Every nonprofit fundraiser has a dual objective—cultivate existing donors and grow your base by prospecting and acquiring new donors. One area to focus on is activating your organization’s advocates or non-donor groups (volunteers, program participants and their families, community partners, etc) to donate. Not only are these people familiar with your nonprofit—they’re passionate about it. They want to engage with you. The best thing you can do is make it easy for them to experience more regular contact and more personal attention.
Performing dedicated outreach to these loyal friends, even if they don’t meet your traditional criteria for donor prospects, can turn casual advocates into passionate donors. Their eagerness to take that next step in support of your cause may surprise you.
Build Donor Relationships
Loyalty deepens the more involved an individual becomes. Look to your volunteers and program participants to learn more about them and grow your relationship. How long have they been with you? What first attracted them to your organization? Why do they continue to support you? Tracking their involvement in your donor management system provides insight about their interests and passions. Focus your messaging to them with this information in mind. The more you speak directly to them, about what interests them most, the more open they will be to your outreach.
Building strong relationships with community partners ensures the long-term success of that partnership, while also expanding your contact base. Celebrate your partner’s successes on social media, so their followers see your account as well. Create a Featured Partner section in your newsletter and highlight your partnership with mentions in your respective email blasts to cross-promote each other.
Don’t neglect your lapsed donors. They came to you for a reason. Now is the time to try and win them back. Nurture them through a campaign about how much you miss them. Don’t be afraid to ask them why they haven’t given recently. Perhaps they fell on hard times and temporarily had to tighten their budget. Find new ways to engage them, so they know they’re always welcome. The good will you create will pay off when they’re able to donate again.
Use your donor management system to segment these groups and customize your communications to match their interests. By tailoring your messaging to specific individuals you’ll successfully connect with your supporters—and activate them to become donors.
Plan Your Fundraising Ask
How you contact these groups is as important as what you say. Prioritize one or two methods to best accomplish your outreach, and focus your attention in those areas. The rise in popularity of social media, online communications, and mobile access is a determining factor as you choose your communications methods.
We recommend nonprofits prioritize email as the core communications channel, supplemented by social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are top picks), and then direct mail. According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report, 25% of donors say social media is the set of channels that most often inspires them to give; and 62% of donors in this group say Facebook is the MOST inspiring.
Once you identify the right channels for your people, shape the content (both narrative and images) you create to fit each channel. Be sure and incorporate these effective strategies for best results:
- Using words and images to engage your audience.
- Planning out your email and direct mail campaigns.
- Coordinating your social media posts to boost your message.
Engage in Regular Contact
Many fundraisers are trapped by the fear that sending too many communications will repel donors and prospects. But have you ever tried to build a relationship with someone who you never hear from? Or you only hear from them when they want something?
Avoid this trap. Network for Good customers who showed the most significant growth (2017 vs. 2016) in donations sent an average of 17 emails over the year, whereas those who grew donations less sent 10 or fewer emails. We suggest you reach out to your targets with at least two emails each month, supplemented by marketing via other channels where your people are active. Less isn’t always more.
Keep It Real
How frequently you can execute your communications will depend on your resources—and what you have to say. Don’t send an email blast just to add a contact to someone’s record. Craft a message that reflects your current work and programming, and tailor the message so it’s relevant to your audience. Increasing your targeted email campaigns could allow you to scale back on direct mail, which would reduce cost and time.
Don’t do away with direct mail altogether, however. Receiving that additional piece of mail, in conjunction with email and social media, can be just the thing to prompt someone to go online and donate. According to Nonprofit Source, direct mail motivated 36% more donors to give online in 2016 compared to previous year. Plus, everyone likes receiving a special thank you note or birthday card!
Incorporate these strategies into your messaging to volunteers, partners, and program participants; and you’ll experience the beginning of a beautiful friendship!