5 Ways to Attract, Engage and Appreciate Donors

The pandemic has drastically changed the way we approach fundraising. When I first talked about this topic years ago, it was pretty simple. The tips included reach out more often and focus on the outcomes, but in this new environment, you have to continue to pivot. Here’s what you need to do now to keep donors coming your way.

1. Just STOP doing it the wrong way.

I’m trying to keep this positive and upbeat so I’ll throw this one out there first (so we can move on to the positive stuff). If you’re writing an e-newsletter and not seeing even the slightest conversion of prospects to donors, stop wasting your time or better yet, revise your content..

2. Be different and don’t be boring.

This is the key to attracting new major donors. They want to know how you’re different from all of the other groups that do the same thing you do. If you’re in the social services field, what makes you different from the multitude of groups that serve children, feed families, or give out clothing. Take a few minutes to write down the top 5 ways you are different from other groups. From there you should build that into your messaging and marketing.

3. Engage donors on their terms.

The pandemic provided a lot of opportunities to gain feedback from donors. What does that feedback do? It provides you with the information you need to engage donors. Engagement moves donors along in their journey with you. When donors feel connected, they give more money and stay with you longer. Many donors dislike the traditional donor survey so stay away from that old-school tool. You should take time to talk to each donor personally to get their feedback. I know it is a lot of work, but it will increase your retention and engagement rates almost immediately.

4. Donor appreciation still takes many forms.

Unfortunately, our stewardship methods have failed to evolve over the past decade. Too many nonprofits are still using the same old methods, despite the donors’ lack of enthusiasm. When was the last time someone got excited about a plaque in their office? I have several friends who make major donations to charities and they told me that they DO NOT WANT plaques, pens, or any of your logo swag. So definitely stay away from that. Donor appreciation, especially in this time of change, can take many forms. You need to know the donors. What’s their style of communication? What’s their lifestyle like? What do they appreciate in life? One donor may want to have visibility on your social media channels, while the other donor may want to have a personal connection with your CEO. Don’t assume you know. Get to know the donor and go from there.

5. Invest in the donors you have right now.

Many nonprofits are experiencing a dramatic, consistent increase in donations right now despite the pandemic. One of my clients received more than 500 new donations (several were major gifts and more than 50% were unsolicited). Instead of obsessing over getting new donors, focus your energy on continued stewardship and solicitation of your existing donors. Get them to renew their donations.

If you need help building your million-dollar (or more) fundraising program, let’s chat. Email me at deanna@deannaackerman.com. There are some quick, simple solutions that will get you closer to the $1 million+ mark in 2021.