they will be more open to responding to your nonprofit’s messages.
#4: Maintain the traditional ways you reach out.
With texting, social media, and email becoming the modern ways to communicate, it can be easy for nonprofits to forget about the traditional methods of engagement.
The more traditional ways to communicate, like direct mail or phone calls, are still valid ways to connect and engage with donors because they add variety to your communications and can impact donors in ways that other methods can’t.
If you spend the bulk of your outreach on email, donors are going to get bored. Email may be modern and convenient, but sprinkling in traditional communication methods adds variety that makes your nonprofit stand out in the donor’s mind.
Picking up the phone and talking to donors or sending them a letter through the mail every once and a while will show them that you’ve’ taken time out of your day to engage with them individually.
Traditional communication still has its benefits when mixed with other more modern ways to communicate.
#5: Encourage donors to join the conversation.
With online communications, nonprofits can sometimes forget to step back and let the donor join the conversation. When you send emails, text, or post on social media, that’s all communication where you’re talking at donors.
Donors will feel more engaged if you give them opportunities to respond.
With these call-response activities, donors get to share their thoughts in the hopes of adding input about your mission and how your nonprofit decides to complete projects.
There are many ways you can encourage donors to speak up. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Give donors surveys,
- Comment and respond back to comments on social media,
- Host a brainstorming event,
- Ask questions in your emails, social media posts, etc.,
- And so much more!
The best thing to do is to start asking questions and show donors that you’re interested in hearing what they have to say.
After you get feedback from your donors, make sure to tell them how you plan to use their answers. This shows them that their contributions will have real results and that you’re actually taking their responses into account.
Donors won’t be fully engaged unless you give them opportunities to be a part of the conversation.
#6: Build a peer-to-peer campaign.
One way to really boost donor engagement is through peer-to-peer fundraising. Often also called crowdfunding, this method of fundraising uses your existing donor base to bring in new donors.
Essentially, peer-to-peer fundraising is a way nonprofits can accept online donations using their supporters to fundraise on their behalf. The supporter becomes the hero, championing for your cause in a way that is slightly different than traditional fundraising.
For nonprofits, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign is beneficial for two reasons (1) you provide donors with another way to stay engaged and (2) you can potentially grow your donor base if the campaign is successful.
And, since donors will be working on behalf of your cause, you have plenty of reasons to communicate with donors even more. Here are a few ways you can interact with donors during your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign:
- Showcase donors who have made big strides.
- Like, comment, or share fundraiser’s posts on social media.
- Share campaign updates.
With interactions like this, you can encourage donors to keep going and build a conversation around your campaign.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to engage donors because it builds a community of donors involved in your fundraising efforts.
#7: Suggest ways for donors to get involved.
Donors have so many options when it comes to being involved in nonprofits, but it’s your nonprofit’s job to make sure that donors are aware of these other opportunities.
If you’re wondering what other ways donors can get involved, here are a few suggestions:
- Becoming a part of your membership program
- Participating in events (fundraising and stewardship)
When you encourage donors to get involved, you’re not only getting support from donors in other ways besides just monetary donations. You are creating opportunities where donors can interact with your staff and other donors.
During these other events, donors can learn more about your cause, connect with staff one-on-one, and develop relationships with other donors who are interested in your nonprofit’s cause.
The bottom line is that donors will make more effort to get engaged if you let them know about other things they can do besides donating money. By giving their time or participating in other ways, the donor is gaining more as well.
At the end of the day, boosting donor engagement is about giving donors relevant information and letting them be part of the conversation.
Experiment with these techniques to see which strategy works best for your donor engagement. And, remember that donor engagement starts with having the right mindset.