Donor Outreach

Reaching out to your donors is crucial for every nonprofit. Whether your nonprofit receives corporate, foundation, or individual contributions, staying connected to current and future contributors is an essential component of your nonprofit fundraising strategy. Yes, every nonprofit should outline a strategy to help the team achieve its goals and secure the necessary finances to achieve their mission. Having a sound foundation for your donor outreach strategy will prepare your nonprofit to meet its fundraising goals and cultivate stronger donor relationships moving into the future. It can also create effective ways for you to not only communicate with them, but also to listen to what they are telling you about your nonprofit.

Invest in a CRM

CRMs help your nonprofit and the team have a better understanding of who your donors are, along with how and when they contribute. Learning more about your donors will help you develop a fundraising strategy tailored to the donor base, rather than setting unrealistic goals. Investing in a CRM that allows you to create donor segments, identify and meet your current donor needs, increase gifts as you make new connections, and allows you to plan donor outreach and track effectiveness of your fundraising strategy. There are many CRMs on the market for nonprofits of all sizes, so take care to find the one that is a good fit for your organization. At minimum, a great CRM allows you to create donor profiles, customize the components to meet your nonprofit needs, integrates well with other systems within your organization, and has analytical tools to create reports about the data collected. These systems should also be easy to use by the team. Having a great CRM will not bring the donations in alone. After you’ve made the investment in the system, also invest in training the team and cultivating a culture where use of the donor database is a normal part of the organization’s operations. This will ensure that donor records are current and the strategy is implemented as intended.

Identify your Outreach Channels

Once you have an effective CRM in place, you can begin to examine the outreach channels that work best for your donors. Some donors respond well to emails or social media, while others may prefer phone calls or traditional mail. Your CRM can provide data regarding how well these different outreach efforts have impacted the donor’s contributions. Understanding your outreach channels will also allow you to determine how donors respond to the different fundraising activities through the different channels. For example, if you have an email campaign you can track open rates and donations from those efforts – which provides insight on how well the donors respond to that method, effectiveness of the fundraising messaging, and future email campaign efforts. Having multiple channels (e.g., email, social media, traditional mail) helps you to maximize your fundraising efforts. Using them individually or together will ensure the full engagement of your donor base. Creating goals to observe performance of these channels will strengthen your fundraising strategy and help you understand which channels work better for the different segments of donors your nonprofit has.

Create Opportunities to Engage

Creating opportunities for current and potential donors to give is critical because this provides multiple ways for them to engage with your nonprofit. This can be done through email, virtual and in-person events, or other activities where you can share the organization’s mission and accomplishments with the donors. Where possible, let donors know ahead of time about upcoming fundraising activities for the year. This will allow donors to plan contributions for the year. They may even get involved in other fundraising activities they haven’t historically engaged in. Not all donor engagement should be intended to solicit donations. Let your donors know about non-giving activities they can be involved in with the organization. These engagement opportunities allow the donor to learn more about the nonprofit, their impact, and how their contributions further the mission of the organization. Also, engaging donors in this way shows that you value the donor beyond their financial contribution.

Re-engage lapsed supporters

Lapsed supporters are those individuals or organizations that previously contributed, however, they no longer make donations. There are a variety of reasons donors start then later stop giving donations. Re-engaging these donors can also be an important part of the strategy. Start by defining “lapsed” donors for your nonprofit. The clearer you are on this definition will help shape your strategy for outreach and determine the workload for the team to engage these donors. Once you know who your lapsed donors are, you can begin engagement reflective of bringing them back into your donor base. For instance, you may send personalized emails that draw them back to the mission of the organization or let them know how much your organization valued their past contributions. If your nonprofit is having a special event, sending “special” emails to them may also help to reintroduce them to your organization. Through this re-engagement process you will learn more about the strategies that were effective in converting these donors to active donors.

Cultivate volunteers

Many nonprofits have hundreds, even thousands, of volunteers that help them achieve their mission or execute programs or services. The contributions volunteers make to nonprofits is priceless. Yet, you should also note that nonprofit volunteers are highly likely to convert into donors in the future. Therefore, having an outreach strategy for volunteers can also support the overall fundraising strategy. Cultivate a volunteer relationship that will help to convert them to donors by offering alternative ways for them to give. This might look like asking volunteers to help with peer-to-peer fundraising or asking them to share your fundraising campaign messages in their networks. You can also send thank-you notes to volunteers after they have donated their time or actively participated in your fundraising efforts. Send special messages to your volunteers when they have or are ready to make a gift. For instance, you might send personalized messages that reflect their history with your organization, how their volunteer time has impacted the organizations, and availability matching gift opportunities. Connecting regularly with your donors is a foundational component of effective nonprofit fundraising strategy. As your nonprofit learns more about your donors, through engagement, you can maximize opportunities to strengthen donor relationships, increase donor contributions, re-engage lapsed donors, and convert volunteers to active contributors. Continuing to refine your nonprofit donor outreach activities will also help to strengthen the financial sustainability of the nonprofit.

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