Jan 2, 2021

The Ultimate Digital Communication Guide for Donor Engagement Excellence


Ensure your supporters receive exciting real-time updates using digital communication that will strengthen fundraising throughout the year. From text messaging to e-mail and social media, regular communication with your donors and volunteers is critical for your mission’s success. 

Looking for more ways to engage and support your donors? Connect with GiveSmart today

Text Messages Are The Best Way To Connect With Your Supporters

Smartphones Have Fundamentally Changed The Way Donors Live, Work, And Play

Smartphones are likely our most used device. Understanding best practices, statistics, and how mobile communication can strengthen fundraising is essential for nonprofit organizations. 

It is very important to diligently collect mobile numbers from donors and supporters because a person’s mobile number is the communication anchor that keeps nonprofit organizations connected to individuals from decade to decade. 

Every year your donors and supporters:

  • Move from place to place which negatively effects your direct mail campaigns
  • Cancel their home phone service which reduces your phone-a-thon effectiveness.
  • Change e-mail addresses which hampers your e-mail reach

Bottom Line: If you want to ensure your content is seen by supporters, you need to text them.

Videos, pictures and stories that are cross-promoted over text messages, e-mail, and social media yield highest response rates because they reach across a wide rage of demographics.

Tip: Texts must be entertaining or essential or they will likely be ignored.

Know the numbers

Over the years, mobile has become an essential component of fundraising. The statistics below show how text messages are the gold standard to connect donors to the causes they care about.

  • The average American checks their phone every 10 minutes* 
  • 95% of Americans own a smartphone* 
  • 99% of text messages are read * 
  • 70% of donors report that texts are a good way for nonprofits to get their attention 
  • 62% of donors report they would like to use text to communicate with organizations 

* Source: 48 SMS Marketing Statistics You Must See: 2021/2022 Market Share Analysis & Data 

If you’re looking to get started or get better with your text-to-donate, connect with a GiveSmart expert today.  

Social Media Poses A Huge Opportunity

Create A Culture Of Continous Real-Time Donor Engagement

Social media poses both the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for nonprofit organizations. Everyone from Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers uses it. Though it may seem daunting at first, social networks are arguably the best place to fuel your follower base with both new and existing supporters by engaging them through compelling, shareable content, storytelling updates, and calls to action. 

Make A Plan

Create a clear-cut plan of who and what you’re trying to target and craft content for those goals. In addition to internal goals, set weekly and monthly goals around follower count and engagement, volunteer sign-ups, and donations—anything you can use social networks for in supporting your cause!

Customize Your Message

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for social media. Every channel is unique, and your posts should reflect that. Facebook is a great place for slightly longer, engaging posts. Twitter’s 280-character limit means you have to be short and to the point. And for Instagram and YouTube, you’ll need to create graphic and video content for your cause.

Inspire Participation

Put effort into growing your nonprofit’s social following by telling your story. All of your hard work will pay off, transforming social media into a powerful tool where you can get people involved, start conversations with followers, promote your fundraising events and campaigns, ask followers to donate and fundraise on your behalf, and more!

How to Create An Effective Social Media Strategy

Technology is not a miracle cure, it is an amplifier–and it amplifies both good and bad. A social media page alone is not enough! While many nonprofits do well with general awareness, organizations need a sound fundraising strategy to put behind their social efforts to achieve ongoing success.

How to Build an Effective Social Strategy:

  • Think about social as part of a long-term strategy for bringing in new supporters.
  • Design a social strategy that builds on your organization’s fundraising efforts .
  • Test your mobile-friendly donation page and create shortlinks—this is vital!
  • Have a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish and how you’ll analyze the data.
  • Involve different departments and get your board engaged

How to Execute An Effective Social Media Strategy

Create a network of support with compelling content and campaign integration 

As a general rule, it is best to focus your efforts on the one or two channels you are already using. Put a dedicated team member (who can write well!) in charge of posting updates across channels—their passion for your cause and the community will shine through. 

How to Integrate Social Media:

  • Identify the most compelling stories in your organization.
  • Test your mobile-friendly donation page and create shortlinks—this is vital!
  • Identify influencers (people with a lot of followers) and reach out to ask them to help share your fundraising campaign.
  • Provide staff and volunteers with talking points to use in posts and in person

Proven Social Media Strategies

Event fundraising campaigns are huge in the nonprofit space, but it is imperative to have fundraising solutions that integrate with social media to make it easy for participants to support your cause and the event throughout the year.

The Cartersville Dances with the Stars event featured local celebrities competing to see who could raise the most money by getting the community involved using text-to-give keywords and individual donation pages to raise over $124k!

Proven Strategies:

  • Create a separate social network/Facebook page for the event.
  • Encourage “celebrity” participation and repost from their pages.
  • Produce content, images, and assets for use by participants.
  • Create individual donation pages to track, share, and promote.
  • Update social pages during live event with photos, videos, etc.
  • Create posts to follow up with and thank donors and participants.

Map Out Your Entire Donor Experience and Track Everything

From the first time an individual likes one of your posts to a lifetime of recurring online donations, each donor touchpoint presents an opportunity for your nonprofit organization to grow its mission and fuel your cause. Once you have properly set up your fundraising campaign, you will be able to measure and gauge donor behavior every step of the way. 

Sign Up Experience

Essential Social Media Fundraising Components:

  • Keywords and shortlinks for easy promotion
  • Mobile-friendly forms
  • Embed logos, photos, and videos
  • Custom fields for donor data collection 
  • Secure donation pages
  • Suggested donation amounts and recurring gift options 
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising integration
  • Automatic email receipts and SMS notifications

Smartphones Make It Easy To Create Professional Videos

Capturing raw emotion in video is the best way to strengthen your brand. 

In terms of likes, shares, downloads, and donations, video consistently outperforms all other forms of digital communication. Every campaign should include a series of compelling videos with a simple call to action. Remember, 57% of donors make a gift online after watching a video, making video production one of the most important initiatives for all nonprofit organizations. 

Tips for Creating Compelling Videos For Your Nonprofit

Tip #1: Use the a Movie App to Produce Videos and Upload to YouTube and Vimeo

In just a few hours a member of your team can make well produced videos. Make sure you find free training videos online to ensure your video marketing shines. Your nonprofit will be able to easily create, edit, and publish professional-looking videos that include: 

  • Video clips and photos
  • Music and testimonies
  • Transitions and effects

Tip #2: Encourage Your Staff and Volunteers to Share Videos on Facebook

Organic videos, recorded on individuals’ smartphones, are often the most effective way to capture and showcase the essence of your mission and the good you are accomplishing. 

Have them share on your nonprofit’s page as well as their own personal pages to help spread the word. 

Use this content to create fresh 15-60-90 second PSA videos with a call to action for donations

Tip #3: Use AirDrop to Easily Share Content Between Devices

Connect devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs) to a WiFi connection and use Airdrop to share content. In seconds you can collect existing content from volunteers and supporters by having them easily transmit their videos, photos, and recordings. 

AirDrop is the easiest way to gather up content from multiple devices before creating a video.

How to Get Started Making Nonprofit Videos

Video Production Is Not Just For Professionals Anymore

4 Key Principles of Effective Video Production for Nonprofits:

  1. Your message is more important than production quality
  2. Raw videos with real moments uniquely capture authentic emotion and passion
  3. Handmade videos often outperform high-end productions
  4. Smartphones have made everyone a videographer

Best Practices for Getting Started with Video:

Get Started Producing Nonprofit Video Now

One thing to remember is that video is all about the human connection.

  • Compile a library of footage taken by volunteers and staff.
  • Keep your donors’ interest piqued with raw and real, behind-the-scenes footage that shows the good you are accomplishing.
  • Post videos separately to YouTube and Facebook and cross-promote with e-mail and SMS as often you have something compelling to share.
  • Keep your call-to-action for donations coherent and consistent.

“Your goal should be that all your donors are continuously compelled to keep giving to your cause.”

Start Using Facebook and Instagram Live!

Facebook Live Is The Easiest Way To Share Video Content

Here’s How it Works:

  • Open the Facebook app on your smartphone.
  • On your personal page: Select News Feed > Status > Live Video.
  • Your live feed will display on your wall and all your followers can interact live with you. You can also be found publicly by a worldwide audience. It’s that easy!

“Amazingly, Facebook Live allows you to broadcast to a worldwide audience with the camera in your pocket.”

Video Fundraising Production Essentials from a Hollywood Pro

Video goes beyond fundraising—it’s a must for any nonprofit looking to succeed

It’s not just for galas and events. Video is the fastest and most effective way to highlight your nonprofit’s core messaging in the eyes of your audience and tell your story to viewers across channels.

Video relays your message clearly and effectively, creating emotion that inspires viewers to take action for your organization and shows them what they can do to help, be it through volunteering time and resources or making a monetary donation to your cause.

When you highlight your organization’s core messaging in a real, authentic way, you give viewers the opportunity—and inspiration —to get involved with your nonprofit on an emotional level and encourage them to volunteer time and resources to your cause.

Key Components of a Successful Fundraising Video:

  • Evoke the senses when telling your story with images and stories that viewers a reason to believe in your cause.
  • Relatability is key, so tap into what resonates by creating a familiar persona that incorporates your organization’s message and aspirations
  • Cast powerful characters, passionate people from your org or benefiting from your mission create empathy to help viewers relate to and get them behind your cause
  • Know your audience. Target your story for a direct and specific purpose—if you don’t know who you’re talking to, the right people won’t be listening
  • Passion is paramount, so keep your purpose in mind and add in some depth to match the tone and feel of your organization
  • Humility helps everyone–connect your audience to your org in a sincere way to create trust in your mission and get people involved.

Video Fundraising will Guarantee the Success of Your Fundraising Campaign

Strategize your story and say it in a way that makes people care.

Video as part of fundraising is essential, as people want to see and connect to the story you are telling. Being true to your mission is the best way to inspire people to get excited and help inspire giving.

“All types of content are relevant. The most important thing is the story you want to tell, so say it in a way that connects to people.”

Best Ways to Guarantee Success through Video Fundraising: 

  • Use social media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Create a following in the community by reaching out to influencers.
  • Give it time—even the best campaigns don’t succeed overnight.
  • Immediacy is essential, so be sure your images reflect timely stories that are important to your organization and to your viewers
  • Create a visual narrative to encourage liking and sharing.
  • Start small—you don’t need a big budget to have big impact.
  • Reach out to the community to find those willing to dedicate time to help you create a great video for your cause.

Sending Mobile-Friendly E-mails Will Increase Your Reach

Nearly half of all e-mails are read on mobile devices. 

Social media poses both the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for nonprofit organizations. Everyone from Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers uses it. Though it may seem daunting at first, social networks are arguably the best place to fuel your follower base with both new and existing supporters by engaging them through compelling, shareable content, storytelling updates, and calls to action. 

People are much more likely to read your content, click your links, and follow through on your calls to action if your e-mail is mobile-friendly. 

Mobile-friendly e-mails contain text, headers, buttons, and images that automatically resize when an individual views the e-mail on a mobile device. 

Many e-mail marketing services like MailChimp and Constant Contact provide easy drag-and-drop editors that enable you to create mobile-friendly e-mails. 

E-mail Design Tip: Keep in mind that people tend to look at images, skim the first few sentences, and click a link if your call to action is compelling. 

Important Stats:

  • 16% of all e-mails go lost or are caught in spam filters 
  • Four in 10 e-mails are opened on a mobile device 
  • 10 seconds is the average time a branded e-mail is open 
  • More than eight in 10 people check their e-mail every day 

*Source: The Ultimate List of E-mail Marketing Stats for 2022 

This guide helps you plan for and create action-driving digital communication for your support network. Gain donors and engage them for years to come when you better your communication strategy. 

Looking for support for your fundraising and donor management? Connect with a GiveSmart expert today. 


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We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

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The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

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MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County