5 Ways to Keep Donors Active and Engaged
You all know how much I love insight and data from studies. Recently, someone pointed me to the 2016 Donor Loyalty Study from Abila. There’s a lot in this document, and to really understand it you need to download the whole report. But here are some interesting elements about how donors view the content they receive from nonprofits. In many cases, the content nonprofit organizations send to donors, and how they send it, can have a bigger impact than you might think.
As we head into the heavy fundraising/giving season, this could come in handy. To start things off, here’s a finding to get your attention: 72 percent of donors say poor content—whether too vague, irrelevant, dull or inconvenient—affects whether or not they donate to a nonprofit.
Here are a few key takeaways from the study on how your nonprofit can create and share content that compels donors to give—and keep giving.
1. Make it personal. The best way to connect donors with the content you share is to make it speak to their specific interests. A notable finding of the study is that many donors say they will stop giving if the content is:
- “About programs I’m uninterested in” (25 percent)
- “Has incorrect info about me” (24 percent)
- “Not suited to my region” (14 percent)
- “Not suited to my age” (12 percent)
- “Isn’t personalized” (10 percent)
These are all related to knowing your donors. Today’s communication between consumers and organizations is all about personalization. If donors feel like you’re not listening to what you are telling them (through both words and actions), they won’t stick around.
2. Find the right frequency. There is no magic bullet for finding the perfect amount of communication with all your donors. As you can see from the chart below, 52 percent of the surveyed donors said they like to receive content from nonprofits monthly or quarterly. Not far behind was 31 percent of donors saying they like communication from nonprofits twice a month or more.
Even within those categories there’s a wide range—the difference between 12 times a year versus four times a year is great. The study findings also reveal significant differences in the frequency of preferred communication among the different generations.
Millennials and Generations Xers are more comfortable with more frequent communication, while Boomers and Matures tend to prefer a frequency of monthly or less.
While you can use age as a guide, the best way to determine the ideal communication frequency is to listen to your donors—through their direct feedback and their behavior.
3. Avoid these pitfalls. Along with personalizing your content to the interests and preferences of individual donors, you also want to make sure your content is easily accessible and digestible. And, most importantly, you want your content to be good.
These are the four things that turn donors off from content the quickest:
- Too vague
- Dull and boring
- Inconvenient format
- Irrelevant programs
Whether it’s an email, mail piece or social media post, make sure your content is easy for people to read and understand. Make it as specific as possible (“we helped a lot of people this month” just won’t cut it).
Finally, make it interesting and exciting. Tell a story. Talk about the challenges you had to overcome. Give us a glimpse at the individual lives of the people you have helped. Make donors want to keep reading.
Ask yourself this: If your content was a movie, would you want to watch it?
4. Keep it short and sweet. In this age of content bombardment, people want content that is concise and simple. From there, if their interest is sparked in a topic, they may want to go deeper and seek out long-form content. But, primarily, they want what communications to be quick and easy.
The survey revealed the top four preferable content types of donors to be:
- Short, self-contained email with no links (75 percent)
- Short letter or online article (73 percent)
- An email with links to other articles (65 percent)
- Short YouTube video (60 percent)
All of these efforts are the quick-consumption side of the content spectrum. That being said, it’s also not a bad idea to have some longer, more in-depth articles and videos available online for those donors looking to dive deeper.
And, if you are wondering just how short is “short” when it comes to the YouTube videos mentioned above, these charts from the study show how donors begin to lose patience the longer articles and videos get. The sweet spot is generally:
- Video - under 2 minutes
- Written - two to three paragraphs
Remember, long and overwhelming content won’t get read or watched and has the potential to actively annoy and drive away donors.
5. Construct your content based on your goal. The kind of content you create and share should also be dependent on the goal you want to achieve. This is where strategy comes into play. Whether you want to inspire donors to take a specific action or communicate progress for general retention purposes makes a difference in what you share and how you share it.
The graphic below summarizes the content surveyed donors said would be most effective for achieving five different goals.
What’s the moral of this blog post and the study? All content is not created equal in all situations. Always ask yourself: What’s the most effective way to get our donors from point A to point B? Now, go out there and see how your creative and messaging matches up.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.