Content: The Digital Elixir

If you want to realize long-term donor engagement, you have to understand the why of donors.

Donor knowledge leads to more relevant communication, which builds relationships.  Whereas treating donors generically has dire consequences: loss of interest, confusion and ultimately, delayed or lapsed giving.

A recent survey in The Nonprofit Quarterly found that less than 50% of nonprofits have an effective digital strategy.  

And however you want to interpret “effective” — clicks, shares, likes, referrals, donations — the blatant insight is that organizations are not engaging with their target audiences, or more importantly, donors are not engaging with organizations.

To address this engagement gap, fundraisers must consider the “drivers” that would make content relevant to their donors. Drivers are fundamentally the intrinsic motivational factors that cause a person to either engage or not.

When you understand why a donor relates to your mission, then and only then will you be able to develop relevant communications that lead to long-lasting engagement.  What you say, where you say it, and how you say it matters.  Your words are not only read; they are talked about and commented on.  And the Digital Age amplifies this reality.

In today’s digitally-infused world, donors don’t just want to follow you.  Many want to participate in the process to feel they are involved. 

So before you develop your communications plan, ask:

  1. What does the donor care about?
  2. Why would the donor want to change the status quo?

IF you want long-term donor connection, engagement and loyalty

THEN you must focus on the why’s that drive behavior.

Dialogue…you speak, I listen. I speak, you listen. But if I only speak about what I want to talk about, I doubt the relationship will grow and develop. Conversely, if I take time to listen and understand and sincerely reach out, long-term relationships happen. 


“God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason.”

- Ancient Irish proverb

John Payne