7 strategies to enhance donor engagement for your nonprofit

Grow relationships with personalized donor engagement

If worrying about how to attract donors and keep them engaged is keeping you up at night, you’re in good company. The overwhelming majority of nonprofit organizations struggle to engage donors and retain their support for the long term. Even a small increase in donor retention can greatly increase the lifetime value of your donor base, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your donor engagement strategy. 

What is donor engagement?

Donor engagement refers to every interaction that takes place between your organization and your donors as part of your overall donor outreach strategy. It includes all the little (and big) things your organization does to build donor relationships by making them feel heard, valued and an important part of the community. Key metrics to measure performance of donor engagement may include number of touchpoints, events attended, email open and click rates, monetary donation dollar amount, and number of monetary gifts. 

Organizations that excel at donor engagement don’t only reap the benefits of increased financial support, they also inspire their donors to share their causes with their personal networks, further expanding their reach, impact and fundraising capacity.

How can organizations engage donors?

Personalized communication is gold standard in donor engagement today. Unfortunately, because reaching out to donors in a personal way has been historically resource-heavy and time-consuming, many organizations fail to do this as well as they should.  

Luckily, things change! With the emergence of helpful tools and technology, fundraisers can reach each and every donor in an authentic, personal way while actually saving hours in the day spent on administrative tasks. Read on for some tips on how to effectively engage, grow and retain major donors—and specific tools that can help you perform this job with ease.

1. Make it personal

No matter what type of organization you are, when you dig down to find the cause behind low donor engagement and re-engagement, you’ll often find the same root cause. Namely, donors that don’t feel adequately appreciated for their generosity. When a donor makes a donation, they expect to be thanked for it as soon (and as personally) as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to lose that donor’s loyalty.

The most impactful “thank you” is a personalized one that mentions the exact gift given and also includes information that shows you know the donor well—like remembering the name of their spouse or sending good wishes for a recent anniversary. Phone calls are more personal than letters or emails, but in a busy office where each fundraiser is responsible for nurturing a large number of donors, this is rarely possible. Personalized video messages can create a one-to-one connection with your donors that gives personal touches like seeing the face of someone who directly benefited from their donation and hearing their name as part of the special recognition.

The advantage of using a video creation and management tool for fundraising is that personalized videos can be created and disseminated at scale. They can also be edited, remade and updated easily. 

Such messages can be recorded ahead of time and used for multiple purposes, including showcasing a certain fund, thanking a donor for a gift, and sending seasonal greetings, congratulations or other special messages.

2. Share impact stories

When you don’t share the impact of a gift with the donor, they can very quickly lose interest. Donors deserve to know how their gift was used and most derive great pleasure from seeing the many lives impacted by their contribution. Many organizations send out generic template-based emails sharing impact stories or written testimonials, but these fall flat compared to more personal impact-sharing methods such as a phone call or a meeting. 

This is an area where video messaging can really shine—especially for the more creative fundraiser. Say your donor’s gift went towards a certain scholarship; you can ask some recipients to record messages sharing how the scholarship impacted their lives. Video testimonials from staff, volunteers or other community members can also make for very impactful stories.

A great example of a video testimonial sent via Gratavid from Gravyty by a student.

Not only do video impact stories feel more warm and personal than emails, but they also allow you to get creative (for example, by producing a professional video) and get other community members involved in sharing your stories. 

3. Mark special milestones to boost donor engagement

Fundraising is about building relationships, getting to know one another over time and remembering those small personal details. Birthdays, anniversaries, a birth in the family, moving home and changing jobs are all milestones that should be noted by those who are important in a person’s life. Fundraisers can find themselves drowning in the admin work that goes into making sure they remember to send important donors a greeting for all the many milestones, big and small, in their lives. 

Engaging donors with personalized communications at scale to celebrate milestones means connecting with donors in a way that feels authentic but can still be managed and sustained by a team of one or just a few. . 

4. Celebrate long-term loyalty

A happy and appreciated donor is one who will stick around and support your cause for the long haul. Some donors send an annual gift to a particular cause—e.g., your annual fund—year in and year out. It can be a very nice touch to share your appreciation for these longtime donors by celebrating milestones. Sending a quick personal message to thank a donor for five, ten or twenty years of support to a certain fund will show them that you are not taking their regular contributions for granted and that you have noted and appreciate their loyalty. 

Recording these messages by video can help staff manage a large caseload more effectively without sacrificing too much in the way of personal touch. A video will also help staff members who struggle with “stage fright” as the text can be scripted by a talented writer in advance.

5. Focus on reunion giving

Reunions provide many fundraising opportunities and avenues to connect with your constituents. Whether you start your planning before the big event or focus your efforts on follow-up to secure one-time or recurring gifts from those who attended the various reunion activities, be sure to capitalize on this opportunity. Personalized video messaging can go a long way to boost your pre- and post-reunion engagement rates. Ask your volunteers and board members to record their own videos to lend character and greater personalization to your messaging. 

6. Rally your troops

A task shared is a task halved! Most fundraisers have a large number of donors to nurture and have many tasks they need to complete each day. Anything that can be outsourced to someone else will save them vital time and resources. 

When using video messages, the fundraiser can create a content plan that involves allocating video-content creation to other members of the community or stakeholders. A personal thank you or impact message from your CEO—or the person running a home for underprivileged kids—will not only be more interesting and memorable for the recipient than a standard email, it will also allow fundraisers to spend less time reaching out to donors themselves.

7. Automate, automate, automate

In a busy fundraising office where resources and staff are stretched thin, using all the tools at your disposal is essential to keeping things running efficiently. A fundraising tool that lets you prepare, store and automate the sending of personalized video greetings will save time and avoid errors. It will also greatly assist staff members in building those all-important personal relationships with donors and ensure they feel special and valued. 

Just create a content plan and upload all your video content to your video-sharing platform. Then use the tool to send out your videos at the right time and to the right people. If you want to go back and edit an old video or update it so it can be used for a different campaign, dip into your video content library and get to work.

Achieve your donor engagement goals—with a little help

Successful donor engagement for nonprofits relies on great people and great tools. Hopefully, you already have some great fundraisers on your team so now all you need is the right tools to truly cement your success. A video creation and management platform will enable your team to effectively reach out to their prospects, constituents and donors at scale. They can leverage personalized video for engagement purposes including the sending of  congratulations messages, event invitations, donation requests, appeals, thank yous, birthday wishes, reunion announcements and more.

At Gravyty, we know engaged donors are key to a strong and sustainable donor pipeline. Our donor engagement, stewardship, and omnichannel fundraising solutions help you raise more money and connect with more donors at scale. Get a consultation.

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