Creating engaging and personalized communication for your nonprofit’s donors, volunteers, members, and other essential stakeholders is essential for maintaining meaningful relationships. The conversations you have can mean the difference between retaining valuable supporters and missing out on long-term support.
When it comes to supporter outreach, quality outweighs quantity every time. Quality communications that resonate with your audience are much more effective than an excessive amount of outreach.
Here at InitLive, we’ve worked with thousands of organizations to connect with their stakeholders and form a positive supporter experience, effectively encouraging them to stick around. Based on this experience, this article will offer four tips to enhance your nonprofit communications to create more meaningful engagement and help your organization achieve its goals. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Know your audience.
- Cover your digital bases.
- Don’t forget about direct mail.
- Get volunteers involved.
Ready to supercharge your outreach? Let’s dive in so that you can make the most of every message that you send.
1. Know your audience.
For supporters like volunteers and donors, there is nothing more frustrating than receiving many emails about something irrelevant to them. Simply emailing the same message to everyone often results in lower supporter engagement and an increase in apathy toward your organization’s cause.
You must take the time to understand the motivations behind your audience’s participation with your nonprofit, as well as what their demographics are and what communication channels they use regularly. Then, you can leverage this information to segment your audience and create hyper-personalized outreach. Let’s dive into each of those concepts.
Segment your audience
In order to start implementing strategic communication, you need to break down your audience by motivation, activity, and any other distinctive factors. This approach is called segmentation, and it works. Rather than trying to write one perfect appeal for your entire audience, segmentation allows you to send out tailored messages that pertain to each group, according to Doubleknot’s donor segmentation guide.
To give you an idea of how you can group your supporters, here is a list of common nonprofit audience segments:
- Monthly/Regular Donors
- One-Time Donors
- Large Individual Donors
- Fundraising Event Attendees
- Event Volunteers
- Ongoing/Regular Volunteers
- Event Sponsors
- Corporate Donors
As you can see, there are a lot of different stakeholders to consider when segmenting for your communications. All the above segments have different participation levels, motivations, and investments in your nonprofit. This means that what, when, and why you communicate with each group should differ depending on the goal or outcome you are trying to achieve through each communication.
Tailor your outreach message
Now that you have segmented your audiences, it’s time to start considering how you can tailor your messages to resonate with each of your supporters. Before you start crafting your messages, it is important to first establish the goal of each communication. Are you trying to raise more donations, capture more volunteers for a program, or simply educate the audience on all the work your nonprofit is doing and the impact it will have on your cause?
Once your goals have been established, it’s time to tailor your message to motivate each segment to take further action. Here are a few examples to help you get started:
- One Time Donors– Communicate how their donation has helped and then communicate how much impact their monthly donation could have toward your cause. Share an impact story and then add a confident online donation option for them to take action right away.
- Event Volunteers– Thank the volunteers for their time and communicate your fundraising event success. Finally, encourage event volunteers to sign up for regular volunteer opportunities and directly offer each online signup from the communication.
Finally, it’s vital to utilize the data you have on each of your supporters to create personalized tokens in all your communications. Your communication should ideally address each supporter by name and use other customized information, like the amount they donated or the number of hours they worked. The more personalized, the better!
2. Cover your digital bases.
Communicate through the digital channels your audience uses the most. People use multiple digital channels every day, making it more important than ever to use a multi-channel approach to all your organization’s communications.
While there are numerous options available at your fingertips, here is a list of common channels that you can use to reach your target audience:
- Organization Website – A website is the first place people go to find information, making it very important to keep your website up-to-date with important information for your support. All your volunteer opportunities should be available on your website. Aim to keep supporters informed about all your programs and provide a way to collect donations easily.
- Social Media – Engage with your audience through social media channels and share all the great work your organization is up to. Consider using these channels for fundraising efforts and volunteer recruitment. Make sure to share impactful anecdotes from supporters and eye-catching images to make your posts stand out.
- Email – This channel allows you to send tailored messaging utilizing audience segmentation and personalization data tokens in your emails. Email allows you to establish a steady stream of outreach through regular newsletters and target campaigns.
- SMS/Text Messaging– This channel is normally used for quick information updates, reminders, or text-to-donate campaigns. It’s a great way to connect with supporters who are on-the-go.
By covering your digital bases, you can easily meet supporters where they are: online! These four platforms will serve as the foundation of your outreach. Just pay attention to which types of messages work for each platform, and refine your messages to be as effective as possible as you go.
3. Don’t forget about direct mail.
While digital communications have become the norm for many organizations, nonprofits often neglect their direct mail efforts. However, there are still an awful lot of your contributors who prefer the personal touch of direct mail.
There is definitely something powerful about receiving physical mail from an organization, especially with the current emphasis on digital. It is becoming more and more uncommon, which offers your organization an opportunity to make a big impact with a carefully-executed direct mail campaign. These campaigns are more suited for donation or awareness campaigns rather than for volunteerism. Here are a few direct mail campaign ideas to get you inspired:
- Share a meaningful impact/success story with all your supporters. They can witness your mission in action and can visualize their own impact on your work.
- Launch a direct mail fundraising campaign. For the best results, partner with a direct mail fundraising partner who has plenty of nonprofit-specific experience in developing effective fundraising materials.
- Partner with sponsors to send a regular newsletter. Supporters will start to look forward to consistent updates on your organization’s work.
When used in tandem with your digital marketing efforts, you can get your messages in front of a larger audience. Just as you do for your online outreach, make sure you continue to tailor your direct mail messages. Otherwise, you won’t yield results that are as positive as they could be.
4. Get volunteers involved.
Your volunteers are a critical supporter demographic you must consider for all your outreach work. However, they can also be a great resource for performing various outreach activities as well. Volunteers are often an organization’s most loyal and active supporters for its cause. In fact, an estimated 25% of U.S. volunteers contributed an astounding 8.8 billion hours to nonprofits in 2017, according to InitLive’s volunteer management guide.
In other words, volunteers are the ideal fit to help create and manage some of these outreach campaigns. Consider getting volunteers involved in a donation campaign and harness their passion for the cause to inform new donors of all the positive impact your organization is having.
Just be sure to provide them with plenty of support, whether that means giving them a rough script to follow when conducting phone outreach or sharing templates for drafting effective emails or social media posts. That way, they can focus on making their passion for your cause shine through, while you can relax knowing all the essential information is in there.
Creating a well-segmented communication strategy that reaches each of your target audiences will serve your organization’s goals well in the long run. The more connected your supporters feel to your organization and its work, the greater your organization’s support will be.
Communication is a valuable and relatively inexpensive tool for your organization to harness to meet its goals this year. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to optimize your strategies, starting with these four easy tips!
This guest post was contributed by Cassandra Smallman of InitLive.
Cassandra is a passionate content creator dedicated to fostering positive impact through thought leadership in both the Nonprofit sector and live events industry. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin and Twitter.