Online fundraising has become one of the most prominent trends in the nonprofit world. As Millennial and Gen Z donors make up a larger percentage of donors, nonprofits have found that they need to adjust their fundraising strategies to be more accommodating to this new audience.
This accommodation means that nonprofit professionals need to invest in more donor software to strengthen their organizations’ digital presence.
For the most part, nonprofits have effectively reached young donors in terms of fundraising opportunities. However, they tend to struggle to retain these important donors. Just giving someone the tools they need isn’t enough. Nonprofits must use fundraising tools to the best of their ability.
This guide includes five of the top strategies to maximize the use of software in order to create a strong digital donor retention plan for your nonprofit. To create this strong plan, your nonprofit should:
Let’s dive in to see how you can use your nonprofit software to develop an effective digital donor retention plan!
1. Streamline fundraising with an effective donor database
Everywhere you look, you’ll find advice about how to make your outreach to donors more effective. Almost all of this advice comes back to the same idea: targeting messages to a well-defined audience.
To target your audience effectively, you need access to information about what makes some people better prospects than others and what methods of persuasion are most likely to move those donors.
You might look for information such as:
Past donations. If you’re looking for major donors, access to a donor’s past donation amounts can provide an indication as to whether or not they’ll be a viable prospect.
Demographic markers. Demographic markers help you tailor your messaging to best appeal to the recipient. You might invite parents to a family event or reach out to donors in a particular geographic region.
Engagement factors. If your donor is also a volunteer with your organization or attends all of your events, they’re showing high engagement levels, which can lead to future donations. Having this information allows you to continuously steward these donors over time.
Collecting this information only once for your current fundraising campaign isn’t enough. Picture this: you conduct research about donors, find the perfect method and message of outreach, and see a large ROI for your fundraising marketing. However, when the next fundraising campaign rolls around, you have to dig through files and messages to figure out what you did before that was so effective.
To avoid wasting time conducting the same research over and over again for each fundraising campaign, nonprofits need access to donor database software to get a holistic view of collected research and outreach attempts. This software provides a 360-degree view of your fundraising efforts and your donor information, streamlining your fundraising outreach for more effective and time-efficient processes.
2. Automate marketing for your fundraising opportunities
Just as your donor database software helps to organize your research for more streamlined and manageable information, many solutions will also boost the effectiveness of your marketing outreach.
Automating your marketing makes it possible to effectively reach out to donors more frequently, making a larger impact on their day-to-day life and increasing your overall donor retention rate.
With automated marketing tools as a part of your fundraising strategy, your nonprofit can:
Create email and direct mail templates to send to lists of donors quickly and easily.
Schedule social media posts to go live at the same time as announcement emails.
Build lead captures for future fundraising and engagement outreach.
Trigger email series to lead supporters to the donation page after an initial action on the part of the supporter.
While marketing automation doesn’t do the work for your organization, it can save time and energy that would’ve been spent on outreach for things more closely related to your nonprofit’s mission.
Plus, communicating with donors more frequently keeps you in the forefront of their minds, helping to boost retention rates. Marketing automation makes it possible to conduct effective outreach more frequently while saving time for your nonprofit’s other functions.
3. Create an omnichannel online fundraising network
The automation of marketing helps support your multichannel outreach. You can automate your emails, social media posts, and direct mail outreach. Many nonprofit professionals view each of these channels as completely separate from one another and develop a multichannel outreach strategy.
A multichannel marketing strategy is a great start to boost your online fundraising. However, the best way for a nonprofit to use their various digital platforms is to create an omnichannel outreach strategy.
Working with multiple digital platforms broadens your potential audience so that more people will see your messaging. That’s the backbone of a multichannel strategy. An omnichannel strategy takes this a step further by trying to keep people engaged with your online presence.
Consider a mid-level donor who sees an announcement on social media from your organization about an upcoming event. This could play out a couple different ways:
With a multichannel strategy: The donor might see the event and sign up on social media. Then, they see a friend’s post and get caught up in the rest of their social network. In this situation, they sign up but don’t think about your organization for the rest of the day.
With an omnichannel strategy: The donor sees the event opportunity on social media and signs up. They see that you’ve linked to an information page on your website, so they click through, and find your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for the event. They participate as a fundraiser for your organization and share their fundraising page on social media for their friends to sign up.
While both of these situations have a positive outcome, the omnichannel strategy pulls the donor in to continuously engage and get more and more involved. This higher engagement level creates donors who are more invested in your organization and are likely to donate again and again.
To create your omnichannel strategy, connect your emails, online donation tools, social media, website, and other platforms together using links and embedded forms.
4. Supplement fundraising efforts with advocacy campaigns
The key to improved donor retention is encouraging continuous engagement. However, it’s important to remember that this engagement can (and should) come in the form of more than just donations from your supporters.
Put yourself in your donors’ shoes. It can be exhausting to be asked for money over and over again from a nonprofit organization, especially with frequent marketing.
Therefore, diversify your asks to include requesting their involvement with other aspects of your organization. One of the top methods of diversifying your fundraising asks is to supplement them with advocacy requests.
Ask your donors to get involved by advocating for your organization. You can do this by:
Setting up targeted actions to send messages directly to decision makers.
Creating online petitions for supporters to sign and share online.
Starting social advocacy campaigns to tweet representatives about your nonprofit.
Setting up click-to-call advocacy that connects supporters to legislators.
When you use advocacy software to add some variety to your asks for supporters, you make sure people don’t get bored with the types of messages they receive from your organization. It keeps donors on their toes!
This idea works both ways. You can turn your donors into advocates and turn your advocates into donors. This way, you’re strengthening both your fundraising and advocacy strategies at the same time.
5. Create accurate data reports for your nonprofit
Year after year, you want your nonprofit to have more effective fundraising efforts so that you can work more effectively towards your mission. To help your nonprofit become increasingly effective, you need accurate records and reports from previous time frames.
These reports should measure the success of all of your fundraising campaigns and take into account how closely you were able to stick to your nonprofit’s budget.
For instance, if you find that 48 percent of your donors gave online this year compared to 36 percent last year, you’ll know that your online marketing is working effectively and should be continued. If you see a drop in advocacy campaign participation, your nonprofit should put more effort into your advocacy campaign marketing this year.
Keep a particularly close eye on your donor retention rates to track how well you’re keeping people engaged with your nonprofit.
Plus, accurate records help keep your nonprofit accountable to your donors by providing an overview from the last year. Maintaining this accountability with donors ensures that they keep your organization in high regard into the future. Your annual report should remind donors about:
Your organization’s mission.
The projects you completed throughout the year.
A financial statement.
An account of major contributions.
Use your software solutions to create custom reports for your nonprofit to pull all of this data together. Customization of your data will ensure that you see the correlations and impacts that your organization is aiming to maintain or improve.
Nonprofit software has an incredible impact on everything you do. When you use it to focus on donor retention, you’ll see improved fundraising efforts and more efficient nonprofit processes.
Gerard Tonti is the senior creative developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization, and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.