For a seed to grow, it must be watered daily and provided with lots of sunlight. I like to think about the process of donor cultivation in the same way. Transforming contacts—including social media followers, event attendants, or volunteers—into loyal donors is a step-by-step process that requires time and attention. Here are four of my favorite ways to deepen relationships and inspire followers to become lifetime donors:
1. Offer non-monetary ways to engage.
Get creative! Try hosting an event to give your supporters the opportunity to get hands-on. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—something as simple as a bake sale or community cleanup could work. If you don’t have the resources to throw an event, then invite your supporters to your office or project location to introduce them to staff members and constituents.
Here at GlobalGiving, we host a Photo Contest every year. During this week-long contest, GlobalGivers from around the world vote online for their favorite project photos. The perk? Every time someone votes, they also get the opportunity to subscribe to the project’s email updates. For nonprofits on GlobalGiving, this is a great way to gain new followers. But what’s next?
It’s essential to engage new contacts on multiple venues, and in ways that will resonate with them. Use the power of social media and email to your advantage! Invite new email subscribers to follow your nonprofit on social media, and vice versa. Remind your new social media fans to subscribe to your email list.
2. Build an authentic connection.
Really get to know your followers. Why are they interested in your nonprofit? What inspires them to to give? Where do they live, and how do they spend their time? An online survey is a great way to collect this information. It will help you learn more about what your network values and why! Once you know more about your followers, you can explore creative ways to appeal to their interests through social media posts, emails, and other outreach. And never miss an opportunity to establish a personal connection. Did your potential donors get to know your nonprofit through a 5k fundraiser or another event? Reach out on the anniversary of the run or event, or find ways to congratulate them on other milestones in their lives.
3. Don’t always lead with an “ask.”
Yes, you read that correctly! Flooding your followers with too many requests for donations can lead to disengagement. If you only reach out to your network when you need a gift, then the likelihood of you gaining their consistent support is little. Show your followers they’re more than donors; they’re an integral part of your nonprofit’s present, past, and future.
4. Give thanks and give it often!
Recognition is one of the best ways to transform a follower into a donor. Always thank your followers in a personal and timely manner. Did a follower comment on one of your social media posts? Reply with “thanks” and recommend ways for them to deepen their involvement—by subscribing to your email list or volunteering, for example. And, of course, once someone opens his or her heart and makes a donation, it’s vital to send a personalized thank you email as soon as possible. Here are more tips on how to craft a powerful thank you message (and don’t forget—GlobalGiving has a built-in thank you email feature that you should definitely check out).
Remember, everyone you meet—online and in person—has the potential to be a donor! But it’s up to you to create a strong pipeline of engagement that naturally leads to a donation.