3 Ways Tech Can Help Nonprofits Market to Donors Better
The following is a guest post from Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing, Fundly (Formerly NonProfitEasy) (author bio below)
It seems like every day there’s a new app or device that’s changing the way we live. Technology isn’t just evolving; it’s evolving at record shattering speed.
Tech advancements have saturated every corner of our world, including the nonprofit sector. This is all great news. Nonprofits have more affordable, efficient, and proficient ways of reaching and interacting with donors. We now have all this ease and functionality at our fingertips, but we haven’t had the time to develop and document the best practices to go along with the possibilities.
Technology has sped things up, but it’s worth it to slow down for a moment and evaluate if your organization is optimally using what’s available to it. We’re going to look at the specific field of nonprofit marketing, and offer three suggestions to better reach your donors.
Nonprofits need marketing at every phase of a donor’s involvement. From acquisition to long-term retention, marketing lends a hand. To account for that, each of the three technology tips below applies to a different time in the donor’s relationship with your nonprofit: Acquisition, Relationship Building, and Long-term Retention.
First up, we have one option for acquiring new, tech savvy donors.
#1: Join the Crowd — Acquisition
Social activism has made its presence well-known on social media and the internet at large. Nonprofits can capitalize on this increasingly grassroots culture by using crowdfunding platforms for online fundraising.
Crowdfunding, or peer-to-peer fundraising, just meshes well with our current internet culture. That’s a fact that’s clearly evidenced by the meteoric rise of the usage of these technology platforms. The flexibility and viral-aptitude of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns pairs perfectly with the online activist movement. And it’s a movement that is only growing, I might add. Activism leads to charitable work, and crowdfunding is an outlet for the most charitable nature of internet culture.
After minimal set-up and work, organizations can build custom fundraising pages that are incredibly shareable.
Your donors spend hours each day online, and a large chunk of those minutes is dedicated to email and social media. Crowdfunding campaigns seamlessly allow you to promote through both of those channels.
Time and money are always limited in the nonprofit community. Peer-to-peer fundraising will save your organization on both fronts.
It’s called crowd — or, peer-to-peer — funding for a reason. Your donors are going to play a big role in carrying the campaign forward and marketing it. Your marketers themselves will have some work with the initial strategy and promotion, and then occasional maintenance, but the campaigns are largely self-reliant. Your marketers can then spend their time promoting your organization and its mission elsewhere.
#2: Keep the Conversation Going — Relationship Building
Now that you have a whole new group of donors that came from your recent foray into crowdfunding, how do you market to them and keep them around? If they came in through crowdfunding, they most likely found you through social media, so that’s where you should start. At this point, social media marketing is its own empire.
Nonprofits that want their marketing to stand out have to be strategic with their social media presence. No matter where you’re posting, you have to diversify your content first and foremost, just like you would with traditional promotional materials like direct mail. Provide updates, include pictures, share success stories, and show your gratitude. All those post types have varying degrees of marketing power, but the variety will keep supporters engaged longer and more open to asks when they do come.
Every social media site that you post on takes a unique touch to succeed with. With Twitter, you’re fighting against a constantly re-populated feed. You have to post frequently if you want a chance of your donors actually seeing what you’re saying. Make sure you’re scheduling out your posts ahead of time and guaranteeing that they’re going live regularly.
For Facebook, it is getting more and more challenging to actually make it to supporters’ news feeds. The market is crowded, and with paid advertisements it is hard to be heard if you’re not paying. Facebook is still a great way to market to donors and prospects alike, but it now takes a bit more planning and skill. Make sure you are genuinely interacting with your supporters and that the content you post is visually appealing and attention grabbing. For example, if you want to market a fall fundraising campaign, design a graphic call-to-action that links out instead of just using text.
After an initial donation, social media lets you keep the lines of conversation open and get to know your donors better. As your relationship builds, you need to be tracking how things are going, so that you can plan for further marketing and solicitation down the road
#3: Track How the Relationship Evolves — Long-term Retention
Where should you be tracking all of this? You can capture, store, and evaluate tons of donor data using your nonprofit CRM. Responses to the marketing materials that you send should be stored in your CRM for review. For instance, you can use your CRM to send out a promotional email about an event that you’re holding and when a recipient responds through the email, the event registration will funnel back into your database.
Think of your CRM as the control center of your nonprofit’s happenings, especially when it comes to marketing communications. Over time, as the relationship develops, you’ll be gathering more and more data on your donors. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to target your marketing to appeal to specific donor preferences. If you feel like your database is lacking sufficient information to make personalized communications, you can perform a screening of your donors to learn more about them.
Once a donor has given a few gifts, he or she is fairly connected to your organization and knows your cause well. With large donor pools it is nearly impossible to remember all of your donors on an individual basis, but persistent tracking gives you the knowledge you need without sacrificing the time.
Technology opens so many doors for modern nonprofits. The better you are at using the technology, the more doors you’ll be able to walk through.
Gretchen has been a leader in corporate communications and marketing for 20+ years. Gretchen has published numerous articles related to charitable giving and is a passionate advocate for public schools. Gretchen has donated her time to numerous causes including Relay for Life, Girls on the Run, Rebuilding Together, and just recently became involved with the local land trust. Gretchen graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in English literature. She currently serves as the Director of Marketing of Fundly (formerly NonProfitEasy). Follow her on Twitter!