Seven is a golden number in marketing. As the “Rule of Seven” goes, an individual must see or interact with your nonprofit’s brand at least seven times in the course of a year before they’re inclined to take any action. Following this rule is a best practice when it comes to donor engagement.
Through multichannel marketing, these seven touches can be seamlessly woven into your nonprofit’s communications to keep your cause top-of-mind for new donors and deepen relationships with your current supporters.
Your nonprofit may already be hitting this magic number. If you mail your constituents quarterly, send one digital appeal, email an invitation to an event, and follow up with a friendly phone call — that’s seven touchpoints!
Each touch can be a success even if a donor doesn’t respond. If your quarterly mailing does not prompt a gift, it can still serve its purpose if it is part of a larger strategic plan to create affinity and build relationships over time. The key is sending quality, consistent messaging to your audiences across various channels.
Here are seven examples of touchpoints and strategic techniques across different channels that build organic donor engagement with new and established audiences alike.
Social media is a terrific venue for making first contact with those who are unfamiliar with your organization. Post unique content three or four times a week to reach and engage new audiences.
You can also use social media to deepen relationships with your existing donors by tagging them or featuring them in posts or tweets. Be sure you message them privately beforehand to see if they are willing to repost or retweet to their networks. Explain that social media sharing is an easy way for them to let people know that they support your nonprofit’s work.
You can discover which channels your donors use by conducting a poll in your donor newsletter, as well as by asking about their preferences in your annual donor survey.
A quality monthly or quarterly newsletter (ideally delivered by both email and postal mail) is an important touchpoint for engaging with prospective and current donors.
One poignant story or article can often be enough to prompt a first-time gift. For this reason, it’s important to identify and include stories and anecdotes that convey emotion and show your impact.
Additionally, your newsletter can deepen relationships with your supporters by publishing donor profiles. These stories can highlight your donors’ personal achievements, show why they choose to support your organization, or spotlight their personal connection to your cause.
Many nonprofits overlook print communications. But in an age in which many of people are flooded with digital marketing messages, your nonprofit can make an impression through well-conceived direct mail solicitations, event invitations or programs, and brochures.
Physical content featuring your logo builds brand recognition, and regular contact ensures consistent messaging about your mission. Every printed piece should include your office contact details, a short link to your online donation page, and your social media links.
For your existing donors, we cannot overemphasize the value of sending a personal, handwritten card to those who have made a gift, visited your office, taken a phone call, or attended an event. You can also send cards to donors for holidays, birthdays, or other life milestones.
For major donors, consider including a personal note with a printed acknowledgment letter, annual report, or donor gift.
Your digital content — including ads, email content, evites, and text messages — should be designed to be easily readable and clickable. Every piece of digital content offers an opportunity to learn about your organization, visit your website, and engage with your content.
You can deepen your relationships with major donors or longtime supporters by featuring them as signatories in important email communications. And their presence on a digital appeal can be a highly effective strategy in peer-to-peer outreach. Make it clear who the person is and their relationship to your nonprofit, since not every reader will recognize everyone’s name.
Word Of Mouth
As with print, the value of personal, word-of-mouth marketing cannot be overstated. While messages produced by your nonprofit are incredibly important, the most powerful impressions often come when a donor mentions to a colleague that they are attending your annual gala or forwards an email from your organization to a friend who is unfamiliar with your work.
You can stimulate word-of-mouth mentions by creating regular, shareable content that includes clear calls to action about how to share it with others. Be sure to include questions in your donor surveys that ask how they prefer to share information about your organization, and take their feedback to heart.
Major donors and board members can be especially helpful by encouraging their inner circle to support your organization or get involved around events and special initiatives. At events, they can also help connect you and your staff with their own contacts for engagement opportunities.
Your events and galas — both in person and virtual — are important touchpoints for new audiences. These events can make a strong first impression with attendees. Because COVID-19 continues to be a major presence in our lives, your virtual event must be a top-notch experience to truly resonate (a 2022 fundraising trend you can learn more about here).
In-person touchpoints with donors can occur one-on-one in person or on Zoom visits. Hosting an exclusive donors-only event with special programming is a terrific way to steward your most engaged audience. Donors hosting an event themselves is another chance to engage new audiences while deepening relationships with current supporters.
Human connection of any kind is a powerful touchpoint. You can build strong relationships with prospective donors quickly by calling them. A call to raise funds is just one option: You can call event registrants to remind them and ensure their attendance; call to thank them for attending an event and ask what they liked most; or call with volunteer opportunities that might interest them.
Phone calls with your supporters are vital to maintain personal connections and affinity with your organization. Thank-you calls are appropriate after gifts, events attended, or other meaningful engagements. Phone calls with updates about specific initiatives they support can also be great touchpoints for donor stewardship.
Whether your nonprofit has a robust calendar and dedicated communications team or is a small shop, these seven touches can easily fit into your annual communications schedule to engage your key audiences in personal ways.
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