In business, digital engagement is closely aligned with customer engagement. Today’s consumers expect excellent service that is personalized to their needs. If they share data with the businesses they support, they expect that data to be used for the betterment of their experience. Better experiences will lead to customer retainment and growth which is vital in a volatile economic climate.
Nonprofit organizations must also consider their customer’s experience – the donor. By providing personalized, transformative donor experiences, you increase your donor retention rates and overall giving. What influences the donor experience? The answer – digital engagement.
What is nonprofit digital engagement and why is it important?
Nonprofit digital engagement is the strategic process of interacting with your constituents online. Some of these online tactics may include posting content, executing social media or paid ad campaigns, or hosting events. The purpose of these activities is to generate conversation and connect with your constituents.
Beyond building awareness, these tactics provide you with relevant data regarding your followers and their interests. This information informs your communication and outreach strategies so as to provide relevant content that influences donor interactions.
Nonprofit digital engagement is important because it allows you to expand your audience and build relationships with your current constituents. By creating an effective strategy, your organization can increase engagement through donations and/or event and volunteer participation.
Developing an effective digital engagement strategy for nonprofits
Nonprofit digital engagement is more than posting on social media once a week or having a chatbot on your website. This is not a “if you build it, they will come” approach.
An effective digital engagement strategy requires two components: PRESENCE on the appropriate digital channels and a PROCESS that nurtures your audience to act. These two components will drive donations and revenue goals.
The first step in developing your strategy is to determine your donor personas. A donor persona is a set of characteristics and behaviors that define your preferred donor and their engagement preferences. These characteristics may include:
• Demographic data – employment, education, income, marital status, age, gender, location
• Psychographic data – values, opinions, preferred programs, and cause concepts
• Behavioral data – engagement history (donor, volunteer, sponsor, or committee member) and preferred communication channel
All these characteristics influence the digital channels upon which you will have a presence. For example, let’s say your donor persona is ‘Millennial Megan.’ Megan has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, and she works at a media company. She is married and lives in the Chicago-metro area. She’s passionate about education and the arts.
Given this donor persona, you may create an awareness-building campaign on Instagram. This campaign may be a video series that highlights your summer arts program and the positive impact it has on children.
After you define your donor personas, it’s important to identify the digital channels you will leverage to promote your messaging. Some of these channels may include:
• Website – Your nonprofit’s website is the home base of your entire digital engagement strategy. Your website must contain information on your organization’s mission, vision, and history. You must also share details on your programs and partners. The most critical page is your ‘Get Involved’ page. This page contains details regarding your current fundraising campaigns, volunteer projects, and upcoming events. Your nurture campaigns should drive your supporters to this page.
• Paid search – To drive traffic to your website, you can utilize paid search campaigns. Perform keyword research on the terms your supporters search on Google and other search engines to find your organization. Utilize an ad platform such as Google Ads to create your ads and pay for them on a pay-per-click (PPC).
• SEO – Search engine optimization is a tactic that drives organic (non-paid) traffic to your website. This tactic involves optimizing your website based on keywords through content development, on-page elements (headers and title tags), and off-page elements such as link building.
• Social media – Consistent social media posting generates awareness. Social media platforms also provide an opportunity to engage in authentic conversation with your donors.
• Webinars – Webinars offer a cost-effective way to host events. Offering these sessions online allows you to expand your audience and offer flexibility to donors with busy schedules. Webinar formats can include panel discussions, Q&A sessions, or interviews.
• Email marketing – Email marketing is a critical digital engagement tactic to inform your database regarding your organization’s current work. Email types may include monthly e-newsletters or regular communication to affinity groups or donor circles. For new email subscribers, it’s important to send informational and brand-specific content. As these subscribers click web pages or watch videos, you will gain an understanding of their interests. Use this information to inform your asks.
It's important to create specific goals for each digital engagement channel that reflect your organization’s fundraising goals. For example, if you set a year-end fundraising goal, determine how much revenue must be generated from your email marketing campaigns. This amount will influence the number of email sends and subscribers.
What tools & technologies are best suited for improving nonprofit digital engagement?
Nonprofit digital engagement not only requires a strategy but also a way to collect and analyze data. The information your donors provide through interacting with your digital channels, updating their donor profiles, or converting on your website offer opportunities to improve their donor experience. With a platform such as a nonprofit CRM, you can harness all this data and draw collective insights about your donor base.
Beyond a nonprofit CRM, a digital engagement platform is a system that provides your supporters an opportunity to support your cause in personal, meaningful ways. These platforms offer a variety of functionality including:
• Fundraising through online donation pages, Do-It-Yourself, Peer-to-Peer, Team-based
• Event participation
• Online communities
• Content management
• Email marketing
By offering multiple engagement types, you provide a better donor experience as donors select the mode most accessible or meaningful to them.
Your digital engagement strategy will inform your platform selection. Take a close look at your constituent journey; each constituent takes a unique path to engage with your organization. Your platform’s capabilities must offer donors this level of flexibility.
Prioritizing your donors’ digital experience will improve their overall donor experience. By developing a sound strategy and consistent online presence, your organization will boost awareness and donor participation. Not only will this strategy work toward meeting your fundraising goals and mission fulfillment but also provide meaningful philanthropic experiences for your donors.
StratusLIVE Ignite is an all-in-one digital engagement platform that allows donors to give, volunteer, and engage with the causes and organizations most important to them. Are you ready to simplify the giving experience and enhance donor engagement?