Congratulations! You’ve managed to convince your donors to contribute to your fundraiser. The hard part is over right? Not necessarily. The truth is that while convincing someone to donate is a great thing, the real goal is to cultivate an engaged donor that will continue to contribute and stick with you for the long haul.
The Keys to Donor Engagement: Plan, Evaluate, Succeed
The good news is that coming up with an effective donor engagement strategy doesn’t have to be rocket science. But it does take careful analysis so you can come up with a plan that’s most effective for your donors and for your nonprofit. You can then implement your plan. Then evaluate how it performs.
Keep in mind that one of the keys to success is failure! You may not knock it out of the park on the first try. But by consistently reevaluating your donor engagement strategy, you can tweak and fine-tune it into a well-oiled machine that will continue to perform for you and your brand.
Your donors are different people with different values, beliefs, and personalities. That means that some engagement strategies may work on some of your donors, and you may need to take a different approach to wrangle the rest of them. But don’t worry. By evaluating the changing needs and habits of your donors, you can make adjustments to keep as many of them engaged as possible.
Measuring Donor Engagement
Evaluating your donor engagement may not be as complicated as you might think. The key is to identify and then measure the key performance indicators, or KPIs, of your donors. KPIs are basically signals you can use to figure out how actively engaged your donors are, which will allow you to craft a strategy that focuses on giving those signals a boost.
To figure out your donor engagement KPIs, think about how you and your nonprofit interact with your donors.
You very likely send out mass mailings, post on social media, send out surveys, and host events. Those are some simple metrics you can evaluate. For instance, you can use your email open rates, the analytics behind your social media engagement, or the number of people who filled out your survey to analyze their performance.
But you may also have some KPIs that are more specific to your donors and your nonprofit. If you accept donations through your website, the number of visitors to your site can be a KPI. Additionally, if you run “pledge” campaigns where you ask donors how much they’ll pledge to contribute to your nonprofit, your pledge fulfillment percentage can be a valuable KPI.
To really narrow down your nonprofit’s KPIs, make a list of all of the ways you engage with your donors. It can include surveys, mass emailing, mailing campaigns, video conferences, social media, or any other way you interact with them. Then, take some time to pore through the data and analytics to identify which ones are doing well and which ones aren’t really performing as well as they could be.
Crafting an Effective Donor Engagement Strategy
Going through all of the data and metrics can make coming up with an engagement plan feel a little robotic or clinical. But the goal is to cultivate a genuine relationship with your donors so they actively want to participate and continue to donate. Relationships are built on trust and authenticity.
It can feel tempting to try to find a simple, easy way to get your donors engaged with your nonprofit. Jumping on the latest social media challenge or TikTok dance craze may seem like something that will immediately boost engagement—and sometimes it may actually be a great idea to hop on a popular bandwagon. But it needs to feel organic and authentic.
Every nonprofit is different, so you need to find what drives and interests your donors. Using your KPIs is a great starting point. But how can you use the data to make changes and improvements? The answer lies in your donor’s behavior and it may take some trial and error to figure it out. But that’s okay! Keeping your donors engaged is a constantly evolving process.
Think about your nonprofit’s mission and what kind of donors you attract. What are they interested in? What are their age ranges? What do they care about? Try answering some of these basic questions and then look at your KPI data. Do emails seem to be effective? Do they like surveys? Do they interact with the content you’re putting out on social media?
Keep in mind that just because something like your email campaigns or social media posts isn’t doing super well, it doesn’t mean you should abandon the practice altogether. You just need to make adjustments to get their attention more effectively.
For instance, let’s say you’re a nonprofit that raises funds for medical supplies in developing nations. On social media, you post infographics about where the funds go and how many lives they save, which is great. But you’ve noticed the engagement just isn’t there. You could try posting some of the funny “Doctor Mike” YouTube videos where a doctor watches medical dramas and reacts to the way they portray hospitals. Don’t stop posting your infographics, but try mixing in some lighter content to boost your engagement.
Figuring out what interests your donors and cross-referencing that with what your KPI data says can help you come up with a donor persona. Knowing who your donors are and what they like can inform your engagement plan.
Implementing Your Engagement Plan
Now that you’ve spent some time analyzing how your donors engage and brainstorming ways you can increase their engagement, it’s time to put your ideas into action. You don’t need to scrap everything you’re doing and start from scratch. Instead, you can start mixing in some of your new ideas into your existing framework.
For example, you can try boosting your social media engagement by getting donors excited to post about their donations. The trick is to make it easy for them.
Once a donor contributes, they can easily click on the button to share the news on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They’ll be happy to spread the word about their contribution, you’ll boost engagement, and other people will see it, which could even lead to more donors!
This is just one example, and you want to try out engagement strategies that seem like they’ll be the most effective for your nonprofit. If you don’t need to change the way your social media is running, no worries. There are tons of things you can try.
Take the ideas and strategies you’ve come up with and put them into action! Once they’re up and running, let them do their thing until you have a sizable chunk of data and analytics you can use to analyze how they’re performing. Just like the scientific method says: experiment and observe!
Evaluating and Adjusting Your Engagement Plan
Arguably the most crucial part of your donor engagement plan is the analysis. It makes sense— you’re trying something new and you want to see how it does. Take a look at your metrics and analytics and compare how your new strategies stack up against some of your other ones.
If they’re performing even better, that’s great! You may even want to consider phasing out some of your older, underperforming strategies, keep the ones that seem to be working, and work on implementing some newer ideas. That’s the constant evolution of engagement!
For instance, if you tried adding new content to your newsletter, such as a personal testimonial from someone who your nonprofit has helped, and your analytics show a boost in open and read rates, keep that content! If the testimonial is performing better than say a section dedicated to recent developments in the industry, you may want to reduce that section and add more testimonials to see if it increases engagement even more.
On the other hand, if a new engagement strategy just really isn’t working, it’s totally okay. You made it, you can change it. Try replacing it with something else and see how that does. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t perform well. It’s all part of the process of cultivating a genuine relationship with your donors.
For example, if you tried adding a “Pledge to Donate” button to your email campaign, but your donors just don’t seem to be responding to it. You can try something else. You could swap it out for a “Share” button that allows your donors to share a link from your email to social media. You could even replace it with a simple “Donate Now!” button.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to donor engagement. Even if you do manage to find a perfect fit, chances are your donor’s motivations, interests, and personalities will change over time. This is especially true for online fundraising campaigns, where users are dealing with constant changes in technology and trends.
That’s why it’s especially important to be constantly evolving. Use the tools you have at your disposal when it comes to collecting data and analytics. Find out what’s working and what isn’t and swap out the things that aren’t with new ideas. Keep evaluating and making adjustments to find the things that work and you’ll be able to keep your donors engaged and coming back for more.