Tag: donors

This article was originally published by Mighty Citizen. An edited version is republished here with permission.

One of my first questions for any new nonprofit client is: How good is your data?

I’m not asking if they have data, but how good is it? As a marketer, I want to build communication strategies that are founded on research and real insights from everyday donors. I want to know what your donors care about, how they want to be communicated with, and what kind of content resonates with them. This information allows your nonprofit to better engage your donors and leads to long-term benefits like increased and repeat donations.

Without data, your communication strategies are likely to be built on gut feelings and opinions. The beauty of data is that it negates opinions. Data can guide us; it can be a beacon of truth in a sea of opinion.

If you’re like most nonprofits, you have data available, but it’s either 1) housed in many different tools, rendering it cumbersome and useless, or 2) limited to basic insights like “total lifetime giving amount.”

Sound familiar?

If so, let’s take a gander at how to collect useful donor data without being annoying. Why do I say “without being annoying?” Because most donors view survey questions as a nuisance, in the way of a task they’re trying to complete, like filling out your donation form.

Option 1: use your thank you page as a data collection point

On your website, your thank you page can be an unbelievably valuable asset if used correctly. After all, your donor feels great about the commitment they’ve just made and is more likely to continue giving—this time, in the form of information.

Often, nonprofits use their thank you pages to say nothing more than “thanks for the donation.” But what if you popped a couple of questions around donor motivation onto your thank you page? For example, you could ask “What motivated your donation today?” and offer up three to five optional answers. You could also offer a text field if they wanted to provide additional info.

Or you could ask “What’s the best way to communicate with you?” Or, if your marketing strategy benefits from it, you could ask their age, what part of town they’re in, or which of your programs they care about most.

There’s a plethora of questions you might ask to help you segment your donors for future campaigns. The thank you page is a great place to get answers.

Option 2: send a quick donor survey

Has your organization conducted a donor survey? Was it short? Probably not short enough.

The inclination is to create a donor survey that allows you to find out anything you could ever possibly want to know about your donors. (Favorite color, everyone?!) You must resist this inclination!

Instead, put a survey link in your donor’s email receipt. Remember, they’re feeling good about that donation they just made. They’re looking for a receipt in their inbox to confirm the donation went through successfully. And now, within that same email, you’re simply asking them to tell you how you might serve them best by answering a short 3-5 question survey that takes less than 2 minutes to complete. Emphasize how quick and easy this survey will be, and make sure it is!

Using this strategy, the survey is not a cumbersome initiative for your nonprofit. It simply rolls out on a continual basis whenever a donation is made. And with a seamless integration of your donor database, you can ask different questions each time the donor gives.

Option 3: ask them during the donation process

I’ll be honest, I don’t like this option as much. That’s why it’s down here at the bottom! This option requires that you include a couple of questions for donors to answer as they’re filling out your donation form (online and off).

I’m hesitant to recommend this to our clients because I never want donors to fill out more than they have to in the process of donating. The less friction in the donation experience, the better. We don’t want them having to think too much. But sometimes—depending on your donation form software and internal IT resources—this is the fastest and easiest route.

If you take this approach, ask questions that might enhance the donor’s experience, like “Which of our programs most interest you?” or “How best should we communicate with you?” This is not the time to ask age or income or any other question that might give potential donors pause. My recommendation is to ask no more than 2 of these questions in your donation form.

Ask questions that might enhance the donor’s experience.

Test, and test again

I’m admittedly biased toward some of these options over others but you should test all of the options to see what works best for you. Test all of the options and see what gains the most traction with your particular donors.

Keep in mind that if you don’t receive a large quantity of online donations, you’ll want to test over a longer period of time to make sure you’ve got enough data to accurately compare your options.

Now, go get your data!

I hope you’re now primed and ready to learn valuable information about your donors so you can serve them better. Not only does this require some forethought, but you’ll likely also need to tap into your IT pro or an outside consultant to set your systems up properly so this doesn’t become a manual burden for your team. But once you’ve got the machine running, you’ll never look back!

How can your organization find new donors every year? By leveraging the events that you already hold to intentionally expand your community.

1. Host a joint event with another nonprofit

I know what you’re thinking: Wouldn’t sharing an event with another nonprofit, especially one with a similar mission, make it more difficult for you to find and retain donors?

Not at all! Fundraising isn’t a zero-sum game, and the best indicator of philanthropic giving is… you guessed it, philanthropic giving. Sharing an event with another nonprofit has multiple benefits. You can:

  • Split the cost of the event.
  • Attract a larger crowd than you could on your own.
  • Share a supporter pool.

Events, while being both time- and resource-intensive, are a vital part of any nonprofit’s engagement and fundraising strategies. But if you split the cost and the work of planning and hosting with another nonprofit, you’re doubling your capacity.

For example, think of all the effort it took to pull off your last charity auction. With another nonprofit onboard, you split both the costs of the venue and catering, as well as the task of finding high-level prizes that inspire people to make bigger bids.

Then, when the event is over, you’ll both have collected the contact information of many more new friends than you could have alone. The best part is that you already know that these people are engaged with and supportive of your mission, which is half the battle.

Reach out to other nonprofits in your region with similar or adjacent missions, and see what fun event ideas your teams can brainstorm together.

2. Raise funds peer to peer

Peer-to-peer, or social, fundraising is one of our favorite types of fundraising. It allows your nonprofit to reach a far wider audience than you could on your own through leveraging the power of your supporters’ social networks.

All those shares on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have real-world value for your nonprofit. They increase brand and mission awareness for your nonprofit and expose your fundraiser to people who have a personal incentive to care: your supporters’ friends and family.

If you’ve never hosted a peer-to-peer fundraiser and aren’t sure where to start, check out this ultimate guide from OneCause to get you started.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is great for increasing your ranks of donors because most of the people who donate to the campaign probably don’t know about your nonprofit—they just know that their friends care!

When they fill out the donation page, make sure you make the most of having their contact information by following up with a personalized thank-you letter, more information on the cause, and ways to get involved.

We like to combine peer-to-peer fundraising with fun concluding events like:

  • Dance-a-thons and walk-a-thons
  • 5Ks, 10Ks, or marathons
  • Block parties
  • Silent auction dinners

Then, collect contact information from your event attendees and follow up with them about becoming a donor or a volunteer.

3. Consider awareness-raising events

One of the best things that you can do to attract more donors is to make your nonprofit’s mission and presence in the community more relevant to more people.

For this reason, consider hosting an event outside of your comfort zone to attract people you haven’t interacted with before. Some fun ideas for these types of events could include:

  • A talent show featuring local musicians and comedians.
  • A speed dating night featuring your single donors, some local personalities, and anyone who wants to come to make new friends.
  • A performance like Shakespeare in the Park (consider partnering with a local theater!)

These events provide a two-fold advantage for your nonprofit. First, they increase name awareness in your community. Second, they allow your team the opportunity to mingle with people they don’t know and collect contact information for future cultivation.

Another idea that can both help attract new donors and make the efforts of your current donors go further is to host a volunteer day. Plan a series of tasks that volunteers can do that help your community and your mission, and then promote volunteer grants!

Volunteer grants are when an employer donates money to a nonprofit that one of their employees donates their time to. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of these programs. But promoting them to your volunteers can make their time worth more than it already is.

4. Host a donor thank-you event

A surefire way to increase your donor population is to ask your current donor pool for help.
Next time you host a donor appreciation event, ask your donors and board members to bring friends that they think might be interested in becoming a donor.

This benefits your nonprofit because:

  • The people who are brought to your event already have an emotional connection to your nonprofit, because of their friend.
  • The people who don’t know your organization get to see how well you treat your donors and how gracefully you show your appreciation.
  • Your current donors get to help your nonprofit in a way that doesn’t involve digging deeper into their pockets.

It’s a win-win for everyone, no matter if you host a cocktail party, a picnic in a park, or even a potluck dinner at someone’s house.

5. Conduct prospect research before events

The best way to optimize any event is by conducting prospect research ahead of time. Prospect research is when you access publicly available information about someone to learn more about them and their capacity and willingness to give.

The things you can learn about prospects, or potential donors, include:

  • Wealth markers like real estate or vehicle ownership
  • Philanthropic habits like any previous donations
  • Network associations like employer or alma mater

Knowing these things makes it easier to approach someone at an event. If someone has a history of donating to an environmentally-minded nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Save The Trees drive is probably of great interest to them.

You can also use this research to determine who to add to your invitation lists, to maximize your event’s impact.

The takeaway: Finding new donors may seem intimidating, but it’s not impossible. The donors are out there! You just have to meet them where they are, and encourage them to join your community.

With the light still with us to mid-evening and the pumpkin spice barely dusted, it’s hard to think about the negative wind chill and frantic fundraising that is coming in December. But as one of Big Duck’s resident fundraising mavens, year-end campaign season–often dubbed “a nonprofit’s most financially rewarding time of the year”–is always on my mind. So why do I want it on yours? Well, it’s really never too early to get started, and I want to help make it easy—so let’s focus on the tools you already have: your brand and your donors.

Use your brand strategy to guide your fundraising

If you’ve read Brandraising, or attended one of our sessions at the NTC, you know that the heart of your brand strategy is positioning and personality. Positioning is the big idea that you hope supporters associate with your organization. It’s also what sets you apart. Personality is the set of attributes or feelings you want people to associate with your organization. With your organization’s positioning and personality in hand, you can develop or judge different creative themes for your fundraising campaign.

Farra Trompeter quote: By tailoring your approach to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you.Because your year-end fundraising should be an extension of your work year-round, these communications should feel like an extension of your usual communications. Yes, your year-end campaign should be special, and this may be a time of year where you invest more time and money into what you send out. But if your year-end fundraising does not sound, look, and feel like you, your current donors may be confused and less likely to give. Use year-end fundraising to accentuate your incredible work and reinforce what they already know– and love– about you.

As you develop the campaign theme and roadmap to connect all campaign elements, don’t forget to start by breaking down your fundraising goals into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives. Once you have crafted those objectives (download this handy worksheet), it’s easier to hone in on the strategies and tactics that will achieve them.

Appeal to your core donors – and acknowledge them too

Fundraising campaigns typically focus on renewing or appealing to existing donors, reinstating lapsed donors, and/or acquiring new donors. For year-end fundraising campaigns, we often recommend organizations focus first on renewing past supporters, either recent or lapsed, rather than running a major acquisition campaign to get new supporters. That’s because less than one of out of every three new donors renew their support (based on the latest data from Fundraising Effectiveness Project summarized by Bloomerang)–but when they do, they are 15% more likely to keep on giving–so the value of a donor retained can be far greater than that of one acquired.

By tailoring your approach to year-end fundraising to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you into the future.

As we enter the season of giving, be sure to give donors other actions to take beyond giving and remember to say ‘thank you’ to all of your supporters. This can be a great time to make phone calls, send handwritten notes, post a video message or thanks, and let donors know that you love them. Not sure what to say on a thank you call? Try this thank you call guide so that staff, board members, and volunteers go into each call with a game plan.

If you do want to acquire new donors through your year-end appeals, consider running a mini-campaign for #GivingTuesday. While some organizations just send out one email on #GivingTuesday, many nonprofits find success sending out multiple emails before, during, and after that day, as well as posting on social media channels and their website. If you acquire new donors on #GivingTuesday be sure to engage them once they give via a welcome series or a more segmented approach in your follow-up communications.

Still hungry for more tips?

My colleague, Ally Dommu, Big Duck’s director of strategy, shares these five high-value tips that you can put in place now and test before year-end season.

This article first appeared on Jo Miles Digital and is republished here with permission.

You probably don’t want to think about year-end fundraising right now. Here in DC, it was in the 90s this weekend, the sun is blazing, and November feels far away. But winter is coming, and now is the time to prepare.

You’re no sweet summer child. You’ve seen year-end fundraising before, and you know that, however busy you are this summer, you’ll be busier come year-end. Anything you do now to set yourself up for stronger fundraising will help you succeed when it matters.

And the good news is, like the farmers of Westeros socking away extra food, many of your fundraising preparations are things you should be doing anyway. They don’t even have to take away from your current work. Here are a few projects you could take on now to save yourself some pain when winter (and year-end) arrives:

Tend your infrastructure

Is your Google Analytics set up to track donations? Are you tracking conversions on Facebook ads? Do you have the data you’ll need in your CRM? Now is a great time (especially while your coworkers are on vacation) to make sure your systems are all talking to each other and that your data is being stored correctly.

If you have time, do an audit of your data systems, paying special attention to fundraising-related data. If you notice something broken, during an audit or your daily operations, fix it now.

Set up your pilot projects

Remember last December when you said to your teammate “I wish we could…” but it was already too late to try it during that campaign? Maybe you wanted to take donations directly over SMS or Facebook, or thought you could finally apply for that Google Grant, or had a cool interactive content idea. Dredge up those project ideas now and decide which ones you want to tackle for this year-end.

Implementations often take longer than you expect, so an early start could be the difference between having it ready for year-end, or not.

Gather your stories, photos, and videos

Great stories are often the key to great fundraising content, but finding the right stories isn’t always easy. The same goes for great visual content. Start keeping an eye out for the stories you want to re-tell during year-end, and when you find a good candidate, record it. Get in touch with the subject, do a write-up, and get photo and video if you can. That way, it’ll be easy to repurpose when you start creating fundraising content.

Grow your list

You should be growing your audiences all the time, but the second half of the year is especially important. Now is the time to step up your recruitment, and get as many new supporters as possible onto your email list so you can build a relationship with them before a big flurry of fundraising asks.

Test your forms

Testing is another task that, ideally, you should be doing regularly. If you’re not, think about your donation forms and the experience they’re providing your supporters. What questions have come up in internal discussions about your forms? Now is the ideal time to undertake some testing to prove or disprove your hypotheses about what drives donations, and it’ll boost your conversion rates down the road.

There is a plethora of research out there indicating that your nonprofit will raise more money with an SMS (short message service, aka texting) donation service in your fundraising mix than it will without one. Offering SMS donations to your donors increases the number of opportunities your organization has to collect donations from your prospects.

Consider these statistics:

The data indicates that SMS donations can increase your overall reach, giving you new audiences that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with. As younger audiences have begun to move away from traditional giving and towards mobile giving, adding this technology to your fundraising mix means your nonprofit will be better positioned to meet prospective donors where they are.

Two Main Types of Text Giving Services

Basically, there are two types of text-to-donate services. One is text-to-give: Donors text a keyword to your short code, and later their mobile carrier charges them $5 or $10 extra on their bill. Once donors pays their bill, the mobile carrier sends you the donation.

The second type is a service whereby donors make a pledge by text message. It works the same as the other, except that the donor’s phone bill is not billed. Instead, the donor is sent a payment link (like Paypal) to complete the donation.

Is Donating By Text Effective?

Absolutely. People carry their cell phones everywhere nowadays: on the beach, in the delivery room, in the movie theater—there is almost nowhere people go where they do not take their phones. Texting is one of the most ubiquitous, effective forms of communication ever invented.

Texting is fast, simple and easy. And it’s built in by default into every phone manufactured. No app to download, you don’t even need a data plan or WiFi in many cases. With text to donate services like Gnosis, you can reach prospective donors wherever they are, and know with 97% certainty they will read your message—because they initiated the conversation.

So the moral is: If you’re not taking advantage of texting for fundraising, you could be missing out on an essential component of your fundraising marketing mix.

(This article was originally published on Nonprofit Tech for Good and is reprinted here with permission.)

Currently only nonprofits in the United States can take advantage of Facebook Fundraisers. This is frustrating to many NGOs, charities, and nonprofits located outside of the United States, but it’s due to the fact that the United States has a database of nonprofits called GuideStar USA that Facebook can sync with theirs to easily verify a nonprofit’s legal status. Facebook is likely working on expanding their fundraising tools to the United Kingdom and Canada where other such databases exist and eventually (hopefully, finally) a similar database will exist on a global scale (perhaps the BRIDGE Registry or the OnGood Global NGO Directory).

All that said, any Facebook user can now create Facebook Fundraisers for nonprofits listed in the GuideStar/Facebook database which currently numbers around 750,000. For details about Facebook Fundraising Tools and for information about how donations are distributed to your nonprofit, please see: nonprofits.fb.com/topic/fundraising-tools.

Facebook currently has 1.94 billion monthly users. Empowering your supporters to fundraise for your nonprofit inside an online community where they already connected to their friends and family is smart strategy. At the very least, the tools are worth experimenting with.

1. Verify your nonprofit is in the Facebook Fundraiser database.

Go to facebook.com/fundraisers and search for your nonprofit. If listed, your supporters can create Facebook Fundraisers for your nonprofit. Sign up for Facebook’s Fundraising Tools if you want access to daily fundraising reports.

2. Update your Facebook Page Cover Photo.

Your cover photo will be the default photo for the Facebook Fundraisers created by your supporters.

3. Create a “Day of Giving” Facebook Event.

Give your nonprofit four to six weeks to promote your Facebook “Day of Giving” campaign. In the Facebook Event, list the ways that your Facebook Followers can give to you on this day and how they can create a Facebook Fundraiser for your campaign. Then, post your event to Facebook and pin it to the top of your page.

4. Promote your Facebook Event on your website, in your email campaigns, and on social media.

The Humane Society of the United States is an organization regularly in the habit of early adoption of new social media tools and trends. They created a landing page on their website for their “Day of Giving” campaign that is easy to promote online. Study and learn from HSUS: humanesociety.org/dayofgiving

5. Thank your Facebook Fundraisers and donors.

You can’t post a “Thank you” comment as your page on Facebook Fundraisers. If you have a staff person willing to use their personal profile, then your fundraisers would appreciate the acknowledgement. You could also post a link in your Facebook Event where they could sign up for an email list so you can thank and engage them via email. Also, if your nonprofit has signed up for Facebook Fundraising Tools, in daily transaction reports you will receive the email addresses of your donors if they have opt-ed in. Create a system to email and thank them immediately!

It took me three months into my social media dream job to realize why the word “online” was part of my job title. It was 2010, and I had finally found a job that had social media marketing at its heart, at a small AIDS nonprofit that planned to use Facebook, Twitter and dating apps to connect with people living with and at risk for HIV.

Even before my first day, I’d had a run-in with our horrible, outdated and very difficult website, but I knew there was a web developer on retainer and I figured it was his problem. Or maybe it was the Executive Director’s problem. Or perhaps the office administrator. I don’t suppose there was someone on the board who could help? A volunteer? Bueller?

As anyone who works in digital marketing or fundraising knows, your organization’s website is at the crux of how people relate to your organization and its work. When something is wrong, it hurts your ability to attract, engage, and convert the people you need to make your work a success. As it turned out, our website was my problem, and to solve it, we needed to build a working digital strategy.

What is a digital strategy?

For many nonprofits, technology adoption isn’t hard. We’re smart people, and we’re perfectly capable of finding the tools we need to help us perform particular tasks. But what often happens is that an organization will accrue a slew of tools, all of which maybe do what they should perfectly, but still aren’t getting the results that you need them to. Perhaps your content strategy is bringing scores of people to your website but you aren’t capturing them in your email list for fundraising campaigns, or you’re gaining lots of Instagram followers but none of them know about your online forum. A good digital strategy will knit your tools and aspirations together into a cohesive plan to meet your goals.

We’re here to help. NTEN is producing two conferences this fall—in New Mexico and Oregon—and both are designed to help you develop and refresh your digital strategy. The program includes case studies, workshops, panels, presentations, and tactical sessions, to help you formulate the best strategy for your organization, and show you how other nonprofits have done it.

That seems like a big task. Where do I even start?

I am a people person and NTEN relies on members to survive, so I like to start with personas. What are the groups of people that want to engage with your organization, how did they find you, what do they want to know, how do they want to engage, and what do you most want them to do? Plot their journey from an unconnected community member to engaged part of your inner circle, donor or member. What’s their ideal journey? What roadblocks are in the way right now? How can you clear them?

Identify the top handful of actions you really want your constituents to take—for example, donate, advocate, join or inform others—and consider the technologies they need to do that easily. Find data that can tell you how you successfully moved them to that action (or “converted” them, in marketing-speak). How many touch-points do you need? What’s the story to tell them, and where and how is it best told? Which are the channels that net you the most success, and why do you think that is?

Like me, when I finally realized the website monster was mine to tame, you will have a lot of questions. But it’s only through considering the (sometimes difficult) questions that you can build a digital strategy, pulling together your organization’s disparate parts and making them work better, for you and the communities you represent.

Best of luck! We hope to see you in the fall.

It’s awards season, which means this is your chance to celebrate your own wins and the amazing work of other nonprofit technology professionals.

The Care2 Impact Award recognizes a campaign or initiative in the nonprofit sector that has made an outstanding impact on the field of online advocacy, online fundraising, or both. The winning organization will receive a cash donation of $1,000 from Care2. The runners up will each receive the Care2 Innovation Award; Care2 will make a $200 donation to each of these organizations. The awards will be presented in March at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Entries close midnight EST on Saturday, February 11. Enter now.

Entries are also open for the DoGooder Video Awards, which celebrates videos that have the power to move people and transform lives. NTEN is proud to partner on this award, and will show the winning videos from last year’s award at the NTC in March. They’re designed to help honor the best work from people or organizations who are using the medium to move the needle for their cause. Entries close Monday, February 13. Find out more.

 

A new year presents new opportunities to assess and grow your individual fundraising program. Do you know how your nonprofit compares to similar organizations? Where do you excel or where do you hope to grow?

Focusing on nonprofits with revenues under $2 million, the Individual Donor Benchmark Report is back again with fundraising data for small and mighty nonprofits.

Among the report’s findings are:

  • Organizations raise 34% of their revenue from individuals.
  • About half of individual donor revenue comes from donors giving less than $1,000.
  • One out of every five individual donor dollars is raised online.
  • Four out of ten board members are active in fundraising in a significant way,
  • Organizations are raising about 14% of their income from recurring donations.

The report also found that the average organization’s donor retention rate is 60%, meaning that 6 out of 10 donors give again—and 4 out of 10 donors don’t.

If your organization has a donor retention rate around 60%, you may be asking yourself two questions:

  1. How can we increase retention?
  2. How can we find more new donors to replace the donors we are losing each year?

Here are a few tips to help you think about how to answer those questions:

Increase Donor Retention

If you want to increase your retention rate, the best strategy is to view your individual donor fundraising program as a relationship development program. Your goal should be to build a relationship with your donors, where part, and only part, of that relationship is about their financial support for the organization. Here are a few ways to shift your focus to your relationship:

Consider your organization from a donor’s perspective.

Even when we are doing many things to communicate with and engage donors, sometimes there are holes in our plan. One way to find these holes is to walk through the experience that different types of donors have with your organization. What happens when a new donor makes a $25 gift? $2,500 gift? What happens when someone gives online? What is the experience for a $50 a year donor? You may find that with a little intentionality you could be doing a much more effective job of engaging your donors with your work.

Remember what you learned about your donor.

As a development director, I learned to listen carefully in major donor meetings and record what I’d learned after the meeting for future cultivation and solicitation. While this kind of attention is standard procedure for major donors, there’s an opportunity to use some of the same ideas with everyday donors. As your donors click on links in your emails, respond to direct mail solicitations, or attend events, they are giving you information about what they are interested in. If you are diligent, you can capture that information and begin to develop a picture of your donors. Organizations can also survey donors to gather information about their interests and use that information to tailor solicitations.

Thank donors seven times before you ask them again.

This advice has been around for a long time, but I still get surprised looks and big sighs when I share it. “Seven times?! How could we possibly do that?” First of all, it’s a guideline—but the real point is that you should not treat donors like ATMs, only coming to them when you need money. You should be in touch year round to share the results of their donations (and your work) and to thank them for their support. These thank yous don’t need to generate a lot of extra work. Think about content that you are already producing that could be re-purposed as a donor thank you: annual reports, updates for the board, or grant reports.

Find New Donors

You may be able to increase your retention rate, but you will likely also need to focus on finding new contacts and developing strategies to convert them to donors. One powerful framework for thinking about cultivating new donors is the cycle of engagement. The cycle includes the following components and questions:

  1. Opening the door to potential new donors. How do you find new potential donors? How do you collect contact information from potential donors? What have been the best ways for you to find new donors in the past?
  2. Thanking and tracking new contacts. How are you communicating with donors after they first meet your organization? Do you have a welcome series to introduce your organization? What information about them are you tracking in your database or other places?
  3. Engaging supporters. How can you help people experience your work? It may be by participating in programs, volunteering, or viewing a video about your efforts. How can you increase the opportunities for supporters to engage with your work?
  4. Thanking and tracking engaged supporters. How are you communicating with supporters after their engagement with your work? What engagement data points are you tracking?
  5. Asking for a donation. How can you tie your ask into the way you first met them and/or the way they have been engaged with your organization.
  6. Thanking and tracking donors. How do you thank a donor? What information about their gift do you need to record in your database? After this step, go back to #3 and repeat indefinitely!

The best way to ensure your organization is continuing to find new donors is to involve everyone (board, staff, and volunteers) in identifying, cultivating, and asking for support.  Even for those who have an aversion to fundraising, getting involved in opening the door, engaging, and thanking donors can be a fun way to help the organization grow its donor pool.

For more donor fundraising details and data, check out the full Individual Donor Benchmark Report

When aligning your fundraising strategy, you focus on two major paths: donor retention and donor acquisition. These are the everyday struggles for any nonprofit. While projects emerge from passion and commitment towards a cause or purpose, finding the proper support to get you there and even further is a true quest based on determination and perseverance.

While acquisition of new donors is always welcomed, and we all know that the more the merrier, dealing with donor retention is an utmost necessity. You know that regular donors are more than a material assurance for development and progress, they can be true believers of your cause and give you the moral support you require to move on.

But the question is how do you get to have regular donors and evangelists?

There are three elements that can aid you to create this powerful triangle for donors. Unlike the actual Bermuda triangle from the Atlantic, where things get lost, this one would attract donors in a safe haven. A place where they actually feel reassured for their giving action and sense the fulfillment of being involved in a real cause.

20140210laura_iancu_blog_1.png

In the quest of forging this mystical triangle, the first and most important pillar is your blog. The ultimate communication channel which can be a straight line towards your donors. Think of it not only as a chance to persuade potential donors to understand the real importance of your cause, but also as a great opportunity to show your story to your donors, to make them see the finality of their charity actions. As previously highlighted, your blog should be your gift for them.

The second upholder of your triangle is your social media presence. It’s vitally important to develop a strategy for your social media presence. People expect to find information about you at least on Facebook, Twitter and maybe even Google + or LinkedIn. So don’t give them reasons to question your commitment for transparency and openness.

The third element in this equation are your online donation forms.They represent the final step of each important interaction you have with your donors. That is why they have to encounter your identity there. Branding all your materials is important for your nonprofit. Moreover, every donation form has to be short and simple to follow. Don’t lose focus because you might lose valuable donations. Try to find a tool for creating donation forms securely and easily while having full control over customization options and use all it’s capabilities to steward your donors.

Connecting the dots:

Now that you have all the elements for creating that engaging and powerful communication with your donors, it is time to unite their power and learn to use them creatively. Here is a clear scenario to use them accordingly:

  • Make sure that all of your social media accounts contain a link back to your website. It is a great way to create a loop between all your online accounts and facilitate navigation for your visitors. Don’t forget to make the link towards your blog visible and easy to access directly on the home page. All these tricks are just some elements for a more effective website.
  • Have a clear call to action and insert the donation form naturally in your website. Your donors have to know what you expect them to do to support your cause without feeling assaulted.
  • When it comes to your donation page, to enable your triangle of communication, don’t forget to include social sharing buttons on your form. You might be surprised how many donors want to share that they’ve donated on their social accounts. Also make sure you enable recurring donations, it’s a treasure trove when thinking about retention. Gather all the tips and tricks you might find about donation form building, and don’t forget to test it and see if it passes the usability test and it actually suits your purpose.

These are the keys to enable a powerful communication channel and benefit from this triangle you created. Connecting all your dots to ensure a viable network to engage your donors is a must. No matter how you think of it, you have to know that, as Peter Drucker concurred, “the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” And your donors should hear you in order to actually feel engaged in communicating with your nonprofit.