To keep supporters engaged, you need to know what motivates them. Communications that connect with what donors care about resonate and generate a response. Let’s look at six motivations that drive supporters to give and how you can craft your communications accordingly.
1) Driven by Mission
Donors choose to support your organization because they align with your mission. They care about the issue your work addresses, and they want to be a part of the solution. Their interest in your mission may come from a loved one affected by your work, a desire to give back to their community, or a drive to impact sociopolitical issues. Be sure to make your mission clear in your communications and show donors precisely how their gifts are being used in thank you messages.
2) Desire to Make a Difference
Many issues that we care about seem beyond our control. Most of us don’t have the power individually to create change on a major scale. When donors band together, pooling their money and time to improve a situation, they feel empowered. Be specific about what your organization is doing with donations when you share updates about projects and programs.
3) Personal Satisfaction
Giving of ourselves leads to happiness. Scientific studies have proven that generosity stimulates dopamine, which activates the pleasure center in the brain. Knowing that a donation of time or money can make a difference inspires hope and optimism. In your communications, invite donors to engage further by spreading the word on social media, volunteering, or participating in a peer-to-peer campaign.
4) Helping Other Individuals
Donors want to help individual people, not faceless organizations. Put a human face on your facts and statistics to show who is benefiting from your work. A story about another human will motivate your audience to take action. Include short vignettes in your thank you letters, emails, and on social media. Post testimonials of community members whose lives have been impacted. Share photos of community members whose stories you tell.
5) Desire to Belong
From an evolutionary perspective, the survival of the human race depended on the ability to get along with others and work together. Today, we no longer rely on others in the same way for food, shelter, and safety, but we remain hardwired for social connections. Donors want to feel a part of your team. They want to know that they’re working alongside you toward the common goal that you both care about so strongly. Use “us” and “we” language that includes the donors in your communications. Keep supporters updated regularly. Ask them for their input and suggestions.
6) Feeling Appreciated
Recent research by Donor Centered Fundraising showed that donors who received a personal thank you from a board member within 24 hours of a gift being received gave up to 39 percent more. We all want to be appreciated for our care and actions. Follow the best practice of adding a simple “Thank you for your donation!” to the beginning of your receipt. Send a more detailed thank you within a week of receiving a gift, ideally within 24 hours. And say “thank you” often—on the anniversary of the gift, upon completion of the project or campaign, and at year-end.
When you align your communications with the motivations of supporters, you solidify the relationship between your donors and your organization. Your communications have a greater impact, and donors are driven to further engage.
Learn more about how to create customized donor communications that increase engagement by downloading Donor Communication Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All.