Is your nonprofit effectively engaging donors? Are you moving donors up the ladder of engagement? And, if you were surveyed on your donor engagement, would your org fall under the good, the bad, or the ugly?
DonorDigital donated to 16 major US nonprofits to learn about their integrated fundraising practices. For 6 months in 2013, after making an online contribution, they tracked all interactions with these organizations through direct mail, online, and by phone. Their goal was to observe how some of America’s most notable charities are integrating their donor communications across multiple channels.
DonorDigital tracked the following:
- How long did it take to receive a direct mail acknowledgement or a welcome package for the online gift?
- How quickly and how frequently were subsequent direct mail appeals received?
- How many email communications were received from the organization, and how many were appeals for financial support?
- How many communications were received that were purely cultivation or informational messages?
- Which organizations followed up about joining their monthly giving program? If they did, which channels did they use to reach out about it?
- Were appeals or campaigns integrated across multiple channels?
Here's a sneak peek into what was discovered during this undercover donor testing:
Thank You Emails
- All 16 of the organizations sent an email thank you within one day of the online donation. Email acknowledgement is usually automated after an online donation is processed.
- 8 of the organizations sent direct mail acknowledgements and 8 did not.
You should always thank your donors across channels. You may think this is a given but you would be surpised as to how many nonprofits still forget to do this very basic step. People are giving their hard earned money to your organization because they believe in your cause, and they should be appropriately acknowledged. If you show your appreciation, they'll be more likelly to give again. And don't just rely on automated emails. Make an effort to thank donors via direct mail, social media, and/or by phone. Make them special and valued. Remember fundraising is about building a relationship with people.
- 3 organizations made monthly giving asks via email only.
- 4 organizations made no monthly giving asks in any channel.
- Only 1 organization integrated their monthly giving invitation through mail and email.
One time gifts are nice, but monthy donations are even better. A one time donation of $100 is a great start, and much appreciated, but think what a monthly donation of a mere $20 will do for your organization. In just one year, that $20 monthly donation turns into $240, more than doubling your one time donation of $100. And over 10 years that is $2,400. It never hurts to ask, people want to help however they can.
- All 16 of the organizations asked for an additional gift via email.
- 5 asked for a 2nd gift in their 2nd email communication.
- 13 of the organizations asked for a 2nd gift in the mail within the next 6 months, and 3 did not.
- The organization that had the longest time between initial gift to the 2nd gift ask in the mail took 162 days—more than 5 months! Yikes!
If someone has given to your organization once, it's because they genuinely want to support you, and it's likely they'll give again. They won't give again, though, if you don't ask. If you integrate asks across channels, you'll have a better chance at reaching more donors. However, that does not mean that all of your communications with your supporters should be monetary asks. It's important that your donors know what you're doing, not just when you need money.
With all of the noise and competing organization out there, you really have to stand out, and it's important that you do this by appreciating each donor. You need to be thanking your donors across channels, asking them to give monthly, and involving them in your most important work. To read more about the study, and to discern what exactly the good, the bad, and the ugly are, check out DonorDigital's study here.
And I'd love to hear what's been working for you. How are you engaging your donors across multiple channels?