We are all accustomed to the culture of success. We read stories about non-profit campaigns that have raised epic amounts of money or a friend tells us about an organisation that raised ten grand using Facebook.
We may find these stories compelling, but the truth is that fundraising is becomming increasoingly challenging. Donor retention rates are on the decline and have been for years.Ten years ago the average retention rates of a newly acquired donor were roughly 33%. Today it has dropped to 27%!
According to social psychologist Robert Cialdini pinpointed, we are more likely to say yes to a request if we feel a connection to the person making it. People ultimately choose to help people they like. It is not enough that people understand what you do and believe in your cause, they need to believe in you, to love what you do. But how do you get people to care about what you do, to want to support you and help you.
Creating fundraising that is sustainable is a nurturing process. It takes time. It takes passion. Most of all it takes effort. The reason that these campaigns are successful is because of the relationships that have been built and the communities that they have supported, that care about their organisation and the cause they represent. So how do we show people we care, and how can we make people like us?
1. Show some personality
Show the personality of your nonprofit, be professional but develop a unique style to emotionally connect with your audience, and ultimately make them want to be a part of what you do.
— Elspeth McAusland (@ElsMc) June 14, 2013
2. Come out from behind the curtain.
One way to help people to connect with your cause and your organisation is it to share glimpses behind the scenes. It is human nature to want to peek behind the curtain and see how everything works and clever posts can make people feel part of what you do and make them want to get involved.
3. Share stories about your staff
Sharing stories about the people who work at your organization and their involvement in the cause is a great way to connect with supporters. It enables supporters to have a personal connection with your charity. After all your employees are your greatest advocates and believers.
4. Be fun and a little bit surprising
If you want people to engage with you they have to notice you. What is going to make you memorable? Why would someone choose to engage with your cause? By being a little bit different and a little unexpected you have a better chance of getting noticed, so take time to create and share interesting and entertaining content. Oh, and pictures of babies and pets always help!
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) February 14, 2013
— St. Jude (@StJude) October 26, 2013
5. Tell stories about the people you help
People will care more if they can relate to what you do on a personal level. By conveying the facts through a real story about real people or animals or circumstances that others can follow, understand, and care about, you’re automatically giving them more reason to be invested in the cause at the heart of the story. Make them feel something, it doesn’t matter if you make them feel happy or sad, but making them feel something is essential.
6. Inspire your supporters to tell stories.
The only thing better than telling your stories on social media is inspiring supporters to tell those stories themselves. This is the modern-day equivalent of a testimonial. It has always been a key component of word-of-mouth marketing, but with social media it can happen that much faster and easier. Look to your most passionate customers or those who have had the most significant interactions with you. Then give them the tools to tell others about you. With just a little encouragement, you can prompt customers to initiate a movement of storytelling around your brand.
Getting supporters and staff to write blog posts about their experiences can be a great way to share what you do and provide insights into the work you do and the challenges you face.
7. Say thank you
I cannot stress enough the importance of saying thank you. The more effort and originality you show the more impact it will have so try and bit a little different and show you care. Pictures can be a great way to share your appreciation. When you make your supporters feel that they have achieved something important, that they have changed someones life for the better, you are creating an emotional bond between the people you help and your supporters that will lead to future support.
What about you?
How do you go about building your relationships with supporters online? What are your favorite examples of this? What charities do you think do this well?