11 Expert Marketing Tips to Improve Your Fundraising

Best practices from frontline fundraisers offer guidance on growing better relationships with your donors.

In a Giving USA article, “32 Donor Marketing Best Practices to Grow Your Fundraising in 2020,” fundraising experts share their recommendations to acquire and elevate donors “to a transformational commitment to your mission.”

Some are intuitive:

1. Coordinate communications across your organization; connecting with one another about roles, responsibilities, vision, strategies, and goals will better your programs and organizations, says Mimi Natz, an Executive Vice President.

2. Check the functionality and ease of use of your website while you consider making a gift, signing up to volunteer, or accessing your 990 or annual report. Are your donation forms straightforward and mobile friendly? Do your internal links work? “If you’ve done the challenging work of getting a prospective donor onto your site, you don’t want to dissuade their interest due to poor user experience design,” recommends Elyse Haines, a Marketing Director.

3. Pump up your ad click-through-rate on Facebook by adding video rather than using a static image. Kristen Bocka, an Account Director, found that by using a client’s video file instead, CTR shot to 82%.

Others offer new perspectives that may add value to your fundraising programs:

4. Think strategically from the donor’s point of view, rather than the channel, program, or mission. What moves the donor to action and how it is manifested should dictate how, when, and why you communicate with them, says Chief Creative Officer John Thompson.

5. Weigh the risks and benefits of adding new acquisition media channels to your programs; if the potential break-even point is 24 months or more, consider expanding your current media channels first. As Jamie Veltri, a Vice President of Acquisition and Media, says, “Just because big organizations are doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you — or even right for them.”

Don’t underestimate the value of revisiting or reinventing the basics. Some thoughtful communication elements can really increase your bottom line:

6. Interviewing people your organization has helped can really highlight the life-changing impact of your programs. Their powerful stories can be featured in your appeals, newsletters, and thank you notes to create a connection between your donor and the person s/he helped, suggests Jolene Miklas, a Senior Copywriter.

7. “With every appeal, ask yourself if you’re giving your donor a clear way to solve a problem and to feel good doing it,” adds Creative Director Jennifer Miller,

8. Furthering that connection, asking donors for advice will cause them to share why they are passionate about your nonprofit, why they give, and how they prefer to give, etc. Stacey Schwab, an Account Director, notes that, “When donors feel important and appreciated, they are more likely to give.”

9. Good housekeeping efforts can convert donors into long-term transformational supporters of your charity. Kerri O’Neill, a Senior Director, suggests that making the effort to enter whitemail gifts into the donor database is quite worthwhile because it ensures gift history accuracy and also gift acknowledgements.

Some ideas were more innovative:

10. “Powerful learning algorithms will take over the world of donor segmentation, driving intelligent performance gains and more effective audience management,” says Steve Caldwell, a Chief Data Scientist. “But organizations who leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to engage their donors and design meaningful experience pathways will better adapt to an increasingly competitive fundraising market with higher expectations on personalized experiences.”

11. Kurt Worrell, a Donor Engagement Team SVP, notes that “The path to planned gifts is paved with annual fund donors.” He suggests creating synergy between your annual fund program and your gift planning process “by seeking dual marketing opportunities to segments of donors likely to consider a planned gift.” By surveying donors regularly and engaging in a gift planning conversation, his data indicated that while about 5% had made a planned gift, that a full third would consider it if asked, and that 70% of those making a planned gift did so because they were asked.

For more fantastic recommendations, please read “32 Donor Marketing Best Practices to Grow Your Fundraising in 2020.”