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How to Grow a Donor Network For Your Nonprofit Site

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Written By: author image Natalie Jones

Want to grow a donor network for your nonprofit site?

Donor retention is essential for any nonprofit, small or large. After all, it’s much easier to get your active donors to stay loyal to your cause and opt-in to recurring donations than to win back lapsed ones. Growing a network of donors is a vital part of increasing your donations, boosting donor retention, and getting more people involved with your cause.

In this article, we’ll share seven ways you can grow and nurture a network of donors for your nonprofit site.

What is a Nonprofit Donor Network?

A nonprofit donor network is a group of givers or donors that a nonprofit organization develops and nurtures to help maintain its sustainability and reach its goals.

Donor networks keep like-minded people who share similar beliefs and passions connected. They typically include those driven to make a difference in their community through philanthropy, volunteerism, and advocacy.

Building a donor network is a critical step all nonprofits need to take to help generate long-term and consistent funding. Donor networks also help expand a nonprofit’s reach and ultimately spread the word through collaboration and word of mouth. Think of it as strength in numbers. Donor networks offer a way for nonprofits to gain more momentum, power, and influence.

The Four Types of Donors

To truly grow your network of donors, you should first familiarize yourself with the four types of donors. Each one of them plays an important role in the success of your organization.

The four types of donors are:

  • Individual Donors: The most common kind of donors. These are people who donate to your nonprofit on their own.
  • Major Donors: Donors who can make a dramatic impact on your nonprofit with a large donation.
  • New Donors: It’s important to nurture and strengthen your relationships with new donors. You shouldn’t just reach out to new donors when you begin a new campaign. You can keep them up to date on new programs and upcoming events.
  • Corporate Donors: Corporate donors are businesses that are interested in your specific mission and typically work with your nonprofit through sponsorships and similar partnerships.

You’ll need to make adjustments to your marketing and communication efforts based on the type of donors you’re targeting.

With all of that being said, the following list of steps apply to all donor types.

1. Say “Thank You” Every Time

It seems simple, but a simple “thank you” goes a long way. Any time a donor sends you their money, it’s important to reach out to them with a personalized message expressing your appreciation after every donation; not just the first one.

Studies show that failing to thank your donors is one of the top reasons donors choose to leave an organization.

Whether your donor has contributed $5 or $5,000 to your cause, you need to show them how much you appreciate their interest and generosity.

Using WP Simple Pay, the best Stripe payments plugin for WordPress, creating personalized donation confirmation emails and messages is easy.

The plugin offers an advanced drag & drop form builder that you can use to add a custom message that your donors will receive immediately after their donation is complete. For example, you can also add links to your blog in your confirmation email to encourage engagement.

donor network

Some nonprofits choose to send a physical letter. This is quite a surprise to many people because we don’t get a lot of non-spam mail these days. It also gives them something to keep.

2. Prime Them Before You Request Money

Priming is the practice of getting someone ready for something soon. In terms of fundraising, it means positively engaging potential donors without asking for donations.

You see, we’re programmed to be more agreeable if we’ve been primed by a valuable action. It’s no different than acting especially nice to a friend before you break some bad news or ask them to help you move.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do much to prime a donor. You just have to contact them positively without asking for money. It could be as simple as sending a “thank you” card, updating them on your organization’s progress, or sending photos from a recent campaign.

Once you prime donors, they will have your organization in mind. Later, when you send them a request for money, there’s a greater chance that they will respond with a donation.

3. Demonstrate Your Organization’s Impact

Imagine sending money to an organization to support their cause, and then never seeing evidence of their work. That would hardly inspire you to keep giving.

It makes sense, of course. If you’re going to give money to a nonprofit, you want to know that they’re using it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Fill your marketing and communications with information that shows you take their donations seriously. Explain what you can accomplish with their donations (“For every $25, we build one…”) and what you could do with a little bit more.

Most importantly, show the results of your work. If you help remote communities dig wells, don’t just show the wells. Show the people living better lives due to your help. If you send books to impoverished kids, don’t just show the books. Show the kids overcoming their struggles.

4. Give Donors a Subscription Option

Some donors are happy to donate to the same cause regularly if they believe in the organization and its mission. However, the odds of them returning to your site every month to complete a new transaction are pretty low. It’s smart to give donors an option to donate regularly.

Allow donors to donate again and again by adding a subscription option to your donation forms. This simple technique has the potential to drive a steady stream of donations without doing any more work.

If your payment processor and form plugin don’t give you the option to offer subscriptions, you aren’t collecting donations as efficiently as you could be. We recommend using a system that lets donors contribute however they prefer.

With WP Simple Pay, adding a subscription option to your donation form is simple. All you need to do is choose a pre-built template for subscriptions. You can even boost donations by offering suggested donation amounts. The form will give your donors options to donate regularly at whatever intervals and amounts you set.

donor network

5. Communicate Often With Your Donors

Maintaining communication with your donors is so important. They want to hear about your events, campaigns, activities, people, and, most importantly, the cause you’re addressing. If you ghost them, they’ll ghost you.

What’s a reasonable communication frequency? It depends on the nature of your cause and your donors’ preferences. We recommend segmenting your donor base and serving them the content that matters to each group.

For instance, a $25 donor probably doesn’t want a daily email update. You’ll overwhelm them quickly. But, someone who gives millions of dollars yearly probably wants frequent emails directly from your organization’s leadership and detailed reports about how you spent the money.

To learn more, check out our detailed guide on how to use email campaigns to collect donations.

Just make sure you don’t use every communication as a chance to ask for money. Surprise and delight your donors with engaging content that fosters positive emotional connections. Don’t be afraid to get fun and silly, or thoughtful and deep.

WP Simple Pay offers built-in automation that allows you to add your donors to your mailing list after their donation payment has been completed. This is a great way to ensure that your donors will receive not only the donation confirmation email but also future emails regarding the organization.

Social media is also an important element in building a network around your mission. You can take a lot of the work out of posting on your social media platforms and earn trust in your organization using WP Simple Pay. You can use the plugin to set up automations directly from the donation form builder.

6. Collect Data From Your Donors

Collecting data from your donors during the donation process can help you learn more about them and then use that information to create better campaigns and content for your site.

WP Simple Pay allows you to easily collect information directly from the donation form using dropdowns, checkboxes, and text fields.

You should keep your form fields to a maximum of seven fields to ensure that you don’t overwhelm them.

donor network

7. Get Them Involved in Some Other Way

Sending money may be the most impactful way your donors can support your cause, but it’s not a personal form of engagement. It’s hard for donors to feel like they’re part of your cause if their only contribution is a monthly or yearly donation.

Try to engage your donors with your organization in some other way. You can:

  • Invite them to local and virtual events. This allows them to meet your team, other donors, and the people they help, thus forming a network of donors.
  • Ask them to volunteer their time in a way that brings them face-to-face with your mission.
  • Have them complete feedback surveys about your organization’s work and impact. Encourage them to contribute their ideas.
  • Contribute non-monetary donations like sellable goods, canned food, etc. These feel like a bigger sacrifice than simply giving money.

Ultimately, engaging your donors personally will make them feel like a bigger part of your cause. Eventually donating will feel like the easiest part of their involvement!

That’s it! We hope this article has helped you learn a few ways you can grow a network of donors for your nonprofit site. While donor retention and building a true community of givers and contributors isn’t easy, it can be done at scale.

Through regular communication, and a commitment to engage with your network of donors, you can give them opportunities to donate repeatedly.

If you liked this article, you might also want to check out our guide on the top fundraising trends of 2024 to watch for.

What are you waiting for? Get started with WP Simple Pay today!

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