Your nonprofit’s donors interact with your organization in a variety of ways, whether they’re giving online, volunteering, following you on social media, or attending your events. All of this involvement is referred to as donor engagement.

The more that your donors engage with your nonprofit, the more likely they are to stay engaged and become lifelong supporters who help you serve more beneficiaries.

To give your organization’s donor engagement a boost, we’ll explore winning techniques your team can use to get more supporters actively involved in your work.

Boost donor engagement by being genuine when asking donors to engage.

1. Be genuine when asking donors to engage.

Donor engagement isn’t just about employing the right strategies. It’s also about having the right mindset—one focused on being genuine.

Being genuine means wanting to engage donors not just for the sake of raising money but also for the sake of growing relationships. Over time, this will increase their dedication to and involvement with your cause.

Having this mindset is important for two reasons:

  1. It builds trust. Nobody wants to feel like a walking ATM. If you’re transparent with donors about why they matter to your organization and what you need from them to increase your impact, they’ll be more confident in your work and want to support you in the long run.
  2. Your nonprofit can better connect with donors. Authenticity creates a desire for connection. As you get to know your donors on a personal level, you’ll have a better understanding of their interests. This will allow you to create an outreach program that is tailored to your supporters.

To demonstrate genuine interest in your donors, focus on developing two-way relationships with them. This means your nonprofit should:

  • Have regular conversations with donors to develop rapport and build relationships.
  • Be honest with your donors about what’s going on at your organization.
  • Learn about your donors’ interests and use the information to encourage them to get involved in ways they will enjoy.
  • Thank your donors regularly for their support.

A mindset focused on genuine connection and involvement will show your supporters that you care about them and their experiences with your cause. Plus, it will allow you to apply other donor engagement techniques with a donor-first approach.

Booster your donor engagement by implementing software.

2. Use software to help with donor engagement.

It can be challenging to keep track of hundreds (or even thousands) of donors and build authentic relationships with them.

While a completely individualized approach isn’t always possible, building successful, long-lasting relationships does require some degree of customization. Having a place to track all of your donor information will help you create the best, tailor-made plan possible for engaging with them.

That’s where constituent relationship management software (CRM), like Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge NXT or Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud, comes in. This kind of software allows you to store donor information, track touchpoints and relationship milestones, and segment your donors into different categories.

Segmentation is what empowers you to personalize communications to some extent. Your nonprofit can segment donors into lists based on:

  • Donor status
  • Giving history
  • Age
  • Interests
  • Preferred giving channels
  • Communication frequency preferences

By segmenting your donors, your nonprofit can provide them with the most relevant information to their interests and needs, making them more likely to engage with your mission.

As you look for a CRM solution that fits your needs (or seek to enhance your existing tech stack by changing your CRM), you may find it useful to work with a nonprofit technology consultant. These experts can help you assess all of your options, implement your chosen tool, and customize it to meet your needs so that you’re well-positioned to use your CRM to boost donor engagement.

Engage with your donors via text messages.

Did you know that the average text message open rate is a whopping 99%? 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 give, but you can also use text messages to engage them in other ways. For example, use text messaging to:

  • Provide reminders for donations, volunteering, or events.
  • Send updates, like the latest progress on a fundraising goal.
  • Ask cause-related questions and reward donors with the correct answers.
  • Share images or videos of various projects.

If your organization wants to use text messaging, many texting platforms help nonprofits build a text messaging list. Similar to email marketing, this lets organizations send out a mass text message to all the donors who have subscribed for this type of communication.

Use traditional ways to reach out to and engage your donors.

4. Maintain the traditional ways you reach out.

Direct mail and phone calls are still valid ways to connect with and engage donors because they add variety to your communications and impact donors in ways that other methods can’t. For instance, a letter may feel more personal than a series of emails. Or, a phone call may leave a longer-lasting impression than a social media post.

For instance, if you spend the bulk of your outreach efforts sending emails, donors are going to get bored and maybe even ignore your messages. But picking up the phone and talking to a donor or sending them a postcard through the mail every once in a while will catch their interest and drive deeper connections.

Encourage your donors to join in on the conversation.

5. Encourage donors to join the conversation.

When you send emails, write blog posts, and mail letters, you’re talking at donors. However, donors will feel much more engaged if you give them opportunities to respond.

This way, donors get to share their thoughts, questions, and feelings, providing input about your mission and how your nonprofit works toward completing projects and serving the community.

There are many ways you can encourage donors to speak up. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Send out surveys after campaigns or events to gather donor feedback.
  • Comment and respond to comments on social media.
  • Host webinars, Q&A sessions, or panel discussions and encourage attendees to send in questions and comments.
  • Post polls in your social media stories.
  • Add a contact form to your nonprofit’s website visitors can use to get in touch with your team.

No matter what strategy you use to get donors to respond to your communications, ensure you’re asking engaging questions. Demonstrate that you’re interested in hearing what they have to say by taking notes and asking follow-up questions.

As you gather feedback and information from your donors, make sure to tell them how you plan to use it. This shows them that their contributions drive real impact and that you take their responses seriously.

Start a peer-to-peer campaign to get donor to engage with your nonprofit.

6. Build a peer-to-peer campaign.

Deep your donors’ investment in your mission by asking them to step into a volunteer fundraising role for a peer-to-peer (P2P) campaign. This method of fundraising boosts donor involvement and expands your donor base.

In a nutshell, P2P fundraising involves your supporters fundraising on your behalf. They use a personal online donation page and circulate it among their personal networks, championing your cause. A popular form of peer-to-peer fundraising is Facebook birthday fundraisers, where individuals will raise money for a chosen cause on their birthday in place of gifts, but you can also use a dedicated P2P platform that allows donors to create donation pages and share them anywhere.

To encourage your fundraisers and recognize them for their efforts during a P2P campaign, do the following:

  • Showcase donors who have made big strides.
  • Like, comment on, or share fundraisers’ posts on social media.
  • Share broader campaign updates.
  • Encourage friendly competition between fundraisers by ranking campaigns by the amount raised.
  • Send text messages, social media direct messages, or emails encouraging fundraisers to keep up the good work.

When all is said and done, make sure to follow up with your fundraisers and thank them for their efforts, no matter how much money they’ve raised. Consider sending personalized thank-you notes, posting shout-outs on social media, or even sending small gifts as a way to recognize everyone who participated.

Give your donors more ways to get involved rather than always asking for donations.

7. Suggest ways donors can get more involved.

Donors have so many options when it comes to being involved with the nonprofits they love, but it’s your nonprofit’s job to make sure that donors are aware of these other opportunities in the first place.

For instance, you may want to encourage your donors to:

  • Volunteer
  • Join your membership program
  • Participate in events
  • Commit to a legacy gift
  • Share information about your cause on social media
  • Give in-kind donations
  • Engage in advocacy work on your behalf

As you consider different ways your donors can get involved in your organization, remember that you’re getting more support and creating opportunities for your staff and other supporters to interact with your donors. In other words, additional involvement opportunities have the potential to lead to stronger relationships.

The bottom line is that donors will make more effort to engage if you let them know about other things they can do besides donating money. By giving their time or participating in other ways, donors will gain a deeper sense of personal fulfillment as well, as they’ll drive more impact for your cause.

Donor engagement is vital for your nonprofit’s long-term success and growth, so using the right techniques to boost it is imperative.

As you begin applying the strategies discussed above, you may find that you want to do more to engage donors. To do so, consider partnering with a nonprofit consulting firm well-versed in fundraising and donor relations. Having a third-party expert weigh in on your strategies and provide tailored suggestions for improvements can make a world of difference in your donor engagement efforts.

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