Insights to Power Social Good

How to Reach Your Donors

Posted by Jonathan Bray on Oct 6, 2015 2:09:39 PM


Cutting through the Clutter

Newspaper Messaging

Advertisers have been talking about the over saturation of media for decades and it’s continuing to pile on at an astonishing rate. We have an unprecedented amount of content flooding the internet…the web is filling out, like a big bubble, ever expanding.


As a nonprofit with limited resources it is an even bigger challenge to get your voice heard. So how do you cut through all that information and reach your donors, volunteers, and supporters? 


There are many ways to provide true value to your community and cut through the clutter. Try something that touches the heart. A good story can resonate on many levels, create a compelling reason for someone to engage, and provide a good resource for your community to share.

Before we think it’s too hard to get our message heard and make an impact, let’s relook at this, maybe this over saturation of media is a good thing?


Yes it’s true, with more information out there, there is significantly greater competition for eyeballs. But bottom line is, better quality content will surface to the top… and the better our internet becomes.


So let’s take a step back in time to get context on how some of it all works.


The Google Impact

Google, long ago, figured out how to sift through all those web pages with their revolutionary ranking algorithm. A large part of what makes the ranking algorithm so successful is actually reminiscent of basic human interaction: recommendations and engagement. 


When you had a website and you hyperlinked to a different website, that was a huge recommendation at the start of the web (and still is). Google learned the sites with more links to them from other credible sites must have better content...and therefore, that better content bubbled to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).


This is an oversimplification of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but the point remains. They found a way to sift through the clutter using metrics that tied to a meaningful interaction from a user.


Google also accounts for social shares on popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. They also take engagement into account (how long someone stays on your site, i.e. are they reading your content? Or do they jump off right away?) 


How can you learn from this and apply it to your organization's campaigns?


It’s crucial to produce engaging content while taking a metrics driven analysis of what’s working and what isn’t. 


Make great content that people will recommend. And track what works.

How to Make Great Content

You hear it all over the internet, “Create great content!”


So how do you do that? 


Great content is a value exchange between reader and writer.


Think about it this way, you’re exchanging your precious time to be reading this, right? So I’ll endeavor to give you the most out of our time together. That is how we should approach communication with your donors, volunteers and supporters.


Ask yourself, “How can I make our reader’s life better?”


This works a great deal better when you know your audience and what ignites their heart. This will help you compel people to support your cause with time, treasure, and talent. Give them a call. Invite them to an upcoming event and ask them questions. By connecting with people, you can start to build targeted donor profiles to synthesize who they are…and why and how they connected with your cause.


Once you know who these people are and why they get involved… it’s time to communicate those points regularly! Share the great work you’re doing within your community, touch their hearts, minds, and souls and you’ll be sure to cut through the clutter and rise to the top.


Ideas on How to Cut Through

Tell the viewer a story. 

  • Write up a great narrative on a blog post
  • Shoot a video on your iPhone or Android

And keep it short, there’s no need for a lengthy video. I’d rather watch short videos that interest me over time, than sit through one 30 minute video…it’s a factor of time and relevance.


Think of where your donors are when they encounter your message: 


Maybe I’m at work, saw your note on social media, email, or text and thought, “Sure I have 3 minutes to watch a video about the great work you’re doing in the community” I’ll probably even share it online if it’s good and I feel compelled to do so. Our attention spans have dropped below that of a goldfish, so make sure to keep it short and sweet.


Chunk it up... send several 2-minute videos over the course of a quarter. This starts to build a contextual relationship – engage them when they want, how they want, where they want.


Of course if you’re set on a longer documentary piece, go for it… but be sure to track metrics on what’s working and not... things like how long people view the video. (We can help track that). 


If you’re not comfortable creating a video or writing a story, ask your volunteers to help. I’ll give you a hint, #NextGeneration donors are crazy good at that stuff. Try to find someone in your community that can donate their videography talent to your cause. 


Telling me a great story of the work you do that’s poignant and touches my heart will open my heart… and my wallet. Talk about donor engagement! you’ve completed your awesome video… it’s time to share. Post that video to social media, send a text, and send an email to your community to gain awareness, then ask them to share it. (Learn more about awareness campaigns)


The real book end to this is the Art of Storytelling develops over time… it takes practice. 


Practicing ‘Once Upon a Time’ is an art that will help you cut through the clutter and reach your donors, volunteers, and supporters because stories are at the heart of what connects us.


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