Are You Ready to Engage?
With FundRaising Success' second annual Engage conference just a week away (April 10 in historic Old City Philadelphia), the topic of engagement has been on my mind a lot lately. Face it, if you're involved in any way with the fundraising community, the topic of engagement is almost always on your mind. You have to engage with the other members of your fundraising team, and your team has to engage with those in other departments of your organization (marketing and communications, programs, etc.). Then, of course, there's the Big E ... donor engagement.
It wasn't all that long ago that nonprofits could send out a few direct-mail pieces a year, then basically sit back and wait for the checks to roll in. The donors of that era were more likely to give to an organization they trusted and then just trust that the organization was doing right by them and by its constituents. There was no "online" to check on the organization's work, no easily accessed charity watchdogs to get ratings from, no social-media sites where like-minded supporters could converse with each other and the organization. In short, no real sense of engagement. And it worked. For a long time.
But with the birth of the Internet came the birth of a whole new breed of donors. Folks who came up into their giving years over the past two decades or so — the boomers — want (and have) myriad avenues of communications with the organizations they support, as well as a large variety of ways to support those organizations that don't necessarily involve cash donations. And the next generations of givers — the millennials, Gen X, Gen Y and whatever letter that'll come next — might not be ready or have the resources to give cash donations just yet, but trust me, they are already checking out the nonprofit space, connecting with organizations that resonate with them for whatever reason and getting to know them (you). They're already engaging.