Guest Post Contributed by: Abby Jarvis, Communications Coordinator at Qgiv
As clichéd as it may sound, no two donors are alike. Each of your nonprofit’s supporters has a different giving preference whether that be check, cash, credit card, or other payment method. Some enjoy giving time over money. And others like giving many small gifts over one larger donation. Just like these preferences matter to your donors, so too do the ways in which you ask for those donations. But if you have more than a few donors, it’s sometimes difficult to know which methods donors like and respond best to.
The best way to alleviate this issue is to use a multichannel fundraising approach. With the multitude of ways for your nonprofit to get in touch with donors and ask them for donations, using a multichannel fundraising approach not only makes the most sense, but is also effective at bringing in more donations for your organization and helping you acquire more supporters.
Check out these best practices for using a multichannel fundraising approach before you start asking for donations:
1. Ask your donors which method they prefer.
Before you start mailing out hundreds or thousands of direct mail appeals or hit the send button on that email campaign, talk to your existing donors and connect with them. Find out which communication methods they have liked in the past.
Your nonprofit should be constantly assessing donor preferences whenever you make donation appeals:
- If a donor makes a contribution online, include an option on your online donation form where they can select how they’d like to be contacted.
- When talking to donors one-on-one, ask them whether they’d like to receive emails, direct mail, phone calls, or a combination.
- Have a table at your fundraising event where donors can indicate their communication preference.
- Include a form in your direct mail appeals that donors can fill out expressing how they’d like to stay in touch.
Asking donors how they’d like to be reached is a good first step on the road to making multichannel fundraising asks.
2. Don’t overdo it with email.
There’s nothing worse than ending up on the email list of a company that sends too many emails. It clutters up your inbox and causes needless frustration. Many people wind up unsubscribing from those emails.
Make sure your donors aren’t unsubscribing from your emails. Sending out email appeals makes sense for many nonprofits; it’s a cost-effective and efficient way to connect with donors and ask them for contributions.
But not every email should be a request for more money. Instead, you can:
- Update donors on current projects they’re funding.
- Offer volunteering opportunities.
- Promote your next event.
- Share success stories.
- And more!
3. Go mobile.
If you’ve been to a coffee shop, bus station, or really any public place lately, you’ve probably noticed that nearly everyone is on their cell phone. Whether they’re calling their friends to make dinner plans or using an app to find the perfect place for dinner, almost everybody has a smart phone to their ear or in their hand.
How is your nonprofit showing up on donors’ phones?
Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile and tablet use. But even more importantly, have a mobile version of your donation form. This way, donors can give even when they aren’t sitting in front of their laptops or desktops. They can even donate while waiting in line for their coffee! In the past year alone, mobile giving has increased by over 200%! Make sure you aren’t missing out on those donations.
You can also try using text-to-give. Technology has made text giving easier than ever, and your nonprofit can’t afford to miss out on this simple way to bring in donations.Donors like the ease and convenience of giving on the go. Meet that demand and go mobile!
4. Train your staff members to make better asks.
While a lot of fundraising appeals can be made through digital avenues, sometimes a good old fashioned face-to-face donation ask can be the way to go. In fact, for your major gift solicitation, in-person donation appeals are pretty much the only way to go.
But your face-to-face meetings might not go well if you don’t properly train your fundraising staff members.Training your team might mean practicing making donation asks in a group setting. It could also mean sending your staff to a fundraising conference to learn more about the latest trends and techniques.Your staff won’t be properly equipped to make those important in-person donation appeals if you don’t give them the tools they need!
5. Don’t discount direct mail.
Even though email and social media donation appeals are more cost effective, there’s still something to be said for direct mail. Many donors prefer writing out a check, placing it in an envelope, and sending it off to a nonprofit. While not all of your donors will want to go through that process, there is a significant portion of your supporters who like the physical, tangible aspect of direct mail.
Sending out direct mail letters, postcards, and other materials can be a great way to ask for donations from those donors who prefer a more traditional giving method.
6. Do some digging.
Multichannel fundraising asks may seem a bit perplexing at first. How can you determine which communication methods will work best for each donor? You could try using a crystal ball or a psychic, but the surefire way is to simply do some research.Just like past giving is a great indicator of future giving, past success with donation appeals speaks to future success.
Look back at your fundraising asks. Did a particular email campaign bring in more donations than you thought it would? Did a speaker at a fundraising event spur the crowd into action?
Whatever your big-hitting donation appeal strategies were in the past, use them for your future multichannel fundraising asks.
7. Say thank you more than once.
There’s an old proverb that says, “Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” This isn’t just good advice for our personal lives; it’s also a good tip for nonprofits!Nonprofit fundraising and multichannel donation appeals aren’t just about asking for money and then walking away. You have to show your gratitude to your donors if you expect to form a lasting relationship with them. Whether your supporters make donations online, over the phone, in person, or with direct mail, you must have a comprehensive acknowledgement plan in place.
This plan might look something like this:
- Immediately thank a donor for their contribution. As soon as you receive the funds, you should be thanking the contributor.
- Send follow up information when appropriate. If a donor expressed a desire to volunteer or attend an event, get that info out as soon as possible. Use it as a way to thank the donor a second time.
- Acknowledge past donations in your current fundraising asks. If you send out a solicitation to a loyal supporter, mention their past contributions and give examples of how their funds are being used.
Naturally, this plan will need to be tweaked depending on how you ask for donations. The key is to express your gratitude more than once.
Multichannel fundraising asks don’t have to be complicated! By diversifying your donation appeal strategy, you’ll be able to reach more donors via their preferred communication method. Follow these seven tips and you’ll be bringing in more donations than ever!