Three Signs Your Charity Isn’t Engaging Its Donors – And How To Fix That

4 minute read

If your charity is going to succeed, it needs to have strategies in place to keep donors interested and engaged – and you need to be able to tell when they aren’t.

Your primary audience is the bread and butter of your charity. They’re the pool from which you’ll draw your most dedicated volunteers, and the demographic from which you’ll pull your most generous donations. They’re the people who want to change the world almost as much as you do, and are willing to work with you to make that happen.

Here’s the thing, though – if they’re going to work with you, you need to work with them. You need to put in the effort to keep them interested in your organisation and engaged with your cause. And you need to teach yourself to recognize the warning signs that they’re starting to get bored.

There’s No Activity On Social Media

Social media is one of the best technological developments of the past several decades for charitable organisations. It allows you to reach more potential donors and volunteers than ever before, and provide to-the-minute updates on donation drives. If you aren’t on it, you need to be.

The surest sign that your audience isn’t engaged is how your social media presence is doing. Is your audience regularly commenting on and sharing your posts, talking about your cause, and sharing photos of themselves at your events or fundraisers? When you run a contest on Instagram or Twitter, do you have a ton of excited participants, or does it seem like no one is listening?

If you’re not seeing the sort of engagement you’d like, consider trying the following:

  • Rethink your content – is your copy entertaining and interesting, or is it bland and generic? Are you posting too regularly, or not often enough? Are you adapting each of your social media posts for the specific platform they’re posted on?
  • Ask interesting questions. When someone engages with you in a positive way, thank them and further the conversation. Bring people in with general questions about their thoughts on your cause – why are they giving?
  • Use high-quality images. Photos from your event or good stock images from a photo site like Getty are your best bet here. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.
  • Consider how your audience interacts with each other, and adapt your own digital speech to be similar to that.
  • Use videos. Show the impact your donors have had on the people or region you’re trying to help. Tell them your story.
  • Regularly encourage your followers to submit their own experiences helping further your charity’s cause, and share the best results.

Donations Are Flagging

Are your donors giving less money less often than they used to? While this could just be a regular lull in interest – that does happen sometimes with charities – it could also be a sign that something’s going wrong somewhere along the pipeline. That isn’t necessarily a marketing failure, either.

There’s actually a lot that could go wrong.

Maybe your donors are worried they’ll regret giving money to your charity. Maybe they figure other people are donating, so they don’t have to. Maybe they’re hesitant to give because they don’t have a lot of money to offer. Or maybe you just aren’t reaching them, and there are so many other options that they have no idea who to give to.

Of course, there could also be something wrong with how you’re accepting donations. Do you make the process of giving simple and streamlined? Do you provide donors with multiple avenues through which they can give – ie. through social media, on your website, in person, and with multiple payment methods?

If you try to make your donors jump through hoops, they’re going to get frustrated, and many of them won’t give as generously as they might otherwise (or at all). Don’t force people to fill out a ton of forms to give money. Don’t make them navigate through a confusing sitemap, or search through a glut of social posts to find the ‘donate’ button.

Make it easy for them, and they’ll be willing to work with you.

You’re Having Trouble Finding Volunteers

Does it seem like no one cares enough about your cause to help you out at fundraising drives? Do your calls for volunteers seem to go ignored? Are the people you do bring in to volunteer bored and disengaged?

Volunteer recruitment and retention is one of the most significant challenges your charity will face – and if you’re having trouble with it despite your best efforts, it’s a sure sign that your general audience might not be as interested as you might hope.

That said, the first thing you need to do here is reconsider your recruitment and retention process:

  • Are you giving them enough support? What sort of introductory processes do you have in place? Do you have a training program to get new volunteers up to speed, or do they have to learn by doing?
  • What plans do you have to deal with problem volunteers?
  • What sort of systems have you implemented for communication? Are volunteers able to reach out easily for help when they need it, or are they flying blind?
  • Does each volunteer understand the impact of their role, and why they’re important?
  • Do you regularly thank your volunteers for their hard work?
  • How do you follow-up with volunteers after an event?
  • What avenues of recruitment do you use? Are you trying every single angle, including word of mouth, websites, social media, news agencies, advertisements, volunteer centers, local companies, and partnerships?

Fundraising, Engage

As a charity, you can’t just passively ask for donations. You need be active and interesting. You need to help your audience be as passionate about your cause as you are. Do that, and you’ll do just fine – you can then focus on changing the world just as you want to.

Do you have a role to advertise? Fundraising, Marketing, Social Media? Whatever it is CharityJob is No.1 job site for the charity, not for profit and voluntary sector in the UK. Post your job today and find the right candidate.

Brad Wayland

Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Cotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.

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