Sourcing donations can be hard. Whether you’re fundraising for a local group or a nationally recognized organization, convincing people to make a financial commitment is one of the biggest struggles that nonprofits experience. Fortunately, we have tips to engage donors and how to inspire them to make donations.
- Make it easy to donate
- Meet donors where they are
- Be creative when thanking donors
- Show off your results
- Ask for something other than money
Make it Easy & Fun to Donate
If it's too complicated to donate, you will lose money. Engaging donors is all about making things as easy as possible for the donor to contribute. If it takes too long, your donors may move along. Although they may intend to come back at a later date, the chance of them forgetting is incredibly high. The best way to test out your donation solution is to try it for yourself.
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Meet Donors Where They Are
When you’re trying to increase in-person donations, it's best to engage donors where you're already connecting with them. It’s easy for someone to ignore a phone call, an email, or a text message if they’re busy. However, when you connect with a donor in-person — regardless of the actual method — it makes it easier for the donor to focus on what you’re asking of them. Take advantage of having their attention!
There are a wide variety of different ways to engage your donors in person. Think about the various situations in which you are face to face with people who may donate to your organization. For example:
- At an event you’re hosting
- At a local business that may sponsor you
- At a presentation you’re giving
- At your facility, shop, or cafe
All of these locations are perfect opportunities for engaging donors. However, to be successful, it’s essential to ensure you’re creating the best approach for the audience you’re engaging with. Here’s a bit more thorough breakdown for each example.
The people who attend your events typically fall into two categories: those who already support your organization, and those who are interested in your event. It’s possible, and even likely, that some of your event attendees fall into both categories, but targeting each group individually is essential. The first step to ensure you’re successfully engaging donors is to establish whether your event is a fundraiser, an event, or a fundraiser and an event. Here are a few key examples using an early childhood education nonprofit as an example:
- If you host a free Easter egg hunt for children in your community, that is an event. There is no admission charged, and the purpose of the event is to have fun and (hopefully) gain exposure for your organization.
- If you host a gala with a silent auction, that is a fundraiser. The sole purpose of the event is to raise money, and the people that you invite have an understanding of why they are there.
- If you host a Touch A Truck where you charge admission, solicit sponsorships, and have a concession stand open to sell snacks, that is a fundraiser and an event. Although you’re providing an activity, you’re also benefiting from the fundraising that occurs during the event.
Once you determine the type of event you’re having, you can decide how best to market to your audience. The Easter egg hunt, for example, will help you market to your community. The goal would be to promote your event in local businesses and the community to increase overall awareness of your organization. This relationship-building will help with engaging donors in the future.
Despite not being a fundraiser, organizations should still give attendees the option of making donations at the event. If you’re interested in engaging donors without making too big of a show of it, add a DipJar to your check-in table or at another convenient location is a great way to provide access to your donation platforms.
Through Business Sponsors
Utilizing your connections with local businesses is a great way to reach a high number of people without much effort. Engaging donors – or people who can become donors – by educating them at places they already frequent can kill two birds with one stone.
An example of how to utilize your relationships with businesses for engaging donors is by asking the company if you could place a DipJar at their registers. Businesses such as local restaurants may also be willing to host a percentage night for your organization, where your organization receives a portion of the proceeds from each meal. Other businesses may be willing to ask customers if they are willing to round up their total bill with the difference going to your organization.
If the businesses you have connections with aren’t retail locations — for example, a real estate office or a car dealership — there are still ways to utilize their foot traffic to build your network. Instead of at the register, ask if you could leave brochures with a DipJar at their front desk, or if they would be willing to put a sign that notes their support of your organization in their window.
During Community Presentations
Scheduling community presentations is a great way not only to increase the knowledge of your organization within your community, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for engaging donors. You never know who will be in your audience, so be sure to provide information materials as well as a DipJar for those who may be interested in contributing. It’s also essential to ensure that your materials have information on how to donate online or via mail for those who may not have funds on them.
At Your Own Location
If you aren’t engaging donors at your facility, shop, or café, you’re missing out! Adding a DipJar, or two!, to locations where you are already working will help you test engagement from donors and guests. Figure out the best ways to promote your new donation platforms and make any changes you desire before you roll out at events or other locations.
Find Creative Ways to Say Thank You
Engaging donors is about more than solicitation and the donation itself. Regardless of whether you are selling paper tickets in advance online or utilizing your DipJar at the door, you must take time to thank every donor. Receiving a thank you from an organization makes donors feel appreciated and helps to ensure that they make another donation in the future. Regardless of how you say thank you, engaging donors is just as much, if not more, about what happens after the donation as it is what happens before.
There are dozens of ways to show your donors how much you appreciate them. In addition to a verbal thank you or an automatically generated email, here are a few creative ways you can ensure you’re engaging donors while also showing them how much you appreciate their donation:
- Take time to write your thank-you notes by hand. Even though it may be time-consuming, it shows you go above and beyond.
- Post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or highlight the donors on your website.
- Pick up the phone and call your donors to say thank you. If you have a large number of donors, ask your leadership team and your board to assist.
Show Off Your Results
It’s vital to showcase your achievements. If you’re fundraising to purchase books to provide to children in your community, send an update to your donors with photos of the books when you distribute them. Using your donation platforms to show your donors what they’re contributing towards is also a great way to increase donations. If you’re working towards a specific goal, update your donors with how close you are thanks to their contribution.
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Ask for Something Other Than Money
When you’re engaging donors, you’re building a relationship. Ensuring your donation platforms collect the contact information of your donors is essential so you can reach out with the appropriate thank you, but it’s also crucial for another reason. When you collect contact information through your donor platforms, it also allows you to engage donors for purposes other than asking for money.
Although we traditionally think of donors as someone making a financial contribution, donors can contribute in a variety of ways beyond swiping their card at one of your donation kiosks. Here are a few ways that you can ask for donations to your organization without asking for money:
- Reach out to donors about volunteering at one of your events. Although they may not have the ability to contribute financially, they may have time to spare. Volunteering is also a great way to involve donors to help them learn more about the ins and outs of your organization.
- Ask your donors if they have any talents they would be willing to share. If you have a donor who likes to build things in their spare time or someone who speaks a foreign language, they may be willing to donate their skills if your organization is in need.
- One of the best ways donors can help your organization is to be an advocate. Ask your donors to share your organization on social media, write a letter to the editor, or invite someone they know to participate in an event you’re hosting.
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