Much ado about something: Effectively engaging donors

The number one reason people do not give to nonprofit organizations is because they are not asked.  Fundraising is even more important in today’s heavily regulated environment. Privacy concerns, shrinking exchanges and increasing government regulations have put more pressure on nonprofits to raise money. In fact, our friends in the U.K. recently experienced tighter regulations through changes in the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice. Regulatory efforts in the U.K. now mean that charities are unable to rent other charities donor data. Charities must also implement a clear opt-out option on all communications to donors. With one click, a donor can cut all ties with a nonprofit.

But how can we ask if we are not allowed to open that dialogue?

I find these regulations ironic as I sort through the evening mail; one gym promotion, one Trump ad and a house cleaning service. And I thought, if all of these people can contact me, why can’t I let the world know about the needs in my community? Or the needs around the world?

It is a dilemma that keeps fundraisers up at night. How do I find an incremental audience? How do I stop depending on the same exchange pool? How do I engage a younger audience? Year over year trends show that nonprofit donor house files are shrinking. If we exchange from the same pool of names, that pool is shrinking too. We also know that our direct mail donors are older and tend to give smaller gifts to many nonprofits. If I have ten dollars of charitable giving and no affinity to a direct cause, I will give ten nonprofits a dollar.

In the next 30 years, $30 trillion will be passed down from Baby Boomers to Generation X to millennials. According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report 84% of millennials surveyed made a charitable donation in 2014.

How can nonprofits capture their share?

This new audience of potential donor’s demands more from nonprofits- more relevant engagement through donor experiences and more accountability that nonprofits engage with them just like any other brand they interact with does today.

Last night I searched for new snow boots. Five minutes later I had two offers from outdoor companies wooing me with snow boot discounts. I felt understood. And wanted. In comparison, I opened an acquisition piece from a nonprofit that recently received a substantial gift from our family. I sighed and thought, “They don’t even know who I am.”

How can nonprofits improve their subscriber acquisition and retention programs to make the most of their efforts in a limited environment?

It is time to reach beyond donor lists and review other transaction indicators. By looking at who has their wallet open now and where your loyal donors engage outside of charitable giving, you can identify the right type of prospect, model this profile against your best supporters and therefore be more likely to attract a committed donor over time.

Potential supporters and donors to your charity are still out there and waiting for you to engage them with your mission. Leveraging transactional and donor insights combined with demographic and lifestyle data can help you identify a new, potentially more engaged incremental universe.

It is time to stop relying on the same individuals and time to engage donors who are excited and committed to your mission.

To learn more about leveraging unique customer insights to enrich your own donor information and reach new donors click here.