While it's no surprise that 2020 changed the world, it also changed the way supporters donate. The nonprofit sector was substantially impacted by pandemic uncertainties, high unemployment, election seasons, and myriad other factors driving new behaviors in how individuals show their support. Now, with all eyes on end-of-year giving, nonprofit marketers are gearing up to embrace a new generation of digital donors who are ready to help enable change.
Nonprofit supporters are going through a persona change. As in-person events took a hit in 2020 and 2021, online donating spiked by 32%, along with a 7.3% increase in new donors and recaptured contributors. However, despite more people giving, nonprofit retention rates are shrinking. According to Blackbaud Institute, donor retention rates have decreased by 4.1%. Election seasons tend to pull donations away from other charitable giving, and 2020 was a big year for political nonprofits. Also, other factors, including the pandemic's rise in unemployment and urgent matters such as social justice and climate change issues, have pulled donors to new causes and altered their ability to give.
Retaining these new donors brought on from the pandemic era will be critical. The stats show that email is still the most cost-effective channel to reach audiences and drive results (email donations are up by 19%). But now, marketing sophistication provides new opportunities for nonprofits. Marketers can tap into their zero and first-party data to create personalized, data-driven marketing campaigns that deepen donor connections.
In the remaining months of 2021, nonprofit marketing teams will need to intertwine their data and creativity to develop new, tangible personalization strategies that end the year on a high note. With more than 25% of annual nonprofit revenue occurring in December, it’s crucial to bring personalization to the forefront for maximum supporter impact.
To help, here are four ways nonprofits can create rich, rewarding supporter experiences that boost engagement, high-value action, and excitement for 2022.
Make Every Supporter Feel Special
All supporters are incredibly different in their motivations and giving levels, so nonprofits will need to use their data to provide new and returning audiences with a targeted and highly relevant experience from the get-go. With zero- and first-party data, nonprofits can tap into the info they already have to create relevant content based on habits, behaviors, demographics, and motivations. For nonprofits with limited bandwidth and resources, focusing on the biggest areas of opportunity (such as end-of-year donation asks) can be the first step to carrying out a successful personalization strategy.
The onboarding process is also a powerful initial opportunity to build relationships and trust during the early stages of a supporter's journey. While there may not be a wealth of data for new supporters, nonprofits can still make the most of their first impression. The Inkredible Cause campaign pulls in the new supporter’s first name with a gracious welcome message and personalized next steps, urging the new supporter to continue building their profile. A poll is also included towards the bottom of the email to capture the recipient's interests for future retargeting.
Show Impact to Inspire Action
Not every email should ask for donations. Supporters need to feel confident in an organization's work and see the impact that they're having before they put their dollars behind it. To build much-needed trust, marketers will need to give this information far more frequently than they ask for donations or support. By taking a "give, give, give, ask" approach, adapted from Gary Vaynerchuck's book "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook," the more nonprofits can increase familiarity, trust, and connection with supporters, the more motivated the supporter will be to act when actually asked. When supporters understand where their money is going and the cause they're helping, they’ll feel comfortable giving.
Data is in the Driver’s Seat
Never underestimate the power of first- and zero-party data. They should be at the foundation of every nonprofit’s marketing strategy. Without zero- and first-party data, nonprofits have a limiting perception of their donors and how to reach them. As privacy restrictions across digital marketing strengthen, owned data is a powerful asset that nonprofits can utilize to reinforce value and meaning to donors.
The Inkredible Cause year-in-review email campaign establishes a personal connection with the audience immediately. Utilizing zero- and first-party data, the campaign visualizes the supporter’s journey over the past year by displaying their first name in the branded header and congratulating them on hitting their fundraising goal. Further, the campaign celebrates the number of petitions signed, major events attended, and the total amount raised on a local and national scale to show the donor's broader impact. The campaign reinforces the connection between the organization and the recipient while motivating them to continue to support.
Eyes on the Prize? Better Optimize
Nonprofits can efficiently improve their success by refining their campaigns, calls-to-action, and conversion funnels. Minor tweaks to automated email campaigns or on-site conversion funnels all add up and can end up bringing in millions. If you’re not testing and optimizing for campaign improvements, you’re leaving money on the table. Before going into the organization’s biggest fundraising drives of the year, optimize your existing campaigns, such as automated email triggers and evergreen content with A/B testing or built-in testing phases a few weeks before launch.
As nonprofits aim for a fruitful end-of-year giving season, ensuring that demands for personalized, timely marketing campaigns are met will be the most vital tool in their arsenal. Nonprofits that prioritize retention and fundraising strategies, utilize their zero- and first-party data, and optimize their existing automated campaigns will sow the seeds for greater loyalty, donation sizes, and advocacy in the long run.
To learn more about quick wins through personalization, download Movable Ink's Best-in-Class Personalization Across Email and Mobile eBook here.