5 Can’t-Miss Opportunities for Extraordinary Donor Engagement

Steven Shattuck is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub, and is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang. He is a featured contributor to Social Media Today and has been published in Search Engine Journal, Business2Community and the Content Marketing Institute.

Donor management is about more than just inputting donations and soliciting gifts. Today, nonprofits have access to numerous technologies and sources of information. Unfortunately, many basic interactions go unrecognized. Simple gestures can show deep appreciation on behalf of a charity, even if they are in response to seemingly mundane activities.

Here are five golden opportunities to reach out or respond to a donor and increase their engagement:

1. When You are Followed, Liked or Engaged with on Social Media

Interaction on social media is a particularly strong engagement signal, especially among millennial donors and supporters. Don’t take a “like” lightly, and always respond to comments and tweets. Thank new followers, acknowledge sharing and retweeting, and send out personal messages when appropriate. It’s not uncommon to see many nonprofit social media accounts used for just broadcasting, when in fact they should be used primarily for interaction.

2. When a Recurring Donor Suddenly Increases Their Gift or Makes a Large One-Time Gift

It’s easy to fall into the trap of sending the same gift acknowledgment letter or email to all recurring donations. But if you see that a frequent donor suddenly increases their gift amount or makes an unscheduled one-time gift, pick up the phone and call them! Don’t send them the same acknowledgement they have been receiving. They did something special, and now you should too.

3. When a Donor Brings a Friend to an Event

Considering the high cost of donor acquisition, compared to the relatively low cost of donor retention, instances where a current donor introduces a friend to your organization should be capitalized on. Certainly follow-up with the friend, but don’t neglect to thank the current donor for bringing them to an event. Are you tracking “soft credits” (donation assists) in your donor management software?

4. When a Donor is in the News or Being Recognized in Some Way

If one of your donors is in the news, perhaps because of an award, a promotion/job change or some major accomplishment for which they’re receiving recognition, reach out and congratulate them. This one is truly a can’t-miss. After all, wouldn’t it be strange to hear congrats from everyone but the people you are supporting financially?

5. When a Donor Has a Major Personal Life Event Occur

Along the same vein as #4, a personal life event is a great opportunity to send congratulations or condolences. A marriage, a child or grandchild being born or graduating are great opportunities to reach out and say congrats. Condolences for a death in the family may also be appropriate and received warmly. A simple, handwritten note takes little time and costs virtually nothing, but can make a huge impact. Don’t do this just for your major donors! Everyone, regardless of giving level, should be on your radar.

Bonus: Create Your Own Opportunities

Many charities have created their own special recognition programs in which they give out awards to long-time or significant donors. Consider creating an “up-and-comer” recognition, “volunteer-of-the-year,” “decade award” or “century club” – they might be a nice addition to your annual event!

Remember: it’s not just endowments or bequests that deserve special recognition. Did you notice how none of the above examples involve a solicitation? You don’t have to wait until you need a gift (or a gift has been received) to engage with a donor. As you can see in the list above, many of the best opportunities for engagement have nothing to do with a gift. Be sure to log all of these interactions in your donor management software and track their effectiveness!

What kind of interactions trigger a follow-up from you? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Can't Miss Opportunities for Extraordinary Donor Engagement

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.

September 4, 2013

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