Skip to Content

Be Authentic: Five Ways You Can Create a Better Donor Experience Using Digital

By Laura McGrath August 6, 2019

Create a Better Donor Experience Using Digital

By Laura McGrath, Nonprofit Industry Solutions Director at EMEA

It’s not news that the digital revolution has transformed the nonprofit sector. The days of only using face-to-face or door-to-door methods to raise funds are long gone. Forward-thinking nonprofits are harnessing data and digital tools to create online communities, encourage recurring donations, and win major donors. In fact, over 70% of marketers say that social media has helped them generate revenue, outranking email as the marketing tool most leveraged by nonprofits. Using insights, nonprofits can be more effective at building deeper and more meaningful connections. Here are five top tips for creating a better digital donor experience from leading experts in the industry. 

Inspire people to advocate for your organisation

It’s time to think differently about digital. Digital is not a channel in the same way that TV, the press, telemarketing, or street fundraising are. Rather, we’ve all become channels in our own right, using social media platforms as a means to share what matters to us. 

This requires a new approach to fundraising – and Friends of the Earth is one of the pioneers. It ceased all street fundraising activities in 2015 in favour of using a mix of direct marketing channels. It was a bold decision, however, it has allowed the organisation to invest in a wider range of digital activity and to start having more meaningful conversations with its supporters. 

With more information being shared online between current supporters and future prospects, rethinking engagement is essential. People have become a communication channel so think about how to create content that inspires individuals to share your story.

Be authentic with your community

Being transparent about who you are, what you do, and communicating clearly is key. Children on the Edge, a nonprofit that supports marginalised children across the developing world, has been using Salesforce to help its teams out in the field gather and share information in real-time. 

This project began in Jinja, Uganda, where social workers use mobile devices to capture project data and photos of activities onsite. Salesforce dashboards are then used to present outcomes from these activities that are shared with donors, giving them an insight into the direct impact their support is having on communities. This approach has transformed the engagement they are having with their donors as they become part of the journey to achieve the mission of successfully supporting as many children in distress as possible.

This, in turn, helps to create a community of people who are more likely to share their message and make regular donations. Since ceasing its street fundraising activities, Friends of the Earth has invested heavily in building strong relationships with supporters and potential supporters online. 

Make interactions more memorable

Your story is everything. Whether you’re fighting climate change, eradicating child poverty, or bringing light to the developing world, your story needs to be memorable to inspire people to share it. 

The nonprofit Solar Aid makes an impression by sending thank you letters in bright orange envelopes to all its donors and has even inspired Richard Branson to help spread its message. Both initiatives have helped the nonprofit to make its interactions with donors and potential donors more memorable, inspiring people to share online. 

Friends of the Earth also demonstrate memorable interactions with their Bee Saver Kits which contain wildflower seeds in return for donations. More memorable interactions help charities to get to know their supporters better and create longer-lasting relationships. 

It’s also a good idea to send fewer requests for donations than those detailing how someone’s previous support has helped to deliver your mission –  an unprompted ‘thank you’ email for their continued support can help drive loyalty and yield powerful results.

Don’t try to do everything at once

Think of your digital transformation as evolution, rather than revolution. Charities should start small by choosing one area to improve, and then expand on it gradually. Children on the Edge is a case in point. The nonprofit initially started using Salesforce to manage their grants before growing its use and functionality using the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) throughout the organisation.

Having all the information about grant-making trusts in one place allows staff to access details such as deadlines, value, and lead scoring, and they use Chatter to talk internally about progress. Starting small also allows charities to try things out with minimal risk and investment, before expanding. 

End your obsession with cost per acquisition

If done right, digital can be far more cost-effective than other platforms. Friends of the Earth reports that it’s street fundraising cost per acquisition was around £150 while digital activity has a rate of between £20 and £50 cost. 

But counting costs is losing its relevance. In this digital age, engaged supporters are of much greater significance, because engaged supporters are far more likely to share your story and inspire others to support you.  

A recent Solar Aid festival is a great example. The event only attracted a few donations, so had a high cost per acquisition, however, one attendee was so inspired by the event they nominated them for a grant. Solar Aid later won that grant, and it was one of the biggest the nonprofit has ever received.

Engaging people in this digital age can be far more rewarding than simply shaking a collection tin on the street.

Want to learn more about how technology can help you deliver a better donor experience?

Watch Webinar