At our 2023 edition of ENCC Toronto, Shairoze Walji, Donor Acquisition Manager at UNHCR Canada, presented on how her organization creates and facilitates donor journey experiences using Engaging Networks. Shairoze discussed all the steps that UNHCR Canada follows — from initial donation, to welcome journey, to various ways to ask and test for second gifts, to keeping donors informed and feeling appreciated.
When it comes to digital, your organization needs a multi-channel approach. While you might have a creative approach to one particular area of marketing, the same approach won’t necessarily work across all channels and for all audiences.
To gain clarity around how to diversify your marketing efforts, according to Shairoze Walji, you need to start with personalization. Understanding your current donors and potential supporters will help you devise multiple approaches for how to better reach them and draw them into your organization’s mission. That’s what UNHCR Canada — one of the leading refugee advocacy orgs in Canada — gleaned through the process of using Engaging Networks, where you can take care of your digital needs all in one place.
Diversifying Your Channel Mix
Personalization is key to donor retention. But before you can even think about retaining supporters, you need to acquire them in the first place. A robust channel mix will increase your chances at acquisition because it will enable you to seek out folks in multiple locations, not just a single channel.
UNHCR Canada built out their channel mix through the following approaches:
- Digital Ads – Facebook, display ads, and Google search all present different opportunities to get creative with how you reach online users.
- DRTV – Direct response television (DRTV) helps attract potential supporters who don’t use the internet as frequently.
- Print/Press Ads – This is an opportunity to talk a lot more about your organization’s work because there’s more page space to fill up compared to digital ads.
- Advocacy – If supporters can’t afford to donate, advocacy is another way to spur involvement. For example, UNHCR Canada launched a campaign asking people to help support vaccine access for refugees.
- Newsletter Subscriptions – Again, just because someone can’t donate, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to stay engaged. Donors still want to hear from you, and newsletters will keep them up to date with everything your org is doing.
With their channel mix, Shairoze says that UNHCR Canada is taking a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” style of approach. However, because the organization is able to track peoples’ different entry points of engagement (thanks to our records and reporting function), they can take that into consideration as they personalize content for those donors along their individual journeys.
Personalizing Donor Communications
The best way to personalize communications for these donors you’ve just acquired through a multi-channel approach is by creating personas based on what you’ve learned about them. Shairoze lists the type of information her own organization gathers, tracks in Engaging Networks, and then uses for personalized marketing automation:
- Channel acquired
- Monthly or one-time gift
- Donation amount
- Language preference
She believes this is more than enough info to begin targeting supporters and speaking to them more personally in automated welcome journeys based on how they joined, or for putting them into specific journeys to receive a personalized call, “Thank you” email, and even a physical “Thank you” letter.
For more advanced tracking, which helps with data segmentation that can inform more nuanced personalization, you can integrate Engaging Networks with Google Analytics.
Striking the Right Balance with Email
It’s fantastic to speak to donors’ particular interests — that’s the crux of personalization, after all. But here’s one downside to this approach: Too much personalization risks being too narrow, failing to draw full attention to all the efforts and activities your organization is up to.
Communicating with donors is about more than repeatedly sending out donation appeals. It entails finding the right balance between personalizing their journeys but also sending more general content that gives a big-picture overview of your organization.
Personalization is intrinsic, of course. But there are certainly other types of unforgettable email communications. According to Shairoze, these are a few:
- Tell folks about advocacy campaigns they can get involved with
- Update your donors on what’s new at your organization, such as new staff members and initiatives
- Send educational content that teaches donors, activists, and supporters about current events, history, and any other topics relevant to your mission
Email is a cost effective way to keep supporters educated and engaged, while letting them know how exactly their gifts are supporting your cause. UNHCR Canada built out its email templates with the help of our full-service accredited partner, Zuri Group.
Just because a donor gives through a particular channel, that doesn’t mean communications should be limited to that same channel. For instance, someone who gives via direct mail can also receive communications through a combination of SMS, social media, and/or email.
Testing has helped UNHCR Canada understand how to personalize their multi-channel integrations for individual donors — i.e., figuring out where else someone might want to receive communications aside from the initial channel they entered to begin their donor journey.
With our email functionality, which benefited UNHCR in this case, the Engaging Networks platform enables built-in testing and conditional content. This means you can create emails that contain unique content and are targeted to different audiences. With our deep testing tools, you can A/B test and try out conditional splits.
UNHCR has also taken advantage of our Next Suggested Gift (NSG) feature in order to motivate donors to give more. NSG allows you to display a custom donation ask string based on supporters’ previous giving history to your organization. UNHCR has used this feature in their emails, inviting supporters to increase their donation by either a specific percentage or in incremental amounts. These emails then direct supporters to donation pages — personalized and customized within the Engaging Networks platform — that contain their correlated NSG amounts.
What do your donors want?
This is the big question, isn’t it? Knowing what your donors want will help you build a stronger, closer relationship with them so they feel sufficiently supported and engaged — and of course, so they keep funding and advocating for your mission.
Disseminating surveys and quizzes via engagement emails and/or SMS (see the picture below for a recent donor survey from UNHCR) will allow your supporters to give direct feedback in terms of what they like about your organization — and perhaps where they feel improvement in your organization might be needed.
Feedback solicitation will make it clear to your constituents that you know you’re not perfect, and you’re always willing to grow. Put another way, it will humanize your organization — something every nonprofit is striving towards, and something UNHCR Canada is excelling at through utilizing the personalization capabilities of our platform.