Nonprofit communications expert Kivi Leroux Miller opened her SAWA Management Conference keynote by reminding the audience that the reasons that people give to nonprofits are largely emotional. She emphasized that understanding the emotional dynamics behind nonprofit donations is critical to engaging and retaining donors.
For example, the dramatic increase in giving in the run-up to winter holidays isn’t just down to tax breaks. Leroux Miller noted that “there is a cultural imperative to be a good human being” during November and December. As Leroux Miller says, “It feels good to give.”
The key for effective marketing and fundraising communications for nonprofits goes beyond Tom Ahern’s “Ask, Thank, Report” donor cycle framework. It also connects to how people feel.
Donors who see themselves as loyal, committed donors and who have a favorite charity will continue to give. But first you must become their favorite charity. This effort will pay off because half of regular nonprofit donors give two-thirds of their charitable contributions to their favorite nonprofit.
How to Become a Favorite Nonprofit
Miller expanded on Ahern’s donor framework to add the emotional dimensions behind giving.
- Ask, so they feel included
Doing this effectively includes asking for more than just donations. Show that you share values with your supporters by asking them to do things other than give money, such as making pledges, volunteering, learning new skills, or sharing your message.
- Thank, so they feel appreciated
This includes typical thank you notes but also more creative and public displays of thanks, including shout outs on social media. Proving to donors that you can’t do the work without them will motivate them to do more.
- Report, so they feel in the know
Regular communication is essential in addition to your annual report. Communicating updates and news throughout the year via social media, blog and email updates is an important way to stay top of mind.
11 Ways to Share Impact
Miller wrapped up her presentation by sharing these eleven ideas for how nonprofits can share their impact in order to make a more emotional connection with donors:
- Clients or beneficiaries holding up signs showing their thanks
- Notes from clients or beneficiaries directly to supporters
- Before and after pictures
- Iconic images showing your own clients and volunteers
- Simple thank you messaging
- Claiming big and small victories
- Pitching a very specific story to media
- Thank you or victories video
- Public or private dashboard
- Top ten list
- Your best numbers in infographics