The most important element of a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts are donor relationships. Abila’s 2016 Donor Loyalty Study found that 71% of donors felt more engaged when they received more personalized content from the nonprofits they support. Despite this, many nonprofits have a largely transactional approach to their donors.
The same study found that 21% of donors never receive a thank you for their efforts. As a result, the Association of Fundraising Professionals says that the gift and dollar retention rates of the nonprofits they represent are consistently below 50%.
One of the most effective ways to establish connection and stay in touch with your donors is via relationship building emails. Let’s look at some of the best ways to do so using the data, resources, and tools already at your disposal.
The first step from the donor database best practices is to segment the data you have for those individuals.
For those using HubSpot, this is an easy process. The Active List tool in HubSpot allows you to segment users not only by any property for which you’ve collected data but also any activities they’ve taken.
Common segmentation options include:
For instance, someone who donated three months ago will respond differently to a new campaign from someone who hasn’t donated in three years.
Every successful donor relations strategy must have unique email templates tailored to the specifics of their donor personas. To build a strong relationship with donors, you need to answer the following questions:
When you know why someone is engaged with your organization, it’s easier to write messages that will resonate with them.
Do this by:
Emails should come from specific individuals in your organization. If you want to know how to build and how to maintain donor relationships, it is advisable to use a custom signature with a photograph of the sender and personal stories to connect with each donor. Generic, marketing-grade copy fills email inboxes every day. Not only is it boring, but it’s also forgettable - people archive or delete it on arrival. Personalized messages can help overcome the gatekeeping most people do of their inboxes.
Leverage your existing donor network to write personal letters to your prospects. These can be current and past donors who have seen the impact of their donations. Anyone from recipients of the donations, to spokespeople with recognizable names or even senior executives in the organization can positively help your new relationship building emails.
Leverage existing donor relationships as social proof to build new ones.
None of your efforts mean much if donors and prospects ignore the email entirely. That’s where the subject line comes in.
Through a combination of a personalized sender email address and a captivating subject line, you can greatly increase the average rate at which people open your emails.
Nonprofits have a higher than average open rate compared to other industries. Mailchimp reports that 25.17% of recipients open their emails and around 2.793% click the links inside. That may seem low, but when industry averages hover in the 6-12% open rate range and 0.5-1% click-through rate range, these percentages show recipient willingness to engage.
Review this list for words commonly flagged as spam in subject lines.
Finally, donor database best practices clearly show that you shouldn’t be afraid to be direct with recipients. If someone has opened your email, read it through, and is actively considering a donation, don’t be ambiguous about the next steps.
Provide a clear call to action in the form of a large, visible button and action-oriented text.
In addition, build a custom donor landing page in HubSpot for each email marketing campaign for donation collection. This does two things:
First, it allows you to customize the messaging of your donation form to match the language in your email. You can similarly target based on persona, demographics, and campaign activity. Smart content allows you to further customize the content on these pages based on the activity someone might take throughout the campaign.
Second, custom landing pages allow you to better measure the performance of your individual emails and other traffic sources. While you can segment activity on a landing page by source, it’s difficult to subsequently test changes. If you have one donation page that works extremely well for social media ads but poorly for email, how do you adjust it? A unique page designed only for email - or better yet, only for specific emails - is far more flexible and easier to test changes on.
Good donor relationships can have a profound impact on your nonprofit. They can boost engagement, increase retention, and encourage your best donors to share your campaign with their personal and professional circles. Even just a 10% increase in donor retention can lead to a 200% increase in the long term value of your database. But how do you overcome those donation challenges?
As a beloved marketing tool for nonprofits, HubSpot is designed to help make these changes easy to implement. Building a strong marketing platform and minimizing friction for your fundraising efforts should ideally help improve the number of donations you receive, cultivating major donors and bolstering your overall efforts. Learn how DepositFix is designed to further enhance those efforts by eliminating friction in the donation process. Schedule a demo to learn more.