Now we’ve spent three weeks discussing donor engagement and how it is less about being transaction focused and more about being a true two-way flow of communication.

Still, we do understand the ultimate importance of turning that engagement into donations long-term.

In Penelope Burk’s blog, she poignantly describes the three elements of donor engagement that create donations:

“What donors have found to be consistently influential is this: they want to be thanked promptly and meaningfully for their gifts; they want to see their gifts designated or assigned to a specific project, program or initiative, and they want a report, in measurable terms, on what has been accomplished in that program before they are asked to give again. If donors get those three things every time they give, they will give again in numbers far greater than what fundraising experiences today and they will give more generously.”

Prompt and Meaningful Thank Yous with Reporting
The most meaningful moment for a donor is the day they receive a personalized thank you for donating. This might mean a phone call or a handwritten card, but either way, acknowledgement is key. The second step is to ensure they see some sort of report within the next six months to a year to see where their money is going to be used. This can happen in an annual report, but how impersonal is that? What if your thank you acknowledgment defined where the funds went? If you refer back to the Swedish blood bank example from last week, what if a text message was sent when the “funds” were used? This has a huge WOW factor, although we understand it’s not doable for every organization and every example.

Storytelling and the Transparent Assignments of Funds
Every project that your organization undertakes is a chance to tell a story and engage donors. By clearly communicating the work that you do through a variety of mediums, you can become more transparent to donors, which in turn builds trust. You also create a narrative about how funds are being used, which builds trust. And you can more easily explain when and where funding is needed, because you were so transparent in the first place.

Personalized Asks
The hope is that if you create a good two-way relationship with your donors, when the time comes to do an ask, your organization can become more personalized and relevant. Do you know what causes or events they are particularly interested in? You can easily use technology to track this. For example, if you work for an animal rights organization and you have a select group of donors that have a huge preference for monkeys, the next time you run a campaign to raise money for the monkeys you can direct your ask to the donors that this will be relevant too. This is a massive way to become more relevant and therefore attract more donations. And it’s only logical isn’t it?

This wraps up our series on donor engagement and next week we’ll be heading into a world of donor retention and talking about how to keep the same donors happy and immersed in your cause.