3 Supporter Engagement Opportunities for Your Nonprofit
Nonprofits are always looking for ways to increase supporter retention rates and donor engagement—and for good reason! New donors are great, and your nonprofit needs a healthy flow of new donors to ensure a steady rate of growth.
But encouraging someone who has made a prior donation to your nonprofit to give again is a much more efficient strategy than asking for a first-time donation from a stranger to your organization. Why?
A donor has already demonstrated that they’re emotionally and financially invested in your nonprofit and your cause. Someone with an existing connection is much more likely to respond to a solicitation with a gift than someone who has no such connection.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on supporter engagement in your donor retention strategy. You have to keep your nonprofit in the forefront of your donors’ minds and in a specific way. When they are truly invested in your mission and see the impact their support has on your beneficiaries, your supporters will return again and again, in a more involved capacity each time!
To make it easy for you, we’ve collected some of the most effective supporter engagement opportunities your nonprofit can take advantage of:
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- Advocacy campaigns
- Fundraising events
With these supporter engagement opportunities, your nonprofit can greatly increase donor retention and long-term revenue!
1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
When designing campaigns, your nonprofit has any number of fundraising methods to choose from. If you’re focusing on supporter engagement, though, there’s one fundraising method that stands out above the rest: peer-to-peer fundraising.
Sometimes abbreviated as P2P, peer-to-peer fundraising turns your nonprofit’s supporters into fundraisers in their own right.
How does it work? The mechanics are simpler than they might seem:
- Your nonprofit sets up individual fundraising pages for each supporter through a specialized fundraising software
- Each supporter spreads their own fundraising page to their family and friends.
- Your nonprofit coaches and encourages your supporters, sending fundraising strategies and setting up one centralized website to display a live scoreboard of the highest earning fundraisers and the total amount raised across all campaigns.
- When the campaign concludes, your nonprofit will have reached more new donors and raised more than possible with a traditional campaign.
Of course, participating in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign requires more time and sustained effort than simply mailing in a check, filling out an online donation form or texting in a keyword.
A peer-to-peer campaign is a top supporter engagement strategy, but it might not be right for your nonprofit right now.
After all, you can’t just set up the individual fundraising pages and then check back when it’s time to tally the final donation count. Chances are, your supporters aren’t professional fundraisers, so you need to provide them with the materials they need to avoid getting discouraged during the process.
Before deciding to launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, send out surveys to your recurring donors, major donors and volunteers to gauge their interest. If a significant portion of those supporters—who are most likely to be the most successful peer-to-peer fundraisers—are interested, it’s time to invest in the right software and get your campaign started!
After your first peer-to-peer campaign, run the numbers. As excited as your supporters might be to engage with this kind of campaign, they might not be able to deliver the kind of results you were expecting. Take the time to delve into the right metrics to determine if peer-to-peer fundraising is a sustainable supporter engagement strategy for your nonprofit.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a long-term engagement strategy. Even after the campaign itself is over, your supporters who fundraised on your behalf will retain their deeper understanding of your nonprofit and its mission.
They were encouraging their family and friends to invest in your mission for weeks or months, so they’ve gotten practice advocating for your cause. They’ll take this experience and put it into practice outside of the peer-to-peer fundraising context, maybe even taking on enhanced roles in your organization.
2. Advocacy Campaigns
Supporter engagement isn’t always about fundraising. Sometimes, your nonprofit has other areas that could use a boost in engagement.
One of the areas of nonprofit work that relies heavily on supporter engagement is advocacy. There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to online advocacy. The more supporters you can rally around your cause in an organized, focused campaign, the better your chances of effecting change.
The opportunities for supporter engagement during grassroots advocacy campaigns are endless, but here are a few of the top options:
- Online petitions: Sometimes, advocacy is as simple as collecting a significant number of signatures on a petition. Implement Salsa’s online petition strategies to reach a wide audience of supporters and encourage all of them to participate.
- Social media: The power of social media to reach wide audiences is lost on no one. Rally your supporters around one message, providing templates for social media posts on various platforms and a list of accounts to tag in their messages.
- Calling officials: A high volume of calls can send a strong signal to legislators and other elected officials. Make it easy to mobilize your supporters by providing a list of numbers to call, a script to read from and instructions for what to do if they reach a voicemail.
Of course, a specialized advocacy software makes these advocacy engagement strategies much easier. To find the perfect solution for your nonprofit, start with Double the Donation’s guide to the top advocacy software solutions.
With the right software on your side, you can keep lists of goals, social media templates, phone scripts and legislators’ contact information in one centralized database for your nonprofit and your supporters to access. This easy access to a central location with everything they need to advocate for your nonprofit will encourage interested supporters to engage deeply in your campaign.
It’s important for your nonprofit to know not just how your advocacy campaigns are doing but what percentage of your supporters are engaging in them, which common characteristics categorize an advocate and which avenues of advocacy are more popular with your supporters.
These metrics will guide your future advocacy efforts, helping you assess the potential for different campaigns based on your supporter base and build an infrastructure for success
3. Fundraising Events
So far, we’ve talked mostly about engagement strategies for online supporters. There’s incredible value in online methods because of their immediacy and wide reach.
But sometimes an in-person fundraising event is the best way to foster engagement among your supporters.
Getting everyone together in one place in support of a great cause is a great first step toward boosting supporter engagement. Your attendees will feed off each other’s energy and passion, leaving with a fuller sense of community that’s harder to achieve online.
You can’t just leave it there, though! Being together to support your organization’s mission doesn’t always ensure that your attendees will sustain their engagement. To truly make the most of your events, implement the following event strategies:
- Ask for volunteers. If you’re hosting a fundraising event, some of your supporters might not be able to purchase a ticket or participate in the specific event (e.g. elderly supporters might not be able to participate in a triathlon). Open up volunteer opportunities for these supporters so they can feel included, too.
- Incorporate mobile. Bring your event to where your supporters already are: their smartphones. Solicit mobile donations or encourage participation in online advocacy campaigns (e.g. “Everyone, text and tweet your representatives at this number right now!”) on the spot, then save mobile contact information for later engagement.
- Take it online. Ensure that even supporters who can’t make it in person can still participate. You could stream your event online, implement mobile bidding for your auction, share event updates and photos on social media or place a live fundraising thermometer on your website or event homepage.
- Follow up. Don’t let the spirit fade after you close the doors! As soon as you can, send a thank you, final total donation count and feedback survey to everyone who attended your event. A few days later, send photos from the event and any receipts from donations or an auction, if you held one.
Choose a fundraising event that will encourage high levels of engagement among your specific supporter base. Take hints from the kinds of events your supporters have participated in before, either with your nonprofit, other nonprofits or other community organizations.
You can also simply ask! Send a small segment of your most ardent supporters a list of fundraising events you’re considering hosting, and ask which they would be most excited about attending.
Supporter engagement is an ongoing process. Make sure that you’re always asking your supporters and staff what they think of your engagement strategies by conducting surveys. Rely on the data, too! Monitor attendance at events as well as click-through and response rates for online engagement to track which avenues are most well-received by your supporters.
Dan Quirk is the Marketing Manager at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Dan's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.