2018 has been quite a year for fundraisers. Since we know that nearly 10 percent of annual giving happens during the last three days of the year, it’s way too early to analyze fundraising totals. However, we can take a minute to review the five most impactful communication strategies nonprofit organizations used to encourage charitable giving in 2018.
1. Communicating Impact
In 2018 nonprofits really developed a better understanding of what motivates their donors to give. It became clear that donors want to know how their money is being used to support the common goals of the organization and themselves. Communicating that impact clearly can motivate donors to give more than they usually would.
An Accenture study cited in a North Carolina State Philanthropy Journal article earlier this year found 80 percent of respondents said it was important to know the real outcomes of their donations or volunteer work with a nonprofit. Furthermore, 60 percent said that they would donate up to 10 percent more if nonprofits better communicated how their fundraising dollars further the mission.
Has your organization taken the time to discover and document your donors’ priorities? If not, get started in 2019! You might send a survey to find out what programs your donors care about most. Then, add a simple line to your appeals to let your donors know exactly how their money furthers the initiatives they care about.
2. Digital Giving
We know donors have been giving online at increased rates for the past several years. Again, we can’t offer totals for 2018 yet. But consider that online giving grew 12.1 percent in 2017 and was already up 10.6 percent from that in April 2018. We can safely assume that number will be higher by the year’s end and could perhaps be the biggest increase in online giving in history!
Nonprofits noticed this trend over the past several years. In turn, they contributed to the rapid growth in online giving by making it easier for donors to give digitally. If you examine the online giving pages of some of the most successful nonprofits you will notice a common trend. The pages are short, to the point, and aim to make it as easy as possible to donate. Most importantly, they look and function just as well on a desktop computer or a smartphone.
In 2018 we saw more and more nonprofits get in on this trend. We know that we need to meet donors halfway if we want to secure gifts. More and more nonprofits put an emphasis on making it easier for their donors to give online this year, and they reaped the rewards!
3. Donor Retention Over Acquisition
Of course, nonprofits always want to bring in new donors. However, we noticed many nonprofits shift their focus from acquiring new donors to retaining and upgrading ones they already have. Remember, nonprofits actually lose $96 dollars from downgraded and lapsed gifts for every $100 gained from new, recovered, or increased gifts.
We saw more nonprofits catch on this year and shift their focus to accordingly. Fundraisers across the board realized it doesn’t really make sense to focus on a net gain of $4. Especially when the return from retaining and encouraging donors to increase their gift can yield a much bigger reward.
We noticed the nonprofits that made the most of this strategy had a few things in common. First, good data hygiene was a must. Retaining donors is all about strengthening the existing donor/organization relationship through communications that feel relevant and personal. So, for this strategy to be successful, nonprofits need to know a lot about their donors. They also need to convey messages that align with what is already known about the donor.
4. Utilizing Video
- When watching a video, users retain 95 percent of a message, compared to 10 percent when reading text.
- Videos generate 1,200 percent more shares on social media than posts with text and images.
- Organizations that use video grow revenue at a 49 percent faster rate than those who do not.
It’s no wonder why more nonprofits turned to video than ever in 2018!
When creating videos, nonprofits should incorporate the same storytelling elements they use in other communications. We’re talking about starting with a mission-centric message. First explain why the organization’s work matters. Then describe what the organization’s work entails and how it accomplishes its goals.
5. Fighting Donor Fatigue
Social media, digital fundraising, and peer-inspired giving have accelerated growth in annual giving for the past several years. While fundraisers love these techniques and the increased revenue they’ve generated, it also raises concerns of overloading donors with opportunities to give.
Sometimes, in fundraising as in life, we need to take the good with the bad. Not that we think new innovations in fundraising are a bad thing. But donor fatigue has become a real concern for many organizations. Our audiences are bombarded with more opportunities to give than ever before.
The only real solution is to make your fundraising communications feel relevant to each recipient and stand out above the rest. The key is using data to drive relevancy an using the information you learn about donors to build more personal, effective communications.
Broadly speaking, deeper personalization driven by data, effective storytelling, a multi-channel approach, and a mission-centric message are all great techniques for taking your nonprofit’s communications to the next level. These are all in depth topics with a lot more to them than we can cover here, but many of our previous blog posts provide further insight into these strategies.
The lessons fundraisers learned in 2018 can carry nonprofits into the new year and beyond. But if we had to break down everything we learned this year into one over-arching point, it would be that nonprofits need to reach a like-minded audience with an appealing messaging in the way that is most comfortable for each donor.
However, if your nonprofit didn’t implement the strategies above in 2018, its not too late to get started in the new year. Check back next week to learn what we think the biggest fundraising trends of 2019 will be!