Why a Donor Engagement Plan Boosts Donations and Retains Contributors

Associations that want to retain donors and increase donations should consider creating a donor engagement plan.

Donor engagement often goes hand in hand with donor retention.

It’s a fact proved time and time again through countless surveys and reports—and one shown most recently in Advanced Solutions International’s 2018 Global Benchmark Report:  Fundraising Performance.

According to the ASI survey, one of the top goals of organizations was to improve donor engagement, yet only 35 percent of respondents had an engagement plan. However, 77 percent of those who had an engagement plan said it helped improve donor retention and 65 percent said it helped increase donation levels.

So, what is an engagement plan?

Edward Wendling, vice president of marketing at Advanced Solutions International, defines it as a plan to increase donor engagement relative to the information that you have about donor segments. But before associations can start building engagement plans, they must learn the current landscape of their donors.

To do this, organizations should measure interactions with their donors—and these are often nontransactional interactions. For instance, things like volunteer hours, attendance at events, and committee participation, among others. Organizations can also track visits to the website, clicks, downloads, social media follows, and so forth. Then, you weight these interactions based on their importance to the organization: Committee participation would likely be weighted more than email clicks.

With this information, nonprofits and associations can then start segmenting their donors. For instance, the top 10 percent might be an organization’s champions or promoters. Other segments might be labeled as active donors, passive donors, and at-risk donors.

Part of the engagement plan might also include taking a look at the at-risk donors and analyzing their behavior. If they’re only donating money to your organization, Wendling says “the likelihood that they will give in the future is likely less than those who are highly involved, so [you] need to do something specific to those people.”

Perhaps that’s a special marketing or outreach campaign to get those people to engage with your organization by coming to an event or participating on a committee, for instance.  On the flip side, Wendling suggests that an engagement plan also entails looking at the top 10 percent of donors and see if that matches with volunteers. “What associations often find is that they can find people in that top 10 percent that could be real benefits to the organizations in ways beyond what they’re currently doing,” Wendling said.

How has your engagement plan boosted donations and donor retention at your organization? Please leave your comments below.

(CatLane/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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