Marketing Strategy + Planning

6 Ideas to Boost Donor Engagement for Your Nonprofit

Donor engagement indicates how passionate your supporters are about your cause, the successes of your marketing team, the potential for increasing gift sizes, and the amount of fun your donors have with your organization.

As some of your greatest advocates, engaged donors are a valuable resource for your fundraising team as well as marketing your nonprofit’s brand.

Therefore, improving and tracking donor engagement should be a top priority.This may seem like a huge, unattainable task, which is why we’ve broken it down into smaller steps that will make increasing engagement attainable. These ideas include:

  1. Conducting research about your donors 
  2. Practicing genuine communication 
  3. Encouraging conversation on various platforms
  4. Using effective fundraising software 
  5. Hosting a nonprofit event 
  6. Suggesting multiple methods of engagement

We’ll dive deeper into each of these strategies to give your nonprofit an idea of how each one plays into your larger donor engagement strategy.

1. Conduct research about donors

Within your nonprofit’s CRM lies tons of valuable information that can drastically impact your nonprofit’s marketing campaign. The majority of these metrics can be lumped together in a couple of different key categories:

Retention and Acquisition Rates

This is where you measure the first-time donor retention rates, repeat donor retention rates, attrition rate, new donor acquisition rate, frequency of giving per donor, average gift size per donor, and donor lifetime value.

Key Marketing Metrics

This category is where you’ll find metrics such as email conversion rates, email opt-out rates, email open rates, email click-through rates, new email sign-ups, social media views and likes, social media click-through rates, event attendance, and peer-to-peer fundraising participation.

Luckily, all of this information should be stored in the same place, your CRM, for easy accessibility throughout the year.

If your nonprofit uses the world’s leading CRM, Salesforce, check out this donor management article by Salsa. It helps explain how to leverage this data most effectively directly from the CRM platform.

2. Practice genuine communication

There are two main things to keep in mind when you’re focused on creating a genuine line of communication: let your passion shine through and remain as transparent as possible.

Let your passion shine.

You and your staff work at the nonprofit for a reason, likely because you strongly believe in the mission itself. Help your donors believe in this mission as firmly as you do by showing them your own excitement for it.

Remain transparent.

Even if donors don’t need to know particular details, sharing them anyway will help build an element of trust between both parties. For example, taking data from your fund accounting software and directly incorporating it into your annual report ensures your donors are seeing the complete information regarding your financial stability.

3. Encourage conversation on various platforms

Use the metrics you’ve discovered in the first section to identify the most appropriate platform of communication for various segments of donors. For instance:

  • Group donors by email response and click-through rates. Use email as your primary method of communication with those donors.
  • When it comes to social media, create a segment of donors in your CRM who have often liked your posts, shared posts, have RSVPed to events on social media, and comment or post about your organization.

If you’re not sure what platform your donors prefer, ask them! Simply ask donors how they want to be contacted to take the guesswork out of your communication strategy.

4. Use effective fundraising software

Conduct the necessary research that will help you choose a software solution to bolster relationships and boost donor retention. When you’re making a decision, you should ask yourself key questions about each software such as:

  • What types of campaigns can I host with this solution?
  • Can I integrate this solution with my CRM?
  • How frequently will my data sync with my CRM?
  • Can I automate aspects of my strategy with this software?
  • Will it be easy to configure? Or do I need to hire a consultant?

Fundraising software is easiest to consider in two different forms: a complete all-in-one solution and a fundraising-specific package.

An all-in-one solution will contain your CRM, fundraising functionality, and marketing functions in a single solution. These solutions, such as those offered by Salsa CRM, are often less expensive and less complicated than a piecemeal of solutions that your nonprofit puts together separately.

A fundraising-specific package is useful if you don’t want an entire overhaul of your tech system, but would prefer to combine some of the software functionality for fundraising-specific tasks. Generally, this means that your nonprofit would prefer to keep your existing CRM. For instance, if you’re on Salesforce currently and want to read more about complete solutions that will integrate, click here.

5. Host an event

Many nonprofits think that all they need to do is host an extra event or two and all of their problems will go away. But be sure to remember that events are only effective for encouraging donor engagement when they’re done right!

So how do you host an event that will help you reach your donor engagement goals?

  1. Make your registration page easily accessible. Make it easy for donors to register for your event from your website, social media, and other easy platforms. If you need them to sign a waiver for the event, be sure that’s easily accessible too, as Smartwaiver explains in this blog post.
  2. Provide opportunities to get involved from home. For those who couldn’t make the event, you’ll want them to feel involved now and hopefully attend next time. Try live streaming the event on social media or offering online bidding for an event auction. 
  3. Remember to say thank you. Thank your attendees for coming to the event and send a survey asking for their feedback. This feedback can help you make sure the event is as engaging as possible in the years to come.

Events serve the unique purpose of helping your team steward donors for the future. Events provide a casual location for your major gift officer to match a face to a name with prospects.

6. Provide multiple opportunities for involvement

The last thing you want is for your supporters to get frustrated with you continuously asking for donations over time. Try asking for non-monetary engagement activities to create ask variation.

The two primary forms of non-monetary engagement include volunteering and advocacy.

Keep in mind that you’ll need the right software to devise an effective volunteer program and advocacy campaigns. If your nonprofit is looking for an all-in-one solution, be sure these are included. If not, look for the right apps and integrations to make it possible.


Too often we hear about unhappy volunteers because they feel overlooked, underutilized, and taken for granted. Volunteers deserve better!

Make sure that when your nonprofit recruits your supporters to work as volunteers, you have a good plan in place to use their talents accordingly. Make sure your volunteer program helps your organization:

  • Assign volunteers to do real work for your organization. 
  • Provide ample training for your volunteers.
  • Steward your volunteers to keep them happy.

Happy volunteers are key to making the supporters feel closer to your mission.


Advocacy campaigns are a great way to spread the word of your organization’s mission to encourage action from your representatives and other community influencers.

Ask your supporters to get involved with:

  • Click-to-call advocacy. Encourage them to call their representatives with just the click of a button. Then provide a generalized script to use for the phone call. 
  • Online petitions. Ask your supporters to sign the petition and share it on social media with their own online networks. 
  • Tweeting representatives. Encourage supporters to call out their representatives on social media. This global networking site is a great platform to bring issues to light. 

Advocacy allows your nonprofit supporters to do their part for your organization from the comfort of their own homes and without digging into their pockets.

Measuring the success of providing different engagement opportunities for your supporters shows how well your hard work is paying off. If certain parts of your strategy don’t appear to be effective, it’s time to reevaluate, re-adjust, and try again!

Written by Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.