Strong donor relationships help your nonprofit build robust supporter networks, make donors happy to support your mission, and foster lasting support. Whether you’re setting up a gratitude system or meeting with donors one-on-one, it’s essential to make these connections and show your appreciation for their contributions.

One frequently missed step in this process is optimizing the donor experience. Donors should walk away from any interaction with your organization feeling connected to and excited about your mission. These interactions can be anything from attending a fundraising event to donating online.

In this guide, we’ll explore three ways your nonprofit can inspire these positive feelings among donors through online fundraising. Let’s get started with the most important part of the conversation: choosing effective technology.

Leverage the right tools and technology.

Technology helps nonprofits reach their full fundraising potential while giving donors the best experiences possible. Not only does technology enable online giving, but it also automates repetitive tasks like sending thank-you messages and donation receipts.

To gain these benefits (and more!), start by investing in the following tools:

Fundraising Software

Fundraising software includes all of the tools your nonprofit needs to plan, manage, and measure its fundraising campaigns. Your fundraising solution should help you overcome fundraising challenges like limited donor engagement or inaccurate data while making operations more efficient.

Each nonprofit’s needs are different, so you’ll need to look for software that aligns with your budget, goals, and donor management practices. Allegiance Group’s guide to fundraising tools recommends prioritizing the following features in your search:

Here are four key fundraising software features to look for (detailed in the text below).

  • Donation forms: These provide a streamlined, secure way for donors to give to your nonprofit online. Design the forms so they are quick and easy to complete, and consider adding elements to maximize donations, such as an automatic recurring giving option.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising tools: Peer-to-peer fundraising allows supporters to campaign on your behalf by collecting donations from their friends and families. This can expand your nonprofit’s reach, create a sense of community among your supporters, and make them feel like part of your team.
  • Text-to-donate features: This feature allows donors to contribute via text, making it the perfect option for busy donors who are constantly on the go. Additionally, it’s a great way to quickly reach donors and make urgent appeals.
  • Analytics dashboards: Data analysis tools make it easy to track and visualize donor behaviors, preferences, and trends. Use these to gain a 360-degree view of your donors and give them more tailored experiences in the future.

Overall, these features make donating to your cause more convenient and flexible so donors can quickly contribute no matter where they are. When donors can answer your fundraising appeal with a donation in 60 seconds or less, you’re much more likely to get them on board.

Marketing Tools

Marketing tools allow you to effectively communicate and engage with your supporters, meaning they’re integral to developing strong donor relationships. Email marketing tools, social media management software, and content management systems help you keep your campaigns and donor interactions consistent and organized.

Here are some ways you can leverage these tools to enhance donor experiences:

  • Send targeted communications. Use marketing tools to segment your online donors based on shared characteristics (e.g., special interests in a particular project) and send them tailored messages. Make sure to send these messages through donors’ preferred communication channels. Donors will appreciate messages that resonate with their unique interests more than generic fundraising appeals.
  • Take an omnichannel approach. Aim to reach donors through several communication channels at once to give them a more cohesive, consistent experience. To establish a variety of touch points with your supporters, pair your online efforts with traditional tactics like direct mail fundraising. For example, add a QR code to mail that links to your newsletter sign-up form.
  • Automate communication efforts. Marketing tools allow you to provide personalization at scale through the power of automation. Automate processes like welcome emails, donation acknowledgments, and birthday greetings to make donors feel recognized. For example, a support donating for the first time could trigger your email marketing tool to send them a welcome series to thank them and provide more information and updates.

Don’t neglect one of your most powerful marketing tools: your website. Make sure your website is a reliable hub of information about your online fundraisers, and direct donors to your donation forms by adding donate buttons to your homepage and navigation bars.

To ensure that all of your supporters can reach and engage with the website, check that it follows web accessibility guidelines like offering both mouse and keyboard navigation, providing sufficient contrast between text and background colors, and adding alternative text to images.

Work with experts.

Once you’ve built out your online fundraising toolkit, it’s time to develop strategies. However, running a successful online fundraiser has a lot of moving parts and can be complicated. Working with a team of experts can help you fill in any gaps in your fundraising and marketing strategies, ensuring that you reach and engage donors.

Consider leaning on the experience and expertise of:

  • A marketing agency: Agencies specialize in developing and executing strategic campaigns tailored to your nonprofit and its supporters. They’ll be able to implement tactics that resonate with your donors and handle content creation, social media posts, email campaigns, and more. Look for agencies with extensive experience in digital marketing and fundraising.
  • A fundraising consultant or fundraising coach: These professionals specialize in fundraising strategy development, donor cultivation, and campaign planning. They’ll help you achieve your nonprofit’s funding goals and work toward other objectives, like developing deeper donor relationships. When it comes to enhancing donor experiences, consultants can provide detailed guidance on donor stewardship practices and fundraising practices that will maximize engagement.

Both marketing agencies and fundraising consultants can help you capture your supporters’ attention and inspire them to donate. Because these professionals have likely worked on dozens of other fundraising campaigns, they’ll be able to suggest the best ways to streamline donors’ experiences with your campaign.

Maintain transparency.

For-profit businesses have to convince their customers to purchase their products or services by showing them what kind of value it will add to their lives. For your nonprofit, the goal is a little different. You need to show supporters that their contribution will aid the work you do, further your mission, and directly benefit the beneficiaries that they care about. 

During the fundraiser, show donors the impact of their contributions. Many nonprofits break down the power of certain donation amounts on their donation page. For example, Feeding America’s donation page highlights that a donation of only $1 will provide 10 meals. This makes donors feel more fulfilled after giving. After all, even a small gift of $5 provides 50 meals.

It’s also important to prioritize donor experiences and relationships after your online fundraiser. Thank donors for their contributions to show your gratitude. eCardWidget recommends personalizing thank-you messages with specific details, mentioning the donors’ gifts, and emphasizing their individual impact. Additionally, share more comprehensive impact reports each year that break down each project and initiative your nonprofit accomplished, the number of beneficiaries you served, and any other organization-specific metrics.

Positive donor experiences make your supporters feel good about supporting your organization and the work it does. Technology allows you to provide personalized experiences during your online fundraisers, even on a large scale. And when donors can give from any device, at any time, in just a few seconds, you’ll be able to raise more while strengthening supporter relationships.

About the Author

Kim Richardson

Kim joined Pursuant, a fundraising and marketing agency, exclusively serving the nonprofit sector in 2012. In her role, Kim leads cross-channel fundraising strategy and program execution across multiple clients in the Faith, General Non-Profit, and Higher Education verticals. Kim has consistently met and exceeded client expectations—leading several of her clients in double-digit, year-over-year increases. Before joining Pursuant, Kim provided marketing and fundraising consulting services to nonprofits and small businesses and worked for more than 15 years in corporate marketing and sales with four of America’s beloved consumer brands.

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