Elizabeth Chung

How to Utilize Donors to Improve Donor Loyalty

Donor loyalty and retention is constantly top of mind for nonprofits. And while we’ve discussed the role of delight in this matter, there exists another piece to the donor loyalty puzzle: self-expression. In the age of social fundraising, organizations need to engage in active conversation with their supporters and invite them into the process of advancing their mission. Donors and fundraisers want to increasingly express their unique stories and connections to the causes they support.

Recently, we talked about where this need for self-expression stems from and how it affects fundraisers’ relationship with a cause. In this post, we will explore its role in donor loyalty and a few ways you can create vehicles for self-expression for your supporters.

Be Your Donors’ Personal Representative

Let’s begin with this: your organization itself is a form of self-expression. According to a study, brand preference is the number one personal identifier that Millennials are willing to share online. They can also be great advocates of the brands they love; worldwide, 80% of young adults take action on behalf of brands, and 70% keep coming back to the ones they feel especially attached too. Simply put, people regard their connections to brands and organizations as a form of self-expression.

As a result, it’s important to show that your nonprofit is one that truly represents your donors. In order for your supporters to be willing to stand behind your mission and share it with their networks, they have to feel like your organization is an accurate representation of their own values and beliefs.

This makes transparency especially crucial to acquiring and keeping donors. Supporters want to know all the facts before they take on your organization as a reflection of themselves and their personal beliefs. Show how your organization is generating an impact, including your quantifiable goals and the factors considered in making your funding decisions. Being clear with your efforts will demonstrate that integrity and authenticity are part of your core values, and this will deepen your donors’ trust and willingness to adopt your mission as their own.

Encourage Supporters to Reaffirm Themselves

Naturally, your donors want to feel confident about supporting your organization as a way to express their values to friends and family. However, their choice to advocate for your mission might also be expression of how they define themselves. Research has shown that a person’s choice to support a brand creates and reaffirms their understanding of personal identity. And while your organization can help supporters connect donating or fundraising to their core sense of individuality, there’s even greater value in allowing your supporters express their connection themselves.

As we’ve mentioned before, asking your supporters to explain why they care about your cause can strengthen their own commitment to the cause. When supporters verbally express why they choose to be involved in your mission, it pushes them to rationalize and reinforce their own participation. As a result, asking your donors and fundraisers to express their connection to your organization can encourage long-lasting relationships and loyalty.

Engage and empower your fundraising community by asking them to tell their own story as part of your overarching narrative. Encourage supporters to personalize their fundraising pages, create a video log, or tweet why your cause matters to them.

Take this example from Blood:Water. For their Save a Drink, Save a Life campaign, they encouraged supporters to create videos describing their personal campaign goals, and their staff members created their own as an example.

buildOn engaged supporters by asking them to upload photos on Instagram or Twitter to show why they love their neighborhoods and what they’re doing to improve them. Participants tweeted @buildon and used a specific hashtag, which also enabled supporters to see how others were engaging with their community. t


Let Donors Choose How To Get Involved

Part of encouraging self-expression includes giving your donors the freedom to choose how they want to get involved, and when they want to. This is one reason why peer-to-peer fundraising is such a personalized fundraising model. Supporters get to define their own goals, how they choose to share their pages, and when they want to fundraise. And by offering various fundraising options, your supporters will feel empowered to support your cause in the way they choose.

Highlight and suggest different ways supporters can express their support, whether through a one-time donation, volunteering, or registering for your next event. Having year-round fundraising options, like dedicating birthdays and holidays, is a great way to integrate donors into your fundraising community. By giving supporters the ability to connect the act of fundraising with their own life events, you make it easy for them leverage their personal networks who already support them around these special days or milestones.

When supporters choose to advocate for your organization, they are identifying with the work that you do. Your donors and fundraisers adopt your organization’s core values as their own, and they want to connect their own beliefs, values, and identity to the cause they support. This is why it’s critical that you encourage and provide a vehicle for this self-expression. Allowing your cause champions to define their own connection to your organization will reinforce and deepen their support.

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Image Credit: Richard Masoner

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