Donors are the heartbeat of nonprofits. Donor funds are required to keep the lights on and the mission on track. This is why donor engagement strategies are vital. By keeping donors engaged and feeling connected to your organization and its goals, they will keep coming back, making regular donations, and sharing your message within their network – netting you additional donors and publicity.
This article outlines the best ways to implement a donor engagement strategy that truly works. Keep reading to learn about the donor engagement cycle, how to measure engagement, personalization, communication, and more.
How to Engage Donors Through the Donor Engagement Cycle
Building and maintaining a close relationship with donors is what will keep them coming back and giving to your nonprofit again and again. This is best accomplished with a cycle of activities designed to inspire and engage your donors again and again. The cycle starts with donor identification and recruitment, then employs engagement activities followed by soliciting donations, offering recognition, and cultivating the relationship long term.
- Recruit: The first step is to find existing and potential donors who share your organization’s vision. Get the word out using social media or email lists and offer a simple way for prospective donors to learn more and stay connected.
- Engage: Once you’ve got their attention, keep donors engaged. There are many strategies to promote donor engagement. Examples include sharing stories of how your organization is making a difference, holding fundraisers and awareness events that donors can participate in or even organize, and offering talking points they can share with their network.
- Solicit: When donors believe in your mission and feel invested in the outcomes, it is a great time to directly solicit donations from them. You may also encourage them to spread the word to their friends and family for additional reach.
- Recognize: If you want donors to come back again and again, then it’s important to follow up with them after they donate or help you out in some way. Give thanks and provide recognition for their participation. Consider offering special awards for those donors who go above and beyond as a way of inspiring similar activity from others.
- Steward: Keep lines of communication open and the relationship strong so that donors don’t feel like you only reach out when you need their funds. They want to be invested in the good your organization does. Give them regular updates and share successes with them. Then, when it's time to donate again, they will feel more inclined. This step of the donor engagement cycle ties right back into recruitment and engagement as well, as similar activities may be involved, and the cycle can repeat.
Measuring Donor Engagement
Having plans for engaging donors is one thing. But in order to know if your strategies are working, you need a way of measuring donor engagement. This is where fundraising software and platforms come into play. For example, Panorama by FrontStream is an all-in-one digital fundraising platform that not only helps you manage and plan events, but it has tools that let you measure your fundraising efforts with reports and analytics. These reports can provide insight into the success of donor engagement initiatives and help you improve your efforts moving forward.
4 Donor Engagement Tactics
Now let's move beyond the donor engagement cycle and dig a little deeper into specific tactics that can keep donors coming back and cheering you on. Here are four key donor engagement strategies you can try.
1. Utilize Personalization
No one likes to feel like a nameless face in the crowd. By addressing your donors by name in emails and other communications, you will make them feel special and recognized as an individual. The right donor engagement platform can make the personalization of communication easy and automated, which means this tactic takes minimal effort on your part to initiate.
2. Keep Communication
Both before and after you solicit donations, regularly connect with your donors so that they feel included. Let them know about the great work you're doing and shine a spotlight on success stories. After they donate, show them where those funds are going and how they are being put to good use.
3. Be Interactive
So that your donors don’t simply check out after a while and start ignoring your communications and notices, find ways to interact with them. Ask them for feedback and ideas. Encourage them to engage in peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives. Not only do these opportunities for interaction improve donor engagement, but they help transform your donors into advocates and recruiters as well.
4. Always Say Thank You
People who feel appreciated are much more likely to keep coming back. No one wants to donate money and then wonder if it even got there or if anyone cared. By sending sincere thank you letters to each donor, they’ll want to stay engaged and are more likely to be there when your next round of fundraising kicks off.
Upping Donor Engagement with FrontStream
FrontStream has the tools to keep your donors engaged and included as you embark on fundraising campaigns. If you’re ready to raise more funds to do more good, then getting donors on board is key and FrontStream’s Panorama platform is designed to help you meet your goals. Intuitively design and deploy events with donor-friendly experiences and track payments and engagement across all of your campaigns. Schedule a consultation to learn more today.