It’s 2016. Do you know where your donors are?

Chances are they’re closer than you think. While we typically think of church pews and mailboxes as prime places for finding people ready and willing to donate, new technology means your donors are everywhere – and it’s up to you to find them.

The fact that potential donors are communicating, discovering, interacting and yes, giving, online is incredibly positive for organizations.  It creates new avenues to tell your story to people who were once only accessible through a large mailing or not at all. It creates opportunities for new supporters to find you organically, through shared content and an affinity for the type of work you do, whether or not they’ve heard of your organization. But it also creates a lot of work for marketing and development teams who are now trying to invest in both physical and digital channels.

As generational preferences shift, we now must cater to multiple audiences. Some older donors do still respond best to mail, while younger donors might be exclusively online. The Boomers bridge the gap, increasingly interacting on social media, or going online to vet information received through a direct mail appeal. The result? To engage the full spectrum of donors, you need to be everywhere, with consistent messages across all channels, transparency and compelling stories.

So where should you be if you want to reach the full potential of your donor base? Here are some places – besides your direct mail appeal or capital campaign – where your donors are hanging out everyday:

  • Email: Hands down, one of the most important marketing and development assets you have is your email list. Email is alive and well, and many audiences are becoming open to receiving email MORE frequently as long as it’s compelling, helpful and short enough to read on the go. You should always be looking for opportunities to capture email address, whether on your website, through online ads or on social media. Give people a reason to give you a piece of their personal information – great stories, access to exclusive content or free helpful downloads. Keep people paying attention by sending out regular, relevant communications that are more about your donors than about you (though we know how awesome your are!).
  • Text: Want to get really personal? Text people. A form of communication usually reserved for the inner circle, 90 percent of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt. To be given access to this inner sanctum of personal info, you have to offer your supporters something of value. People love receiving regular encouragement, quotes, verses and exclusive updates, and text marketing services such as Textify Mobile make it easy to send and schedule these messages to your whole list. Events are a great place to collect text information, as audiences are engaged in real time and will more readily give you their information for further follow up after the event.
  • Social Media: Contrary to many incorrect social practices, social media is not a lead generation or fundraising tool. It is however a great way to start conversations and tell your story among potential donors. Of all the online avenues, social channels create the best opportunity to organically reach new people through social and viral qualities. Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, for example. While the organizations who received donations have their work cut out for them to cultivate and retain new donors whose level of engagement involves a freezing bucket of water and peer pressure, the challenge is an incredible example of viral reach and how social power can help new people discover and learn about important causes they never would have stumbled across in daily life.

If you’re only communicating in limited channels, you are leaving money on the table. And not only are you losing money today, but the long-term opportunity cost of not engaging and cultivating new, young donors can have significant impact on your future sustainability (most of today’s major givers started out with small monthly gifts and increased their support over time as trust and incomes grew).

While donors might attend an event or open a piece of mail with the intention of learning more about donating, these same people will use email, text and social media to interact with friends, family and brands, regardless of whether they’re looking for giving opportunities. Your job is to insert yourself into the conversation, tell stories and become relevant to their lives, in the places they live, work and play – while maintaining traditional donor development efforts that are still proving successful for your organization.

We get it. It’s tough to navigate new communications channels on top of everything you already do. But the effort will pay off – immediately and in the future. And we’re here to help! Visit our website to learn more about what we do and ways we can help you figure out the most efficient and cost effective ways to use technology to grow your reach.