My Simplest Explanation of How Engagement Fundraising Works

engagement fundraisingEngagement fundraising (a phrase I coined many years ago) is powerful.
I’ve been talking about this for about 10 years (ever since I revamped my marketing agency to only work with nonprofits). But usually when people first hear me say “engagement fundraising,” they look at me like I have two heads.

So here’s my simplest explanation of how engagement fundraising works:

  • Major and planned gift marketing is somewhat different because we’re talking about big bucks and big decisions— this is not an impulse decision (like throwing coins into a bucket on the street)
  • Content (useful, emotional, or entertaining information) is necessary to help major and planned gift donors move through the decision-making process because content educates, inspires and motivates
  • Content is nonthreatening to donors
  • Content can be conveniently available anytime, 24/7 (online)
  • Content should be provided to supporters as “offers”
  • These offers must provide value to the donor in order to draw them out (to get them to involve themselves with the content)
  • The offers need to convert donor interest into action (most likely, at this point, deeper engagement)
  • Micro-sites and landing pages online are the most convenient offer conversion mechanisms for donors (but direct mail response envelopes and the old fashioned telephone are great too)
  • Once a conversion occurs, the engagement begins
  • If the engagement you deliver provides true value to the donor, it will encourage them to engage further or motivate them to reciprocate by giving your organization money now (or at least allowing you to meet with them to discuss their needs and a possible gift)
  • You must track and measure your donors’ engagements with your organization online (in addition to the traditional measures: “moves”, number of gifts and amounts given) because, the more they engage online and the more value they receive, the more they will reciprocate with their giving
  • When their engagement reaches or breaks past a certain level, you must reach out to the donor to provide them with an opportunity to make a major and/or planned gift (and they’ll be glad you did!)
  • Finally, as a result of all the valuable engagement you provided, they will be more loyal, they will give more frequently, they will make larger gifts and they will plan a gift to support your mission after their lifetime

So there you have it!

Engagement fundraising is all about providing valuable offers to donors to encourage engagement so you can track your donors’ levels of interest and reach out to them when they are ready for you to do so.
Engagement fundraising is fair and respectful. It’s convenient for the donor. And it’s highly cost-efficient and effective for you.
Oh… and last thing…

You’re board will love it because it’s smarter to engage and cultivate relationships with major donors online. Why? Because that means you are leveraging technology. And your board knows that anytime you properly leverage technology, you get amazing results (increased donation revenue at drastically lower costs).

I hope that helps!


>>Get the Book! – Engagement Fundraising
>>Listen to the Podcast! – Engagement Fundraising

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