Top Ways to Grow Engagement with Nonprofit Supporters
In the nonprofit realm, to grow engagement with supporters is vital and can make or break an organization’s success. When supporters are actively inspired by, involved with, and connected to your cause, they become some of your most powerful advocates.
But how can you effectively grow engagement with donors, volunteers, members, and more? In this guide, we’ll explore the top ways to forge strengthened relationships, providing you with actionable strategies and valuable insights to maximize your impact.
Specifically, we’ll cover the following:
- Understanding your nonprofit supporters
- Building engagement online
- Prioritizing multiple ways to get involved
- Promoting workplace-giving opportunities
Ready to engage with your supporters at new heights? Let’s begin with the basics.
1. Understanding Nonprofit Supporters
“Nonprofit supporter” is not a one-size fits all category, so it’s important that you don’t build your engagement strategy as if it were. In fact, there are a number of different supporter types that make up the heart and soul of any organization.
These often include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Donors — These generous individuals provide financial support, enabling your organization to fund its programs and, thus, advance its mission. Engage with this group by fostering a sense of community and togetherness in pursuing impact through generous giving.
- Volunteers — This group selflessly contributes their time, energy, skills, and passion, and they likely play a crucial role in executing your organization’s efforts. Consider increasing volunteer engagement by regularly communicating the impact these individuals bring to your mission. The more specific, the better!
- Members — For membership-based organizations, these individuals join your group in an official capacity, often offering financial support and building a sense of community. Grow engagement with this segment by offering and communicating a vast array of member benefits! Again, community is key, and exclusive offerings and experiences can go a long way.
- Board of Directors — Your nonprofit board typically consists of visionary leaders who provide guidance and expertise to ensure your organization’s long-term sustainability. Don’t forget to encourage and incentivize ongoing and active participation with your organization for this group! Each person should have a specific role, and the board should prioritize collaboration as a whole.
- Sponsors — Often formed to support specific events or programs, corporate partners provide financial and in-kind aid to form mutually beneficial relationships, empowering your team to achieve its goals effectively. To grow engagement, make sure to communicate the tangible advantages a partnership can offer—such as business exposure, CSR benefits, employee engagement, and more.
- Staff — This group typically isn’t just there for the paycheck! A nonprofit’s staff members can be some of its greatest advocates, managing operations and driving forward the organization’s overarching mission. Engage effectively with your team by facilitating a positive workplace culture and emphasizing their impact on your cause.
While you develop a plan to better connect with the above segments of your overall supporter audience, take the time to really understand each one’s motivations, expectations, values, and more. Employ personalization in your communications when possible, and keep detailed records of your interactions—and insights gleaned—in your CRM or volunteer management tool.
2. Grow Engagement Online
In today’s digital age, online channels have become invaluable tools for nonprofits seeking to engage with their supporters—from volunteer recruitment to donor stewardship and more.
With the right strategies, social media platforms and digital engagement tools can empower organizations to build and strengthen connections with their stakeholders effectively.
Here are a few key approaches to consider:
- Sharing valuable online materials — The internet provides a vast landscape for reaching and engaging supporters. Start by crafting compelling content that tells your nonprofit’s story, showcases your impact, and highlights supporter experiences and opportunities. Then, share the content on your organization’s website, social media profiles, and more.
- Encouraging user-generated content — Prompt supporters to share their own stories and tag your organization, establishing a sense of community and amplifying your reach. Utilize interactive features like polls, Q&A sessions, and live videos to encourage reciprocal communication and foster dialogue.
- Making online involvement easy — The simpler it is to engage with your nonprofit, the more likely supporters will do so. Thus, use your website, online donation tools, volunteer management platform, and more to streamline involvement for supporters. When it’s quick and easy for volunteers to sign up for and schedule shifts, you can expect higher levels of participation. The same is true for online giving—by removing common roadblocks and ensuring the process is seamless and user-friendly, more donations are likely to flow through to your cause.
- Offering engaging virtual opportunities — Increase your nonprofit’s reach by expanding into the virtual realm. Consider hosting virtual events, webinars, volunteer experiences, and more to engage supporters without physical limitations! Don’t forget to encourage attendees to actively participate through live chat to make the most of the engagement opportunity.
- Enlisting regular supporter communication — Enabling ongoing supporter outreach (such as sending a monthly digital newsletter) is crucial for building strengthened relationships with your nonprofit audience. Send personalized updates, success stories, impact reports, and more. You can even tailor the content based on supporter preferences and engagement history!
By effectively leveraging the online tools available to you, organizations like yours can engage with a wider audience and inspire greater action among volunteers, donors, and more.
And the bottom line is this—If you want to build connections with supporters, you need to be willing to meet them where they are: online!
3. Prioritizing Multiple Ways to Get Involved
With just about any nonprofit, there are numerous ways that an individual can get involved. If you’re looking to grow engagement with your organization, it’s important to emphasize all the ways your audience can participate in driving your mission forward.
Though specific engagement opportunities can vary from one nonprofit to the next, a few of the most common types of involvement include:
- Donating funds — Contributing financially, often through one-time donations or recurring gifts
- Donating gifts-in-kind — Gifting non-monetary resources, such as goods or services used to fulfill specific needs, operations, or programs
- Volunteering — Dedicating time and skills to support an organization’s fundraising, event, and mission activities
- Peer-to-peer fundraising — Soliciting donations on behalf of a nonprofit by tapping into an individual’s own network of support
- Advocating for the cause — Raising awareness and generating support for a cause through social media sharing, contacting policymakers, and more
By offering multiple ways for supporters to get involved, you create an inclusive environment that embraces and celebrates the diverse motivations and capacities of your audience—rather than focusing solely on the financial support a segment of your supporter base might provide.
4. Promoting Workplace Giving Opportunities
Workplace giving is a particular form of philanthropy that offers a unique avenue to engage nonprofit supporters and tap into the power of corporate partnerships. By promoting workplace giving opportunities to their supporters, nonprofits can amplify their impact and cultivate stronger connections with both individuals and their employers.
Though the opportunities are numerous, here are two of the most commonly offered types of workplace giving programs:
- Matching gifts: Matching gifts are a win-win for nonprofits and their supporters. When a company matches gifts, it incentivizes employees to give charitably by doubling or even tripling their charitable contributions to qualifying nonprofit causes. To promote matching gifts effectively, start by educating your supporters about the availability of these programs. Then, provide clear instructions on how they can initiate the matching process to make a greater impact on your cause!
- Volunteer grants: Also known as Dollars for Doers, volunteer grants provide funding to nonprofits based on employees’ volunteerism. Thus, encourage your supporters to explore their employer’s volunteer grant programs and provide clear instructions on how they can apply for these grants on your nonprofit’s behalf. Highlight the impact their volunteer hours can have, emphasizing the benefits of both their time and their employer’s financial support.
Recent fundraising research indicates that the presence of matching gift programs leads to increasing donation conversion rates and larger average gift sizes. In fact, 84% of supporters are more likely to give if a match is offered, while 1 in 3 donors will give more if they know it’s being matched. All in all, this results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in average donation amount when matching gift opportunities are promoted.
And the same findings can be assumed regarding volunteer grant programs, too! When supporters know that their hours devoted to your cause will result in a monetary gift provided by their employers, they’ll be more likely to get involved.
Fostering meaningful connections with your organization’s supporters is essential for maximizing impact toward your cause. When you apply the insights outlined above to your volunteer and donor engagement strategies, you can establish and grow a network of support that creates a ripple effect of positive change.
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