We buy food because we are hungry. Gas because our car needs fuel to function. Shoes because we really do need those sandals that go perfectly with a new outfit. But we give because we feel an emotional tie to a cause. For marketers trying to predict who will give to what organization at what time of year and how much, the ever changing dynamics of the non-profit sector can make this process unpredictable and challenging at best.

Most non-profits know their tried and true donors. Donor retention rates on average are 43%. These people are invested and engaged with your cause. But what about the remaining 57%? What prompted them to make one donation with you and never return? We know most are still donating albeit sadly, not with your organization. What was the emotional appeal to go elsewhere? In a donating world where over half of new donors do not return, non-profits are challenged to find the emotional tie that brings them back and keeps them giving.

Here are some tips for connecting emotionally with your donors:

  • Know how your donor became engaged with you. Is this a consistent donor who has been by your side for years or someone new who has recently decided to give to your organization? If they are new, was there a content or messaging change that brought them on? Did they respond to a world event or natural disaster? Spikes in donations seen after a disaster are great for helping an immediate need but fewer than 30% give additional donations. Knowing what emotional appeal engaged your donor can help an organization message to keep their donor.
  • Utilize data to determine how best to message to new and current donors. Are your donors progressive? Are they conservative? Where else are they giving and how often? Have they recently given a large gift to a like-minded non-profit? All of these data elements can help to determine your donor’s or potential donor’s ability to give during this time.
  • Understand the importance of social media. Giving is emotional. We give to a cause because their mission resonates with our value system. In a fast-paced, real time world, media messaging can change faster than we can form an opinion. An engaged social media presence not only keeps your donors engaged, but delivers relevant messaging during current events. Let them know you are standing by their side and they will stand by yours.
  • Say thank you. Once a donation has been made, your donors are invested emotionally and financially. A thank you highlighting the difference their dollars have made is necessary to keep a donor invested, engaged and returning. I recently gave to a local non-profit focused on keeping kids in school. In return, I received a crafted letter highlighting the importance of my engagement and the impact it made on my community with a compelling fact that if we decreased the high school drop-out rate by 50%, taxpayers would save $45 billion dollars. Well now I’m invested, engaged and aware that my contribution makes a difference becuase of the organization's thank you.

Remember, once a donor always a donor. Consumer preferences change, but their desire to giveback doesn’t.  And once you’ve engaged with them emotionally, you’ve got a donor for life.

Topics: non-profit, US, Data

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