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Donor retention: How to engage current supporters through e-mail and social media

According to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Benchmark study, nonprofits see donor retention as a primary goal, rather than gaining new donors. Communication goals for these organizations have shifted away from general brand awareness (down to 51%) and acquiring new donors (down to 50%), and are instead focusing on engaging the community (57%) and retaining current donors (53%).

While it is important for nonprofits to continue to attract new donors to their organization, they should also consider the benefits of focusing on customer retention, such as:

  • Reduced marketing expenditures – It typically costs around 5x as much to seek out new customers as it does to continue business with existing ones.
  • Opportunities to up- and cross-sell – In the case of donors, you can encourage them to upgrade their spending, make additional donations, volunteer and more.
  • Feedback and word-of-mouth – As donors continue to have satisfying interactions with your organization, they are more willing to give positive feedback and pass your name on to their network.

The top engagement tools for 2015

What are the best channels for engaging your community and current donors? In a 2014 survey of over 1,500 nonprofit staff members, the three most important communication channels were websites, e-mail marketing and social media. Let’s talk about utilizing e-mail and social media as donor retention tools.

E-mail marketing

Did you know 91% of all consumers check their e-mail daily? Sending creative, strategic e-mails often has a high return on investment for organizations and is an opportunity to meet fundraising goals, establish your brand and educate your supporters. Sending e-mail campaigns to your current donors is a great way to improve retention and establish meaningful engagement.

Consider sending these three types of e-mails to your current supporters:

  1. Thank yous. Did your mom ever pester you to write thank you notes? A personal thank you goes a long way, so don’t forget to thank the people who have already been volunteering and donating to your organization to let them know you recognize their efforts.
  2. Testimonials. One of the most personal and touching ways you can let a supporter know their work is appreciated is by sending them a story of a first-hand experience.
  3. Opportunities to stay involved. If the donor has already supported your organization in some way, they are likely interested in doing more. E-mails are a great way to tactfully present more opportunities for them to stay involved.

And as you’ve heard me say before, make it responsive. The reason the majority of your donors are checking their email daily is that they’re doing it on their phones—they’re mobile. Make sure your email campaigns are designed for mobile in mind.

Social Media

The top 3 social media sites used by nonprofits in 2014-2015 were Facebook (96%), Twitter (76%) and Youtube (46%). Social media has become an important tool for all organizations, and these tools are great options for nonprofits looking to gain some attention and make connections with current donors. Social media is potentially one of your most powerful tools—2.1 billion people are using it worldwide.

Many of your current supporters are likely using social media, so consider using compelling content to continue to engage with them and encourage them to act:

  1. Use multimedia. People tend to interact and react more to videos or photos on social media. You can post multimedia content that allows your donors and volunteers to see visuals of the people they have helped by supporting your organization.
  2. Share your news. Give your followers statistics and facts on how your organization is making a difference, as well as news on accomplishments and upcoming events.
  3. Share links to future opportunities. When followers interact with your organization on social media, their friends and network will also see your name. Posting links to opportunities makes it easy for current supporters to pass along and share with their networks.

It’s important to keep responsive website design even when you’re entering social media campaigns and strategies. You want donors to feed through your website; if your social media content is directing them back to your site, whether it’s to make a donation or to get involved in an event, make sure that website is just as user-friendly as the social media they’re moving from to get there; most likely they’re accessing that via their phones as well.

Don’t miss out on utilizing these great tools in your nonprofit campaigns. Supporters who have already volunteered or donated to your organization want to know they are appreciated and recognized—e-mail and social media are resources to connect and engage those donors.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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