Today’s donors have lots of choices when it comes to the causes they support. To attract and convert supporters you need a robust engagement strategy. Good news – creating engagement practices that build strong donor relationships doesn’t have to be hard!
A successful engagement strategy builds trust, deepens connection and fosters an affinity to your cause. Think about it – donors are people and they want relationships that are more than superficial asks or canned greetings.
Taking the time to create a good engagement strategy will help your donor relations take off. Here’s the basics, in six key steps:
Let’s break it down!
A crucial step in any good relationship is laying the right foundation. When it comes to donor relationships, take the time to get to know them.
Here are a few easy ways to get to know your donors as people:
Taking the time to understand their key motivations and needs will help you focus on what’s important to your supporters. As seen in the Giving Experience Study, today’s donors are looking to support nonprofits that make giving easy, demonstrate their impact, help them feel connected to the mission, and build trust.
What’s all that mean? Here you go:
Targeting these motivators will help you attract donors and influence their engagement!
After you determine how your donors wants to engage, use that information to talk to them via their preferred channels. Make it a priority to keep them well informed with regular and consistent updates, announcements, news. It’s important to share your stories outside of just asking for donations.
Invite them to events that speak to their interests and connect them with other supporters in your organization who share those same passions. Building affinity networks with your supporters deepens their connection, trust, and engagement with your mission and your results!
Also, don’t forget social media and the impact that it can have on keeping donors connected to your organization. This past year, social media was the #1 way donors found out about giving opportunities. Leverage this channel to ensure your engagement opportunities are spread far and wide!
Outside of informing supporters of your upcoming events, creating a culture of inclusion will help further build connection to your cause.
Inclusion creates a sense of belonging and enhances your nonprofit’s ability to attract more donors, appeal to wider groups and demographics, and builds trust with your cause.
Here’s easy tips to help your nonprofit foster inclusion:
Finally, sharing social proof points for donors of all ages and races is just as important as physical inclusion at your nonprofit and makes every donor feel that their support matters!
Donor relationships are not a one-size-fits-all situation, but they can be grouped into common engagement segments. Here are four main types of supporters and a few examples of ways to deepen your relationship:
The key to deepening these relationships is to find ways and opportunities to connect these donor groups with your organization year-round.
Thanking your donors is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to help them stay engaged. If they don’t feel that your organization is grateful for their support, they may go find a another worthy (and thankful) cause to give to. Practicing meaningful donor recognition is a must for today’s donors! Here are a few ways to show your appreciation:
Add your personal touch in a variety of ways is a simple step to deepening the connection of your donor base.
Nothing helps to solidify a good donor relationship more than showing them the impact that they’re having within your organization.
Based on the findings of the Giving Experience Study, donors say organizations that demonstrate impact well do so by:
Make sure you review your communication strategies, channels, and messaging to make sure you are clearly and regularly sharing impact with your donors.
However you choose to show the impact they are making, be sure to make it personal and authentic. The more donors feel that they are truly affecting change at a personal level, the more engaged they’ll be with your mission.
Have you ever heard the saying “what gets tracked, gets measured?” Well, we like to take it one step further and say “what gets tracked, gets measured. And what gets measured, gets results!” When focusing on donor engagement, ensure your engagement plan includes tracking data and putting it to work to deepen donor relationships.
Before we jump into how to track engagement, let’s take a look at what makes up a donor “profile” or 360 view of how they engage with your organization.
These components include:
Ask yourself, how are you keeping this information? Are you consistent? Are you tracking data efficiently?
You can also take it a step further and collect other donor information, such as satisfaction and interest surveys to make data-informed decisions on what your supporters want and need.
So, what do you do with this data?
Engagement isn’t hard, but it does take work. By making engagement a priority, your organization will see a big impact on your donor engagement and retention, which helps to solidify your organization for the future.
When you do the small stuff right, you get big results! Engagement basics are one of the keys to big mission outcomes.
About the author: Jessica Cooper, Client Account Manager, Charityproud
Jessica Cooper brings 12 years of membership and nonprofit experience to her role as a Client Account Manager with Charityproud, specifically working with clients on how to streamline their processes and use data to help engage with donors and members alike. Prior to working with Charityproud, Ms. Cooper spent 10+ years at the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA and worked with her team to develop their association’s plan for member engagement, leading to a 10% increase in member retention.
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