7 Simple Tips for Engaging Donors & Volunteers

Non-profit organizations rely so much on donors and volunteers for their valuable contributions of money, time, and commitment to our goals and strategies. Here are 7 tips for keeping donors and volunteers engaged with your mission.

Solicit Donor and Volunteer Feedback

Donors and volunteers are often an overlooked resource for feedback on how we can perform better as organizations, host better events, and recruit and solicit additional donors and volunteers. Send an online survey, ask for follow up feedback after hosting an event, and intentionally build in feedback loops for them to connect with your organization leadership. Ask donors and volunteers how else they may want to get involved with your organization. And, ask them if they have anyone in their networks who may also want to be involved in your efforts.

Thank Donors and Volunteers Often

Thanking your donors and volunteers in-person after an event is thoughtful, but not enough. Reach out with an email, feature their efforts in your e-newsletters, and promote their organizations on your website. And, consider sending a personally hand-written “thank you” note signed by your Board of Directors and/or staff and send it in the mail—with a real stamp. Snail mail is so rare these days and that small act may go a long way to keeping volunteers and donors engaged by returning to help with your next event or their next financial donation.

Spotlight Donor and Volunteer Efforts

Many donors and volunteers provide their financial support and time and energy to help your organization without expectations for praise or recognition. This presents a great opportunity to spotlight your unsung heroes that provide essential support to your organization through e-newsletters, print materials, social media shout-outs through tagging them, and even in-office signage and photos thanking them publicly. Intentionally spotlight their efforts that support you. Create a landing page on your website or a rotating hero image header featuring your major donor logos.

Do this often and consistently, and rotate features of your consistent donor and volunteer base throughout the year to give everyone a chance to be in the spotlight.

Provide Donors and Volunteers with Relevant Content

Every organization has strategies and existing programs for general communication and engagement via social media, e- and printed newsletters, awards ceremonies, and digital website content. Consider segmenting your donors and volunteers with relevant, specifically-targeted content to their interests, vs. relying on your Instagram posts that likely engage a broader audience who “like” your non-profit, but may not have yet become involved. While this may require a bit more work, identify what interests them when you solicit donor and volunteer feedback—ask “why are you involved” and “what interests you most about our organization, mission, etc.”? Then, create relevant content distributed only to those stakeholders to keep them engaged with content that interests them specifically.

Invite Donors and Volunteers to Events Without Asking Them for Anything

This is an easy strategy. These can be informal meet-ups, happy hour events, and of course your large events or awards ceremonies where you simply invite them because of the time, energy and funding they’ve provided – without asking them for anything in return. Not every event your organization hosts needs to be a fundraising or an “asking for money” event.

Enable Donors and Volunteers to be Your Brand Ambassadors

This doesn’t mean you have to make donors and volunteers official administrators of your social media and digital channels. But, by providing them with opportunities to respond to comments, share posts, and encouraging them to advocate on your behalf expands your footprint in the community and engages a wider audience within their networks beyond your organization’s current reach. Encourage donors and volunteers to respond and share your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok posts. Ask them to make Yelp and Google reviews, share website news and event announcements within their own networks, creating a peer-to-peer extended network well beyond your current followers.

Share High-Level Strategic Plans Goals with Donors and Volunteers.

Invite your key donors and volunteers to an informal feedback session while also sharing with them your high-level strategic plans and goals with them. This provides your most engaged stakeholders with tangible outcomes and strategies, providing them with the big-picture of where your organization is going, and how their efforts, no matter how slight, may impact the overall strategies you have for fundraising, outreach, resources, etc. This can be a very short, high-level presentation and sharing of information that engages your most active volunteers and donors at a deeper level.