How Responsive Fundraising Helps Turn Customers into Long-Term Donors

We talk extensively about the modern donor. Their elevated expectations are the driving force behind nonprofits switching to responsive fundraising strategies. But nonprofits aren’t the only ones who feel that shift. According to Markstein and Certus Insights, seventy percent of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to assist in social and environmental issues we all face. What’s more, forty-six percent pay close attention to companies’ social responsibility efforts when they’re considering purchasing a product.

As a result of pressure from consumers to do more, many for-profit companies have looked to partner with nonprofit organizations. Whether it’s a short-term collaboration (as we’ve seen as a response to Covid-19) or a long-term commitment (as with TOMS shoes), it’s a key way for nonprofits to develop relationships with new donors. 

Unfortunately, many nonprofits don’t know how to capitalize on the opportunity of new donors. It’s a complicated process, but there are a few responsive fundraising strategies you can use to convert loyal customers into generous donors in your base. 

1. Set Up Collaborations to Identify Loyal Customers

To make a partnership truly successful, it helps to set up a few things before the product launches or the campaign starts. First, ask the company if you can provide content for the product landing page, receipt email or other customer engagement emails. This will give you the opportunity to push curious customers to your site to learn more about the work you do and your various programs. 

You should also ask for the contact information from customers who purchased products to help your nonprofit. This will require earning permission from the customers at the point of purchase, but it’s a step that will help you tremendously as you try to bring new donors into your community. 

Finally, offer to promote the company and their efforts to support your nonprofit via newsletters, social media and any other communication channels that are relevant. It not only provides proof that your community is expanding and exploring every available opportunity, but it can also re-engage lapsed donors and get them excited about a new initiative they can support. 

2. Use Tracking Pixel Information to Create Welcome Sequences

After you input contact information into your nonprofit CRM, you can leverage your tracking pixel data to create relevant, meaningful welcome sequences. The behavior data will be especially important if you’ve provided links and content to your partner company. You’ll be able to track individuals who came from their site and what they looked at while on yours. 

To create an engagement sequence that welcomes them to your community, you have to be strategic and diligent about the information you collect. Remember, these are contacts who didn’t give directly to your organization, but they do want to help. They must be treated with extra care, but if you do it the right way, you’ll be able to convert to a second donation quickly and efficiently. 

Ensure that you are not making subsequent appeals until you’ve expressed your gratitude for a donor’s generosity, proven the impact their contributions made, and built trust with them.

As they engage with your touchpoints, take notes, update their contact record, and report on trends. Eventually, you’ll be able to tag these new contacts with your existing donor personas (or create new personas) that will help you engage with them using content and strategies you already have. 

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. These are people who are brand new, joining your community in unconventional ways. Encourage your team to try new ideas and allow them to learn from any failure. Staying creative and evolving along with your donors is the best way to guarantee long-term donor relationships. 

3. Close the Loop As Soon As Possible

All donors need to understand the impact they make with their selfless generosity. In order to remain enthusiastic about your cause, they need to trust your decision-making and priorities. The only difference with individuals who support your cause through one of their favorite companies is they need that loop to close faster. 

Use one of your first engagements with donors to talk about the work you do and recent milestones and highlight the beneficiaries of your donors’ generosity. Leverage testimonials from existing donors to highlight the community of individuals who are actively working to make an impact. People love to see themselves reflected in the organizations they support, so don’t be afraid to use stories from your representatives as well. 

Because these new donors will likely find your organization in a time of crisis, you may not have a direct impact to report on right away. For example, if the campaign centered around tornado relief, you won’t be able to talk to the impact right away. However, you can talk about aid you’ve provided in past years, or survey new donors to ask where they’d like to see impact first. Perhaps they have family in certain neighborhoods that you could prioritize or speak to. Slight tweaks to your messages will result in the personalization donors need to give again and again. 

4. Provide Opportunities for Expanding the Donor Relationship

The ultimate goal of responsive fundraising is to inspire new, predictable generosity from your constituents. But asking for the same amount of money or the same hours volunteering won’t result in growth or rich donor relationships.

As your organization evolves, and the donors’ interests change, you need to provide new ways for people to give and support your cause. 

After you’ve engaged individuals who give through a for-profit partnership, suggest new ways to get involved with your entire community. Provide ways for them to share information about your nonprofit to their social media channels. Host online events and invite donors based on location so that they have local connections to your nationwide community. Or invite them to subscribe to different content engagements, including a YouTube channel, email series, or blog. 

Responsive fundraisers know that not all appeals are for monetary donations. To be successful with the modern donor, your organization needs to give to your donors five times before you make another request for money. Try to provide new ways to go deeper with your cause so that they continue to invest in your success. 

Dive Deeper: Learn the 5 key building blocks to drive increased generosity with your team, tactics, and technology.  The Responsive Maturity Model provides clear, actionable building blocks for healthy, effective teams and increased giving.

Remember to Leverage a Social Media Testing Strategy 

Some contacts who support your organization might not make it to your donor management system. That doesn’t mean that you can’t convert them into new donors in the future, especially if you leverage the tools available to you via social media

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn will all allow you to create lookalike audiences in their advertising tools. Any individuals who you can identify as customers-turned-donors can inform these platforms for who else would be a good fit, particularly if they are already following the company you partner with. 

Implement an A/B testing strategy to recruit customers who haven’t donated. Invite them to follow you on social, watch an inspiring video, or learn more about your partnership with their favorite brands. Reaching out to show them your important work could help drive sales, expand your reach or inspire new gifts. 

See How Marketing Automation Can Help with Turning Customers into Donors

To learn about how you can use responsive fundraising to make the most out of your for-profit partnerships, download our Marketing Automation Playbook. You’ll learn automation takeaways that help your team connect with every supporter, sending the right message to the right people at the right time.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Take a self-guided tour of Virtuous, where you can explore the platform at your own pace and see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

If you know another nonprofit pro who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via Email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

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Grow generosity with Virtuous.

Virtuous is the responsive fundraising software platform proven to help nonprofit organizations increase generosity by serving all donors personally, no matter their gift size.

“Virtuous truly understands nonprofits and the importance of our mission. And their open access to data and built-in custom reports gave us access to the data we need.”
Todd Shinabarger
Chief Information Officer