Tips for Engaging Donors Amid Social Distancing

As we settle into a new normal, The Hodge Group recognizes that nonprofits are facing enormous challenges in the current environment. Our team is monitoring best practices in the field, listening to webinars and reading blog posts. We’re also advising clients about a number of new opportunities presented in the current environment, including virtual tours and opportunities for “viral” video creation. Donor communications is no longer about reading the room, you have to be able to read the Zoom.

With that in mind, we wanted to send along some tips for engaging donors while also respecting the need for social distancing:

  • There is no such thing as over-communication in this environment, and make sure you communicate across multiple channels – text, phone, video, email, etc. Your donors want to hear from you. They donate to your organization because they care about what you are doing, so let them know what you’ve been up to and that you are here to support them as well in this difficult time. With everyone cooped up, we’ve found that people really appreciate just having another person to talk to.
  • Now is the time to refine your digital strategy. Make sure your donation page is optimized for mobile, and take time to gather email addresses for your stakeholders if you haven’t already.
  • Include surveys and polls in donor communications to spur engagement.
  • The Hodge Group is facilitating a number of virtual events right now, and we’ve identified some best practices around that:
    • Have an engagement plan to make any experience with a donor interactive – that includes a live chat option on whatever video platform you use to communicate.
    • Have a donate option available on whatever platform you use – a link to direct people if it’s held on Zoom, a Facebook donation button on your page if you do Facebook Live, etc. If your organization creates an awesome video that goes viral, but there isn’t an easily accessible donate button on the page, you’re leaving money on the table.
    • Create a hashtag for virtual events to create a greater sense of community.
    • Movie night? Share screen and stream an appropriate movie to keep your community engaged. Use any of these free resources to host it. Remember not to charge stakeholders money for the viewing unless you’ve secured licensing permissions.
    • Virtual trivia night? Design a fun, interactive quiz around your organization’s mission and/or history, and pick a fun prize for the winner.
  • When filming videos, worry about lighting and sound quality of course, but keep editing to a minimum for the sake of authenticity. Don’t be afraid to wear sweat pants or whatever you’re comfortable in.

All of this is centered around being able to provide stakeholders with a three-dimensional holistic experience given our current two-dimensional constraints. We’ve found that stakeholders will thank you for calm, reliable, constant contact that can adapt to shifting realities during times of crises, and video is a vital part of creating that experience. We’re all living amidst great uncertainty, and during times of great uncertainty people enjoy being able to exercise control over something in their power, like their giving. So, tell a compelling story and you might be surprised how people receive it.