The world is evolving. One can hope that amidst all of the change, we will see global advancement. As things are shifting, we can opt to see the positive in these times. It allows for new creative donor outreach opportunities with current and potential supporters.

Thriving in the face of a challenge is the best reaction for optimal results.

From a marketing perspective, we can use communication to stay up to date on donor outreach and management through tactical strategies. Showing gratitude and taking a genuine approach should always be prioritized. There are several ways to connect with donors to increase engagement during this time. Here are some modernized donor outreach methods to explore.

 

The Personal Touch

Connecting with donors beyond the automated tasks is a great way to make them feel appreciated. It is also an opportunity to gauge their budgetary restrictions during this time. It is important to remain adaptive and be supportive of their life changes. A personal conversation to express your thanks and show empathy could allow you to increase their donation, along with making their day a little brighter. Simple ways to connect are:

Depending on the size of your organization and capacity for this personalization, it is key to be cognizant of how much someone may appreciate the personal engagement. Begin by scripting the dialogue for outreach, and let the conversation unfold naturally from there.

Phone Calls

Calls are an ideal personalized opportunity for donor relationship building. We have found that it is important to have a documented conversation flow that provides guidance for the conversation but is not a rigid script. Once you get the donor talking, let them take the lead with the direction of the conversation but then use the conversation flow to return to the points that you want to cover.

Pro Tip: The most powerful technique for donor engagement is to ask them, “What made you start your support for our mission?” This will provide valuable insights into the philanthropic dynamic of the donor. Once you understand this, you may find a nexus between the donor’s high value issues and the opportunity that you want to present. This is often the first time that you donor will verbally say why they support your organization. This is very important because commitment to an idea strengthens as soon as it is spoken. You will be surprised by how often giving from the donor increases after a conversation like this.

Emails

Some of the best customer service stories come from a back and forth of communication via email. Online brands are relying on this more by developing relationships with their customers through email campaigns and personal exchanges. From a foundational perspective, this is a great opportunity to share a case study or success story with donors and pique interest in further dialogue. It is the crossroads of professionalism and candidness. Approximately 69% of individuals that give money to charities say that an email is the best way for non-profits to express gratitude.

Letters

Traditional and elegant, allowing potential for a creative aesthetic, letters are that touch of excitement mixed with genuine human connection. It’s so exciting to receive a letter amidst all the flyers and bills. Donors want to know how their money is being spent. A letter outlining this pertinent information is highly valuable. Statistics say that 40% of Americans and 37% of Canadians would donate more if they knew how their money would be spent.

 

The Power of Video

Video conference calls have been all the rage, and now webinars are the next wave of interactive learning. There is ample opportunity to play in this space for donor outreach. Depending on your audience’s technological savviness, there is an opportunity for growth, by connecting with new donors too. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have an educational offering as a foundation?
  • Do you have notable friends of the charity that would be willing to provide some time for an interview?
  • What current relatable topics would be of interest to a broader audience?

From here, you can build an outline for your webinar. Some ideas for content are:

The Panel

Pick a topic and research its discussion value. It can be a simple question that has a massive impact. Source speakers who hold different perspectives on said topic— 3 or 4 at most. Find a moderator, whether it is a representative from your organization or another credible party.

Devise a line of questioning with the moderator. The best panel questions are open-ended, because you can safely rely upon the speakers to add interest to the dialogue. Organize a brief meeting before the webinar panel to check-in with the speakers and formally introduce everyone. The best panel timing is around 45 minutes. Leave room for a 10-15 minute Q&A from the virtual audience at the end. It is best to moderate the chat. You can ask for questions in advance during the discussion and poll the audience for their input. It is easier from a technological perspective, though live questions are a nice social component.

Market the panel in advance on social media and through email marketing. If it is a paid event, you can use platforms, like Eventbrite, to handle promotion and ticket sales. If it is free, these platforms also boost your marketing efforts and can broaden your reach. Ask the speakers to engage with their own audiences as well, providing them with appropriate marketing collateral.

Before starting the event, ensure that it is being recorded. Many webinar platforms will have a recording option built right in — often at the time of creating the webinar, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to hit record the day of. Following the event, send the recording to everyone who registered, regardless of whether or not they actually attended. The follow up email is a great opportunity to further engage with your donors, while receiving their feedback on future panels and virtual events. If the event was free, then this is a great opportunity to ask for a donation or to promote your monthly giving program.

Bonus: This is now content for your organization’s library for future use. You will also likely capture new contact emails and can map content around soliciting new donors this way.

The Interview

Similar to the process outlined above, this is a one-on-one interview with a person of influence that can drive up the numbers of your donor database. You could produce an informative session with an organization representative, repurposing the video recordings for social media and website content. It could also be an opportunity to interview an external party who is a supporter of your cause, allowing their passion to shine through as they speak candidly about a heart-centered topic on your organization’s behalf. This play upon public notoriety is a promotional power move, and the lines of connectivity have evolved due to the pandemic. Notable influencers are seemingly more likely to speak about a cause they care about, taking a more intimate approach.

 

Cross-Promotion

A powerful marketing tactic is to collaborate with others. These opportunities are relatable to the ideas outlined, whether acting as an adjacent promotion or creating new avenues to build a stronger sense of community through engaging with others. Now is the time to drive connections and think outside the box. These options are social media friendly and can be used across your website as content and promotional material. Here are some effective collaboration tactics:

  • Visual artisans – Find independent artists to contribute their work as a backdrop to your written communications with donors
  • Musicians – collaborate to curate a playlist that is approachable to your foundation’s broader reach
  • Videographers – Along with the webinars above, extend your video content library with produced content that could be informative, sentimental, or humorous
  • Influencers – not in the modern social media terminology per se, but again, create collateral that they can share with notable supporters of your cause that they could extend to their audience. This is most effective when the influencer is a real supporter of your organization. Authenticity and true passion are key here.

Treat your marketing much like a grassroots campaign, leveraging the power of content creation and social media. Whether working with an agency or a marketing team in-house, all of these ideas are approachable and will equip you with evergreen content.

 

Pivot has become a buzzword, as it is about taking what you know and looking at it from a different perspective. Think critically, but also abstractly. As a charity, you want to evolve and source donors that are pivoting themselves, along with celebrating your current donors and offering them a fresh perspective. The opportunity to share inspiration is what the world needs now, and you are in the position to do just that.