Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

5 messaging strategies to turn advocates into donors

June 17, 2021
A woman wearing headphones sits in front of a monitor, preparing to employ strategies to turn advocates into donors.

Every nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts have two objectives: cultivate existing donors and grow your base by acquiring new donors. One group to focus on when looking for new donors is your nonprofit’s advocates, or non-donors. This group includes volunteers and program participants and their families and community partners. Not only are these people familiar with your nonprofit, but they’re also passionate about your purpose and want to engage with you.

Performing dedicated outreach to these loyal supporters, even if they don’t meet your usual criteria for donor prospects, can turn casual advocates into passionate donors. Contact them more regularly and give them more personal attention—their eagerness to take that next step in support of your cause may surprise you.

1. Learn more about your supporters

When a supporter becomes more involved in your nonprofit, their loyalty naturally deepens. Look to your volunteers and program participants to learn more and grow your relationships with them. Ask the following questions about each supporter:

  • How long have they been with you?
  • What first attracted them to your organization?
  • Why do they continue to support you?

Tracking your supporters’ involvement in your donor management system will provide insight into their interests and passions. Focus your messaging with this information in mind. The more you speak directly to them and focus on what interests them most, the more open your advocates will be to your outreach.

2. Build relationships with community partners

Building strong relationships with community partners ensures the long-term success of that partnership, while also expanding your contact list. Here are a few ways you can highlight your nonprofit’s partners:

  • Celebrate your partner’s successes on social media
  • Create a Featured Partner section in your newsletter or on your website
  • Highlight your partnership with mentions in your respective email blasts

By promoting your partner, you will effectively be reaching out to their audience. This allows you to connect with individuals you might not otherwise have met, which will help you find more potential supporters and donors.

3. Reconnect with lapsed donors

All donors, even lapsed ones, have a reason for supporting your cause. Reconnect with them to try to win them back, such as through an email campaign. Let them know that you’re grateful for their support and that they are important to you. Find new ways to engage them, so they know they’re always welcome, even if they’re not making gifts at the moment. They will remember that your organization values them when they’re able to donate again.

Use your donor management system to segment your donor groups and customize your communications to match their interests. By tailoring your messaging to your lapsed donors, you’ll successfully connect with them and encourage them to make gifts again.

4. Plan your outreach methods

How you contact these groups is as important as what you say. Prioritize one or two methods to best accomplish your outreach, and focus your attention on those areas. The rise in popularity of social media, online communications, and mobile access is an important consideration as you choose your communications methods.

Once you identify your outreach channels, shape the content you create to fit each channel. Be sure to incorporate these effective strategies for the best results:

  • Use images and videos to engage your audience
  • Time your email and direct mail campaigns so you can effectively promote specific initiatives
  • Coordinate your social media posts to boost your message

Many nonprofits prioritize email as their core communications channel, and they supplement their emails by creating content for their website and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also use direct mail—consider sending handwritten letters for an extra level of personalization. Potential donors will appreciate the gesture and feel encouraged to give.

5. Send regular communications

While you may think that sending too many communications will overwhelm advocates, the reality is that your advocates want to hear from your nonprofit. You will be more successful at building relationships with them and converting them into donors by regularly communicating with them about a variety of topics. Keep in mind that your advocates genuinely care about your nonprofit’s purpose and want to be updated on what’s going on.

Here are a few types of communications to send to your advocates:

  • Organizational news
  • Event announcements
  • Project updates
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Thank-you messages

Consider sending one or two emails a month and supplementing your communications more frequently on other channels where your advocates are active, such as social media. As long as you intersperse your donation requests with other topics, they will be happy to hear from you.

Communication is key

Incorporate these strategies into your messaging to volunteers, partners, and program participants, and you’ll experience the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Ready to Get Started?

    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing