Innovating to New Donors
For many nonprofits, 2020 and 2021 were exceptional years in fundraising. However, current economic conditions represent an existential threat for nonprofit organizations.
That’s not hyperbole. There are no guarantees in what the short-term future looks like. If a global economic slowdown begins for several years, nonprofit organizations will face funding challenges like never before. Short-term governmental economic interventions will end, and economies will contract. Unfortunately, this will lead to many organizations closing their doors.
The key to your fundraising success is innovating...
During this time, giving will change. The key to your fundraising success is innovating ways to find new donors, keeping the ones you have, and re-engaging donors who have stopped giving. Innovation will be a foundation that the next set of thriving nonprofits will build on. Let’s discuss a few ways you can innovate your donor communications.
Create Personal Connections
One challenging generational-driven change is donors are increasingly becoming less loyal to organizations and more interested in causes. The silent generation and baby boomers have loyalty to specific organizations, while millennials and generation Z are more cause-oriented. For example, a younger donor may care about clean water and care less about a particular organization, giving to multiple clean water organizations throughout the year.
Your organization can reach donors in all generations by creating personal touchpoints in your donor’s journey. These “wow” moments help a donor feel connected to your organization.
After I donated to a college student support ministry, I received a phone call from the Executive Director thanking me for the gift. One of the students in the ministry sent me a handwritten thank-you card. These two “wow” moments turned me into a lifelong donor.
How do you create a “wow” moment at scale?
How do you create a “wow” moment at scale? There are two technologies you can explore that can help you demonstrate gratitude to your donors.
First, robot pen technology allows you to send handwritten notes at scale, something we’re testing at CRISTA Ministries. You could also send monthly donors a thank you note at different points in their journey, helping reduce attrition. When you create a timely thank-you that explains the impact the donor made and the donor feel genuinely appreciated, you’ve created something relevant and meaningful to the donor.
A few years ago, I signed up for an email marketing service, and a couple of days after signing up, I received a personal video message from the company’s president. He started out calling me by name and welcoming me as a new customer. He talked a bit about why they do what they do and offered to help me if I had any problems. Personalized videos are an excellent tool to welcome new donors and as a channel for major donor.
Increase Multi-Channel Giving
According to the State of Multi-Channel Donor Communications report from NextAfter and Virtuous, the average revenue from multi-channel donors was $494 per year compared to $159, $301, and $148 for offline-only, offline with a valid email address on file, and online-only donors respectively. The report also shows that multi-channel donors are loyal donors. Donor renewal jumps from 43% for offline donors and 36% for online donors to 67% for multi-channel donors. When you have donors giving in more than one channel, you create more loyal donors who give more over time.
To increase all-important multi-channel giving, nonprofit organizations can adopt several simple strategies.
1. Call donors to welcome them
It’s vital for any nonprofit to develop effective, long-lasting relationships with donors. A welcome call is an effective way to demonstrate gratitude to a new donor and start building a relationship. It improves donor retention and reduces donor remorse. If your nonprofit organization doesn’t have a dedicated donor care team, you can perform welcome calls using team members across departments, volunteers, or the board of directors.
2. Send a welcome series
After your organization gains a new donor, it’s vital to welcome the donor well. Sending an email welcome series to a new donor will increase the likelihood they will give again. It can also encourage donors in mail or radio to give digitally.
3. Use text messaging to engage a donor
While the average email open rate is 33%, SMS messaging has an open rate of 99%, with 97% of messages opened within the first 15 minutes. Email click-thru rates average 6%, while 36% of people click-thru on an SMS message. Text messaging is an excellent channel to engage existing donors and re-engage lapsed donors.
Economic challenges will open new opportunities for nonprofit leaders willing to think innovatively and develop or expand new giving programs. These innovations will help your organization build relationships with donors, demonstrate impact, and build a healthy foundation for growth.
Jeremy Reis has over a decade of nonprofit marketing and fundraising experience, including leading fundraising and marketing for CRISTA Ministries. He has led marketing, digital, creative, direct mail and digital fundraising teams. He is the author of several books including Magnetic Nonprofit (Write That, 2019) and The Post-Pandemic Nonprofit (Write That, 2021). Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn.