The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the global economy. Data Axle’s latest survey of more than 1,200 charitable donors found that, despite the devastating losses and widespread unemployment, a majority of donors (51%) have not reduced the amount they contribute to the causes they support. In fact, 28% indicated they now donate more than they did pre-pandemic.
The survey also found that while donors’ planned contributions are holding steady, their interactions with nonprofits have shifted towards digital channels. 48% of donors ranked email as their preferred way to communicate with charities. Direct mail came in second with 21% of donors identifying it as their preferred channel, followed by social media (17%), text messaging (8%), and phone calls (2%). To engage current donors and attract new supporters in a digital age, nonprofits need to invest in a multichannel strategy and seize opportunities while donors are ready to give.
Taking the following steps can increase awareness for your cause, attract new donors, and help you build life-long relationships on behalf of your nonprofit:
The American Cancer Society is the first search result of 133 million for those searching which charity to donate to.
According to our survey, when giving to a nonprofit, most donors (44%) go to the nonprofit’s website unprompted to make their gift online. Your website may be well-designed with eye-catching colors and an instant focus on your cause, but how high does it come up in search engine results pages (SERPs) when prospective donors are looking for the right cause? Donors can’t give to you if they can’t find you. SEO is instrumental to get your nonprofit on the map and drive awareness to your cause. Here are some key components of an effective SEO strategy:
These San Diego area dog rescues have clear meta descriptions that will keep them at the top of the results page for relevant searches.
Keep your site content up to date—make sure you sunset outdated articles and keep your homepage and news fresh. Create new content blurbs to highlight a current campaign and the impact your donors make on your mission.
Our research has shown that email is the preferred channel for donors to engage with nonprofits. It’s no surprise that personalization makes people more interested in opening and clicking emails. Data allows marketers to take personalization to the next level—when you know enough about your donors to deliver relevant and compelling content to them at the right time, you help remove barriers to engagement and incite action.
Example: Help for Heroes
Help for Heroes is a British charity that provides lifelong recovery support to service personnel who have been wounded or injured in the line of duty and their families. It was founded in 2007 by Bryn Parry and his wife Emma after visiting soldiers at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. Help for Heroes sends a personalized email welcoming subscribers to be “part of the team” after signing up for their email list. This email keeps recipients engaged by letting them know how important they are to the organization. Help for Heroes also optimizes this email for mobile, with clearly defined table roles and well-structured headings, making it easier for readers to navigate on a smaller screen.
Our research found that young people are more likely to be engaged with nonprofits on social media. 90% of Millennials and 74% of Gen Z are active on social media, making it one of the best ways to get in front of the younger generation and grow their awareness of your cause.4
But social isn’t exclusively the realm of younger donors. On Facebook, users 65 and older are the fastest growing group.5
So be sure to also reinforce campaigns to that appeal to all donors that use social.
Greenpeace has 3.6 million followers on Instagram alone.
Direct mail has long been the bread and butter in the nonprofit individual giving revenue. Nonprofits that focus on innovating this tried-and-true channel will find continued success.
Videos are a helpful tool for giving potential donors insight into your organization’s cause. Allowing the beneficiaries of your efforts to tell stories in their own words can help attract donors and compel them to join your cause.
Nonprofits can track the popularity of various video types by looking at engagement data. Knowing which pieces compel your audience helps create more relevant content. Promote your videos through all your social media platforms and send out alerts through your email lists.
Another way to leverage the benefits of video is to target a specific audience and deliver programmatically – like the Defenders of Wildlife did in 2020.
Example: Defenders of Wildlife
During the 2020 holiday season, Defenders of Wildlife tasked the Data Axle team with creating a unique campaign to reach prospective donors via Connected TV (CTV). Starting with a file of Defenders’ first-party data, Data Axle leveraged their proprietary Apogee donor database to create a modeled prospecting audience. This segment consisted of individuals with the highest propensity to engage with the charity and donate. Defenders of Wildlife and Data Axle created a unique video specifically for CTV which brought the nonprofit’s mission front and center, included a “text to donate” option and a custom URL. In conjunction with the CTV ads, the campaign boasted a programmatic display co-targeting tactic, retargeting users who were exposed to the CTV ad, to drive digital engagement and provide additional exposure and donation opportunities.
The Defenders and Data Axle teams created high-impact messaging to reach a custom audience across multiple channels, helping keep the Defenders organization top of mind for prospective donors during the holiday season.
Between the pandemic and a growing segment of younger donors, channel preferences continue to shift, highlighting the importance of planning effective cross-channel fundraising campaigns. The success of your multichannel fundraising strategy depends on your in-depth knowledge of your donors, their preferences and the data and technology to support them.
Katy has more than 15 years’ experience leading transformative change for top nonprofit brands through integrated, performance-driven direct marketing. She has extensive experience across all media channels and excels at distilling data into intelligence. Always challenging the status quo, Katy has been a changemaker and passionate leader, driving organizational growth and client success in agency, corporate, and nonprofit environments.