Engaging Your Donors Online

by Eric Leland

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that donors are more than just checkbooks. Research shows that people with higher net worth want to be connected with organizations they support beyond giving money, and that these connections lead to more donations.

As the economic downturn forces donors to re-evaluate relationships with nonprofits, now’s the right time to engage donors. Here are a few tips to help.

1. Gather feedback. After asking for support, ask for feedback. A short online survey using tools such as Survey Monkey can help show donors you’re concerned about their satisfaction.

2. Personalize. For many donors, financial appeals are their only contact with your programs. Tailor communications to individual preferences and interests to help donors feel more connected to your cause. Use e-marketing programs like Constant Contact or Network for Good Email Now to help personalize and track the success of email communications.

3. Be Efficient. Show donors their dollars are allocated smartly. Be sure your communications are specific to their needs, and error-free. Overly produced themes send the message that too much attention was spent on marketing for dollars.

4. Diversify Engagement Opportunities. Show donors you value contributions beyond dollars by bringing them closer to your programs. Offer the chance to take action on issues, to volunteer or to attend events.

5. Track the Full Picture. Keep better track of all the ways your constituents contribute using software that not only stores information about donations, but also about volunteering, events, actions and more.

Eric Leland has provided online strategy, fundraising software review, training and consulting, along with Web and database implementations, to nonprofits for the past 15 years, most recently as the co-founder of Five Paths. This tip was provided by Idealware, which provides candid information to help nonprofits choose effective software.