The Human Touch in Nonprofit Relationships
In the rapidly evolving digital age, nonprofits often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to relationship-building strategies. The allure of technology and automation can be enticing, but the importance of being “high touch” rather than “high tech” in nonprofit communications and donor relations should not be underestimated. While technology plays a vital role in outreach and engagement, the human element remains paramount in building meaningful connections with supporters, volunteers, and beneficiaries.
Being “high touch” in the nonprofit world means prioritizing personalization, empathy, and genuine human interaction. It acknowledges that behind every email, social media post, or campaign lies a person with emotions, values, and a desire to make a difference.
Why Nonprofit Should be ‘High Touch’
Here are five compelling reasons why nonprofits should embrace the “high touch” approach:
1. Fosters Authentic Connections
People connect with people, not machines. When nonprofits take the time to communicate directly and authentically with their stakeholders, it strengthens the emotional bond and trust between them. This connection often leads to increased loyalty and support.
2. Enhances Donor Retention
Nonprofits depend on the support of donors, and retaining them is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. By being “high touch,” organizations can show appreciation and provide personalized updates, reducing donor attrition rates.
3. Inspires Volunteer Engagement
Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofits. When volunteers feel valued and heard, they are more likely to contribute their time and skills consistently. Personalized communication can help volunteers understand their impact and the organization’s appreciation for their efforts.
4. Amplifies Impact Stories
Nonprofits have compelling stories of the lives they’ve touched and the positive changes they’ve facilitated. Sharing these stories in a “high touch” manner, such as through handwritten letters or personal phone calls, can evoke powerful emotions and inspire continued support.
5. Navigates Sensitive Issues
In times of crisis or when addressing sensitive topics, human communication is vital. It allows nonprofits to express empathy, listen to concerns, and provide reassurance in a way that technology alone cannot achieve.
Five Examples of Being ‘High Touch’
Now that you know what results from high-touch donor relations and communications, here are some specific high-touch examples.
1. Handwritten Thank-You Notes
Sending handwritten thank-you notes to donors and volunteers is a classic “high touch” gesture. These notes should express gratitude for their support and provide a personal touch that automated emails cannot match. Mention specific contributions or efforts to make it even more meaningful.
2. Personalized Phone Calls
Taking the time to make personalized phone calls to donors or volunteers can have a profound impact. These calls can be used to express appreciation, provide updates on the organization’s work, and ask for feedback or suggestions. This human touch can make supporters feel valued and heard.
3. Small Group Meetings
Organize small group meetings or focus groups with supporters to discuss your organization’s mission, challenges and future plans. This approach allows for in-depth conversations, fosters a sense of belonging and encourages valuable input and feedback.
4. Storytelling Workshops
Host storytelling workshops where beneficiaries or volunteers can share their experiences and stories in their own words. These narratives can then be incorporated into your communications, humanizing the impact of your work and demonstrating the organization’s commitment to transparency.
5. In-Person Events
Whenever possible, host in-person events, such as appreciation dinners, volunteer recognition ceremonies or community gatherings. These events provide a platform for face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to build stronger connections among supporters and stakeholders.
The importance of being “high touch” cannot be overstated. While technology offers efficiency and reach, it is the human touch that forges genuine connections, inspires action and sustains long-term support. By prioritizing personalization, empathy and authentic interaction, nonprofits can create a lasting impact and build a community of dedicated advocates who are truly invested in their mission.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: How Building Genuine Relationships Helps You Raise Money
Ben Vorspan has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 20 years and, during that time, has built a reputation for the creativity that he injects into nonprofit marketing, communications, fundraising, programming and membership engagement.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Ben began working in marketing, communications and creative roles with an assortment of businesses and organizations, including the Hebrew Union College, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, schools, religious organizations and a variety of mission-driven nonprofits.
In 2007, Ben founded Inspired Multimedia, a consulting firm specializing in working with nonprofit organizations around the world to build websites, improve marketing efforts and provide tools and resources customized to fit this niche. During that time, he also co-founded and ran a thriving nonprofit group for young professionals in the Los Angeles area, receiving national recognition and grants.
In 2023, Ben became a published author with his debut book, “The Nonprofit Imagineers,” which explores how to use the same principles that make Disney Imagineering the gold standard of imaginative thinking to transform your organization into an equally inventive and creative environment.