As we’ve seen over the past 5 years, fundraising is changing and evolving quickly, especially as we emerge from an extended time of social distancing.
With the world coming back together, how can your nonprofit engage donors who want to return to the ballroom or in-person events, without missing out on those who prefer to engage virtually?
To understand the changing needs of today’s donors, OneCause conducted a recent survey of 1,000+ social donors to understand their giving behaviors, motivators, and expectations on what they need in a fundraising experience. For those curious who social donors are, that’s the name given to supporters who give during ticketed events, occasions, and runs/walks/rides.
According to the 2022 Giving Experience Study, social donors are heading back to the ballroom and face-to-face fundraising, with 74% of survey respondents saying their last giving experience took place in person and 26% reporting they participated virtually.
According to the study, social donors:
Knowing these facts and giving preferences, it’s a good time for your nonprofit to examine your fundraising calendar. Are you offering in-person experiences as part of your year-round fundraising strategy?
It’s important to note that although social donors prefer in-person fundraising events, they still want the optionality. Meaning they want to choose how and in what ways they want to engage (i.e., virtually or in person). The idea of donor choice, and providing the flexibility in their giving experiences, is impactful to today’s donors.
The level of preference for in-person vs virtual varies by giving type. See the chart below for a breakdown by events, run/walk/ride or occasion donors. The big takeaway is: incorporating optionality in your nonprofit events is critical to attracting donors and to maximize your fundraising success.
Now that you understand the influence and impact your fundraising events on today’s donors, let’s dive into 4 top engagement strategies to maximize participation in your in-person and virtual social fundraising:
Choice is powerful – offering multiple modes of engagement helps personalize the giving experience for social donors. Across all type of social giving opportunities (events, run/walk/rides, occasions) donors are looking for varied engagement experiences.
Think about it, in real life (IRL) – today’s donors are also today’s consumers. Choice, flexibility, personalization is all part of our everyday experience and expectations. We want the option to choose and select our shopping, eating, entertainment experiences, and the need for optionality in giving is no different.
So what does that mean for your fundraising?
Give your donors the option to decide when, where, and how they give to your cause is key. Close to a quarter of donors prefer to be offered a balance of in-person and virtual events from the nonprofits they choose to engage. So, when building out your yearly fundraising strategy calendar, consider integrating:
Depending on your event type, it’s also important to tailor engagement activities and opportunities for each audience. When you know how you’re going to structure your event, be sure to leverage these forms of engagement for your attendees:
Varied and flexible participation options mean donors are free to participate from where they feel most comfortable, creating ease and frictionless giving. Providing multiple engagement types will increase your fundraising impact and engagement.
PRO TIP: Incorporating virtual options alongside your in-person events help increase converge with ease and immediacy and can allow donors to participate with the click of a button.
When it comes to keeping donors engaged at an event, building excitement around live event results can be a simple way to boost donor participation. In fact, 58% of social donors reported viewing live results of competition as the most engaging factor during fundraising events.
To create an exciting atmosphere, consider the following strategies to promote your live event results:
PRO TIP: Getting attendees excited about real-time fundraising results during your event can drastically boost your event success. Create easy giving experiences to go in tandem with displaying your fundraising goal to get attendees to feel that their donation has a greater impact on the overall fundraising achievement.
Each donor engages with your event and cause differently. To reach a wide pool of social donors, be sure to use more than one marketing outlet to boost engagement.
One easy channel to tap into is your donor’s personal networks. More than half of social donors heard about their most recent social giving opportunity through a friend, family member, or colleague.
Giving is very personal and interconnected, so it makes sense that donors are most likely to hear about a nonprofit’s mission through friends and family! Tap into these connections through leveraging Ambassador Fundraising to boost event engagement and get them talking about your cause.
It’s important to arm ambassadors for your mission with templates and technology that make it easy for them to share, thank, and further communicate with donors they engage. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Outside of Ambassador Fundraising, leverage omni marketing strategies and outlets to generate buzz around your event. The top four channels through which donors learned about their last giving opportunity were social media, in person, email, and a nonprofit’s website.
To ensure you are reaching a wider donor base, connect your fundraising by following these top tips:
PRO TIP: When creating a marketing strategy to boost your event engagement, be sure to diversify both the channels you’re marketing on and your messaging too. Tailoring your messaging to your specific platform will help you stand out in a noisy and competitive fundraising world.
Having an easy giving experience maximizes the impact your nonprofit has on donors. For today’s event-focused social donors, 53% reported ease as a key factor for determining whether or not to give a donation. So, how can you streamline your event to make it easy for donors to give?
The first step to creating a seamless donor experience is to map out your event experience for both in-person and virtual donors. This helps you identify any points of friction at which you can make small adjustments to improve the guest experience. Small changes add up! Some adjustments you can make are implementing:
For events with both in-person and virtual attendees, make sure each attendee experience is analyzed to ensure a positive experience for guests on event day.
PRO TIP: Have a couple volunteers dedicated to answering and troubleshooting guests’ questions. Set up a help desk or kiosk (all you need is a high-boy table) to quickly answer attendee questions. It’s an easy way to reduce the number of questions the team must address and reduce attendee frustration.
Wrapping it Up: Putting the Data to Work
Now that you have the basics on how to engage social donors, it’s time to think about how to incorporate them into your development strategy. Here are four simple tips your nonprofit can take to create a social donor fundraising plan: