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How to Personalize Donor Engagement at Scale

Thanks to advancements in the commercial sector, nonprofit donors and prospects have come to expect highly relevant and personalized communications from the organizations they support. Use these tips and tactics to provide meaningful personalized donor experiences that go beyond the basic merge field.



Thanks to advancements in the commercial sector, nonprofit donors and prospects have come to expect personalization. According to a recent DonorSearch article, “significant research by software giant Salesforce shows that 52% of consumers expect all offers to be personalized.”


Of course, the typical fundraising shop will not have the same resources as Amazon and Best Buy to compete for audience attention. But the market has trained all consumers to demand personalized and meaningful communications from the organizations they love and support. Most non-profits do have an advantage over their commercial counterparts, however, since past giving and other activity indicates specific interests that can be used to forge meaningful connections with supporters.


It may sound complicated but ‘fear not’. Using creative tactics, meaningful personalization at scale is possible even for more resource-challenge nonprofits. Consider the following tips on how to go beyond the merge field to deliver personalized donor engagement that improves fundraising outcomes.


Gift anniversary reminders


Most CRMs easily export data to solve yesterday’s challenges… “let’s pull a mailing list!” for example.


Using the same principles that power a typical direct mail campaign, your students and Digital Development Officers (DDOs) can use data to target specific audiences and amplify their success. “Bookending” helps your team create personalized messages at-scale. A general video speaking to the impact of giving can be bookended with highly customized “intros” that speak directly to the constituent.


For example, a video might begin with a custom message like “Maria, 12 months ago you made a gift that has gone a long way towards ending homelessness in your community”. Using bookending, this simple personalization builds warmth, as the standard root video continues: ”...and now it’s time to renew that commitment to support amazing programs such as…”


It’s personalization because you mention the donor by name and show that their past giving had a specific impact that needs renewal.


Using a similar structure, you could also scale birthday messages to donors. Many organizations gather personal data and send us birthday greetings, so you will want to stand out with your birthday outreach. Consider using the root video to talk about what makes that birthday month unique to your organization. For example, the root video might tell a story such as “did you know that our founder's birthday was also in September? To celebrate, she always made a gift of her own money to support our mission on her birthday.”


Increase giving levels


Knowing how much a person gives and demonstrating the impact of a giving level is another way to show how well you understand each individual supporter. Use past gift amounts to help donors really feel the greater good that is possible with a gift at the next level. “Your gifts totaling $250 last year cover one week of meal kits for a family of four. If you move up to an annual gift of $1,000, you could feed that same family for an entire month.”


Journey-based Behavior Tracking


We are now able to track how supporters interact with the websites we manage, and each ‘click’ illustrates what each constituent wants from our nonprofit. Use this behavioral information to continually customize donor communications. Over time, this feedback loop let’s marketers hone their messaging so people only get content that they care about.


And this journey-based behavior tracking is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is finding the right tool for you, then hiring a team with a data-first mindset that brings the experience necessary for taking action on journey-based behavior data.


How are you personalizing your donor outreach? Let us know in the comments or visit firstname.co and set up a conversation with our digital fundraising expert.


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