Article | July 15, 2022
When creating your nonprofit fundraising and donations strategy, email marketing should be on the top of the list of channels to use to support your efforts. However, 70% of nonprofits do not have an email marketing strategy, despite 26% of online donors saying email marketing is what inspires them to give. Email marketing can help nonprofits reach their fundraising goals by helping expand reach, develop a loyal donor base and drive more donations.
Build an Email Marketing Strategy
Implementing email marketing may seem intimidating to some, but once you have an effective strategy in place, it will act as a blueprint and support all your goals moving forward. When you start building your strategy, it’s important to spend time developing a unique strategy that aligns with your mission and goals. Consider these questions:
Who is your target audience? How are you collecting email addresses?
What types of emails will you send? What types of content do you want to share in those emails?
What will your emails look like? What is the layout? What is the design based on?
How often do you plan to send emails?
What platform will you use? Does it integrate with your donor database and have all the features you need to implement your strategy?
Email marketing is the most effective and successful when there's a strategic plan in place. Creating a detailed strategy that answers the questions above will provide your nonprofit with the stepping stones needed to set your email marketing efforts up for success and help meet your overall fundraising goals.
Once you have a strategy and execution plan in place, you’re ready to start sending your messages to your audience. Email subscribers want to hear from you, but you need to be sure you are sending engaging messages to the right audiences.
When you start sending your emails, plan to send a mix of different messages to your audience. Email marketing is an effective channel to not only fundraise but to help subscribers stay engaged and keep donor retention high. A great example would be to include advocacy emails in your plans. Advocacy emails include newsletters and impact stories. These types of emails help your subscriber feel valued as a donor as they’re seeing the direct impact of their support.
As you start and continue to send emails, always track each email's performance. This helps you determine what is working and what is not working. By tracking key metrics, like click-through rates, conversation rates and donations per email, you will be able to continuously improve your strategy and the emails you are sending.
Follow Best Practices
As you begin to execute your email strategy, there are a few key best practices I recommend following to help increase engagement, donations, and overall performance of your emails.
Personalize the email for your subscribers. Personalized emails can generate donations up to six times more compared to a generalized email.
Make sure your emails are well-designed with compelling imagery that helps the donor visualize your mission and the impact of their donations.
Provide clear calls to action in each email you send and always include a “Donate” button in all your communications.
Include social sharing buttons and links to your social channels in all your email communications. Emails with social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by as much as 158% and help expand your reach by allowing donors to recommend and share your nonprofit with their network.
Create an email cadence so you are regularly communicating with your audience throughout the year. For every 1,000 fundraising emails delivered, nonprofits raised $78, so it is in your best interest to continuously send messages to your subscribers. Start by sending emails monthly and then experiment with increasing the frequency of emails per month and see what works best for your nonprofit.
Utilizing email marketing is key to having a successful fundraising strategy for your nonprofit. By building a well-thought-out strategy and implementing it, you will be able to engage, retain and convert subscribers into a loyal donor base.
Article | July 13, 2022
Are you expecting all donors to be the same?
If you answered “no…well actually… kinda,” then you are not alone. It’s simple to send out the same fundraising message to everyone. However, you can transform your fundraising when you understand that there are many reasons why a person chooses to donate to a nonprofit. Once you understand the psychology of donating to charity, you can then best appeal to current and potential donors.
Why do Donors Give?
Along a spectrum, there are two extremes that prevent nonprofits from using donation psychology in their fundraising messages. On one end, the person making the ask – the Executive Director, Development person or Board member – assumes all donors have the same motivations for giving that they do. This translates into single-focused messaging that appeals to the person making the ask and to some donors, but not to others.
On the other end of the spectrum when a nonprofit neglects philanthropy psychology, the person making the ask becomes paralyzed. They fear offending donors by asking at the “wrong” time. They focus on external, societal crises, such as the pandemic, wars, tragedies, and make a decision for the donor that this is the wrong time to be asked for a gift. They assume that the donor would be offended if asked.
The Millennial Impact Project studied why donors across generations start giving. Unexpectedly, according to the researcher, Derrick Feldmann, donors first give because they want to belong. They desire to join their friends or be a part of a cause doing the good they wish to see in the world – this is before they understand what the cause or nonprofit is seeking to accomplish. As they gain that sense of belonging and begin believing in the cause, they can be motivated to continue to give when the nonprofit taps into their giving style.
The Seven Faces of Philanthropy was groundbreaking research published in 1994 that has been updated and is still relevant today. In summary, the researchers found that donors give for different reasons. Some donors give because they enjoy the act of giving, especially through events. More donors prefer to donate to local charities or make a long-lasting impact through their investments. Other donors desire to repay or pay forward in gratitude through their giving. Others give because of religious or altruistic reasons. Then, there are donors who see giving as a family tradition and, if applicable, to teach their children generosity. Understanding the donor’s motivations for giving guides a nonprofit in developing the right message, using the right fundraising methods and segmenting to the right group of donors.
How Can you Encourage Your Donors to Give?
Now that you understand the psychology behind making a philanthropic gift, you can implement this knowledge to customize your fundraising appeals.
First, you will need to determine why your donors give. This is done through discussions with Board members, personal conversations with donors, and through donor surveys. It begins with a simple question, “Why do you give to…?” The answers will assist you in creating donor identities; that is, the types of identities or groups where donors wish to belong. Sample identities could be “community leader” or “survivor” or “change maker.”
Next, based on what you learned from your current donors, pick the top two or three donor motivations and associated identities. Alter your current messaging and fundraising methods to these giving reasons. The messaging and methods that inspire your current donors will likely attract more donors.
Begin testing your messaging for these two to three reasons: Which message has the highest engagement in response and donation? This will be your primary message that you will rotate with the secondary messages. As you further explore your donor’s psychology for giving, you can advance to segmenting your communications based on what will motivate groups of donors to give.
Once you understand donor psychology, you will wonder how you missed the clues to why your donors give – and be ready to catch future donors by staying one step ahead of their giving habits.
Article | July 12, 2022
Although we recommend talking directly with your donors to learn what matters to them, one-on-one conversations aren’t the only way to gain valuable information about your donors. Through analysis of the donor data in your fundraising software, you can obtain insights that will help you create a better experience for your donors, and motivate them to give more over time. Here’s what you can learn from the numbers and how you can apply this knowledge to improve your donor experience.
Biographic and Demographic Information:
This particular donor data isn’t snazzy, but it provides you with important tools to use in donor communications. Here’s what you can do with it.
Preferred Name: Even something as simple as addressing your donors by their preferred names or nicknames will go a long way toward building a meaningful relationship.
Employment: Improve the timing of your emails by sending to full-time individuals when they’re at work.
Age: Millennials are more likely to check social media or text messages for communications, while Baby Boomers are more likely to use email or even snail mail. A multi-channel communication strategy, however, is the best thing to help you reach your donors where they’re at.
Educational Background: While someone’s education level may provide insights about their capacity to give, consider looking at what your contacts were involved in while in school. Did they join clubs that provide a clue about their interests? Did they hold certain leadership positions that tell you what they’re committed to? What community service projects were they active in? This information can help you customize your communications more meaningfully.
Monetary giving isn’t the only indicator of a donor’s interest in your organization. When you’re putting together your campaign lists, don’t forget to look at other historical indicators as well.
Note: If you’re already using Network for Good’s simple, smart fundraising software, demographic details, like the ones above, need to be individually added as “Custom Fields” to a constituent’s record.
Involvement in Advocacy Work: If an individual advocates for charities or causes, he or she is usually serious about making a difference and seeks to do so in other ways.
Corporate Sponsorships: If someone has organized a corporate sponsorship for her or his place of employment, the individual has demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile foryour organization.
Showing Up at Events: If you have regulars who appear at your events, they’re prime candidates to get more involved. An events platform that integrates directly with your fundraising software can be a key tool here in making sure you’re following up with the right people.
Network of Connections:
Prospective donors will always be more willing to respond if a friend or business connection has introduced your organization to them. If you think an individual would be willing to contribute to your nonprofit, look at who in your donor database is connected to that person and ask for an introduction. This strategy can also be used for raising corporate sponsorships.
Hobbies and interests will tell you who’s most likely to participate in your events. They’ll also give you ideas about what types of events will be most popular with your contacts. Here are a few ideas:
Games: Trivia night, bingo, or board games.
Outdoors: Run/Walk, golf or fishing tournament, or softball.
Food & Drink: Wine tasting, celebrity chef or bartender, or profit share at a restaurant.
Music: Benefit concert, talent show, or Battle of the Bands
Arts & Culture: Group night at the theatre, charity poetry reading, or author meet-and-greet.
Timing of Gifts:
When do individuals give? If someone tends to make donations at a certain time of year, your request will probably be welcomed (and successful!) if you ask at that time. Using tools such as the “Giving” filters to conduct donor analysis can help determine if there are trends around a particular time of year for one (or multiple) donors – and knowing the timing of gifts will also help you spend your marketing dollars more wisely. If someone has given within a year-long time period, that person is much more likely to give again than someone who gave two years ago. You can allocate your marketing resources more intelligently if you know who is more likely to donate.
These are just a few ideas on how to use your data to not only build a stronger donor experience but also increase your fundraising revenue.
Learn why the donor experience is vital to a successful organization and how to implement an effective donor experience program by downloading “A Better Donor Experience: Is it the Cornerstone of Donor Loyalty?”
Article | May 20, 2022
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit. Your services, fundraising campaigns, and even day-to-day operations of your nonprofit can depend on volunteers.
An estimated 30 percent of Americans or 77.9 million people reported they volunteered for an organization or association.”
AmeriCorps published survey
So, if people want to volunteer, the key to garner willing volunteers is to:
Communicate your needs
Share your “why”
Make it easy
While all nonprofits know they need volunteers, investing time and energy into building a program can naturally fall by the wayside. As you look to recruit and retain volunteers, a best practice is to put a strategic volunteer program in place.
You may be asking, “What’s the benefit to me, the nonprofit?” Let’s dive into it!
First, let’s start with the basics — what are the top reasons to invest in a volunteer program? We’ve got you covered. A dynamic volunteer program:
Creates ambassadors for your mission. Volunteers spread the word in your community and increase your community engagement. They can advocate for you with their friends, family, and local and state legislatures. Provide your volunteers with messaging so they can share their “why” on social media and by word of mouth. One pro tip shared by Points of Light is to provide a digital badge to add to your volunteer leaders’ email signatures.
Develops new funding sources. The line between a volunteer and donor should be fluid, not separate. A 2014 study by Fidelity Charitable found that 83% of volunteers report supporting the same nonprofits with their donations. Don’t silo your volunteers and your donors!
Reduces your operating costs. According to the Independent Sector, the value of a volunteer hour was estimated at $28.54 in 2020. Since payroll is often the largest expense for a nonprofit, volunteers provide essential support to your cause with minimal costs to you.
Increases the quantity and quality of your programs and services. It’s a win-win situation for professional development and your lengthy project list! That list will be met by an eager, talented volunteer, and your volunteer will improve their professional skills at the same time.
Maximizes your limited staff resources. We’re sure there’s been a few items on your wish list that you’d love to check off if you had more resources, like being open on holidays or offering more services to your community. Volunteers can fill in those gaps! Maybe they are looking for ways to give back over a holiday, or they may have the connections to develop a new service opportunity for you.
Increases your diversity and brings in new ideas. Although your nonprofit may always strive to diversify or get out of the “we’ve always done it this way” rut, you may not meet the potential of those goals with your staff. Volunteers can provide unique perspectives, different experiences, and even that spark of excitement that comes with a new idea.
Minimizes volunteer turnover.Just like staff onboarding, volunteer onboarding takes time and money. If you recruit and onboard well with easy-to-access opportunity matching, training, and tracking mechanisms in place, your volunteers will be well on their way to a successful experience. Build on that by learning more about your volunteers’ interests and skills, and they will feel seen and appreciated. An upfront investment will pay off in years of dedicated service.
Are you convinced? If so, it’s time to take the next step of how to start putting a volunteer program into place. Then you can scale your volunteering as your nonprofit grows!
Here are our 5 fundraiser-approved steps to developing a bullet-proof volunteer program.
Step 1: Quantify your current volunteer impact.
Gather data on number of volunteers, hours and skills contributed.
Measure the return on investment (ROI) including your program cost and total estimated volunteer value (# of volunteer hours x est. volunteer wage per hour). You can even take it a step further and consider the monetary savings to the community when volunteers provide the service or in-kind donation versus a private provider (e.g. number of children tutored or trees planted).
Step 2: Educate your staff and board on the benefits of volunteering.
Share your ROI and other data with your executive team and board and garner to get them on board. Recruiting, onboarding, engaging, and retaining your volunteer base will be much smoother when you have their support.
Step 3: Purchase or build a volunteer management software system.
Track volunteer hours, record your volunteers’ information, and create reports. Your software/tracking system should include a personalized volunteer dashboard where they can track their hours and volunteer services provided, demonstrating to them their impact in real-time.
Step 4: Develop a plan for recruitment, training, and growth opportunities for your volunteers.
Share the plan with your current volunteer leaders and solicit their feedback before rolling out to the community.
Step 5: Make the case for even more investment in your program next year.
Give insight into how your efforts to recruit, engage, and retain volunteers positively impact your mission and your bottom line.