A guest post by Carl Diesling of DNL OmniMedia
How are you doing stewardship for your donors during Covid-19?
Loyal, supportive donors can see your organization through even the bleakest of crises. However, many nonprofits were simply not prepared with enough loyal donors to outlast the fundraising challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thankfully, it’s not too late to build those strong connections with your nonprofit’s donors. But, to do so, you’ll have to optimize your communications strategy.
At DNL OmniMedia, our team specializes in nonprofit marketing and technology consulting. From our experience working with nonprofits throughout this year, we’ve collected three tips that we’ve found valuable for mid-sized nonprofits looking to continue stewarding donors while social distancing:
- Communicate Regularly
- Use Multiple Channels
- Emphasize Impact
During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have strong donor stewardship tactics in place. Read on for our top three tips to stay in touch with your supporters.
1. Communicate Regularly
Take a close look at your nonprofit’s current communications strategy. Which dates do you have highlighted as key times to communicate? You likely highlighted the time leading up to key giving days, leading up to fundraising events, and the end of the year.
As a nonprofit communications director, you send out fundraising letters, coordinate event marketing, and follow up with thank-yous. However, if you’re only communicating around the dates when you have a big event going on, you’re missing out on key opportunities to connect!
Our first tip for stewarding donors from a distance is to communicate regularly throughout the crisis. Your donors shouldn’t just hear from you when you’re seeking something from them.
During times of crisis, the needs of your nonprofit and your response to the crisis change every day. Staying in touch during this fluidity is key to drawing supporters closer to your organization.
According to Dennis Fischman of Communicate! Consulting, some tips to stay in touch are:
- Post regularly to your website and social media profiles.
- Align your communications with the current events that your donors are interested in.
- Tie your communications to direct action.
A few additional communications in the time between your main outreach efforts can go a long way.
2. Use Multiple Channels
In recent years, we’ve seen the fundraising landscape diversify. There is a decent chance your nonprofit is now seeking donations from five unique generations of givers— all the way from the Matures to Gen Z. Just as each may have different giving preferences, they will have unique communication preferences as well.
Our second tip is to use multiple communication channels to reach all of your donors.
By leveraging a variety of platforms, you’re more likely to reach a representative sample of your entire donor base. Consider using the following channels:
- Website: This is often the first place a supporter seeks information about your nonprofit. In addition to providing giving information, share updates about your crisis response efforts and ways to connect (such as links to follow your organization on social media).
- Direct Mail: Don’t discount the power of direct mail to reach supporters. According to Fundraising Letters, this is one of the most consistently effective ways to connect with a donor.
- Social Networks: There’s a decent chance you have a wide age range of supporters connecting via social networks. This channel is particularly valuable for creating a two-way conversation with donors.
- Mobile Apps: There are now mobile apps created to meet specific nonprofit needs, such as mobile advocacy apps. When it comes to communicating with convenience, mobile apps are a great tool to engage tech-savvy supporters.
Structuring your communications in this way is called multichannel marketing. When it comes to multichannel communications, be sure to create a comprehensive strategy where the channels work in sync, to structure messages to best fit the communication channel, and focus on the channels most popular with your audience.
With a multichannel communication strategy, you’re more likely to make multiple impressions on your supporters. As it can take up to 18-20 impressions to connect with a first-time supporter, multichannel efforts can be instrumental to successful stewardship during times of separation!
3. Emphasize Impact
When so much of the future feels out of anyone’s control, what your donors seek most is validation that the efforts they are taking are having a positive impact.
Our final tip is to emphasize your donors’ impact.
Donors give, both their time and resources, because they want to make a difference. This means that the best thank you, the one that will continue stewarding donors, will showcase donor impact.
Consider the following ways you can emphasize donor impact in your communications:
- Sharing photos of volunteers giving their time on social media
- Sending nonprofit email marketing communications with specific impact data
- Sharing testimonials from constituents in blog posts on your website
The list can go on! But the key in each communication is to get specific. Let’s look at an example:
“In this year’s technology drive, you raised $500,000 to benefit elementary education. With this, X tablets were purchased for kindergarteners participating in distance learning this year.”
This isn’t a time to brag on the impact of your nonprofit! Highlight the direct correlation between the donors’ support and the impact toward your cause to make the message more personal and persuasive.
When you’re unable to host in-person events or meetings with major donors, you may struggle to steward donors into impactful, long-term support of your organization. With these tips, you’ll be communicating successfully despite the challenging circumstances.
Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals.
As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.