Abby Jarvis will show you how to transform peer-to-peer donors into loyal supporters.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Abby, I’ve got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?

Abby: Yeah, for sure.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Good morning, I should say, if you’re on the West Coast. And if you’re watching this as a recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter when and where you are.

We are here to talk about “Retaining Your Peer-To-Peer Peeps.” Yes, one of my favorite topics, not just peer-to-peer fundraising, but also peer-to-peer retention. Really important topic, and it’s a good time of year to be talking about it. I’m really happy that so many of you have showed up and taken time out of your day to learn with us.

I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple of quick housekeeping items. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, and we will be sending out the slides and the recording later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early, or maybe get interrupted, or you just want to relive the content, maybe share it with a colleague, or your boss, anything like that, don’t worry. We’ll get all that good stuff in your hands later on this afternoon.

But most importantly, feel free to chat in throughout the presentation. We’re going to save a little bit of time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy. We’d love to hear from you. Send in your questions, your comments. Tell everyone where . . . or at least tell us what organization you’re with. Introduce yourselves if you haven’t already. And if you’re a grocery store person, especially a Trader Joe’s person, if you caught that pre-chat, send us in your favorite Trader Joe’s item because I’m always looking for some good stuff there.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. We do these webinars basically every single Thursday throughout the year. Something Bloomerang is pretty well known for. We love doing these webinars. Gosh, we’re getting close to something like 500 sessions. It’s getting kind of ridiculous.

But if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang besides the webinars, we are also a provider of donor management software. So check that out. Visit our website. You can get all kinds of information about us, watch some videos, learn about us if you’re maybe interested in purchasing software sometime soon.

But don’t do that right now because I am so excited to have one of my favorite people in the nonprofit sector. I’m not just saying that, but someone I’ve known for almost a decade, which seems unbelievable. But my buddy Abby Jarvis is joining us from beautiful Lakeland, Florida. Abby, how’s it going? Are you doing okay?

Abby: Yeah, doing really well.

Steven: It’s awesome to have you. It wouldn’t be a webinar season here without you. You’re my go-to for peer-to-peer fundraising. Everybody at Qgiv. Awesome company that helps a lot of people with their not just peer-to-peer, but online fundraising auctions. Really good suite of tools there.

And Abby is probably the most tapped-in person when it comes to best practices for peer-to-peer. You know, we’ve been talking for many years about this topic, but recently about how to retain peer-to-peer donors, which is kind of an important aspect of the whole strategy that doesn’t necessarily get as much attention as it should, I think. But Abby is doing the bulk of the effort there, shining a light on it. So I’m excited to hear from her. You all should be, too, if you haven’t heard from her before.

So, Abby, I’m going to stop sharing my screen here, and I’ll let you pull up your slides. Let’s see if it’ll work. There you go.

Abby: So I’m trying a new thing today. Julia Campbell told me about this really cool tool that PowerPoint has where it automatically adds captions. So if you guys totally hate it, let me know, and I’ll try to figure out something else. So I’m just giving it a test run today.

But I’m really excited to be here just in general because this is a topic that’s really important and something that I’m very interested in. And we’ll actually send you after this a copy of an ebook that Steven and some of the Qgiv folks worked on that talks pretty in-depth about retaining peer-to-peer participants and donors. But I’m going to give you kind of a quick rundown of some of the topics that we cover in that ebook, and then you’ll get the full thing at the end of it.

So if you aren’t familiar with me, or aren’t familiar with Qgiv, this is me. My name is Abby. I’m the nonprofit education manager over at Qgiv. So my whole job is to research and understand what fundraising practices look like in practice. And I’m really interested in understanding what motivates donors and other supporters to get involved with nonprofits and then stay involved with them in the long term.

So, really, what I’m going to kind of dig into is how to keep your peer-to-peer participants and your donors engaged. But a question that I kind of get a lot when I talk about this subject is why this is something that should really be a focus.

And there are a lot of different reasons that you should focus on this, not the least of which is because you work really hard to recruit people to fundraise for you in these events, and you probably spend a lot of time training and onboarding these groups of people. And bringing them back year after year has some distinct advantages, one of which is that all of that onboarding and that teaching and the encouragement that you do when you first recruit a participant is a great deal of work for you, but returning participants will need less onboarding and less support.

That doesn’t mean that you should just be totally hands-off with them, but it does mean that they can get up and running more quickly. And that means that they’ll have more time for fundraising. There will be less of that ramp-up time, and they’ll be able to really just jump in and get started supporting your fundraiser.

Another really cool reason that this is something that we can focus on is because returning participants are great mentors for newer participants who maybe aren’t as familiar with your organization, or your fundraising event, or your tools.

So if you do have a larger event where it could be helpful for you to have team captains, or mentors, or guides for your newer participants, bringing back past participants really kind of builds a base of support that they can kind of . . . they can work with your organization to support new fundraisers.

And then the other upside of retaining some of those participants is that you have a greater opportunity to bring back some of the donors that supported them the first time they participated with you.

So retaining your participants is a great opportunity to raise more money and get started fundraising more quickly, but you may also have the opportunity to engage with their friends and family in new ways.

So a difficult topic to kind of get your head around is a lot of times, when a donor is giving to a peer-to-peer fundraiser, they aren’t necessarily giving to your organization, although they probably think you’re really great, and they’ve learned a little bit about you as their friend or family member is sharing information about your event. But most of the time they’re donating, they’re donating to support a loved one.

Even though it will take a little extra work, bringing back those peer-to-peer donors in the future can give you a better return on your investment. You’re spending a little less money, but bringing those donors back.

So I’m going to kind of split this into four different sections. We’re going to look at how to retain your peer-to-peer participants, and then we’re going to look at some different communication schedules that you can set up to help with that. And then we’re going to look at the same two subjects for donors as well.

So I’d like to first dig into how to retain peer-to-peer participants. And really, the big key here is going to be to give your participants an amazing experience and make them feel wonderful about the work that they’re doing.

You want to keep this group of people very engaged with your nonprofit because they are more than just peer-to-peer participants who engage with you once a year. They probably are donating to you. Probably is the key phrase there, but there’s always an opportunity to engage those folks.

They’re volunteering their time. They’re advocating for you to their friends and family. They’re giving you access to their reputation, and they’re really opening whole networks of people that you may never have reached before to your organization.

So if you make an effort during your event to show them love and make them feel great about the work that they’re doing, if you make them have fun and give them a great experience, they’re more likely to engage with you again in the future.

So what does that look like? Well, it really starts at the beginning. It starts during the registration process. So some things that you can try doing to kind of set the stage for this wonderful experience that will bring these participants back to your event over and over and over is to really reiterate how their participation is going to make a difference.

You can reiterate that when you are actively recruiting people, when you are posting about it on social media, asking for folks to sign up to raise money for you, when you’re sending out email appeals, looking for participants to sign up. You can reiterate their impact there. Tell them the difference they’re going to make. Tell them what kind of outcomes their support will have.

And then as they’re signing up, try including some celebratory language in your sign-up process. This could be something as simple as, when they click over to the last screen, like right before they’re getting ready to push that submit button, you can say, “Hooray, you’re almost there. We just need to get your credit card details.”

You can have a little celebratory animation or a video that kind of amps them up at the confirmation page part of the process. Anywhere you can kind of celebrate them and get them excited about participating is going to be a benefit to you.

I kind of referenced it already, but your confirmation page is really a valuable asset when it comes to getting people excited about your event. You can try kind of extending that celebratory language on your confirmation page. You can try adding fun videos, or incentives, or impact statements to that confirmation page.

What you really want to do on your confirmation page is not only give your participants their transaction details, that’s important, but really take time on that confirmation page to celebrate them and get them really excited about the next steps in the fundraising process.

You can extend all of that language onto your receipt as well, but the big thing to remember is throughout the registration process, on the confirmation page, and the receipts, anywhere you engage with these supporters, reiterate to them the impact that they’re going to be making. They’re going to be more excited about raising money for you, and that excitement will be more actionable if they really understand what the impact of their participation is going to be.

During the event, you want to keep these feel-good feelings going. And I wanted to emphasize here that you want to give them the resources they need to be successful, because nothing will bum a participant out like feeling like it’s not going to be possible for them to reach their goals. If you make your participants feel supported, and if you set them up for success, they’re going to have more fun.

None of us enjoy being in an event or something that we don’t feel like we’re good at. I am a testament to this. If I don’t feel like I’m going to be good at something, I don’t want to do it.

So if you can kind of make your donors and your participants feel from the get-go that they’re going to do a good job, that they’re going to have fundraising money for you, they’re going to be more likely to engage and stay involved.

Throughout the event, send your participants emails. I could do a whole other session on just emails to send to your participants. I’m not going to do that. But try sending emails to specific groups of participants to either inspire them to get more involved, or to encourage them for doing a good job.

I think there’s some more information about that in the ebook that we’re going to send you. But if your participants are kind of lagging, if they’re having a hard time getting started, try sending them an email with some fundraising tips or some encouraging words.

If they’re just knocking it out of the park, if they are meeting and exceeding their fundraising goals, then celebrate them and get excited, and show them that you see and appreciate their effort.

I should have put this in the bullet point, and I didn’t. If it’s okay with your participants, celebrate their involvement on social media. For some people, that’s very compelling. For some people, that’s absolutely terrifying. So check with your participants before you post about them on social media. But celebrate them publicly. Show them that you value them enough to kind of broadcast their achievements to your followers.

And if social media isn’t appropriate, if you don’t want to do that, if they don’t want to do that, try sending them other tokens of appreciation. That doesn’t have to be something tangible or anything. It can be something as simple as a phone call thanking them for going above and beyond, or a card.

But what you really want to do is celebrate your participants here, so when the opportunity comes for them down the road to engage with you in a peer-to-peer event, they’re going to remember how wonderful you made them feel during the fundraising period this time.

Another thing that you can do to really make your participants feel great about their participation is to reward them for engaging with you. There are all kinds of ways you can do this. I would tell you one really great way to do this is to set multiple fundraising milestones instead of one major fundraising goal.

If you asked me to raise $5,000 for you, that would be a little intimidating to me. If you asked me to raise $500 for you, and I did that, and then you asked me to raise an additional $500, you can get me closer to that $5,000 goal by setting those incremental milestones.

It makes fundraising less intimidating. It makes goals seem less scary. And having those different incremental goals gives us a little burst of dopamine every time we meet a milestone. So people will become very excited about reaching that next goal.

If you want to, if it suits your organization, you can incentivize participation in a few different ways. Some of these incentives can be digital. This screenshot here of these different bears are all different fundraising badges that one of our clients put together. And as their participants met new fundraising milestones and engaged in new activities, they earned these badges. And you would be amazed at some of the stories I’ve heard about participants who do wacky stuff to earn a badge.

Others, it may suit you, it may not, to tie some tangible incentives to these badges. Maybe you ask someone to reach $1,000 fundraising, and when they get there, they’re invited to a special party. Maybe you give them raffle tickets. Maybe you give them event swag associated with meeting these different fundraising milestones. All of those incentives give your participants something to work toward.

And then someone said, “Where did badges go? They’re so cute.” These badges are from . . . let’s see. These are from Seattle Shakespeare. They put them together for their Bill’s Bash fundraiser. I’m obsessed with these badges. I creep their forms every year now because they’re so good.

And then I wanted to make this point as well. I’ve participated in some peer-to-peer fundraisers before, and I was very struck a couple of times by one organization that thanked us throughout the fundraising period. They sent periodic updates, periodic thank-you messaging. And then people stayed much more engaged than they did in events where the thank-yous and the updates were less frequent. So thank your participants as they’re raising money for you instead of just waiting until after.

I saw a note pop up. Someone asked what specifically peer-to-peer fundraising is. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a fundraising style where you recruit people from your community to raise money on your behalf.

So if English Jones wanted me to raise money for their organization, I would sign up to participate. They would help me set up a fundraising page, and I would ask my friends and family for donations on my behalf to go to English’s organization. So I hope that helps.

You also want to focus on . . . you want to make your donors or your participants feel wonderful throughout the event, but you also want to keep those warm-fuzzies going after the event as well.

There are lots of ways to do this. One relatively simple way to do this is to send out an event survey to your participants. Ask them what they thought about the event. Ask them what their favorite parts were. Ask them for opportunities for you to improve.

You’re accomplishing a few things. One, you’re getting some really great data and ideas about how you can make future events more successful and more fun to participate in. But you’re also asking your supporters to share their voice with you, and that is remarkably valuable. All of us love having our opinions heard. So a survey is a great opportunity to do that.

You can offer them other ways to get involved. You can offer them volunteer opportunities. This organization here is actually an organization that I raise money for, and they set up a special society for past participants. You have to have participated in their event to be a part of the society. And it’s a really great way to kind of establish some camaraderie between some of your most loyal supporters. And I think this organization uses the Swan Society as kind of a feeder for some of their boards, like their advisory board. So great idea, not necessarily for everybody, but a named group could be really fun for you.

I also want to set up that there’s the post-event kind of follow-up, but then there’s also the opportunity to engage your participants between events. So you can kind of get them hyped up about your next event. If your goal is retention, you want them to sign up to participate in that next event.

So here are some ways you can get your past participants excited about your upcoming event. One is really just to remind people how much fun they had at your first event. I mean, of course, that only works if they really did have a lot of fun at your past event. But at this point, you’ve helped them celebrate their wins. You’ve showed them their impact. You’ve thanked them repeatedly. You’ve made them feel great about their past participation. So get them hyped about your upcoming event.

I would encourage you to send out special invitations for your next event. So that can be as simple as pulling a list of the people who raised money for you at your last event and creating a special email just for them, acknowledging their past efforts, thanking them for their support, and inviting them to get involved again. It’s a relatively easy way to kind of segment this email and this invitation to your next event.

You may want to consider giving them early access. Maybe give them an opportunity to sign up and claim their spot before others get it. Everyone loves feeling like they’re getting an exclusive invitation. This is a great way to make them feel that way.

You may even want to set up a promo code for past participants. So you could say, “Susie, thank you so much for participating in our last event. As a thank you, we’d like to give you $10 off the registration fee for our upcoming event.” Very straightforward, makes people feel like they’re getting a bargain. We all know we love a bargain.

You may want to offer them leadership opportunities at your next event. If this is a good fit for you, explore this. You could try allowing team captains, where those people are either assigned fundraising participants that they can kind of mentor, or they can recruit their own.

We had, at an event I participated in, a past participant took on a leadership role. She was our Mama Swan, and she was the one that was available if we had questions. She was our first contact if we had a problem. She was the one that sent us really sweet emails. Leadership roles are definitely something to explore here, especially if you have a participant that is very familiar with your organization and your event.

So here are some specific communications you can send out to your participants before, during, and after your event that will set the stage for them engaging with you in the future.

So, during the event, every email, every text message, every phone call you send out, your goal is to make your participants successful, and show them that you love and appreciate them.

So there are a few ways you can do that. One, the thank-you messaging that we kind of referenced is really important. Thanking them before, during, and after the event is critical.

Send them periodic fundraising tips and strategies. I know when I participated . . . I talk about fundraising for a living, but I felt like a fish out of water when I was first getting started. And so if I felt that way, I imagine everyone else feels that way when they sign up to raise money.

So if you can send just little tips and tricks, like, “Hey, try posting to Facebook three to four times a week. That will make people more likely to donate to you,” or, “Hey, here’s how to put together a really great fundraising email,” you’re making your donors feel supported, you’re setting them up for success, and you’re taking away some of the trepidation they may feel about raising money for you.

And then as they’re raising money for you, just send them periodic emails to encourage them, to thank them for their efforts, and to motivate them to stay involved.

This is especially important if you’re running an event that has a very long fundraising period. If you’re running an event where people are really only raising money for a week or two, sending periodic emails won’t be as important as it is when you have people that are fundraising for weeks or months at a time.

So especially if you need to kind of get some momentum going, or if you notice people are starting to flag a little bit, try sending out some emails that encourages people to stay involved.

After the event, your goal changes a little bit. So, really, here you want to reiterate how big a difference your participants made by supporting you. So first thing to send is right after the event, send them a huge thank you and an update about how much money they raised and what that money is going to accomplish.

Here, the emotions are still running high and people still feel really great about what they did. There’s some residual excitement there. So capitalize on that. And while your event is top of mind, thank them, tell them how much they raised, and tell them what that will accomplish.

As time goes on, as you start using the money and enacting the programs and making the changes and buying whatever supplies you needed that you were raising money for, tell your participants what’s going on. If you can, focus on stories and focus on the really tangible outcomes of their fundraising.

So were you able to spay or neuter multiple dogs and cats? Were you able to feed local families? Were you able to upgrade your facilities? Tell your participants what they accomplished and show them what they did.

We know from the Generational Giving Report . . . it’s a report we released last year. We noticed that people are very, very, very motivated by understanding what their money achieved, knowing that that money was used wisely, and seeing stories from the people that money supported. So anything you can do to share that information with your followers is going to be a big deal.

And then do ask this group to get invited in other ways. I mean, of course, you may want to include them in appeals, your standard appeals, but give them opportunities to volunteer with you. See if anybody is interested in serving on your board or some of your committees.

The people that are raising money for you in a peer-to-peer event are really . . . they’ve proven that they’re willing to work for you to raise money for your cause. Give them an opportunity to continue to do that.

And then before your next event . . . so you’ve made people feel wonderful for participating. You showed them what they’ve done. Now your goal is to remind them how much fun they had. Remind them what a big difference they made, and then ask them to get involved again.

So that can look like emails that kind of give people a sneak peek into your upcoming event, whether that is something really formal where you lay out all the details and all of the particulars about your upcoming fundraising event. It could be something as simple as showing your staff members designing the event t-shirt, or look at event setup, little things like that. You’re making people feel like they’re on the inside. They know all the cool things you’re working on.

And making people feel like insiders is remarkably effective because they want to kind of keep that insider status, and they’re more willing to engage with you in the future.

I kind of alluded to these segmented invitations, but it’s important enough that I thought I would include it again. Do invite your past participants to register, and in those emails, thank them for their past support. Reiterate what that support accomplished, and then invite them to make an even bigger difference by getting involved again.

You may want to explore incentivizing participation in additional events. That can be something like promo codes or early discounts, like I mentioned earlier. It could be something like special merchandise for returning participants. It could be discounts on other swag that you have set up if you decide to explore that for your event.

Really, your goal here is to kind of roll out the red carpet. You want these participants to come back. You know they’re going to be more successful and require less onboarding. So do everything you can to get them excited about participating again.

Okay. So that was the first group of people we wanted to look at. Bringing your participants back year after year helps you raise more money, and it’s an important fundraising strategy.

Now I want to look at how to bring back your peer-to-peer donors, and it is a little bit of a long game here. It means maybe a little extra work, but it’s worth it.

So the challenge here is kind of what we talked about at the beginning. As a general rule, many of your peer-to-peer donors are giving more to support their loved ones than they are because they’re very invested in your cause.

Now, that can feel like a little bit of a blow to the old ego. Your nonprofit is valuable, you do great work, you’re important, and people are donating. They do like you. A donor is not going to give to their loved one if they think that the organization they’re raising money for isn’t valuable.

But you do need to kind of ingratiate yourself to these donors just because they are maybe not necessarily terribly familiar with your cause. So here, we want to really make them feel valuable, and we want to show them their impact.

So here is one of the best one-two punch ways to do this. One, get your participants involved in thanking their donors. This is important because, remember, this donor is very likely giving largely to support a loved one. So if that loved one thanks them and gives them a great kind of first experience with your organization, the donor will view this potential relationship with your organization much more favorably.

But you don’t have to leave it entirely up to your participants. You as an organization should also thank this group of donors. So send your own thank-you messaging, include your own impact statements, and then report your donor’s impact to them kind of outside of that relationship with the participant.

When your campaign ends, so you’re sending out a thank you and update to your participants, telling them how much they raised and what it will accomplish, it’s important to do the same thing for your peer-to-peer donors as well. Don’t neglect them when you’re sending out that thank you and that big fundraising update at the conclusion of your campaign.

Another couple steps that you can take is to change the way you communicate with this group of donors a little bit. Don’t throw them immediately into your organization-wide email lists. Create a specific segment for this group of donors first, because they may not be terribly familiar with your mission, or if they are familiar with your mission, they may not necessarily understand the scope of work that you do.

So if you acquire a new donor through a peer-to-peer event, try sending them an introductory email or even a series of short emails that thanks them for their contribution, invites them to learn more about your organization. And then share some highlights about what you do, the work that you do in your community, and how their involvement is making a difference.

Even if they are mostly giving to support a loved one, donors do like knowing that their money is going to make a difference. When my mother-in-law donated to me when I was raising money for a local organization, she gave because I was raising money, but she got a really wonderful email from the organization I was supporting expressing how big a difference her gift was going to make. And that made her view that organization much more favorably.

All right. So after the event, you’ve got this group of donors. They’ve supported their loved ones. They’re maybe new in your donor database. Give them a little extra attention after the event wraps up, especially if this group is very new to your nonprofit, if you’ve never talked to them before.

I would encourage you to invite them to stay connected, and this doesn’t mean they need to sign up for a newsletter. It can be lots of different things. You can ask them to follow you on social media and something as simple as like, “Hey, follow us on Facebook for updates about how we’re using your money.”

You can ask them to subscribe to your newsletter. This is really handy. You can just add a little checkbox to your donation form, and they can automatically be enrolled in that newsletter.

And then try to set up opportunities to communicate with them in other ways. If you’re really big on YouTube, ask them to subscribe to your YouTube channel. Give them lots of ways to get involved.

But it’s important here, especially immediately after the event, right after they’ve given, make sure that there are also non-financial opportunities for them to help. If someone is introduced to your organization, they’ve discovered that they’re really passionate about your cause, ask them to do a facility tour and see what kind of organization they’re supporting.

If you have a matching gift opportunity, that’s a great way to get people a little more involved. You can ask them to volunteer. You can ask them if they’d like to participate in your peer-to-peer campaign. Just give them other non-financial ways of getting involved and helping out.

Eventually, as you strengthen these relationships with these new donors, as you kind of get them educated about what you do and how their involvement will make a difference, then you can kind of move them into your more general lists that you send out, different emails and appeals. So just get them introduced to your organization first and then kind of gradually move them over.

So here are some specific communications you can send out that will accomplish these. So, during the event, your goal is to make your donor feel like a huge, critical important part of your success. You can do this through thank-you messaging, of course.

You’re probably tired of hearing me say the phrase thank-you messaging, but your participants are receiving thank-you messages. They’re hopefully sending thank-you messages to the people who support them. And then you can reiterate those thank-you messages and reinforce the messaging there. So send thank-you messages to your donors during the event.

You may want to consider sending an introduction to your organization to your new donors that you have acquired so far through this campaign. So, remember, as you are writing these introductory emails, the organization is less important to this donor, possibly, than the actual participant that they’re supporting.

So think about my mother-in-law. Think about Linda. She’s donating to support her daughter-in-law. She thinks your organization is probably really nice. She may not know a lot about it. So send out some introductions.

And then do remember that donors, even if they’re giving to support their daughter-in-law or another loved one, do want to know that their money is being well used by a respectable organization. So send them an impact statement telling them what they’re helping achieve, and then make it as personal as you can because we want to feel like we’re engaging with a group of real human beings helping out other human beings in our communities.

After the event . . . so you’ve made them feel like they’re a critical part of your success during the campaign itself. Now you want to show donors that you have used their money well, they helped you succeed, and now you’re showing them what the outcome of their support will be.

So thank them again. At the conclusion of the event, tell them, “Thank you so much for your support. You’ve helped us raise, in this example, over $90,000. Here’s what you’re achieving.”

This group did a beautiful job with a video. You don’t have to do a video if you don’t want to. You can do something as simple as an email. You can create an infographic. You can write a blog article talking about the impact they’re going to make and then link to it. All kinds of ways to communicate that.

But remember, as you’re doing this, you do want to remind them that their money is achieving something important. So tell them what the impact the gift is going to be, and be as specific as you can.

In this instance, this group drew attention to the fact that the money was going to local children and families who needed help healing from trauma. Tell them how many animals they are going to feed. Tell them what tangible difference they’re going to make. Donors love knowing that their gift is tangible. So reiterate that if you can.

And then this is a little secret mind hack that is really helpful. Include a note in this follow-up about future communications. If you’re going to send them an update in a month about what that money has achieved, if you are going to send them an email about a fun upcoming event, just tell them that it’s coming, and donors will be more likely to open that email if they know what it’s about.

So if you send me an email a month after I’ve donated to you, and I didn’t really know that it’s coming, I’m probably not going to open it. I get hundreds of emails every day. Unless something specifically is something that I’m looking for in my inbox, I may miss it. So if you tell donors that it’s coming, they’ll be more likely to open it.

If you want to kind of take this to the next step, if you really want to keep these donors, and you have a little bit of extra time and resources, here are some other tips.

Try combining digital and analog communication styles to make donors feel like you really appreciate them. That can look like personal phone calls. I see a lot like, “I don’t have time to make phone calls.” That’s fine. You don’t have to make all the phone calls. Split those up. Split up the names and contacts with your board. Ask your participants to do it. Anything you can do to get someone on the phone and to tell them that their gift is making a difference and to thank them without asking for another gift is a big deal.

Another question I get a lot when I talk about personal phone calls is, “Nobody answers their phone. What do I do if they just don’t want to talk to me?” Don’t stress. People are probably not going to answer your phone calls if they don’t recognize your number. I know I don’t answer phone calls if I don’t recognize the number. Leaving a voicemail is just as effective as actually talking to someone.

Try sending out handwritten thank-you notes. This is another great board opportunity. I’ll say that I’m on a board, and if they asked me to handwrite thank-you notes, I’d be way more excited about that than I would be about phone calls. I hate talking on the phone.

Handwritten cards make a big impression on people, mostly because we don’t get them anymore. I have several handwritten thank-you cards from nonprofits on my desk. They make me happy, and I think about those nonprofits all the time.

You may want to put together a donor appreciation event. That is something that is a great move for a lot of different nonprofits. If it’s not a good fit for you, that’s okay, too. Donor appreciation events are really just opportunities to get to know your donors face to face, to learn what motivates them and inspires them, and to build relationships that you can use in the future.

Try getting to know them by sending out surveys. You have done that with your participants. Try it with your donors. This can be a really valuable way, one, to make them feel like you value them, you’re looking for their feedback, you want to know what they think. But it’s also a really great idea to kind of get an outsider’s perspective of your organization and identify areas where new donors may be a little unsure about your organization, what you do, and how their giving will make an impact.

So try sending out these surveys. It’s a great donor retention tool, and it’s a great opportunity to learn how others perceive you, and identify opportunities that you can improve your marketing, or your communications, or your fundraising styles.

And then before your next event, your goal is to remind donors about the impact they made when they supported your previous event, and invite them to make an even bigger impact by giving again to this event.

So you can ask them to participate themselves, opening an email and saying, “Hey, Aaron, thank you so much for your donation to this event last year. We noticed that you have helped us raise X amount of money. We’d love to invite you to actually participate as a fundraiser this year.”

If they understand the impact that they made as a donor, and then they understand how they can make an even bigger impact as a participant, that could be very motivating for them.

If you decide not to do that, or if you have a group of donors that have decided not to participate with you, send out a targeted appeal to past donors, and invite them to donate again to this event.

Now, it’s important to leave out the donors that decided to kind of upgrade their participation levels as a participant. If you sent me an email, and you said, “Hey, Abby, thanks so much for donating last year. Would you sign up to do that again this year?” and I signed up to do it again, and then you send me a fundraising email, it makes me feel like my kind of upgraded participation level wasn’t recognized. So use Bloomerang to do that. I’m sure they can come up with some really great ways to target those appeals.

So remember, thank them for their last support, remind them of their impact, and then ask them to give again.

I just threw a lot of information at you, so I want to do a quick recap before we do Q&A.

So retaining your peer-to-peer participants and your donors is really important. It’s a little extra work, especially if this is new donors, but it is an important strategy if you’re looking to improve your fundraising.

Remember, these returning participants are already familiar with the concept of fundraising for you, they’re already familiar with your event, they’re already familiar with your mission, and they’ve got some fundraising experience under their belts. So they’ll get up and running faster, they’ll need less support, and they even may be able to offer support to new participants who need some guidance or motivation.

Regardless of the number of participants you’re trying to engage, regardless of your event style, having a good solid communications plan is going to be very important as you retain your supporters between events. So put together a . . . even if it’s just a basic communications plan, a basic schedule. Do make sure that you reach out to the different segments of supporters before, during, and after your event.

If you want participants to engage with you in future events, they need to feel like they had fun and were successful at your first event. So anything you can do to set your participants up for success. Any fundraising resources, any fundraising tips you give them, any encouraging emails, any incentives that they earn by raising money for you, all of those little things build up to give a participant a wonderful experience. And that wonderful experience will be top of mind when you ask them to participate with you again in the future.

If you have returning participants, give them the opportunity to support you by playing a larger role. Ask them to be a team captain. Ask them to increase their fundraising goals. Ask them to be a point of contact for someone if someone has fundraising questions or needs a little inspiration.

When you’re looking at your donors, your peer-to-peer donors may need a little extra cultivation because, if they gave predominantly to support one of their friends or family, they may have a favorable view of your organization, but they may not be as invested in your organization and your success as they would be if they came to you individually.

So give them a little extra love. Create thank-you messaging that not only thanks them for their support, but also educates them a little bit about your organization, your work, and how their involvement is going to have a positive impact in your community.

All right. I wanted to throw this out there before we take questions. If you are using Qgiv . . . I saw a couple of you mention that you have used this in the past. If you need help, let me know. You can also contact our support team. There’s this one.

But I was also going to let you all know that we’re going to send you a copy of this ebook that Steven and Shay at Qgiv and I put together. This ebook includes all the information that we covered today. It includes lots of really great examples from different nonprofits, and it goes more into detail about some of the strategies we talked about today.

All right. Steven, do we have any questions?

Steven: Yeah, we’ve got quite a few. I just want to say thanks, Abby. That was a lot of tips in 48 minutes. So good job by you. There was some good stuff in there, and it looks like a lot of people agree, at least what I can see in the chat.

Yeah, and that was a really fun ebook to work with you all on. That was a fun project. So I think you folks will really enjoy going through that because it’s pretty practical and kind of tells you what you need to do, not just after the event, but also getting people to do the fundraising for you as well. So that was cool.

So if you haven’t asked a question, do so now because you’ve probably got about maybe seven or eight minutes before we adjourn here.

A couple ones that stood out to me already. Abby, you kind of already talked about this. I think you answered the question after it was asked in just kind of the normal course of the presentation. But just in case, Julia was wondering personal emails versus mass emails. Now, I think you kind of know how I feel about that, but is there a place for maybe more mass emails in maybe the midst of some personal ones too? That either/or, I assume?

Abby: So I’m trying to think of in my head the delineation between mass emails and personal emails. Honestly, the answer that leaps most immediately to my mind is that with email tools being as advanced as they are now, even if you’re sending a mass email and that you’re not putting one person’s individual name in the recipient box, you can make mass emails feel very personal.

So you can use personalization tokens and even your subject lines. So instead of saying . . . I’m trying to think. Okay, I’ll say this. I got an email the other day that said, “Dear friend,” from an organization. And I was like, “I know my name is in your database because you’ve sent me other emails that are personalized.” You can just drop a little personalization tag in there, and it says, “Hey Abby, or Dear Abby, instead of Dear Friend.”

So I think if sending individual personal emails is doable for you, if you have an extremely small group of participants . . . One organization I worked with, the participating group was limited to like 20 people. That’s fine. But use personalization tags in your emails to create a personal customized feeling experience instead of doing big mass emails.

And I’ll give you this tip. This may be purely anecdotal. I don’t have a lot of data around it. But I have noticed that when I get emails I know are mass emails, but they’re not very highly branded, it feels a little more personal. So if Steven sent me an email, and it’s Steven at Bloomerang, and it has my name in it, but it doesn’t have all the branding, and all the styling, and everything, it feels a little more personal. There’s a time and a place for that, but a little tip.

Steven: Yeah, you’re right. I think there is some data behind that, Abby. I think your gut is correct there. I saw a blog post. The title was something like, “Emails from your mom have a 100% open rate.” Your mom sends you a plain text email, right? She’s not opening up MailChimp and blasting it out to every member of the family. Maybe she is. Maybe she’s pretty savvy.

But yeah, I think that’s kind of what I was hoping I’d hear from you. Not that it really matters what I think, but yeah, I think you’re dead-on in your hunch there.

Here’s an interesting one from Lindsay. Lindsay’s got four signature events throughout the year, people who participate in one or the other, wondering if you should include the other three in maybe some [inaudible 00:49:11]. If they’re doing the one event, and they’re doing a great job, should you maybe not mess with that good situation? It seems like maybe you could be a little bold perhaps, but don’t want to upset the apple cart. I understand that too. What do you think?

Abby: Yeah, I’m trying to think of how I would do that. So I would certainly invite you to participate in the event that you participated in the past. So when I participated in this event, the Swan Derby, and I got an email saying, “Hey, you participated in last year’s Swan Derby. Here’s another opportunity to help out.” That would be cool.

If you were asking me to participate in an additional event, maybe I wouldn’t make it necessarily as targeted. But if you have a newsletter that goes out to people that you know have supported you in the past, you could say, “Here’s an upcoming opportunity to kind of make a difference. You participated in this event. You might be interested in these other events that are coming up.”

I wouldn’t maybe necessarily push it as much or be as targeted. I wouldn’t say, “Hey, here’s a promo code for every event that we’re doing this year.” Maybe save the big incentives and the big push for events that they have proven to be invested in. But I would certainly invite them in a more low-pressure way to get involved other ways.

Steven: That makes sense, because maybe they would do all four. Whenever you decide for the donor, that doesn’t seem good, right? I kind of like your soft approach. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Abby: Yeah. I would be impressed and intimidated by anyone that had the capacity to participate in four peer-to-peer fundraising events every year. So if you find a way that you can get people to do that, please tell me. I would like to know.

Steven: Yeah. You guys are always putting out good case studies.

Here’s a question from Julia kind of on the similar lines. “Would you suggest excluding peer-to-peer participants, fundraisers, and donors from other fundraising ask throughout the year?” So I kind of like where Julia’s head is at with segmenting people out. But again, going back to deciding for the donor, maybe they would donate to other things. What do you think, Abby? Have you seen anything there?

Abby: I’m kind of in your line of thought. One thing that comes up a lot . . . I know it comes up with Rachel Muir. It comes up with Claire Axelrad. It comes up with a lot of really smart fundraisers. When you are asking someone to donate to you throughout the year, it’s not a burden on them. You are inviting them to support a cause that they have already demonstrated is very important to them.

So I would maybe segment it and say, “Earlier this year, you showed us a great deal of support. Thank you so much for that. We know this cause is important to you, and that’s why we’re inviting you to get involved by donating to this campaign,” or something. I mean, make it prettier than that. I’m talking off the top of my head.

Steven: That was pretty good.

Abby: Thanks. But yeah, your donors have already proven that they are willing to give you access to their professional networks, their family, their friends. They are probably donating to you financially. They may be running other fundraising events for you. Give them the opportunity to continue to support a cause they care about.

This is another thing. I think you and I have talked about it, Steven. The idea of fatiguing our donors becomes less of an issue when our donors know exactly what they’re already accomplishing.

So if you’ve already reported this donor’s impact to them, if you said, “Hey, you helped us raise $50,000 earlier this year and achieved these wonderful things. We’d like to invite you to support this other initiative,” the ask isn’t as big or as scary or as onerous because they already understand that you’re handling their money well. You’re doing good with it. And it’s less of an ask when that’s understood.

Steven: That’s my big takeaway from your presentation, is it’s not “Should you ask them or not ask them?” It’s, “Yeah, ask them, but illustrate to them that you know what they did previously.” Like you said, “Thanks for doing that peer-to-peer campaign last month. You’re awesome. We have this need,” rather than this mass thing that everybody gets the same thing, and it’s not going to be as compelling.

That tip from you, to me, was worth the price of a mission. That’s the segmentation that at least I’ve seen really work. And I think that’s probably why peer-to-peer retention is a little harder, because, like you said, they just get thrown into whatever ongoing communications there were. They’re a different type of donor, and they’re maybe even arguably more special because of what they did.

Abby: Definitely. Yeah. I think that kind of throwing people into the deep end of communications is scary for a lot of people. It makes people tune out. It’s like being the new kid in school, but you’re coming in like halfway through the semester, and you don’t necessarily know what’s going on and you don’t know if you want to engage with it. But giving them that intro and reassuring them that they’re in good company, they’re achieving great things, it’s a much nicer introduction to your organization.

Steven: And your tip from the fundraiser, too. There’s an organization here in Indy that I gave to one of my Facebook buddy’s birthday fundraisers. And I don’t know anything about the organization. Classic peer-to-peer situation. I was supporting my buddy, like you said. And now I’m a monthly donor to that organization because they reached out. They followed your tips. I wonder if they had seen one of your webinars actually, Abby, years ago.

And they were like, “Hey, thanks for giving to Adam’s fundraiser. And by the way, this is the organization that he was raising money for. You may not know much about us.”

I think we put this in the ebook, Abby, but their first reach-out was a tour invitation, which I thought was really smart because I didn’t know anything about the organization, right? And that got me.

Abby: The facility tours, I think, are such an overlooked engagement opportunity. So here’s a funny story. When I participated in the peer-to-peer campaign I referenced earlier, it was for an organization called Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine. I was not really familiar with them. I ended up signing up because my friend asked me to. She’s the development director. And I was like, “Yeah, fine.”

Steven: She got you.

Abby: She got me. But the first thing they did for all of the participants was they took us on a tour of the facility, and they reiterated, “When you’re raising money for us through this event, you’re not just giving money to us or raising money for us, you’re raising money for all of these patients that receive medical care here.”

And so walking through the facility and seeing the people that we would support and shaking their hands and talking to them was one of the most motivating things as a fundraiser, and I continue to support them now.

I noticed that Carrie asked, “Are virtual facility tours helpful? We’re still closed to visitors because of COVID.” What do you think?

Steven: Yeah. I do. I think they’re more accessible too. You probably can get more people versus, “Oh, they’ve got to drive a half-hour or whatever and give up their evening.” I would try it.

I saw one where it was like every third Wednesday of the month, there was a Facebook live stream tour for new donors. It’s just a recurring, and they just invite the new people every month. And you take a tour, and somebody is talking into the camera, and things like that. I think it’s worth trying. You know, everyone’s mileage may vary, of course, but . . .

Abby: Yeah. And I love this question from Julia here that says, “If you don’t have an exciting facility, what do you do instead?” So my initial response is, if your organization provides legal services, maybe do a quick introduction of the different attorneys that you have working for you and ask them why they got involved.

Here’s a fun little snippet that we’ll probably have to close with. When we did the Generational Giving Report, and we released it in 2020, we asked people what contributed to their long-term support of an organization. And what was one of the top answers, which surprised me . . . and this was one of the top answers for younger donors, for generation Z and for millennials. It was having a personal relationship with someone on staff or someone who volunteers.

So if you don’t have a facility that’s necessarily super exciting, you have people, and they are as exciting as the coolest facility in town. So try introducing your staff and volunteers to people instead.

Steven: I love that. Dual fireside chat maybe. That’d be cool. Yeah. Dang, Abby, you and I could talk about this for hours, and have, but we probably need to let people go. But you’ve got your info there. I know we didn’t get to all the questions, but is it cool if people reach out to you?

Abby: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ll drop my email address in the chat. So that’s my email address. You all can shoot me an email if something occurs to you, or if we didn’t get to a really pressing question. And then I can feel my social media manager saying, “Oh, no.” You can also send us a Facebook message, or tweet at us, or something, and we’ll try to get you some answers.

Steven: Yeah, they’re really responsive over there, so do it. They’re awesome people. If you’re also looking for software, they will do this. I’ll give them a little shout-out. They don’t give me a kickback for saying that. But I really like them, so I’m going to say it anyway. And we’ll get you that ebook. So thanks, Abby. You’re awesome. Thanks for doing this.

Abby: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, guys.

Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out.

Abby: Someone asked how you get the ebook. I’ll make sure Steven gets a link. Is that okay when you send out the follow-up?

Steven: Yeah. Definitely.

Abby: Okay. I’ll send you that link.

Steven: I’ll put it in there, and we’ll get the recording and the slides out. And hopefully, you guys can join us on our next webinar. We’re taking next week off. Giving me a little bit of a break. Maybe I need it because I spent the first five minutes talking about Trader Joe’s and state flags. I’ll be back refreshed in two weeks.

Going to talk about personal branding with my buddy Tom. He is a non-profit founder and knows his stuff. He’s really built a nice personal brand for himself in kind of the nonprofit community in addition to running a nonprofit. So he definitely knows what he’s talking about there.

Same time, same place, two weeks from today, and then we’ll be back on the regular every single week schedule on into next year. We’ve got a lot of cool sessions coming up. A lot of them are already on our webinar page, so check that out. And hopefully, we’ll see you again on another Bloomerang session.

So we’ll call it a day. Hope you all have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy out there, and we will talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Abby: Bye, everybody.

Abby Jarvis

Abby Jarvis

Director of Marketing Communications at Qgiv
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, a provider of industry-leading online giving and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.