7 Great Techniques to Improve the Donor Experience
When is the last time you thought to yourself, I wish this was more difficult, or there should be a worse way to complete this task?
If the answer is anything other than never, then you are an anomaly. Most people want simple—they want easy, and they want fun.
So, why should donating to a good cause be anything but simple, easy and fun?
There are so many people who want to donate their time and money to nonprofit organizations and organizations working to accomplish some social good. However, very few people want to jump through hoops to do it.
One of the best ways to encourage donor loyalty is to make it very clear that you value the contributions of each and every donor. An easy and intuitive donation process is likely to turn one-time donors into returning supporters.
As you think about how you can improve your donors’ experiences and support them throughout the length of their involvement with your organization, you should:
- Know your audience.
- Create unique fundraising opportunities.
- Provide online donation tools.
- Ask for feedback.
- Offer incentives.
- Know what you are asking of donors.
- Thank your donors.
In this technology-driven world, where people can change their minds in one moment and swipe away from your organization’s site in the next, never to return, it is too easy to lose supporters.
Your organization should be doing everything in its power to strengthen your relationship with your donors by improving their giving experience.
These techniques will equip you with everything you need for a flawless donor experience!
1. Know Your Audience.
Not all donors are alike. But for the sake of your fundraising campaign, you have to group your target audience on some level. Doing so will help create a fundraising campaign that is compelling to the specific age, demographic, background, etc. that you believe will be most likely to donate to your cause.
Getting to know your donors and becoming familiar with their desires will increase your ability to address their needs.
If you know your audience, then you know how to reach them and how they are likely to respond. This information will enable you to personalize your approach to your different audiences.
It may also help you determine if you send a potential donor an email or mail a physical letter, whether you ask for monetary or volunteer services, or any of the other considerations in your campaign strategy.
Just like every donor is different, every nonprofit has its own unique way it engages its audience. For example, if your nonprofit is a faith-based organization, then you should choose fundraising ideas that are specifically geared toward churches and religious institutions.
Your dedication to your cause and your supporters will be evident through the subtle targeting you can do when you know your audience and the alterations you can make to your campaign.
While your donors may not quite be able to put a finger on what they liked about your donation process, they will appreciate the ease and method with which they donated to your organization.
2. Create Unique Fundraising Opportunities.
Have you ever felt like there aren’t any new and creative fundraising ideas out there for your nonprofit to try?
You should want your donors to be excited about participating in your fundraising events! However, it can be difficult to know which fundraiser will be most effective for your audience while also staying within your budget.
Luckily, there are so many resources at your fingertips, like this list of fundraising ideas for kids, that can give you all the information you need to decide the best course of action for your fundraising campaign.
One of the best ways to host an easy, cost-effective fundraiser is to organize a shoe drive fundraiser. This fundraiser is free and has the potential to earn your organization a considerable amount of money. A shoe drive fundraiser takes gently worn, used and new shoes through community donations and turns it into a profit for your organization.
A genuinely excellent fundraiser allows your donors to engage in their community in a fun and meaningful way.
3. Provide Online Donation Tools.
While you should prioritize your fundraising campaign, you should still offer online donation tools. You still may receive considerable amounts of donations online, and it is wise to maintain this option for people.
Online donations are one of the easiest and quickest ways to contribute for most people. Because of this, you should provide a hassle-free way for people to donate on your website.
Your website should provide multiple opportunities for donations and outline the potential types of giving. For the lesser known types of contributions, such as matching gifts, you may need to provide some educational material on how to use a matching gifts search tool.
Now, you may be wondering how you can utilize this tool on your website, and you may be intimidated about the prospect of altering your website. It is much simpler than you may imagine. To see how you can incorporate a matching gift search tool on your site, check out this example.
These online tools will provide your donors with all the materials they need to maximize their impact. Your supporters will appreciate the knowledge that they are doing everything they can to contribute to your cause as well as your forethought in providing them with the opportunity to optimize their contribution.
4. Ask for Feedback.
If you want to know what your donors like and don’t like about the donation process and their experience with your organization, ask them. Yes, it’s really that easy.
Sending out a donor review survey is an excellent way to get real, first-hand feedback from your supporters with their preferences. There is no need to guess what donors may prefer when they are more than likely willing to tell you directly.
Asking for feedback will not only provide additional insight into your donors’ needs, but you will also show your contributors that you care. When your supporters feel valued, they will be more likely to give again and feel an affinity toward your organization.
Make sure your survey is direct and clear in what it is asking to ensure responses are more likely to provide useful answers.
You may want to ask questions like:
- How did you hear about our organization?
- Did you find the donation process easy-to-use?
- If not, what did you find challenging?
- Based on your donation experience, how likely are you to donate again?
(Please rate 1 through 5; 1 being least likely, 5 being most likely)
Don’t forget the survey is about improving donor satisfaction, so don’t create a long, tedious questionnaire. Keep it short. The survey should take the donor no longer than five minutes to complete.
5. Offer Incentives.
As you well know, donor retention is key to the success of your nonprofit. Your organization should offer incentives to potential and existing donors that will encourage continued donations.
Incentives can be anything that you think will entice your supporters. Some options may include:
- Give fundraising merch to donors. Offering a branded item (e.g. t-shirt, water bottle, wristband) encourages donation and increases brand visibility for your organization.
- Create a tiered membership program. With a tiered membership program, there are different levels to attain which will act as an incentive to give higher amounts with greater frequency. Each tier can offer perks for its members, with the higher tiers offering more appealing rewards to supporters.
- Offer public recognition. All that some donors will want is to be publicly recognized for their contribution to your cause. Acknowledgments can take many forms, from a blog post highlighting contributors, a displayed list of supporters, or an annual donor fundraising event where people can mingle.
Offering incentives to your donors is an easy way to let your supporters now you value their donation.
6. Know What You Are Asking of Donors.
Relying upon the generosity of others to sustain your efforts is a simple fact of nonprofit organizations. If you are going to ask someone to donate their time or money, you should know what you need.
People who donate to nonprofit organizations want to know the impact of their donation. To determine the needs of your organization, you should have a good grasp of your organization’s fundraising capacity and its concrete, reasonably attainable goals.
You may find it difficult to step back from the day-to-day operations of your organization and apply a critical eye to the bigger picture.
It may be helpful for you to consider hiring a fundraising consultant to offer an expert outside perspective.
But, before hiring a consultant, make sure their experience aligns with your organization’s background and determine the needs of your organization. If you are unsure about the steps you need to take, check out these tips for hiring a fundraising consultant from Aly Sterling Philanthropy.
You should be able to be specific in your asks from your donors. It will make your nonprofit appear more organized and trustworthy to supporters, which promotes increased involvement.
7. Thank Your Donors.
Saying thank you goes a long way toward building a lasting relationship with your donors. If you want your supporters to know their gift is appreciated, tell them.
When you show your gratitude, make sure to:
- Use a personal salutation.
- Note specific information from their donation.
- Share the impact of their contribution.
- Invite them to continue their involvement in your organization.
It’s okay if the method you use to send your thanks differs between donors, just find the best fit for your organization and your contributors.
Just remember, donors are more likely to continue involvement with your organization if they feel like their donation was met with the same enthusiasm with which they gave it.
Maintaining a healthy, stable donor relationship is absolutely vital to your organization’s success. You can best achieve this by optimizing your donor’s experience with your organization.
If you successfully employ these techniques, you are sure to create a great donor experience and build a solid foundation of loyal donors.
Editor's Note: If you want to learn more about improving the donor experience, make sure you register for NonProfit POWER, where Sue Citro, chief experience officer at Best Friends Animal Society, will lead a keynote on using technology to improve the donor experience. Find out more here.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.