Engaging the general public

“Remember that engagement – especially at the beginning of this relationship, is not meant to secure donations. it should be about getting a person interested in furthering their involvement.” – The Donor Strategy Playbook

Some tips to consider when engaging the general public/prospective supporters:

  • Connect on multiple levels and several calls to action such asking them to:
    • Be an activist (e.g. sign a petition)
    • Spread the word about your work
    • Do something different in their life (e.g. buy fair)
  • Get rid of the jargon
  • Make it personal
  • Give hope, not guilt
  • Harness social media:
    • Enrol/target influencers
    • Stay timely and react quickly to news and clear hooks 
    • Make small asks that people can respond to
    • Make your messaging clear 
    • Aim for frictionless giving 

Engaging first time supporters

“After sending a donation, most first time and returning donors alike will be waiting for the receiving organisation recognising the gift and detailing how it was used.” – The Donor Strategy Playbook

Some ideas for engaging first time supporters:

  • Make a fuss in ways that make them feel special and appreciated
  • Offer a welcome pack with a personalised, handwritten note
  • Share your hope for the relationship and what you will accomplish together
  • Start building the donor’s record in your database (asking what triggered them to give, who do they know, what mechanism they used to give, are they on Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) 

Engaging High Net Worth Individuals:

“The key to donor retention is convincing your donor that their relationship is about more than just money.” – Roy C Jones (via The Donor Strategy Playbook)

Tips for engaging HNWI:

  • Get an introduction through friends
  • Decide what you would do with a large investment and have a clear and easy way to communicate this strategic vision
    • What is the counterfactual? 
    • What is this evidence based on? 
  • Arrange meetings with senior management as well as people/experts on the ‘front line’
  • Be patient and have a multi-layer vision and plan
  • Don’t be timid in ask amount
  • Make personal visits and contact
  • Write hand-written messages and personalise emails
  • Give appropriate, mission related gifts
  • Request assistance with reaching out to other donors as an ally and partner
  • Actions speak louder than words – make sure to do your homework and deliver results 

“As a fundraiser, the ultimate goal is to retain these donors year after year. Therefore, it can be said that donor engagement is the key to retention.” – The Donor Strategy Playbook

Engaging lapsed donors

Strategies for engaging lapsed donors:

  • Figure out why – ask and listen
  • Tell them you noticed
  • Tell them you missed them
  • Keep it positive
  • Offer alternatives 

To conclude

Tips for engagement at all levels of support: 

  • Have a clear and easy way to communicate your strategic vision
  • Say thank you in ways that reflect the nature of the relationship

Adapted from the 2014 Inyathelo Advancement Academy Presentation on Individual Giving presented by Meaka Biggs and Stephanie Sluka Brauer. Article includes quotes from The Donor Engagement Strategy Playbook.

Additional Resources

21 Ideas to refresh your donor stewardship

12 Super simple (but effective) donor retention tips from non-profit fundraising experts

Download pdf: Donor Relations and Stewardship Defined 

5 Donor Retention Strategies to Supercharge your Fundraising