The shift to online engagement over the past year and a half has made nonprofits more reliant on technology than ever before. Virtual fundraising comes with its challenges, particularly when it comes to generating and maintaining donor engagement. There are various helpful tools to catalyze an uptick in donor engagement for your future campaigns, and we’ll unpack a few of our favorite strategies in this article.
As a fundraising professional, your ultimate goal is to create a straightforward donor journey and increase donor conversions to boost funding for your mission. But, the relationship between donors and your nonprofit isn’t just a transaction.
Increasing donor engagement can help your supporters feel connected to your mission and team as a whole for years to come. Hitting your fundraising goals and fostering donor engagement are directly related, as the relationships with your supporters are fundamental to your success.
So, whether you’re implementing text-to-give for your donors to be able to support your campaign on-the-go or hosting an online auction, there are a plethora of ways to increase your donor engagement with technology. Here are our favorites:
- Hosting virtual and hybrid fundraising events
- Gamifying fundraising progress
- Implement a multi-channel marketing campaign
Let’s jump right in and discuss the importance of hosting online events.
Hosting virtual and hybrid fundraising events
Leveraging the power of new technology to host virtual and hybrid fundraising events for your supporters is key to keeping your organization involved as we transition out of the pandemic. According to Snowball’s virtual fundraising guide, fundraising efforts relied heavily on robust software for engaging donors online even before 2020. Therefore, the tools and resources your team needs are already available to you.
Online fundraising events can also benefit your engagement strategy in a variety of ways. For example, you’re now able to host attendees from all over the world, as people can tune in from their homes. Therefore, with virtual events on your nonprofit’s calendar, your donors can feel involved even from afar.
When choosing the best way to go about planning your virtual or hybrid event, take into consideration the following tasks:
- Pick an engaging idea. Be sure to pivot an event to the virtual sphere that will truly engage your supporters. Some ideas will translate more easily than others to hybrid or virtual participation.
- Required software. To properly engage your donors online, you’ll need minimal, but efficient, software. You’ll need a tool that provides registration forms, live-streaming, and ticketing adaptable to your nonprofit’s unique needs.
- Develop an enticing schedule. Your online event is intended to raise money, but it’s not all about the finances. You want to actually engage and keep the attention of your attendees. Provide a mix of activities and engagement opportunities to keep everyone involved. Adding fun to your event keeps your organization personable and memorable.
No matter which idea you choose to entice your donors to engage with your cause, you must follow up to thank donors. You’ll have contact information available from their registration forms, and you also include a survey to show you value their opinions.
Gamifying fundraising progress
Gamification is a popular way to drive remote engagement. Such tools work to engage and attract new donors and connect with the existing group of supporters. Gamifying fundraising paints a picture of your nonprofit in a fresh, exciting light and builds a positive reputation to bring in more support.
Here are some of the ways you can gamify your fundraising efforts to attract new donors and engage current ones.
Fundraising thermometers are excellent tools for engaging donors in online campaigns. They provide a visual gauge of a campaign’s success, which in turn motivates donors to give. This tool pairs especially well with peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding-style campaigns.
Organizations use this tool because progress towards donation totals in the thousands can be hard to picture. In contrast, fundraising thermometers make it clear how much has been raised and how much more is needed to hit your campaign goal. To get started, check out Snowball’s fundraising thermometer template.
Putting leaderboards to use encourages some healthy competition when fundraising. Your leaderboard will display your top performers during, for example, a peer-to-peer fundraiser.
Be sure to upload and update your leaderboard frequently. Put it on your nonprofit’s website and announce any updates via social media. Your donors will love public recognition, and the leaderboard will serve as an incentive to keep your participants highly engaged.
When your team gamifies your fundraising efforts, your donors will stay engaged, excited, and participate in some healthy competition. Start by thinking how you can incorporate them into your existing campaigns and events.
Implement a multi-channel marketing campaign
All use of technology starts with meeting your donors where they are. Nowadays this means delivering campaign updates, recognizing donors, and announcing your events on multiple platforms. To effectively communicate with your supporters, create multiple touchpoints to encourage interaction no matter whether the donor prefers social media, email, direct mail, texting, or in-person.
When your donors see your calls-to-action across multiple platforms, they’re more likely to act on them. It’s important that you provide them with as many opportunities as possible so that they can do so at the time, and on the platform, that works for them.
Let’s jump into a few of the best platforms you should consider for your multichannel communications strategy.
- Social media. Social media opens the door to multiple platforms and types of audiences for nonprofits. To do this well, you’ll need to take the time to optimize native content for each platform. Be sure to include a donation link in your profile and in the text of your posts to encourage interaction.
- Your organization’s site. Your site is the hub for all of your nonprofit’s information. Moreover, it’s where you’ll direct most donors to make online donations. Encourage further engagement by gamifying your campaign on your site, enabling comment forums, and providing ways for your supporters to spread the word.
- Email. Email is an excellent way to communicate with your donors directly. You can do this by sending e-cards, newsletters, invitations, and general updates. You’ll want to address the recipient by name and include some personal details based on their past interactions with your cause.
When your organization expands its online presence across multiple platforms, you can reach a wider audience on a daily basis. Look into your donor data and consider which platforms make the most sense to focus on for your mission and audience.
Your nonprofit organization will effectively increase donor engagement when you leverage technology to help your fundraising efforts. Start by looking at campaigns that have worked well for you and then seek out technology that addresses top strategies, such as gamification and multichannel communications. Happy fundraising!