PART II: DONOR ENGAGEMENT ACROSS EVERY GENERATION
Donor engagement and fundraising for nonprofits used to be a standard process with expected outcomes. For example, an organization would host their annual gala or event and collect donations, much of the time from the same people. Subsequently, the nonprofit would send thank you notes and, as expected, grow incrementally year over year.
Today, it’s imperative for nonprofits to vary their donor engagement tactics and use more blended strategies. With technology at our fingertips, nonprofits can communicate with a wider population and reach donors on a more personal level.
Yesterday, we broke down the different generations of nonprofit donors and discussed their typical giving patterns and motivations. Today, we’ll dig into some examples of personalized donor engagement. After that, we’ll also address some common challenges that nonprofits face in targeting different generations.
FUNDRAISING FOR NONPROFITS: LISTEN TO THE DATA
When creating fundraising and donor engagement campaigns, regardless of donor pool, it’s crucial to keep details in mind. This mentality should be applied across all generational cohorts. Organizations should evaluate the giving patterns and preferences of each generation. This will help inform who they’ll reach out to and when, as well as how to steward each group.
Before jumping into planning campaigns, ask yourself two questions first. One, what do these generations care about? And two, how can I communicate in a way that will resonate with them?
Fundraising for nonprofits takes constant creativity and effort. You need to find new ways to bring new people into the organization and get them involved in the way they want to get involved. Collecting, analyzing, and listening to data surrounding different generations is the foundation of a strong donor engagement strategy.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS: CROWDFUNDING, PEER-TO-PEER, AND THE POWER OF SOCIAL
Crowdfunding simply refers to the effort to raise small amounts of money from a large number of people and has become a popular fundraising method in recent years. In just half a decade, the percentage of millennials who say they’ve given via a crowdfunding campaign has risen from 17 to 48 percent. By combining a cause you know a millennial is passionate about with how they prefer to donate (in this case, crowdfunding), your nonprofit maximizes its chances of bringing in volunteers and money to help further its mission.
Peer-to-peer fundraising for nonprofits means you’re leveraging your supporters to fundraise on your behalf. It’s a great way to attract new donors, as it relies on the public to spread the word of your organization and its mission.
Examples of P2P fundraising include 5K runs, walk-a-thons, or other group events in which your supporters convene their friends and family to participate or donate. It’s a strategy that’s popular among several generations, but in different ways. For instance, those who physically participate in the 5K are likely in the Gen X bucket or younger. However, those most likely to provide sponsorship and extra sets of hands (to pour water, work the registration booth, etc.) are Boomers and older. It’s one of the few areas of “generational symbiosis” in the data.
Let’s say your organization aims to raise money for cancer research. You could combine crowdfunding and P2P strategies to maximize involvement and donor engagement. This may entail creating a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money needed to host a 5K. Then, during the event itself, relying on P2P fundraising to raise even more proceeds. All of these efforts ladder up to your organization’s mission and ultimate goal: donating money to cancer research.
One of the best fundraising strategies is using social media for cause marketing. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X are more likely to engage with fundraising campaigns via social media. They are also more likely to promote the causes they support on their social media profiles. Many in these groups view what they support as a form of expression and part of their individual identities.
However, don’t be too quick to write off baby boomers as social media advocates. Boomers have an average of 4.6 social media accounts, with Facebook and LinkedIn as the leading platforms. While they might not view their profiles as part of their individualities as much as younger generations, boomers can still be targeted for charitable giving via social media activity.
When analyzing Gen Z giving patterns in particular, much of the generation’s motivation stems from what they see via social media “shock marketing” campaigns. These are marketing tactics aimed at gaining attention by shocking their viewer with the aim of drawing like-minded people to your cause. Let’s discuss what this means in fundraising for nonprofits. For instance, a Gen Zer who opposes climate change might see an Instagram video of a polar bear on a thin piece of ice. As a result, they have a visceral reaction. Finally, that prompts them to make a micro-donation to an organization that aligns with their beliefs (i.e., a cause that aids in environmental protection).
A BLENDED STRATEGY
By combining crowdfunding, P2P, and social media tactics, nonprofits are covering a large portion of their younger donor base. Blending these tech-centric strategies with more traditional ones (i.e., sending direct mail, hosting an annual gala) gains attention from older donors. Together, these donor engagement strategies create invaluable opportunities for nonprofits to expand their reach, resonate with multiple donor generations, and do so without alienating supporters or limiting themselves to any one strategy.
Across all generations, donors want and even demand that nonprofits prove their impact. They want to see how their donation is contributing to the success of the organization. And they want granular details. The only way to do this efficiently and effectively is with technology. Nonprofits can use case management software to accomplish this. It allows organizations to gather and analyze data efficiently. More importantly, it helps to paint a cohesive picture of how each dollar positively impacts a nonprofit’s constituents or community. Implementing this software puts nonprofits ahead of their competition. Fundraising for nonprofits is a competitive landscape, and technology increases your organization’s chances of consistent fundraising.
The key to successful development and generational giving is to find a blended balance. If you’re not segmenting your donors well or targeting them based on data gathered from your case management system, then you may lose supporters. The number one piece of advice is to do your research. And above all, remain genuine and passionate about your mission. Strive to find a hybrid between tradition and technology. Aim to steward in a way that resonates with as many of your donors as possible. Give people a reason to come back to your organization and they will, for life.