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4 Important Donor Outreach Strategies Beyond Solicitations

By: Julia Campbell

Donors are foundational to your nonprofit’s success, so you don’t want your donors to think of you as their pestering friend who always asks for money. The ideal donor relationship should include a balance of donation correspondence and other involvement opportunities for your supporters.  

Build your nonprofit’s base by keeping them in the loop with supplementary information like progress updates on your cause, awareness campaigns, new initiatives, and new volunteer opportunities. By directing your attention to communicating in multiple ways with established donors, you open the potential for a more interactive and lucrative relationship. 

After all, your donors have already taken the first step in their relationship with your organization, so you have their attention and support. According to Meyer Partners’ guide to making a stewardship matrix, creating secondary outreach plans can increase the retention of these donors. 

Follow along to learn more about our recommendations for donor outreach strategies other than donation requests: 

  1. Show Appreciation
  2. Keep Donors Up-to-Date
  3. Send Post-Event Surveys
  4. Create Social Media Campaigns

Don’t miss out on the potential for more engaging and lucrative donor relationships. Let’s get started with the best outreach techniques. 

Show Appreciation 

Simple thank-you notes can go a long way when it comes to feeling valued. In addition to the tax-acknowledgement letter for their gift, sending appreciation messages to your donors can let them know how much their contribution means to your organization. Just by following up, donors feel more a part of your community and know they mean more than dollar signs on your spreadsheets. 

Personalize your thank you notes by including the donor’s name and their gift amount. For a lasting impact, get your leadership team involved by having them call donors and thank them for their contributions and dedication to your cause. Because nonprofits usually have a steady stream of funding, here are some of the key moments when you should send an extra thank you note

  • First-time donations
  • Giving date anniversary
  • Event attendance 
  • Volunteer participation
  • When the fundraising campaign goal is met 

Go the extra mile with small gifts like branded merchandise to stay at the top of mind. Your thank you notes are also a great place to include details about past and ongoing fundraisers and to show how donations continue to make an impact on the organization. 

Keep Donors Up-to-Date

Hopefully, donors understand where their donation goes, but keeping them up-to-date with progress on your fundraising and initiatives helps them understand how their gift contributes to your goals. The more transparency you provide, the more comfortable donors will be, and they will consider your organization capable and efficient. 

Annual reports are a great way to reflect on your accomplishments, including the influence your donors have made on your campaigns. It’s an especially effective way to wrap up a year-end giving campaign by reminding donors their gifts matter and contribute to effective, substantial change. 

Tell a story with your annual report and give donors insight into your year as an organization. Consider including elements such as

  • Your goal for the year, and how you’ve reached it
  • Key fundraisers
  • Event photos
  • Infographics
  • Total donations 
  • Year-to-year growth 
  • Upcoming events
  • Impact stories

Send your report to all donors who have supported your mission in the past year. Be sure to deliver the report via your donors’ preferred communication channel, otherwise, your hard work may be for naught. Keep the report concise and skimmable, for more engagement. 

Keep in mind that you don’t want to ask for more donations in the report, but it can be used to inspire supporters and encourage them to get more involved. Highlight your upcoming initiatives and volunteer opportunities to get donors excited about your future mission-driven plans. Wrap up your annual report with a contact form or reply envelope with information about how to reach you with feedback or questions. 

Send Post-Event Surveys 

Fundraising events are fantastic ways to engage donors, and perfect times to collect valuable information from donors about their experiences. Post-event surveys can demonstrate that you actively listen to supporters and are willing to incorporate their feedback. 

Follow up within two days of the event while donor and attendee experiences are still fresh. Start by thanking them for their participation to begin their feedback experience positively. Be sure to use open language and avoid leading them to leave positive responses. For example, avoid asking questions like “On a scale of 1 to 10, how incredible was your experience?” Instead, ask open-ended questions like “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your experience?” 

MemberClicks’ guide for survey questions has an extensive list of questions such as interval scale, open-ended, yes/no, and multiple choice questions. Here are some featured sample questions to include in your next post-event survey

  • Why did you decide to attend this event? This open-ended question can determine which promotion strategies work best. 
  • How did you learn about our organization? List a few options like social media ads, internet search, word of mouth, and an open-ended option. 
  • Based on your experience, how likely are you to attend future events? Offer scaled options to choose from, this can inform your donor retention rates. 
  • Did you donate? If so, what helped you make this decision? This yes/no and open-ended combination helps identify the conversion data for your event. 

After collecting the survey responses, compile a list of the most common responses to show donors that you are taking their feedback seriously. Fun, shareable information can include attendees’ favorite activity during the event, the most common way of finding the event, and how many donors are likely to volunteer in the future. In addition to sharing some of the results of the surveys, be sure to record the information to use while planning your next event or fundraising campaign. 

Create Social Media Campaigns

Cultivate your organization’s social media community to keep donors up to date on mission progress and spread awareness of your cause. Social media campaigns are a highly accessible, passive way for donors to engage with your organization. This can be a nice change from a flood of donation requests flooding their inbox, or phone calls from your staff. 

Donors can interact with your content however they feel comfortable, either via their mobile device or computer and still feel like they’re actively involved with your efforts. Leverage your social media campaigns to increase online community engagement with different types of posts.

Types of Social Media Posts

  • Nonprofit Influencers or ambassadors 

Ask nonprofit influencers or your organization’s ambassadors to create content for your social media accounts. They can speak authoritatively about your cause, provide insight into related cause areas, and put a face to your organization’s brand.

  • Images or videos of your volunteers and staff

Upload imagery of your staff and volunteers working on current and past projects to give donors insight into the hard work your organization is committed to. This can humanize your work and help supporters understand what tangible work your organization produces and how their money is being used. 

  • Imagery of your cause 

Include some imagery that represents your cause to portray the story behind why your organization is trying to help. This can be tricky, so be sensitive to the fact that some people benefiting from nonprofit programs may want to keep others from knowing. If this is the case, try showing related images like donated items or new buildings you’ve built for those in need. 

  • Infographics 

Informational posts are perfect for easily updating donors and allowing them to share with their network. Break down statistics and actionable steps supporters can take like signing a petition, volunteering, or emailing a politician. 

Focus on making your social media posts easily digestible, interesting, and shareable. Social media is easily shareable, which means your content will most likely fall in front of fresh eyes if it’s shared widely. Plan a series of posts that tell a story to potentially reach out to new donors and current supporters all in one. 

Although nonprofits spend plentiful time planning fundraisers and events to raise more, investing in donor communication beyond donation asks is crucial to building and maintaining donor relationships. Take note of where in the donor journey your current supporters are, so you can get to work on moving them up the donor pyramid with targeted outreach campaigns.

Julia Campbell is a nonprofit digital consultant, speaker, and author on a mission to make the digital world a better place.  Host of the acclaimed Nonprofit Nation podcast, she’s written two books for nonprofits on social media and storytelling, and her online courses, webinars, and talks have helped hundreds of nonprofits make the shift to digital thinking. You can learn more about Julia at .

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