When it comes to nonprofit advocacy, your organization is in it for the long haul. You may not expect to see results from your advocacy campaign right away. But with persistence, passion, and patience, you can make a huge difference.
What other aspect of your nonprofit strategy is all about the long haul? Securing donations from your advocates. It’s quite similar to asking for money from your organization’s volunteers. While they are engaged and contributing toward your nonprofit's success, they’re contributing time rather than a monetary amount. In an ideal world, your supporters will donate both.
This post outlines 5 steps for deepening engagement with supporters by turning advocates into donors.
No matter which type of nonprofit advocacy campaign you choose, you’re able to collect valuable information about your supporters that can help you to reach out to them in the future.
For instance, Salsa’s nonprofit advocacy campaign examples show how to collect phone numbers from click-to-call advocacy campaigns, emails from petitions, social media handles from social advocacy campaigns, and more. Use this contact information to reengage advocates through:
- Drip Email Campaigns
- Donor Segmentation
- Impact Demonstration
- Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Campaigns
- Social Media Outreach
The more activities supporters get involved in, the more those individuals contribute to your mission. Plus, you'll build your nonprofit's resources in the long-term—the more engaged donors are, the more likely you'll be able to retain them.
Read on to learn how!
Email drip campaigns are automated emails that are sent over a specified timeline or in response to specific actions taken by your supporter.
When you send these emails, don’t send the same “donate now” message over and over again. Supporters will begin thinking that you don’t appreciate their non-financial support. Instead, thank them for their involvement in your campaign, provide more information about your organization’s mission, and gently guide them towards donating.
Drip emails respond to the targeted actions of your advocacy campaign. You might consider an email drip stream that looks something like this:
- Thank-you email showing your appreciation for their support of your campaign
- Welcome letter for new supporters
- A reiteration of your mission with an attachment containing additional information
- The latest newsletter getting them up-to-date on the organization's activities
- Your event calendar with links to ticket information
- Donation requests including a campaign and the potential impact of their gift (see a template here)
As you can see, there is a ton of information you can send out to your supporters without constantly asking for donations. Be sure that it’s possible for supporters to donate no matter what email they receive. However, donations shouldn’t be the primary purpose of every email sent.
According to this guide, how often nonprofits should send emails depends on the context and the quality of the content. Be sure that any and all of your emails contain high-quality content. If you don’t have any high-quality content to send, you should take a step back and craft some new potential emails.
For new supporters, you want to make sure you send emails frequently enough that they don’t forget about your organization. However, you don’t want to overwhelm them with information either.
Donor segmentation occurs in a nonprofit CRM. Create groups and segments of donors according to similarities in their demographics, engagement history, and other factors.
Outreach to different audiences calls for a varying approach to an ongoing conversation. For example, you wouldn’t send a “welcome” email packet to an advocate who has participated in various campaigns in the past.
To separate supporters and ensure you’re reaching the right audience, your nonprofit should create donor segments. These segments may include:
- Advocates who attended a particular event
- Those who signed your latest petition
- New advocates who have never before engaged with your nonprofit
- Advocates who reside in particular areas
- Advocates who participated in specific campaigns
The easiest way to keep track of all of this information in your CRM and make sure donor databases and donation pages work cohesively is to choose a donor database solution that offers advocacy tools, fundraising platforms, and event registration. By investing in this type of cohesive system, you can automate data entry and organization in order to quickly and easily update your donor segments.
3. Impact Demonstration
Demonstrating the impact of your organization and the specific impact of donations shows supporters the difference they can make.
Advocates for your organization are passionate about your cause. That’s why they participated in your campaign. They truly care about your mission! However, in order to take their passion to the next level (a donation), you need to make sure they understand how your fundraising campaigns align with their true interest: the organization’s mission.
Consider the following situation:
Your nonprofit is working to save the bees. When legislation went to Congress that would destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of bees, you started an online petition to prevent this legislation from passing. Now that the advocacy campaign is over, you want to convince your new advocates to give to the nonprofit as well. Specifically, you’re trying to raise money to help local farmers afford alternatives to harmful pesticides for their crops.
For new supporters, it’s harder to make the connection between pesticide alternatives and a thriving bee colony. Therefore, you need to make the connection for them.
The best way to align interests for a particular nonprofit activity is to show them how their actions directly impact the larger mission.
For instance, regarding the above situation, you might tell your advocates:
Thank you for signing our Save the Bees petition. Your support will help us stop the construction bill in its tracks.
If you’re looking to help more, consider contributing to help support local farmers invest in alternatives to bee-killing pesticides. Pesticides kill millions of bees every year and alternatives to these harmful chemicals will provide a safer environment that allows bees to continue pollinating.
Without bees, we don’t have plants. Without crops, we don’t have food. Help save the bees today!
As you can see, your nonprofit can create a more compelling campaign when you align interests, make connections, and show impact. This guide to fundraising strategy from re:charity provides more insight as to how to fit these strategies into your plans.
Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns rely on many small donations from a large audience to raise money.
It’s rare that your nonprofit receives a major donation (or even a mid-sized donation) from a “kindly stranger” with whom you’ve never had a discussion. Generally, donations grow when existing supporters give consistently over a period of time.
Therefore, your nonprofit shouldn’t expect your advocates to immediately contribute incredibly large gifts right off the bat. Instead, you should ease them into donating with small-scale campaigns.
Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are both small-scale campaigns that can drive your advocates to give. There are several benefits of these campaigns that make them especially effective:
- They don’t ask for large contributions. The idea behind crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns is that you can reach a larger audience who give smaller amounts. However, with a wide enough audience, these small contributions add up to a substantial funding source.
- They take social proof into account. Social proof is the influence that your friends and family have on your decision to contribute to a campaign. For instance, if you see that a friend has shared a crowdfunding campaign or become a fundraiser for a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you may feel more compelled to give. In this case, if fellow advocates see one another giving, it may convince them to also give.
- They provide additional opportunities for engagement. Even if an individual decides not to give to your campaign, they can still get involved! This furthers their engagement, although it may not land the donation right away. For instance, an advocate may choose to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit in a peer-to-peer fundraiser rather than contributing. Or, they may share your crowdfunding page on social media.
If you’re hosting any type of campaign, make sure that you use the best nonprofit fundraising software for your organization.
Social media is no longer optional for the success of nonprofit organizations; it’s necessary to reach younger, more tech-savvy audiences. Many of your advocates will fall into this category.
Your nonprofit will need to communicate multiple times with advocates before they’ll decide to contribute financially to the organization. However, you should make sure to vary these communications and approach your advocates across platforms.
Social media has multiple channels for outreach and communication. For instance, your nonprofit may decide to:
- Post regular updates. Try to post to your social media platforms at least once per week to make sure those profiles reflect your latest activities.
- Direct message advocates. If you want to give personal attention to your advocates, you might consider sending them direct messages to inform them of the organization's activities.
- Invite supporters to "like" your page. Create a page for your nonprofit and invite supporters to "like" that page. This increases the likelihood that your organization will show up in their feed.
- Create a social media group of supporters. With a supporter group on social media platforms, you can encourage your supporters to stay up to date with the activities of the entire supporter community.
Social media provides a unique opportunity for your organization to reach out to the entire group as well as personally. Use this to your advantage as you vary the platforms on which you’re reaching supporters.
As you implement these strategies, be sure to guide supporters gently toward donating. Provide messages of appreciation and educational content in addition to your donation requests. This helps vary both content and platform to further drive engagement.
Guiding your advocates toward donating helps strengthen the engagement those supporters have with your organization. Plus, it increases the value those individuals bring to your mission and helps your nonprofit reach its goals. With these 5 strategies, you’ll be ready to engage a whole new audience.