STAUFFER has spent the better part of the past 20 years helping nonprofits of all sizes and missions maximize their donations by crafting the right messaging and tone within compelling user experiences that motivate audiences. Our work for nonprofits to improve engagement with their audience has increased donations and created a tighter-knit, more aware following of committed and active donors.
Today, we will review the shortlist of areas nonprofits can improve their engagement and a few tips for maximizing results. Let’s dive in:
Understanding Nonprofit Engagement
Engagement can mean different things to different businesses, but in the nonprofit context, engagement refers to any kind of involvement, participation, or direct connections that someone has with a nonprofit. Engagement could include but is not limited to, volunteering, donating, and spreading awareness of a nonprofit’s cause. When it comes to captivating your audience, great nonprofits create empathy through storytelling that harnesses the strengths of the communication medium.
Building a Strong Online Presence
Building a solid online presence that creates a compelling journey places nonprofits in an advantageous position to drive awareness to their cause that will ultimately yield commitment and engagement from people eager to help make a difference.
STAUFFER’s specialty is creating website experiences of clean design and content driven by our clients’ key performance indicators (KPI) for successful engagement and conversion.
Leveraging social media across applicable platforms is essential to your nonprofit’s storytelling process. Meeting your community where they already are grants you access to feeding engaging content in a medium where they feel the most comfortable. As discussed in our article on hashtag relevance in 2023, having a proper hashtag strategy is a great way to spread awareness of your mission to people unfamiliar with your nonprofit. Advertising campaigns via social media platforms like Meta and Google can further extend your reach.
Crafting a persuasive email marketing campaign strategy is the other important component that enables nonprofits to link their needs to audiences through episodic storytelling and call-to-actions that fundamentally resonate and build long term engagement.
Fostering Community and Relationships
Establishing a donor-centric approach to your online strategy adds warmth and a welcoming interpretation to how an audience contextualizes your nonprofit. Staying in regular contact with your donors and supporters through social media and email marketing personalizes and humanizes your organization as if it were just two people in a room having a personal moment. Alongside a steady email marketing campaign, initiating leadership to write personalized thank-you letters and correspondence (email or handwritten) is another step in the right direction toward bolstering a solid relationship with your filial community.
Hosting virtual and in-person events in the way of webinars, fundraisers, and workshops is another way to ingratiate your audience. These events elevate your platform and serve as a chance to welcome thought leaders and celebrate those benefiting from your nonprofit’s hard work. Welcoming donors and prospective donors to these virtual and in-person events opens the door to a sense of belonging. It creates excellent moments to gather content and further promote your work online.
Creating and nurturing an online community through forums and groups and responding to your followers on social media is another pillar to maintaining a continuous dialogue that invigorates and mobilizes your base. Many nonprofits manage this task with a community manager who listens, responds, and monitors conversations. An active community manager monitors these conversations, keeping tabs on what your audience is saying and filtering out spam and hate speech – an unfortunate byproduct of online interaction.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Analytics is critical to optimizing your messaging strategy. Donor management and email marketing platforms provide detailed metrics of your campaigns’ performance. Google Analytics is a pillar in monitoring your website traffic and user behavior, and its metrics should serve as a compass that points the way to how you can better optimize your message. A further deep dive into how Google Analytics works can be found in our blog: “Google Analytics 4: Get to Know the New Features and Their Impact.”
Donor management software and email marketing tools are simple ways to craft email marketing campaigns to segment and target audiences from your gathered email database. Within these messaging services come vital tools to personalize your appeals to donors and trigger subsequent emails based on various user actions. STAUFFER strongly recommends having a solid understanding of how your donor management and email marketing system’s automation and drip campaigns work and use them often.
A/B testing and experimentation in both your website and email marketing platforms grant you a means to experiment with two different versions of a message, sending samples of each to a target audience where you can then analyze their metrics and deploy the higher-performing outreach. When A/B testing for your website, STAUFFER considers it best practice to test landing pages and donation forms before fully launching them to the public. For more on A/B testing, read our article: ”.“UX and Web Design: The Importance of A/B Testing
Collaborations and Partnerships
The power of strategic partnerships is a valuable means to elevate your message and expand your platform. For smaller organizations, aligning with like-minded organizations creates a sense of legitimacy and an inlet to similar audiences from which you can further build your reach. Collaborative strategic partnerships can strengthen connections for more developed nonprofits and entrench you deeper into your organization’s core mission.
Corporate partnerships and sponsorships are mutually beneficial arrangements that can bring substantial financial resources and awareness to your cause. Before accepting any sponsorship from a corporate donor, it is crucial to vet their work practices, partnerships, public persona, and if/where else they have made other donations. When engaging corporate donors for sponsorships, lead with a compelling message about the cause and provide audience metrics and demographics. An engaged audience will always catch the eye of a business looking to collaborate; show them why your organization will net the most impact and visibility.
Measuring and Adapting
Before beginning any campaign, set explicit engagement and donation goals and stay vigilant in making sure you are on track to accomplishing them. Regularly assessing your campaign’s progress ensures that every outreach team member stays accountable and gives you the flexibility to modify your approach when it loses traction. Making data-driven adjustments over just “feel” is always the smart choice; while your nonprofit may encourage leading with your heart regarding marketing and outreach, the numbers never lie.
Lastly, take a moment every now and then to celebrate your team’s successes and learn from your failures. It takes a lot of nuance and skill to start, grow, and nurture an engaged audience. If you need help engaging your audience, we encourage you to implement these strategies today. A dedicated engagement strategy for nonprofits compounds over time, and while there are lots of peaks and valleys in the learning process, mastering these tactics will ultimately yield long-term success.
STAUFFER can provide expert strategy and development proven to engage, inform, and convert audience awareness into increased donations; we’re here to help, drop us a line.