With the expanding virtual landscape, effective digital marketing is more important and competitive than ever. Online engagement opportunities have the potential to attract donors from around the world and keep your community close even while socially distanced. However, most nonprofits have come to realize the importance of digital spaces, making standing out increasingly difficult.
Online engagement opportunities help your nonprofit maintain donor relationships. While some supporters are content making regular contributions without further interactions, many seek more out of their relationships with nonprofits than routine donations. Engaging digital opportunities have the potential not only to attract new donors but to keep your current donor base invested in your mission.
Morweb’s team is composed of experts on nonprofit and association website design, and our web design tools empower organizations in a variety of industries, ranging from hospitals to schools. We help these groups refine their digital marketing approaches, so they can stand out and connect with more individuals online. To help you improve your online donor interactivity rates, this guide will discuss how to:
- Reach Out Across Multiple Channels
- Personalize Communication
- Regularly Post New Content
- Let Supporters Control Their Engagement
- Host Online Events
As you improve your online engagement strategy, track data regarding interactivity and clickthrough rates, so you can determine which changes lead to tangible results. Set goals for how much you want to raise your engagement rates before making a change, then use data to measure if you’ve met your goal.
1. Reach Out Across Multiple Channels
To effectively market to your supporters, you need to reach them in spaces where they already are. Donor conversion requires creating multiple touch points to familiarize potential supporters with your nonprofit’s brand and mission.
Each time a supporter sees your nonprofit’s call-to-action is another opportunity they have to act on it, which means it’s in your best interest to give them as many opportunities as possible.
The only question is: what online communication channels should your nonprofit be using? CharityEngine’s guide to multi-channel fundraising explains how your nonprofit’s website, email, and social media can be leveraged to engage donors:
- Your Website. If you accept online donations, you’ll ultimately want to direct as many supporters to your website as possible. However, this doesn’t mean your website should just be a place where people go to donate. Your website can encourage further engagement by providing additional information about your nonprofit’s upcoming events and offer direct communication tools, allowing supporters to reach out and learn more about your vision.
- Email. Email allows for direct communication about a variety of topics. Connect with your audience using newsletters, fundraising appeals, event invitations, and more. Emails should be personalized to each supporter by referencing past participation and highlighting upcoming engagement opportunities that might appeal to them. For example, a donor who attended your last gala will likely be interested in your next one.
- Social Media. At face value, social media has a large reach and relatively low investment cost. However, truly effective use of social media requires you to invest time to create and optimize content for each platform. Services that automate your social media posts can improve your posting rates, but you can often repurpose content across platforms as long as it is updated to suit each platform’s audience.
Expanding your online outreach to multiple platforms also allows your nonprofit to reach a wider audience. Potential supporters who have interest in your cause but don’t interact with your usual marketing platforms can easily get shut out with limited outreach.
2. Personalize Communication
Digital marketing makes it easy to address your supporters en masse, but you should still recognize them as individuals. Personalized communication can encourage donations by showing supporters that your nonprofit acknowledges and values each contribution.
You can use detailed information from your donor database to create custom, personalized emails for each supporter. To address multiple individuals with shared personal histories, you can even segment supporters based on their past participation.
For example, you could create an email to send to supporters who attend an event thanking them for coming. Then, the next time you hold a similar event, you can send a follow-up email to that same group of supporters referencing the previous event and inviting them to your new one.
Personalized communication helps strengthen relationships between supporters and your nonprofit, which encourages donors to further participate in your nonprofit’s community.
3. Regularly Post New Content
Routine online activity shows donors that your organization is actively working toward its mission and worth interacting with. In addition, regularly posting new, valuable content signals to search engines that your website is interesting to people searching keywords related to your nonprofit’s work.
Producing new content requires time and creativity. Fortunately, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel to keep your supporters interested. If you’re inexperienced with technology and unsure where to start, Morweb’s guide on how to build a successful membership website offers proven content strategies such as:
- Create a News Page. Creating a news page on your website helps keep your supporters up-to-date on your current activities. If maintaining a news page and separate social media accounts becomes overwhelming, you can also embed your social media feed onto your news page. Along with saving your marketing team time, this also encourages supporters to click through and check out your nonprofit’s social media pages.
- Post Blog Entries. Blogs spread awareness of your nonprofit. In addition to showing supporters your nonprofit is active, regular blog posts can be shared across platforms and discovered by search engines. Valuable posts about your field of expertise also lend credibility to your nonprofit, positioning your team as knowledgeable professionals who are worth engaging with.
- Build an Archive of Evergreen Content. By definition, evergreen content is always engaging, no matter when supporters access it. These resources will consistently garner interest from new supporters, so slowly build up an archive of evergreen content. Content such as instructional videos and webinars can continually provide supporters with additional engagement opportunities even if you only add to it on occasion.
Regular activity also has another benefit: it lets supporters know that your nonprofit is secure. Static websites that don’t receive regular updates can make supporters wary about whether the organization behind it is still functional. By routinely updating your content, you can ease any concerns potential supporters may have about whether their financial information is safe and their donations are going to a good cause.
4. Let Supporters Control Their Engagement
When it comes to engaging with your nonprofit, most supporters have their own preferences for how they’d like your nonprofit to reach out to them. While you may optimize outreach strategies for a specific platform, listen to supporters’ communication preferences and then make an effort to contact them accordingly.
For instance, associations and other member-based organizations find that membership management software comes with tools that let members dictate aspects of their engagement. Providing them with the option to edit their individual profiles helps develop trust in your nonprofit and also saves your team time updating personal details whenever members move or change addresses.
Members, donors, and any other contributors should never feel trapped when interacting with your nonprofit. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving supporters more options to change the terms of their engagement can actually encourage them to stay. Not every membership management software solution provides supporters with control over their engagement, so do your research before making a purchase. Guides like this one can be a useful starting point for reviewing features of potential software.
For your digital marketing, allowing supporters to control their engagement also applies to how you show your appreciation. For example, some donors enjoy public recognition through spotlights on social media, whereas others find it uncomfortable. Take the time to ask donors and other contributors before creating a post that recognizes them. The supporters who would prefer to be acknowledged in other ways can let you know, and those who enjoy public recognition can get excited to share the post with their friends and family when it goes live.
5. Host Online Events
Virtual events give supporters a way to engage with your nonprofit, no matter where they are. In addition to raising funds, events are also an opportunity to deepen your connection with supporters by speaking with them and giving them fun activities for them to participate in.
All events require preparation ahead of time, and setting a deadline for your fundraising events can create a sense of urgency to generate excitement and gather support.
For example, Giving Tuesday is a global fundraising event that can be hosted entirely online. With a 24-hour deadline, supporters are encouraged to donate to their favorite nonprofits. Your nonprofit can prepare for and maximize the potential of both Giving Tuesday and other giving days by:
- Setting fundraising goals. Even if your nonprofit has no max goal in mind, setting fundraising milestones can help build a sense of momentum as donations increase throughout the day. Displaying a donation thermometer on your website allows visitors to see how close you are to reaching your next goal, further encouraging them to follow through with donating.
- Leveraging social media. Giving days like Giving Tuesday thrive because of social media. Use hashtags when you post on your social media accounts, and be sure to also include your nonprofit’s brand in any photos you post. Supporters are more inclined to share posts promoting your nonprofit during this type of campaign, making it an opportune time to increase your brand awareness.
- Streamlining your donation page. Part of an online giving day involves earning lots of donations quickly. Make sure your donation page is quick to complete (never over a single page in length) and fully functional in advance of your giving day. You can also assist donors by providing suggested donation amounts and attract recurring donations by giving supporters the ability to opt-in to monthly donations.
Online events like Giving Tuesday provide an opportunity to market your cause to many new supporters. Make the most of these events by taking extra steps to encourage donors to come back after the campaign’s excitement has died down. Offer donors the opportunity to become recurring donors or sign up for your newsletter so they can participate in future events.
Digital marketing is a mainstay for any nonprofit that wants to reach new supporters and continue engaging with its current donor base. Regularly generating excitement can be a challenge, but a marketing campaign that personally addresses supporters and gives them interesting content to interact with is well worth the return on investment.
Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.