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4 Steps to Creating a Digital Strategy for Major Donors

Developing a specific approach that caters to your major donors will help you to provide additional value and build trust. Here are a few ideas on how you can get there.

In my previous post on why you need a digital strategy for your major donors, I noted that major donors—like most Americans—spend much of their day online. While the goal for most development teams is to meet with these major donors in person, a robust digital strategy can strengthen those offline relationships in significant ways. 

Here are a few ideas about how to leverage your digital presence to lay a foundation of meaningful interaction with your most important supporters and strengthen their connection with your organization along every step of the donor journey. 

Find Your People (a.k.a. Identification)

Use audience research and analytics to gain a deeper understanding of who your donors are and what they want from your organization — both online and offline. Donor personas and journey maps can focus your team’s outreach activities on the most effective tactics for your donors. If your current analytics set up doesn’t allow you to track donor behavior closely, you will want to revisit your implementation to make sure you’re tracking across social media, email, website and donation platforms. 

From here, you can define the right voice, tone and messaging for your major donors. Is it formal, informal, playful? This should differ in meaningful ways from the voice, tone and messaging that you use for the general public or smaller donors. 

Get to Know Each Other (a.k.a. Cultivation)

Email is a key channel for engaging donors: the average nonprofit sent 66 emails per person per year in 2016. However, some organizations choose to exclude major donors from their global email lists because they fear that they will be overwhelmed with low-dollar asks or information that isn’t appropriate to them. While these concerns are valid, the result can be that prospects and donors don’t hear anything from an organization in between in-person visits and solicitations. 

Create an email program with tailored messaging specifically for major donors and prospects to make them feel more connected year-round (bonus points for automation and segmentation by issue area!). Donors can also be engaged on social media either through closed communities or by positioning your program or executive leadership as thought leaders.

Make the Ask (a.k.a. Solicitation)

It’s important to think through the digital components of your actual fundraising ask. Long written proposals are becoming antiquated and many donors — especially those in the private sector — prefer to see a multimedia presentation of some sort (e.g., PowerPoint, Prezi, video or a dedicated microsite). 

Whether it’s provided ahead of time, presented in a meeting, or sent as a follow up, well-design digital collateral can further explain your mission and programs and more deeply engage your donors than words alone. 

Say Thank You (a.k.a. Stewardship)

Fundraising teams understand the importance of saying thank you and making sure that major donors feel the impact of their gift; however, too often they stick to written letters and reports. We love hand-written notes, but we love them even more when they come with a video of program participants saying thank you on a thumb drive. 

People want to know the impact they’re making, so gather stories and data to create videos, infographics and microsites that clearly convey information and create an emotional connection. 

Incorporating the right digital tactics into your major donor strategy will create stronger connections with your donors and support your fundraisers at every step of the donor journey. The above four steps are a big part of achieving this, so make sure that you are incorporating each of them within your overall approach. 

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