With so many organizations competing more fiercely for donor dollars, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep donors on board for the longer term. With donor recruitment also costing more, donor retention must be a priority focus of all organizations.
So how do we ensure that we are building lasting relationships with our donors? Here are 5 key ways your organization can ensure that your donors remain engaged and involved.
If your organization hasn’t already sent out surveys to donors, prioritize it right away. By collecting their input through a list of thoughtful questions, surveys can:
- Help you to understand your donor better, and therefore help you to connect more meaningfully with them.
- Help donors to know that their voices genuinely matter. When donors feel that they are being listened to, they are more likely to feel valued and appreciated.
For surveys to really support your fundraising program, however, you have to be goal-focused in relation to them. What are you trying to achieve as a result of sending out your surveys? Are you trying to understand what kind of information they want to receive, and in what format? Do you want to know how often they want to hear from you? Perhaps you are trying to discover what kind of stories they want to read or hear, or maybe you want to ask them how they might like to get more involved in your organization (e.g. as a fundraiser, introducing you to others or leaving a gift in their will).
Of course, once you have all this valuable information, you have to take action based upon the results, so make sure that whenever you plan to distribute your survey, you also build in time and resources to analyse the results so that you can build your learning into the future development of your fundraising and donor stewardship strategies.
Web users, as well as those viewing your other online content, commonly gravitate more towards visual content than walls of text (though there certainly are exceptions). This is where short, concise and impactful videos can help to draw in donors and actively engage them.
Your website and other social media can offer excellent platforms for sharing stories and demonstrating the impact that your donors’ contributions have with regard to the fulfillment of your mission, and videos do not necessarily have to be made with a large budget to be effective. Even simple 10-second video clips can sometimes be more effective at engaging more donors than reams of narrative placed on your website or in your newsletter. The key to success with this communication method is in being clear on the message you are trying to convey and making sure that you are creating videos with your donors in mind. This might include using powerful storytelling that demonstrates your impact, using language being used is easily understood, that the focus of the content is on what donors would care most about and that your call to action is clear.
Every donor is different, and therefore they all have different expectations in terms of what they would appreciate most from you.
Of course, when you have thousands, or even hundreds, of donors, you probably do not have the resources to give every donor a highly individual response to every communication. However, by knowing your donors well (donor surveys can help greatly here) and through effective segmentation of your donor list, you should be able to give the majority of your donors a series of options with regard to how they can support you and how you communicate with them, you can more effectively tailor your engagement to their interests.
This will make donors feel more appreciated and most importantly, you can build in ways to entice them to increase their involvement and even their level of giving through effective upgrade campaigns that are based on what you have learned about what they are looking to achieve by partnering with you.
Blogs, Complete with a Comments Section
Blogs can play a very valuable role and can serve as an integral aspect of many fundraising organizations. By using blog posts to share quick-to-read, impactful morsels of information related to your cause that donors will absorb and connect with, particularly if particular entries focus directly on the importance of supporting your cause and how their involvement plays a vital role. For example, you might choose to share donor spotlights and success stories or pieces that establish your organization, or the people within them, as thought leaders in a particular field, therefore cementing your organization as the place to go when donors are looking to bring about a significant change in the world.
Your blogs might even act as an outlet for your donors to lend their voices, in the form of a comments section. We caution though that you take care to ensure that comments are moderated. While challenging comments can help to provoke great discussion, help to address misconceptions about your work, and therefore increase engagement, you need to take care to prevent them providing a platform for offensive or highly inappropriate comments.
Events can be very effective at increasing donor engagement, depending upon how they are used.
Whether your event is a minimalistic cocktail reception, sprawling banquet or presentation focused on highlighting the importance of your cause, they all provide an opportunity to meet, engage with and get to know your donors better. It gives you the chance to show your appreciation for their contributions, thank them in person, as well as to emphasize the importance of their continued involvement. Used well, they can demonstrate that there are people with strong and passionate hearts and minds behind the work that is being done, rather than a faceless organization that they do not feel connected with.
In the end, your donors are your lifeblood. Keeping them actively engaged and involved is a way of keeping vein circulation at maximum efficiency, ensuring that your goal will be attainable sooner rather than later. We have made some suggestions on how you can engage your donors better and have even more helpful tips for you, but what other ideas can you add?