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How Do You Engage with Potential Donors?

By LeanStream Engagement on November, 16 2021

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Fundraising initiatives worldwide have several things in common; acquire first-time donors donors, retain the current donors, and consistently hit fundraising targets. Other goals can change depending on the seasons and cause, but the overall goals remain constant.

This raises the question: How do you engage with potential donors?

Donor engagement is without a doubt the most important aspect of donor acquisition and retention. When a donor is engaged with your school, as with other non-profits, they are more likely to donate again.

The good news is you have the power to engage with potential donors and even convert them into regulars.

We have assembled a list of donor engagement strategies that offer insights and best practices that will help you engage donors and get them sold on to your mission.

Donor Cultivation

You can count the donors who would write you a check using one hand with amputated fingers with no prior contact. It simply doesn’t happen. It is vital that you first know the donor. More importantly, the donor has to know you and your institution.

For this to happen, you must create and build a relationship with the prospect. Get to know them on a personal level and share information about your organization and your mission with them. For all we know, this could be the first time the prospect is hearing about your cause.

Cultivating this relationship will set a solid foundation. It will get the prospect interested which will [hopefully] result in a donation.

Engage Them in a Conversation

You cannot turn a prospect into a donor without holding conversations with them. However, the conversation must be more about the donor than your mission. Only contribute around 25% to 50% of the conversation while allowing the prospect to talk 50% to 75% of the time.

Remember, your primary objective is to get as much information as possible from the prospect. Learn more about their passions, interests, involvement in past donations, etc. You will make much more progress by listening more than you talk. You will also know more about what the prospect wants or doesn’t want from you.

Avoid the temptation of dominating the conversation. At the very least, use ‘you’ twice as much as ‘we.’ If the prospect senses the conversation is more about them than your mission, they will be more willing to contribute.

Change Your Mindset

Committed and loyal donors are made, not born.

While engaging with a potential donor, keep in mind that you want someone committed to the cause, not simply someone who will help you raise more funds.

Your goal is to cultivate a genuine two-way relationship based on mutual interests.

Don’t view the prospect as someone who will simply give you money to help your cause. Make them more personally invested, and they will happily provide a donation.

A change of mindset allows you to mobilize the prospect around the ultimate mission through their donations and other activities that involve them. The prospect wants to feel like a part of the cause, not just another guy being used to reach monetary targets.

The challenge for you is to shift away from the instant gratification mindset that has plagued many non-profits. The donor is not there to solve all your fundraising problems. See them as part of the family, and they are likely to become recurring donors.

Appoint a Donor Engagement Officer

As an institution looking to create a sustainable donor engagement plan, having someone involved in donor engagement strategies will go a long way.

Sure, you may not have the funds to hire someone from outside. As such, you may need to appoint someone from within. This could be a staff member or simply a volunteer. Their job will be simple; developing strategies for soliciting funds, nurturing the current donors, and leading fundraiser staff meetings.

Holding donor engagement meetings and inviting prospects to such meetings will also go a long way.

Use Social Media

Is your institution active on social media? Now would be a great time to do it.
In this era of technology, few things are as powerful as social media in helping you engage with current and prospective donors. For starters, social media is free and easy to use. Staying active on social media by posting your school’s mission and upcoming fundraisers are a great way of capturing potential donors’ attention. While at it, make sure you are genuinely social by responding to comments and getting people to interact with your post.

The more interactions on your posts, the likelier the social media platform will push it into people’s newsfeed. See this as an opportunity to impress potential donors.

Give Potential Donors an Opportunity to Be Involved

Donor engagement doesn’t always have to be about a monetary gift or a donation. Donors want to be involved, but it is upon you to create opportunities for them to do that.

For instance, you can create a chat on social media where people can contribute their ideas and ask questions regarding your institution, your cause, and any upcoming fundraiser. Ask the potential donors for their opinion and guidance, especially if you are struggling to reach a wider pool of potential donors or are unable to hit your fundraising targets. Make them feel that their opinion and insights are valued. This makes it easier to convert them.

Make Use of Traditional Communication

While technology is a great way to communicate, keep in mind that not all your potential donors will be glued to their smartphones or computers all day long. This is why it is important to know your prospect first (see the first and second points). This way, you will know their preferred mode of communication.

Emails, text messages, and social media posts may be great, but direct mail (or sending flyers home with students) can also be an effective communication strategy, especially for older donors. Make sure the message is well written and personalized for greater effect.

Final Word

By using the above guidelines, you will tailor your donor engagement efforts to the prospect’s preferences. You will also be able to show the potential donor that you genuinely care about building a relationship with them that goes beyond money and donations. Remember, people give to people, not causes. In the process, you might just find some loyal donors to rely upon for other causes in the future.

While at it, choose Lean Stream as your fundraising platform and contact our staff for any inquiries about how we can help you achieve your goals. We are honored to be your partner!

Fund raising for the entire education family

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