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How to Keep Donor Engagement Personal (At Scale)

When you have people taking time from their lives and money from their paychecks to support your cause, it becomes essential to maintain some level of personal engagement with each of these donors. After all, keeping things personalized is an effective way of showing contributors that their actions are valued. No one would like their donation, however small it might be, to go unnoticed.

Research shows that for every dollar spent on getting another donation from a loyal contributor, it costs three dollars to get a new donor.

This is is why donor retention is essential. And an important part of that is personalizing your engagement with your contributors.

The main problem with keeping a personal touch is that when many donors are involved, applying a one-to-one approach to your outreach may seem difficult.

So what steps can we can take to address this? Let’s find out.

Leverage social media

Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels lets you reach out to thousands of people with minimum effort. You can create your own personality and have a unique style of communication; something which people can associate your non profit with and relate to.

This in turn leads to more personal conversations be it through one-on-one messages, replying to comments on posts, or by holding online contests and campaigns.

World Wide Fund for Nature often uses social media to launch its Earth Hour campaign. People can easily change their profile pictures by personalizing it with a cause close to their heart. This works because people can advertise their support for the cause among friends and family. Besides, the fact that this is a low barrier ask makes it easier to get more people on board.

You can also post about your donors on social media. You don’t have to add their picture or say how much they donated; tagging them with a message of thanks would do.

Thank them

After a donation, make sure to thank your contributors no matter how big or small the amount is. A personalized email or a text message stating how their contribution helped the cause will definitely be useful in fostering personal connections.

If you have enough staff or volunteers, have them call your benefactors in person, or send a handwritten note of thanks. And if the person happens to be donating for the first time, you can send them a gift item (it doesn’t have to be fancy); could be a bag or even a poster. It’s the thought that counts.

The National Wildlife Federation gives its donors the option to receive a free gift bag as a token of appreciation. A simple gift which definitely makes an impact on supporters.

Remember, the goal here is to make interactions feel one-to-one even if you happen to be in contact with a large number of people.

Collect feedback

Add a simple survey that donors can answer to improve their experience on your nonprofit website. Give them an option to talk about their reasons for donating through forms, or by prompting them to comment on articles and blogs on your website.

This gives your donors a chance to voice their opinion while giving you useful and even heartwarming insights about your organization. And by displaying this on your blog, you encourage other donors to come out with their own reasons and stories for contributing.

For instance, after you sign up for the ONE newsletter, you are asked a simple question which then leads you to a basic 2-minute survey. This is a useful way in which the non profit organisation better understands your reasons and motivation for contributing to the cause, while also helping personalize future communication. Simple, yet effective.

As Bill Gates summed up lucidly: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Increase interaction

Hold annual, semi-annual, or monthly events and invite all your donors. The event could be something as simple as a lunch or a meet and greet, where like minded fellow contributors can get together and interact with each other and your staff.

A donor spotlight would be nice too – where photos of each donor is displayed, and an opportunity is given to them to air their thoughts, opinions, or any stories that they’d like to share.

Of course, at the end of the day donors would definitely want to know how their money was spent; so display statistics and pictures showing how it was used. Try being creative and show a video reel of people who were actually helped by the donations.

The Heart Foundation holds regular award dinners and auctions- getting donors to bond with each other and the organisation, as well as raising funds.

If donors are willing to donate, there’s a good chance they’d be willing to volunteer as well. So invite them to contribute in ways which don’t require them to reach for their wallets; another effective way for you to improve donor interaction.

For instance, Charity: Water lets donors volunteer for different activities; from writing a simple thank you note, to helping out at events.

Keep in touch (even if they haven’t donated in a while)

Obviously, a thank-you email is sent after a donor has contributed a sum of money. But that shouldn’t be the be all and end all of the interaction between you and them.

Gather information such as birthdays and anniversary dates, and wish them to makes things personal. An occasional thank you from time to time works too; even if the donor contributed just once or if the amount given wasn’t much.

Send them an email, or if you have the time and volunteers, a phone call would definitely not go amiss. You can also use peer-to-peer texting as a personal and scaleable channel for keeping in touch with donors without taking away too much time from your staff.

This certainly makes donors feel valued and helps them believe that their contributions helped the cause for which they donated. Who knows, this simple act of gratitude may even propel people to donate again.

All because you made the effort to stay in touch with them.


These tips should help you keep interactions with donors personal even when you are in conversation with hundreds or thousands of people.

To sum up, as Harvey McKinnon, co-author of The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All said: “Donor loyalty is not about the donor being loyal to you, it is you being loyal to the donor.”

Keep this is in mind while interacting, and you won’t go wrong.


Author Bio

Augustus Franklin is the founder and CEO of CallHub, a cloud telephony company building voice and text outreach tools for political campaigns, nonprofit organizations and businesses. He spends his days finding new ways to use technology to create meaningful engagement between organizations and people. Find him on Twitter at @augfrank.