As a nonprofit organization, it’s critical to continue to grow and retain your donor base. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier than you think. The number one thing you need to gain new donors online is engagement. Think about it, if someone visits your website and never comes back or reads your content, or if someone subscribes to your email list but never reads your emails will they be likely to donate? This is something we all understand intuitively if people don’t understand the need or are not invested in the mission of our organizations then nothing will get them to support the ministry financially.
Why is Engagement So Frequently Overlooked?
If we all know engagement is so important, it begs the question, why is it so hard to dedicate resources to engagement? While there are many possible reasons, it usually comes down to two.
Engagement metrics have often been stigmatized as “vanity metrics”. You might have heard that likes, and followers make you feel good but they don’t pay the bills. Because of this many people think engagement metrics are a waste of time.
Related but more important, is that it is really hard to measure the impact of engagement metrics on donations since they are not direct actions. So when it comes time to report on the ROI of different activities, engagement typically falls to the bottom of the priority list.
The Case for Investing in Engagement
While it is difficult to point to direct ROI for engagement, the numbers are very clear, if you ignore engagement you are leaving many potential donors on the outside wishing they had a great ministry to support. In a recent study, we compared the results from two different audiences who received the same fundraising email series. The first group received no special engagement campaigns before receiving the fundraising email series, while the second group received educational emails for several months before receiving the fundraising emails. The results are clear, those who received the educational emails to drive engagement before the fundraising campaign saw over 150% higher conversion rate for donations, and their donations on average were more than 80% larger.
How to Get Started Building Engagement
By this point, you can understand why it’s so important to get started engaging your potential donors but might be overwhelmed with the idea of adding more to your already overflowing workload. The good news is that getting started is easier than you think. There are a million blog posts and guides out there that will tell you a thousand and one ways to engage through social media, or six hundred and one ways to make your emails more engaging, and so on. While these can be great resources for inspiration, they often lead us to believe that we need to implement all of the ideas in those resources. Realistically, however, results come down to two things…
Consistency and improvement over time.
So if you have limited time and resources pick one thing to do and do it consistently. Whether it’s committing to sending out one educational email a month, or posting to social media once a week, do it. As you hit your goals of consistency review your process and results to generate improvement over time. The improvement in processes will let you scale your efforts so you might go from sending one educational email a month, two, then it becomes weekly. Once you have those processes on autopilot you can add in something else, like social media, and follow the same steps.
As you create content to drive engagement, be sure that it aligns with your ministry’s mission and vision, and communicates both the impact you are having and how they can help ensure that impact grows. If you do that you will surely see your online fundraising efforts grow.