Increase Your Donations by
Providing More Value

…without Spending a Dime! (part 2)

In our last article, we covered the three ways you can double donations to your nonprofit (or even multiply them eightfold).

Here they are, in quick review:
  • 1. Provide more value to the people already connected to your cause
  • 2. Find more people who feel a personal connection to your cause
  • 3. Cultivate new ways to connect people to your cause

All of that probably sounds “simple enough.” The big question you’re likely asking yourself at this point is: “But how? How do we do any of that, especially on our already stretched-thin budget?” This is where being a nonprofit in the 21st century has its advantages. Today, we have online tools at our disposal that can do all of the above for little or no money at all.

Strategy 1: Provide More Value, Without Spending More Money

In order to provide more value, you must first determine what your donors actually perceive as valuable. We often think we know why people support us, but that’s not quite the same as actually knowing what makes them decide to donate. The easiest and often most precise solution is to simply ask them.

To do that, you can spend a few days on the phones, calling each of your major donors (and some minor ones), or even hire a market research firm to do it for you. Both of those options are resource-intensive. If you have a few minutes and the right tools, however, you can do it all in house and get some very valuable results.

How to learn about—and increase—the value you provide your donors, in five steps:

  • Step 1 – Create a Sample Group of Top Supporters

    You should have an email list set up on a mailing platform such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Salesforce/Patron Manager, or whatever platform you’re on. If you’re not maintaining a list, we recommend you revisit the section on email communications in our course. These platforms can all create sub-segments of your subscribers based on a variety of criteria.

    For this exercise, we’re interested in the people most connected to your cause, so this segment should be based on engagement metrics like number of opens or number of clicks. We recommend segmenting out the top 10% or (at least 100) subscribers.

    We love MailChimp, and not just because it’s free for under 2,000 subscribers and offers non-profit discounts. It also has really simple-yet-powerful features. Here’s their guide to segmenting your list by engagement (which they call “Member Ratings”).

    TIP: if you don’t have a lot of subscribers, you can send to your entire list, or even skip this step and use Facebook or other social media (which may require spending a little money for the post to get seen) in Step 3.

  • Step 2 – Create a Short Survey

    Create a survey using Typeform (or Google Forms, or SurveyMonkey…) asking the above segmented donors what value you are providing them.

    Here are some of the questions you might ask (with a little customization):

    1. What is the number one reason you donate to our organization?
    2. Are there other reasons you enjoy supporting us?
    3. What is the greatest value you feel our organization adds to the world?
    4. Is there anything we’re doing that you want to see more of?
    5. Is there something we’re not doing that you wish we did?
    6. Can we follow up with you if we have additional questions? (If yes, please enter your email below.)

    TIP: For questions 1, 3 and 4, you could use multiple-choice questions, or short-answer text. For others, a long-answer or paragraph field might work best.

  • Step 3 – Send the Survey to Your Donor Segment

    Now that you have your segment ready in your email platform and your survey ready to go, create a personalized email explaining your goal with three true statements:

    • You are working on ways to do even more for your cause
    • You’re reaching out to your most engaged donors
    • Five minutes of their time to answer five simple questions about your organization would go a long way to doing more good

    TIP: Mailing list platforms can do a mail-merge style function, inserting a subscriber’s actual name and making it more personal.

  • Step 4 – Follow Up

    Chances are, you won’t get a 100% open rate on your email, much less a perfect click-through rate. This is where a lot of people get discouraged and give up. But if you haven’t gotten enough data you can create a new email just for the people who didn’t open or click through the first one. Three business days after you sent the first emails:

    • Send a thank-you email to everyone who responded
    • Send a second request email to those that haven’t responded

    We recommend using a new subject line, along the lines of “Three days left to help us by answering a few questions”. And use a simpler message inside the email, in case they did read the first one.

    TIP: If you still haven’t gotten enough responses after one week, rephrase your email and send it out to 200 more people on your list (or as many as you have). If you don’t have that many people on your email list, call your top supporters and fill out the survey for them over the phone.

  • Step 5 – Implement!

    Now you know the value that you provide to your donors, and what you can do to provide them with more value. Some of it may require costly expansions to your current programming, but some may simply be improving communications or modifying your content calendar. Other things that you may have thought were important to your supporters, may turn out to not be worth the resources you have been allocating.

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Team:

  1. Of the things that donors find valuable, which would cost very little to increase?
  2. Can we expand our offerings to our beneficiaries online through resources or content?
  3. Do we effectively communicate just how much we do in those spaces?
    • Would creating a donors’ newsletter or changing the frequency increased perceived value?
    • Can we be better at communicating our impact on our beneficiaries through articles, videos and photos?
  4. Are there other things that we do that are not being recognized by our current donor pool? Are there things that we do that a different demographic might respond to?

Keep in mind that your current “perceived” value may not be as high as the actual value you can provide. For example, if your donors tell you that they love hearing stories of people whose lives you’ve changed, you might be able to increase the number of such stories, or the frequency with which you share them (not just on email, but on social media, as well).

In total, this might take two or three hours to do over the course of a few days. And you’re not going to double your donations on day one, but giving the people who care about your cause more of what they want can only have a positive effect in the long run. There are other benefits to this approach, as well.

Bonus benefits of surveying your supporters:

  • The people surveyed will feel like you care about them, which will make them feel more connected to your organization.
  • You may get some great quotes for your testimonials that you can share on your website and social media.
  • You’ll get language that you can use in your marketing materials, when trying to reach more people who care about your work!

Our next article will build on this survey to help you find more supporters who already feel a connection to your cause! Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to get the info you need to grow your organization and do more good.

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Want help with these strategies or other ways of increasing your impact? We’re happy to help.

Our course offers a great way to think about (and execute on) your online goals.