Business, Technology, Operations

Donor Engagement
Posted by Mical on July 20, 2018

In this ever-changing nonprofit industry, donor engagement is arguably the most important part of the process of managing a nonprofit. But what does donor engagement really mean?

According to Micheal Stein of TechSoup, donor engagement and retention refers to establishing a relationship with donors that builds itself over time. Because retaining donors is more cost-effective than recruitment, it is imperative for nonprofits to be consistent in their engagement efforts if they want to see long-term success. Following is a list of donor engagement practices

Education

  • In a world where we are so inundated with information, people find a lot of value in being addressed simply. This means that outlining the problem that your nonprofit is setting out to manage in a concise way is usually very well received.
  • One method of conveying such message is through a ‘welcome series’ which spells out the roles and goals of supporters, volunteers and donors within the nonprofit structure and how they enrich the organization. In addition to this, nonprofits are encouraged to share client success stories, impressive statistics and return on investments.

Online Engagement

  • Essentially, it aids potential and current donors, should they want to do some independent research and see what your nonprofit's reputation is like.
  • As it stands now, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn rank pretty high for utility among nonprofits. In fact, current trends in social media usage imply that Facebook is a great tool for nonprofits to generate online traffic through a variety of low-involvement activities (das, 2010).
  • Mobilizing stakeholders, or at least providing the opportunity to do so, is very important in making donors feel as though they have a personal stake. Its a great chance for the organization to be viewed on the ground level.

Acknowledgement

  • Acknowledgement of donations and attentiveness to aftercare makes a world of a difference to a donor who’s deciding whether or not to make their contributions recurring. This includes a genuine and heartfelt thank you message accompanied by a document describing how the funds were used.
  • One popular suggestion for nonprofits is that they make an effort to personalize their thank-you messages by having each letter written for the individual or signed individually. If this is not possible, this idea can be catered to those who contribute major gifts.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is that the turn around for this piece of acknowledgment is approximately two days. Not to mention, the more informative a nonprofit is, the more equipped donors will feel and the more faith they will have in their decision.

Mobilization

  • Calls to action are very impactful ways to get donors and other stakeholders to feel fully engaged. Whats interesting is that all of the tools discussed, from education to acknowledgment to online engagement set the groundwork for what will ultimately create an emotional tie between donors and your cause; face-to-face engagement.
  • This can mean creating networking events, volunteer and advocacy opportunities.
  • Providing engagement points for donors and stakeholders alike allows everyone to experience personal development and attaches positive memories to your organization.
  • Another such example of interactive engagement is peer-to-peer fundraising which encourages donors to use their social network of friends and family to solicit donations. This is especially encouraged because it is a very cost-effective way of gaining donors that already have a certain level of trust.

When implementing these tools for donor engagement in your organization, consideration of demographics is key in maximizing efficiency. The top three things to look out for is age, employment, and family size. Thus, which method of donor engagement is emphasized will differ depending on such information. Ultimately, donor engagement and stewardship is about placing yourself in the shoes of a donor and wondering how you can fulfill their needs. As long as these are the guiding principles behind your work, it is hard to stray far from a successful donor-nonprofit relationship.