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Donor Participation Project

Understanding Your Audience: Filling the Gaps in Your Engagement Strategy

As nonprofit fundraisers, we often focus on individual interactions with our donors like events, calls, and mailings. But true engagement is about the entire journey, not just touchpoints. According to engagement expert Emily Taylor, we need to see the big picture by mapping our audience’s path from first learning about us to becoming our strongest supporters.

Filling in the gaps of your engagement strategy starts with understanding your audience’s needs and motivations. Their needs are not just functional, like incentives, but also emotional and cultural. For example, donors may be motivated by feeling like part of your community or mission. Talk to your donors and analyze their behaviors to determine what they need from you. Provide value to meet those needs.

Your audience’s journey likely has gaps between levels of engagement.

Many organizations find a drop-off between people attending an event and actually donating, for instance. Look for holes in your own strategy and work to motivate your audience to the next level of commitment. Ask people directly for that increased level of support and provide clear next steps.

Guiding your audience down the path also requires collaboration across teams.

While you may operate specific programs, your donors see the total experience you provide. All teams should understand how their work contributes to the overall journey. Come together to map the path, determine gaps, and set shared key performance indicators to close those gaps. See through your donor’s eyes.

Continuously experiment and analyze data to optimize your audience’s journey.

Try different messages, channels, and calls-to-action, then see what resonates. Look for opportunities to involve long-time, highly engaged donors in guiding newcomers down the path. Keep learning and improving to turn one-time attendees into your most ardent advocates.

Fundraising is a team sport, and success depends on the strength of your engagement strategy. By understanding your audience, guiding them purposefully down the journey, and working collaboratively, you can gain their long-term partnership in achieving your mission. Fill in the gaps in your current strategy and motivate your supporters to become stronger allies. Keep engagement at the heart of your efforts.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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