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5 tech-powered strategies for stronger donor relations

May 10, 2022
These nonprofit workers are looking at a CRM on their computers to manage donor relationships.

From planning effective stewardship strategies to providing relevant engagement opportunities, donor relations should be a top priority for your nonprofit organization. Strong donor relationships provide your organization with lasting support that can be used to drive your cause forward. 

That being said, very few nonprofits have the time or resources to assign staff to individually manage each donor. Thankfully, with donor management technology, busy staff can successfully manage meaningful relationships. 

In this guide, we’ll walk through five tech-powered donor relations strategies, so your nonprofit can start building stronger relationships. Let’s get started!

What are donor relations?

Donor relations refer to the efforts that nonprofits take to enhance the donor experience and foster long-term support. These activities, which include acknowledging gifts and reporting their impact, require a personal touch specific to each individual donor. 

Nonprofit software can help you improve donor relations by facilitating donor data tracking and personalizing outreach, allowing your organization to:

  • Increase donor retention rates,
  • Acquire new donors,
  • Generate recurring gifts, and
  • Maintain consistent revenue. 

Plus, with strong donor relations strategies, your nonprofit will have a donor base dedicated to the success and longevity of your cause.  

5 software-powered donor relations strategies

All of your donors, from your grassroots supporters to major donors, should feel like they have a personal relationship with your team. Consider how these technology-driven strategies can help you develop strong donor relations:

1. Streamline donor relations by investing in a nonprofit CRM.

Nonprofit CRMs, or constituent relationship management platforms, allow you to streamline donor relations so you can maintain vital donor relationships while staying within your budget and saving your staff precious time.

In the nonprofit world, a CRM is also known as a donor database. This tool helps automate your donor relations efforts, including managing individual relationships, standardizing donor outreach, sending important messages, tracking and alerting staff about which donors are likeliest to lapse, and completing other key tasks. Your team can use this platform to:

  • Build rich donor profiles to store information about your individual supporters.
  • Track your donors’ giving history to better manage fundraising campaigns.
  • Create segmented donor lists to plan your stewardship and solicitation strategies.
  • Automate your digital marketing outreach for email, social media, and other online channels.
  • Share customizable forms, like giving forms, event pages, and online petitions.

With these features, you’ll be able to better understand and connect to each of your donors.

2. Improve donor relations by segmenting supporter lists.

Once your team has a nonprofit CRM in place, one of the most effective donor relations tools you’ll have is list segmentation.

Segmentation refers to the process of creating groups of supporters with shared characteristics and implementing donor relations strategies tailored to target each group.

Your nonprofit might segment supporters by:

  • Demographic markers like their age.
  • Regional markers such as what country, state, or city they live in.
  • Professional markers, including their employer or industry.
  • Philanthropic markers that relate to their donation history with your or other causes.
  • Engagement markers that track how supporters have interacted with your nonprofit in the past.

Rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all approach to donor relations, you should use segmentation to make informed decisions that appeal to the unique needs and interests of each donor. For example, you might implement a social media campaign for first-time, young professional donors, while opting to use a direct mail campaign for long-time donors in your mid-level program that you’d like to level up into your major giving circle. 

Additionally, consider the contact preferences of each donor. While some donor segments may appreciate the speed of email, others might prefer the excitement of receiving a tangible letter in the mail.

3. Track donations to better plan donor relations activities.

Nonprofits have to plan when to take specific actions in their relationship with a donor, and donation tracking can help them pinpoint important moments and milestones for outreach.

Donation tracking refers to the CRM features that empower your team to process, track, and acknowledge gifts from all of your donors. Here’s how it works:

  • When a donor gives, their gift is tracked in your system, including key information like the amount donated, the campaign that the gift went toward, how your team appealed to the donor, and the date the gift was received.
  • Whether it’s the first or hundredth time a donor has contributed, their donation history will be stored in your CRM. That way, your team can easily access an individual’s giving history and make decisions about which donor relations strategies are appropriate.
  • Use your CRM’s automation features to generate personalized thank-you messages and gift acknowledgments, so your supporters will always be shown timely appreciation for their contributions.

With these tools, your team can easily manage the giving side of your donor relationships.

4. Customize your CRM’s dashboard to track donor relations metrics.

One of the keys to mastering donor relations is making sure to avoid falling off course. For example, if your organization doesn’t send gift acknowledgments in a consistent or timely way, donors may feel alienated and opt against donating again in the future. By choosing a nonprofit CRM that keeps your team focused on donor relations, it’ll be easy for your nonprofit to stay on track.

When your team chooses a customizable nonprofit CRM solution, you can measure all the right metrics to better understand your team’s performance and donors’ behaviors.

Some nonprofit CRMs even allow users to customize the main dashboard of their donor management system. On this central screen, you can view your progress toward overall fundraising goals, event registration rates, returning donor percentages, and more. This means that your nonprofit’s donor relations efforts will always be front of mind when you log in.

5. Use your donor management system to master nonprofit communications.

Automated communications help your nonprofit connect and build rapport with supporters more efficiently. When your team wants to send out emails, draft direct mail messages, or otherwise plan your communication efforts, you can automatically transfer and input the data that’s housed in your CRM. 

With a fully integrated communication solution, your team can:

  • Conduct mail merges and flow supporter data into relevant fields on email, direct mail, and social media templates.
  • Draft, schedule, and publish messages to your supporters, as well as send them out to specific segment lists.
  • Track metrics like open rates, clicks, impressions, form conversion rates, bounce rates, and more to determine the success of your strategy.

In addition to automating your communications, be sure to reach out consistently and personalize your outreach for the most impact.

Using tech to manage donor relations

With these smart strategies, your team will be well-equipped to tackle donor relations. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not enough to simply collect donor information in your nonprofit CRM. To make stronger connections, you’ll need to leverage your system’s tools to track, manage, and engage donors.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Capacity building
  • Digital communications & marketing