Life is about being active. After all, life is about experiencing, and experience is not a passive action.
Good donors, donors you want to cultivate, want to get out and do. Nonprofits don’t always see their donors as an active part of their organization. We tend to see a donor’s engagement as a one-and-done deal. They give their monthly support or they come to the annual fundraising event. Each engagement is a quantifiable, and therefore, we see their engagement as a finite transaction. This type of thinking damages the amount of power and influence a nonprofit can utilize from their donors. After all, if your donors came out to your silent auction ideas, they actively sought to make your cause their cause that night. If your donors monthly give towards your cause, they are actively seeking to make your cause their cause, and thereby sacrificing the opportunity to do something else with means that went to the donation. Your donors want to be actively apart of your organization. They want to be engaged.
So are you giving them an experience with your organization and engaging with them? Perhaps the better question is: How do you fully engage with your donors?
Here are three simple steps to helping donor engagement with your organization:
Ask them questions
Find out how your donors can help – what their skill-sets are and where you can use them help your cause. This is about understanding and being in relationship with your donors. In order to ask questions, you must talk. Personal communication has been shown to be drastically more successful in the donor-nonprofit world. Seeing your donors as assets with skills other than just taking their donations is a huge, and largely untapped, resource for an organization. But it is a resource that can only be obtained by starting at the beginning – asking questions.
Create the opportunity
Be creative. Once you know what type skill-sets you are working with in your team, do something! Creating the opportunity means planning. Now, most nonprofits plan events and campaigns throughout the year. Planning does not stop at what event your organization should hold this year and what date you should host the event. Planning events requires time and effort and the delegation of tasks. Remember you have a task force! Be creative in the way that you can utilize your donors as well as your staff and board members.
Transfer the responsibility
Once you have a plan in place, bite the bullet – transfer the responsibility and delegate! No matter how small or big your organization is, reach out to your donors and get them involved in the process. Sometimes, that will mean reaching out to specific donors and asking them for help and advice in their areas of experience. Other times, that will mean asking the mass of your donors to spread the word with a new campaign you are running. It could even mean that you ask your donors to help sell tickets, get sponsors for a walk/run marathon, or even have them collect the donations that fit the needs of your charity, etc.
The hands and feet that are willing to help and spread the word do not stop at your staff or board members. Remember, in order to get your donors to act, you have to A.C.T.