Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Donating to a nonprofit is one of the most personal decisions we will ever make. The act of giving engages us in ways that nothing else can. Unfortunately, many nonprofits struggle to scale truly personal connections with their donors and create long-term loyalty.

Donor retention rates remain incredibly low for most nonprofits. Fortunately, we can take a cue from for-profit brands that have perfected hyper-personal communication that dramatically improves retention, engagement, and advocacy. The strategy they use for this is called personalization.

The term personalization means using highly targeted communication to engage donors, resulting in more generosity and loyalty. Personalization is much more than just addressing your donors by name. It involves communicating 1) the right message, 2) at the right time, and 3) is based on each donors’ individual preferences, capacity, and stage of their donor journey. When fully applied, personalization can work brilliantly for nonprofits, helping to engage donors in a way that inspires them to give more, more often. Here are three things that will help you get started.

Tap Into What Matters

People give because they believe in a cause and they want to be a part of a movement bigger than themselves. Nonprofits can help donors maintain this feeling past the first gift by making an effort to understand the behaviors and preferences of each person. The trick then is to connect donors with the stories and people that make them feel like they are actually PART of the cause, not just a means to an end. Historically, nonprofits haven’t had the time or resources necessary to build this type of relationship with their entire donor list and only major donors feel fully included in the cause

Tech Helps You Personalize

Thankfully, modern technology like social media, data analytics and marketing automation can provide nonprofits with the tools and data needed to authentically scale personal connection to the entire donor list. Today’s tech allows nonprofits to use all of their communication channels to learn about each an every donor in a more personal way. With the right strategy and tools for segmenting donors based on their passions and engagement level you can begin to truly scale personal communication to your donor network.

If you haven’t yet invested in modern technology built for nonprofits, now is a good time to review systems that fit in your technology or marketing budget. If growing donor giving and retention is a goal, then you’re going to need tools that multiply the power of your staff.

Start Simple and Grow

The good news is that there are simple ways to get started with personalization. We recommend a simple process to kick things off First, map out three common donor personas (e.g. the advocate college student, the passionate parent, etc.) Then determine the most compelling success stories to share with each of these personas. Finally, ask yourself -- what are natural asks that come out of each story? From there you can tailor a personalized drip email campaign to each persona based on the stories you’ve mapped.

We recommend starting with a new donor welcome series of emails and calls because it can return tremendous value without having to re-work your entire communication strategy. Personalization is a great way to move to a second gift, improve retention and keep your new donors engaged over time.

It isn’t difficult to start building a personalization strategy. With a little work, you should start to see your donor engagement increase by way of more giving and loyalty.


Gabe Cooper is the Founder and CEO of Virtuous Software, a CRM and Marketing platform helping charities increase their impact and do more good. His drive stems from a passion to create market-defining software and help charities reimagine generosity. He frequently writes and speaks about empowering nonprofits to grow generosity through technology.

 

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