Donor outreach plays a crucial role in improving fundraising efforts at non-profits. It is the process of engaging with potential and existing donors to build relationships, communicate impact, and inspire financial support. As the communications and social media landscape changes, strategies have to be kept up to date and fresh.
Effective donor outreach strategies can significantly enhance fundraising outcomes by fostering donor loyalty, increasing donor retention rates, and attracting new donors. Using iConnectX’s free fundraiser software can make these efforts more organized and thus more effective and productive.
Here are some ways in which donor outreach can powerfully impact fundraising with some effective nonprofit fundraising tools.
Smart, engaging donor outreach allows non-profits to cultivate meaningful relationships with donors. By engaging in personalized and tailored communication, such as phone calls, emails, or face-to-face meetings, and timely personalized thank-you communications for their generosity an organization can deepen its connection with every level of donor. This relationship-building approach creates a sense of connection and trust, making donors more likely to contribute and support the organization over the long term.
Donor Stewardship and Storytelling:
Regular and targeted donor outreach helps to steward and recognize donors effectively. Non-profits can segment their donor base and tailor outreach efforts based on donor preferences and giving patterns. Recognizing donors’ contributions, acknowledging their impact, and providing exclusive updates and opportunities can make donors feel valued and appreciated, and most importantly—connected. This is best achieved through a storytelling strategy; the creation of compelling stories via written blogs, newsletters, photography and video about how contributions are creating positive change. This storytelling approach strengthens donor relationships and encourages continued support.
Development directors at non-profits should be working with other organizations, as well as prominent donors with some celebrity status to create events with VIP experiences that call attention to the organization’s mission, as well as bring some star power to fundraising. Organizations can and should cultivate relationships with known singers, actors, musicians, pro athletes, authors and even giants of business.
Now that we are used to electronic meetings and visits, as we experienced during the pandemic through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it is easier than ever to get celebrities to participate. When the time commitment is perhaps a half-hour without leaving their home instead of a two or three day travel commitment, celebrities have become more generous with their time and sharing their talent. From the standpoint of donors and prospective donors, virtual experiences carry much more value and currency than they did before the pandemic.
Again, the pandemic has gotten us used to having experiences on our computers. Inviting donors to an exclusively online gatherings with, for example, a famous author, hot business leader, or an athlete for a presentation and Q&A is a great way to engage donors with positive, special experiences and connections while not costing donors an excessive amount of time. During a virtual event, you can include the opportunity for real-time donations via iConnectX online donation software.
Using Social Media To Cultivate Peer-to-Peer Fundraising With Donors:
Donor outreach can extend beyond direct communication with the organization. Non-profits can leverage their existing donors to engage their networks through peer-to-peer fundraising. By providing tools, resources, and support, non-profits can empower donors to become advocates and fundraisers on their behalf. This approach expands the non-profit’s reach and taps into new donor pools.
Imagine that you combine a VIP digital experience with a donor birthday month. If you engage a prominent, celebrity author, newsmaker, current or retired sports star, for example, your A-list donors can in turn invite their friends to join online. This way you are able to capture more heavy-wallet prospective donors for engagement and fundraising. You can do the same thing with a live musical event performance, but make the performance available digitally on Youtube Live, thus making it viewable on a big-screen smart TV.
In summary, the power of donor outreach lies in its ability to build relationships, steward donors, communicate impact, empower peer-to-peer fundraising, gather feedback, and acquire new supporters. By implementing effective donor outreach strategies, non-profits can improve fundraising outcomes, strengthen donor loyalty, and create a sustainable foundation for their mission-driven work.
Event fundraising is crucial to nonprofits. And converting event donors into reliable monthly donors is an important goal for any nonprofit, as it helps sustain operations and provides a more predictable revenue stream.
Here are some smart strategies for conversion.
Follow up promptly
After an event, promptly reach out to event donors to express gratitude for their support. Send personalized thank-you notes or emails, highlighting the impact their contribution made. Use this opportunity to introduce the concept of monthly giving and explain its importance.
Clearly communicate the need and mission of your organization
Clearly articulate the ongoing need for support and how monthly donations can make a substantial difference. Provide specific examples of how recurring contributions enable long-term planning, program expansion, or the ability to serve more beneficiaries effectively.
Showcase impact and success stories
Share success stories and testimonials that illustrate the positive impact of monthly donors’ support. Use different mediums like videos, social media posts, newsletters, or your organization’s website to highlight real-life examples of how sustained giving has transformed lives.
Be warm and lively at event talk
At every event where someone has purchased a ticket, give a warm, polished thank you talk and bring up monthly giving and the importance of the mission of your nonprofit. Don’t go on too long though.
Offer convenient giving options
Make it easy for event donors to transition to monthly giving by providing multiple convenient options. Offer online fundraising platforms, such as a dedicated donation page or mobile app, where donors can set up recurring donations with a few clicks. Provide clear instructions and ensure the process is user-friendly.
Create a monthly giving program if you don’t have one
Develop a specific monthly giving program that showcases its benefits. Consider naming the program to give it identity and exclusivity, such as “ChangeMakers Club” or “Hope Partners.” Perhaps name it after a founder or prominent staffer or donor with long tenure, such as “Lucille’s Gang.” Provide program members with exclusive benefits like behind-the-scenes updates, invitations to special events, or early access to news and resources.
Set giving levels
Clearly define giving levels for monthly donors, allowing them to choose a level that suits their capacity. Present various options, such as bronze, silver, gold, or basic, standard, premium, to cater to different donor preferences. Clearly communicate the impact associated with each giving level.
Offer incentives and recognition
Incentivize monthly giving by offering small perks or rewards to donors who commit to recurring contributions. This could include branded merchandise, access to exclusive content, or recognition on your organization’s website or annual report. Publicly acknowledge and appreciate monthly donors to reinforce their commitment.
Leverage peer-to-peer fundraising
Encourage event donors to become advocates by setting up their own fundraising campaigns on behalf of your nonprofit. Such as for their birthday. Facebook is full of birthday-related GoFundMe campaigns. Make sure your organization has a site on GofundMe or another giving platform to facilitate this.
Keep donors engaged
Maintain regular communication with event donors-turned-monthly-donors to keep them engaged and connected to your mission. Send them updates on the impact of their donations, success stories, and organizational news. Use a newsletter platform to keep them update with a monthly newsletter update with links to blog items.
Remember, building strong relationships and trust with your event donors is crucial for converting them into reliable monthly donors. By effectively communicating your organization’s mission, impact, and the value of sustained giving, you can increase the likelihood of long-term support.
You can use iConnectx.com fundraiser software to manage your events, such as online auctions, as well as event ticketing for nonprofits. iConnectX is free to nonprofits and can help with keeping your donors part of your team.
Auctions are fun and can often bring not only new money into your organization, but also new donors and supporters. Auctions are a proven method for nonprofit fundraising.
During the pandemic, fund raising transitioned to online auctions, which is one method for holding an auction and one that iConnectx.com can help you with. We have the online platform and tools to make your online auction a huge success. But now that restrictions are largely lifted, live, in-person auctions are back.
Here are five ideas and tips on how to improve the auction experience for everyone.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives:
Before you begin planning your charity auction, it’s important to set clear goals and objectives. Determine how much money you want to raise, who r your target audience is, and what types of items you want to auction off. Having a clear plan in place will help you stay focused and ensure that you are working towards a specific goal.
Make the Event Fun and Engaging:
To keep attendees engaged and interested in the auction, make sure the whole auction event is fun and entertaining. Consider adding music, games (for kids, so their parents can engage in the auction), and interactive activities to keep the energy level high.
Also, consider offering food and drinks to keep attendees comfortable and happy. Also, think about drafting some local artists or athletes from professional or big college teams (ask them when their sport is NOT in season) to participate as an auction caller or experience gift (i.e. have the athlete appear at a party and give a short talk, or a local actor/singer to perform at auction and offer a performance at a private event as one of the things to bid on).
If the auction is online, it can be even easier to get athletes, retired athletes or performers to appear because they never have to leave their homes.
Offer a Variety of Items:
Offering a variety of items at your auction will appeal to a broader range of bidders. Consider auctioning off items such as experiences, vacations, gift certificates, and unique memorabilia (i.e. signed sports team item). Additionally, consider adding a silent auction or raffle to offer a wider range of items and pricing options.
Provide Ample Information:
Providing ample information about the items being auctioned off can help generate interest and increase bidding. If the auction is online only, make sure to provide detailed descriptions and photos of the items, as well as information about their value and significance. This will help bidders make informed decisions and feel more confident about their bids. If items are, for example, signed sports items, ask the athlete to make a short simple video to go with the items. The video can be shot with a smartphone or through iConnextx.com. If an item is a week vacation at a donor’s summer home, for example, ask the donor to make a short video of the property.
Thank Donors and Bidders:
After the auction is over, it’s important to thank donors and bidders for their support. Consider sending out personalized thank you notes or hosting a post-auction event to express your gratitude. Showing your appreciation can help build strong relationships with supporters and encourage them to continue supporting your cause in the future.
Online and in-person auctions for non-profits are a tried-and-true method of raising funds and engaging with donors in a fun, interesting way. Our iConnectx.com auction software makes it easy and efficient.
If you work for a nonprofit and have healthy growth in email addresses and touchpoints, but fundraising is down or stagnant, you have a conversion problem. You are reaching folks, but they must write checks or sign up for periodic and regular donations.
Nonprofits with a high donor retention rate have long-term supporters who return year after year. Nonprofits with low donor retention rates must continually acquire new donors or more significant gifts to keep up.
According to The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, which studies philanthropy trends, donor retention has slipped over the last five years.
According to Professor Adrian Sargeant, director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University, “The donor retention landscape is terrible at the moment and is going from bad to worse. The latest round of AFP data was made for very depressing reading. We’re continuing to lose donors at a pretty alarming rate.”
“Over 70% of people that we recruit into organizations never come back and make another gift, so we’re caught on this treadmill where we have to spend lots of money on acquisition which most nonprofits lose money on anyway, just to stand still., says Sargeant.
Nonprofits need to reach supporters on new levels to connect them to the cause better.
Here are Five Strategies for Better Retention
Invest in Donor Retention Strategies
Remember that donors want to know the impact of their contributions. They want to feel included and part of your mission. Ensure donors are thoughtfully and adequately thanked when they donate and when a campaign ends. One of the investments to make is in storytelling content that brings your mission, and their giving, to life.
Thanking donors quickly (be sure to send an email message within 24 hours after donors give) is essential. But do not use the same communications to thank someone who gives $5,000 as you use to thank a $25 gift. Have a tiered communications strategy. Over a certain amount, personal handwritten thank-you notes are called for.
Target big givers for peer-to-peer fundraising to try and recruit them to ask their friends to give. High-income givers tend to know other high-income givers.
Part of investing in donor retention is having a database of giving with a good dashboard that manages the communications, invites to events, and timing of communications.
Personalize Your Donation Strategies
Organize your donors in tiers based on the size and frequency of gifts. Once you do that, develop a strategy for differentiating the communications and expressions of gratitude for different tiers of donors.
For example, you might decide that donors of between $2,500 and $20,000 receive special recognition in the annual report, a handwritten thank-you, and a modest but unique gift that has a connection to the cause/mission of your nonprofit. If your organization benefits needful children, for example, a piece of framed art created by the children would be appropriate and heartfelt. If your nonprofit benefits animal welfare, perhaps a local artist’s original portrait of the donor’s pet would be personal and unique at a meager cost.
For donors who give between $500-$1,000 in a calendar year, just communications and perhaps a handwritten note. For donors under $100, just an email thank-you is fine.
Depending on the nature of your nonprofit and whether it involves a public gathering place, you certainly want to think about plaques on chairs or a giving wall, or laser-inscribed bricks on a walkway.
If a gift is given as part of someone’s last will and is not anonymous, then a special thank-you gesture to the surviving family must be created to keep the family engaged as donors.
Be aware that more than email is needed. Most people get over 100 emails a day, much of them unwanted. A common complaint among professionals is the daily avalanche of emails. Have you ever seen someone’s email icon on their smartphone with a number on it, such as 23,000? That’s the number of unopened emails.
You are competing for each donor’s or would-be donor’s attention—everything from the subject line to photography or layout of email factors into the open-worthiness of your communication effort.
Effectively Leverage Social Media Channels
Social media is a beautiful way to communicate with donors and followers you are trying to convert to donors.
Remember that older donors are likely to be on Facebook, but not Tiktok or Instagram, which tend to attract younger people/donors. It is worthwhile to survey your donors to see what social media channels are most popular.
Your website should also have a blog on which you can create stories related to your nonprofit’s work that, in turn, can be linked. Facebook posts should include excellent photos that show your organization’s good works. This content can be images of beneficiaries and or volunteers at work.
Be smart about what you show and tell stories about. If you are a local opera company, you want to tell stories about bringing needy public members to the opera. If you provide food to needful people, photograph a beneficiary from the back while capturing a volunteer handing over a food parcel. Habitat for Humanity, for example, shows volunteers working on a house and the families who benefit, and the stories connected with why the benefitting families need help. These kinds of pictures show donor dollars at work.
Be mindful that you don’t want to necessarily share photos of galas that will show wealthy well-dressed people having a good time. Stay focused on images and showcasing storytelling beneficiaries of your organization.
Create Compelling Copy and Stories That Inspire
Having a blog on your nonprofit’s website is an excellent idea so that you have compelling stories full of good photography or even a Youtube video embedded from which to link on social media.
Depending on your nonprofit’s size, scope, and mission, Twitter or Snapchat may not be effective platforms for you.
Remember that a good photo can be worth 1,000 words. And when attention spans for long content seem to wane, a good photo with or without a caption is handy both as a social media asset and to use in emails to your donors.
But you also want to have a longer story on a blog. Some people will want to read a more extended form story, while some will be content just reading the photo and caption.
And here is where we talk about hiring proper help if a staffer in your organization is genuinely adept at photography and social media and task that person with the job.
It is also worth considering putting a willing staffer or volunteer through training in photography, Photoshop, videography, and simple video editing. If you have a supporter/volunteer with these skills, engaging them to donate their services or work at a reduced rate is wise. Investing in communications assets is well worth it and pays for itself.
Only deploy staff trained in photography and writing to provide these services to your organization. Amateur work does not inspire donors to support your organization and cause.
Utilize Automated Email Campaigns to Boost Donation Reminders and Follow Ups
You should have a donor management/communications system/dashboard. More than just managing donors on a spreadsheet, it allows you to organize and optimize your donor list and manage the conversion. It makes organizing and pre-program communications with your different donor groups very easy.
When planning fundraising events, such as online auctions, or selling tickets to in-person events or galas, use proven tools available through technology partners like iConnectX.com. Set up your fundraising event, collect payment through the integrated platform, and collect donor information to load into your donor management system. Best of all, it is free to use for licensed nonprofits.
If the last few years has taught us anything, it is to be resilient in the face of unexpected changes to the economy and society.
It is never truer than for non-profits. Not only did many NPOs suffer funding shortfalls during the pandemic as many fundraising ideas and events got put on hold, but the pandemic followed a change in the tax laws that has crimped charitable giving for many people.
Absent a steady stream of fat-wallet donors writing big one-time checks, diversifying funding sources is never more critical. Here are five Nonprofit Fundraising Solutions:
Peer-To-Peer and/or Team Fundraising
Big-brand companies, like Nike, Starbucks, Ford, Apple, etc. rely a great deal on their customers sharing stories of support and affection about their favorite brands to inspire and build legions of repeat customers. The same can be done in the non-profit world. People are often as passionate about the causes they support as they are about the brands they love.
This kind of fundraising works when an organization’s supporters and donors reach out to the people they know, often through social media, to ask them to give to a cause close to their heart on behalf of the organization. We have all seen this on Facebook and Instagram when people ask their friends to support their causes leading up to a birthday or anniversary. NPO’s can nudge their existing supporters to engage this strategy through outreach. If the organization has birthdates of its donor database, an email or phone call to wish them a “Happy Birthday” can be accompanied by a suggestion that they use their social media heft to multiply their giving.
“Peer-to-peer” and “team” fundraising are similar, but with a few slight differences worth pointing out. Peer-to-peer fundraising can be specifically for individuals, as in the case of birthday efforts, whereas groups of supporters can do “team fundraising.” Non-profits that support disease research for example, organize monthly walking, cycling or running goals among donors and supporters, who in turn attract sponsorship for the monthly goal or a per-mile sponsorship. Additionally, gaming can be layered on top of the effort where teams or individuals compete to see which team or individual can raise the most money, with the winner getting a prize.
These fundraising efforts are fueled by social media, and work wonders to attract new donors who get added to the database and can be leveraged into long-term supporters.
Facebook and Instagram make it easy for donors to create fundraising pages, which is a far better and easier method than going around with a clipboard, hitting up friends and friends-of-friends for per-mile support in the case of walking and cycling goals.
It goes without saying that the more information you can collect from each donor, the better you will be at retaining them, and converting first-timers to long-term supporters and advocates.
iConnectX gives you a fundraising platform on which to keep all your efforts organized and efficient, with a high degree of automation when it comes to donor communications.
Major Gift Giving
Major gifts are still a significant source of funding for most NPOs. Indeed, 90% of all fundraising dollars come from just 12% of donors, so you can’t afford to let up on those efforts.
Cultivating major gift-giving is a serious and specific talent and must be properly resourced with the right staff and software tools—building relationships with a list of prospects identified as being likely givers if approached the correct manner.
Major-gift fundraising involves six stages: Identification, Qualification, Cultivation, Solicitation, Negotiation, and Stewardship. iConnectX software helps you organize and manage the prospects through those stages by helping you stay organized and automating certain processes. For one, you’ll need to record every touchpoint that you have with donors, especially the major ones. There is a strategy to be hatched around staying in touch the right amount to keep them engaged and involved, while not over communicating.
A major donor has a high net worth and may own real estate, stocks, bonds or cryptocurrency, and can be persuaded to gift any of those assets in lieu of cash. Wealthy “older” donors are often the best prospects, but don’t ignore millennials who have achieved early wealth and have interest in giving.
Wealth screening enables an organization to learn about current donors’ and prospects’ wealth or capacity to give. Wealth screening shows an individual’s past giving to other charities, political contributions, business affiliations, real estate ownership, SEC stock holdings and the like.
Auctions are fun, and an excellent source of funding for NPOs. Nonprofit auctions (whether live, silent, online, or hybrid) are events that draw in supporters to bid on items, services or packages. Items and packages are often donated, but sometimes organizations buy them at cost. Auctions can provide multiple tax deductions, first for the donor of the item and then for the one buying it.
Some NPOs have in-person auctions, but online and hybrid auctions are becoming more the norm. Online auctions and hybrid auctions require tools to pull off, and they go much smoother when using our software.
Live auctions or high-bid auctions are different animals. A live auction can be a snazzy, fun event as part of a gala featuring entertainment. With as live auctioneer, attendees place bids by raising paddles or signaling. This live version can also be live-streamed to attract more people.
A best-bid auction has items displayed with sign-in sheets on each one, and people browse and place bids on the items they want. This can be done live, or on a web page we create for you. A mobile app we provide can also streamline the process. Heading into 2023, more people are gathering in person. However, many people have become accustomed to solely online events. Many still participate in them and, in some cases, prefer joining from home.
Hybrid auctions are a very popular type of auction. This type of auction combines an in-person auction with the ability to take bids from online supporters. Event organizers are also able to track the auction’s progress online. Those at the event and those online can place bids from their device, and when the bidding period ends, the highest bidder wins.
Remote Celebrity Events
Since the pandemic, everyone is comfortable working and taking part in events online. Booking celebrities for fundraising events—whether they be athletes, business leaders, performers, authors—is easier today because of remote appearances.
For causes these celebrities support, many will do appearances for free. Others will do remote fundraisers for a discounted rate. A NPO can reach out to donors and prospects with a “private event,” that will be “A Conversation with…”
Depending on the financial goals of the event, the attendee list can be restricted to a set number that will allow each attendee to ask the guest a question.
These events can also be held live for the attendees, but remote for the celebrity guest. The point is that it has become easier to book well-known people because the investment of time is relatively small. No travel required.
Because many performers have built mini-studios in their homes, it can also more possible today to enlist a singer/musician performer to entertain your donors without ever leaving their house.
Supporters who are not high net-worth individuals who want to give, but aren’t able to write a big check should can be presented with the option of a monthly pledge. A donor may only be able to afford a $50 check today, but if they have a structure in which they can pledge $10 a month, you’ve just increased their yield from $50 to $120.
This works almost like a gym or streaming-service subscription in that it never ends until the individual stops the payments. The more people an NPO can enlist into this program, the greater the reliable monthly cash-flow.
Monthly giving or pledges are efficient when they are managed through our software. These types of donations, once set up, are automated. The only management of that donor, then, becomes relationship management via email and snail-mail, making sure they are invited to events, thanked, receiving newsletters, etc. Research shows that monthly donation programs yields more than 40% greater giving from the same people who previously wrote one-time checks.
All of your touchpoints with these donors, with all your donors, are managed and tracked in our iConnectX fundraising software suite. And at the end of the year, the donor automatically gets a statement of giving they can apply to their tax returns. There is very little for an NPO’s team to do once the system is set up.
There are so many benefits to a monthly giving program:
Benefits of Monthly Giving Programs and Donation Pledges
There are many benefits to your donors subscribing to your monthly giving program.
- Steady recurring revenue
- Increased supporter connection and stronger donor base
- Increased Lifetime Value of donors.
- Greater supporter engagement.
- Lower donor acquisition costs.
- Easier financial forecasting.
Economic times change and stock market returns cycle up and down. But through any rough patch, supporters of your NPO still want to give, still want to feel connected.
When economic downturns occur, people naturally cut back and review their spending. But if they feel they are connected and valued by your NPO, your organization stands a much better chance of making the cut.
During the pandemic, some NPOs, like churches, theatre companies, food banks and outreach organizations for children and families in need reported upticks in giving. Difficult times often make those who are insulated from adversity even more generous.
But establishing that kind of relationship with donors requires sound and stead relationship management.
Using technology to run fundraising activities is an easy way to start to build your funding. iConnectX is a solution that provides easy-to-use online auction and event ticketing tools for nonprofits. Best of all, the tools are free to use for US registered nonprofit organizations. Not sure about using tech for your fundraising, set up a demo to see how it works. https://www.iconnectx.com/