This year will be remembered in so many ways, among them how organizations and businesses alike have embraced the digital pivot and found alternative ways to engage donors (or customers) through the pandemic.
As donors connect with organizations online more than ever before, making the most of this digital pivot is vital. As in-person events and face-to-face interactions of pre-COVID days remain on hold, building digital strategy into fundraising can connect your organization to new donors they’ve gained online but never met.
The same holds true for businesses, which have pivoted to create an experience that will capture and retain online customers.
Lisa Krueger, a Director of Philanthropic Solutions with iDonate, stressed that it is essential to connect to this virtual digital donor during the November SMBMad virtual event. She joined us from Lake Tahoe, California, with concrete steps on engaging this new class of donors. (View the Facebook Live event on the SMBMad Facebook page.)
Who is this new donor?
People from every generation — Gen Z to Matures — were comfortable donating online even before the pandemic. New data show that charitable giving increased in 2020 (up from 53 percent in 2019 to 56 percent), and the largest sector remains individual donors. Yet, digital giving is still a fraction of overall.
A virtual digital donor is a first-time giver, new to your organization, who has participated in a virtual engagement or donated to a campaign, and whom you have or may never meet. Planning and creating intentional messaging to connect with this donor where they are is crucial to engaging with them in the long-term. Think about a digital experience that is personalized.
A plan to engage and retain
To pivot successfully, you need a plan from which to pivot from and keep you on target. Begin with a fundraising plan before creating your marketing and outreach.
For the presentation, the example of an annual fund was used. Selecting a focus for your plan is an excellent place to start. Apply historical data to your new campaign, define your outcomes, set a concrete goal, and consider how you will measure impact. Consider which digital channels to add to marketing and outreach to create a personalized experience.
Using multiple channels
Align your fundraising plan with your marketing and outreach. A multi-tier approach will be most successful in converting first-time donors. For example, you might use social media, email marketing, and a digital event or experience with a follow-up thank you video.
There are many channels to consider, including video conferences and live streams, social media, email outreach, peer to peer, virtual events or donor-driven campaigns, giving days, text to give, and websites.
Be intentional with messaging
Krueger encouraged organizations to veer from only awareness-raising messages towards more intentional marketing that incorporates some form of a call to action.
Think about how you will deliver your message through storytelling, website, email marketing, events, video, images, and social media. When it comes to social media, start slow. Pick one channel to begin with. Find out where your donors are first.
Overall, simplicity and offering multiple ways to engage are essential goals in developing your plan to make a successful digital pivot. One that includes intentional messaging and focuses at the core of your strategy, will engage these new virtual donors and all donors.
Non-profit spotlight: Operation Not Alone
We were pleased to feature Operation Not Alone, which connects communities to active duty service members and veterans with mental health support. The organization offers personal care packages, veteran cheer packages and nursing home visits as well as Who Is Your Hero presentations. During the pandemic, they’re giving COVID-19 relief kits which include coffee, tea, personal care items and food goodies, and have a Health Care Hero restaurant campaign.