The United States alone has roughly 1.3 million charitable nonprofit organizations that rely on donations from donors to be able to provide their myriad of services. While providing these services remains at the forefront of these organizations’ day-to-day operations, it is crucial that every nonprofit has a donor engagement strategy, as these organizations rely heavily on the relationships that they build with their donors to ensure that donations continue to come in and their missions can continue to thrive and prosper.
Donor engagement best practices dictate that nonprofits should continue to cultivate the relationship with a donor after they make their donation. A donor engagement strategy can provide nonprofit organizations with a roadmap as to how they can connect with and build strong relationships with their donors even after the initial contribution.
How does one go about creating a donor engagement plan?
Managing Donor Information
First things first. Nonprofit organizations need a way to collect, manage, and track information about each of their donors. This information is not only useful to have for auditing and reporting purposes, but it is also very helpful when building and strengthening donor relationships.
Now, many organizations already have a method of collecting and storing this information, and oftentimes this includes the creation and updating of various spreadsheets. While moderately effective, depending on the amount of information an organization is managing, this system can end up being clunky and cluttered. The more information being collected about each donor, the harder it will be to keep the spreadsheets organized and up to date, meaning that there needs to be a better solution for this process.
Nonprofits can easily improve this process by using a contact relationship manager – essentially an online database system that stores contact information in an organized and easy-to-read manner. Donor information stored in existing spreadsheets can be uploaded into the contact relationship manager (or CRM for short) and stored in segmented lists and pipelines. As well, combining the CRM software with the data collection tools used to capture donor information, such as online forms or landing pages, can make it even simpler for organizations to input data into the system and have it updated automatically with the most up-to-date donor information.
Engaging with Donors
Once a nonprofit organization has a way to easily manage information collected on their donors, the next step in building a donor engagement strategy is determining how to actually use this information when interacting with donors.
A nonprofit organization should think about answering the following questions when coming up with their strategy:
1. Who do we want to engage?
Chances are the answer to this question should be obvious for any nonprofit organization. When it all comes down to it, the answer boils down to “donors,” however when answering this question, be sure to identify any special categories, levels, or demographics of donors that are used. It’s important that organizations know who exactly they want to target with their engagement efforts because not all donors should be engaged with in the same way.
2. What do we want to send them?
This question refers to the specific content organizations want to send to their donors to try and engage them. This content could be in the form of a regular newsletter containing information about the organization and its events; it could be donation requests and reminders; it could be success stories about the people who the organization has been able to help with the support of donors – whatever type of content that makes the most sense for a particular nonprofit. A good donor engagement strategy will include a variety of content to help keep donors engaged and interested in the organization.
3. When (or how often) do we want to send to them?
This is an important question to be answered as part of any donor engagement strategy because there is a fine line between sending too often and sending too infrequently. Depending on the nonprofit organization and the content it chooses to send to its donors, it might make more sense to send on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Each organization has to determine the right sending frequency for themselves in order to best maintain their donor relationships and not have them go sour.
4. Why are we engaging them?
What is the purpose of engaging with donors? Most likely the response to this question will be “to ensure they keep donating” but other reasons for engaging with donors could be to maintain accountability, or simply to raise awareness about the nonprofit or a particular issue. Determine the main goal of engaging donors will serve to help guide which direction the donor engagement plan should follow.
5. How are we sending to them?
The last and most important question nonprofits should ask themselves when creating their donor engagement strategy is how they plan to engage with their donors. Part of this includes which communication channels they wish to use for this engagement as well as any tools they will need in order to facilitate the donor engagement.
Depending on the size of the nonprofit organization, the way the donor engagement process can be conducted can differ. A manual process of sending communications to each individual donor means that each message can be personalized for each donor, but can be a time-consuming task. Automating the donor engagement process can make lives so much easier – but does that mean that personalization gets sacrificed? With the right engagement automation platform, this is definitely not the case. Communication campaigns can be created and personalization tools such as merge tags and conditional filters allow organizations to tailor each message based on information known about each donor!
Organizations also don’t have to be restricted to one communication channel either. A multi-channel automation platform allows for the configuration of communications via multiple channels that can be sent automatically to donors based on their preferences.
Optimizing the Donor Engagement Strategy
The last piece of a donor engagement strategy should include how a nonprofit organization should use the metrics and analytics collected from their engagement campaigns. What’s the point of having an engagement strategy if you don’t know if it’s working?
A nonprofit organization likely has the means of knowing the total number of donations received and roughly how this number has fluctuated before and after an engagement campaign, but can they determine exactly how many donors interacted with their messages and how?
An engagement automation platform has the ability to not only send communication campaigns to donors, but it also provides robust reporting on how successful these campaigns were – for example, how many messages were opened, their click-through rates, how many links were clicked, etc. This allows organizations to see where they might be able to optimize future campaigns and improve on their current donor engagement strategy to incorporate new ideas or remove any that weren’t as successful.
Need Help Optimizing Your Donor Engagement Strategy?
Regularly engaging donors over multiple communication channels allows nonprofits to build and maintain relationships with them, as well as keep their respective organization top of mind whenever it comes time for these donors to consider where to make a contribution.
SimplyCast has a solution to help nonprofit organizations optimize their donor engagement strategies – a fully customizable and scalable contact engagement solution. This solution was built entirely in-house and includes a state-of-the-art digital form builder, CRM, email marketing software, and multi-channel engagement automation software. If you are looking for an effective contact engagement solution, SimplyCast is the ideal solution for you.
Our Sales team is ready to help you find a solution to any communication issues your organization may be facing. Click the button below to request a one-on-one demo of the contact engagement use case and see how it can benefit your nonprofit organization!