How to Keep Up Donor Communications While Working From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but despite ongoing uncertainty, many parts of daily life have stabilized. Working from home is our everyday reality rather than a sudden change.

As your nonprofit continues transitioning out of crisis mode, you may be searching for new growth strategies that are compatible with a remote work environment.

In working with thousands of nonprofits, we’ve seen firsthand how critical it is to leverage technology to power donor communications. And it’s only become more crucial for nonprofit strategy in recent months. Our two key tips to maintain effective outreach in a work-from-home (WFH) world include the following:

With the right tools and techniques, your WFH strategy for donor communications may even out-perform your previous processes.

Use Innovative Tools to Simplify Workflows

When your office and living environments are combined, distractions can get out of control quickly. You should choose productivity tools and software built for nonprofits that allow you to work smarter, not harder.

To implement our recommendations, you’ll need a modern CRM with supporter engagement and automation capabilities. This fundraising software roundup from Salsa lists some great options to help your team. 

With the right tech solutions in place, you can make sure nothing falls through the cracks—even when your work environment is chaotic. You can implement these tips to enhance internal processes at your nonprofit:

Leverage automated messaging

Your to-do list is already full enough. The power of automation means less work for you and a more consistent, well-paced schedule of outreach to your supporters.

Enabling automation can eliminate the risk of inadvertently missing an engagement opportunity.

Automate thank-you or follow-up emails to be sent out after contributions. Plus, maximize the use of email drip streams, which enable your nonprofit to schedule a number of emails to be sent on a regular basis after a specific action and to stop after another action. For example, after a supporter signs up for your newsletter, they may trigger a “welcome” email drip stream with the goal of acquiring a donation. After that donor gives, the drip stream stops.

Use internal notifications

When your team is physically disconnected, you must rely on communication tools more than ever to accomplish goals. With the right software, you can set up intelligent notifications that help your team to work more efficiently. 

Smart notifications can alert the right person at the right time to handle a particular task.

Whether you have a series of team members involved in an internal workflow or need to initiate an action based on an outside inquiry or donation, you won’t have to miss a beat.

Manage team productivity

Working from home has a historically negative reputation for employee productivity. While many organizations have been pleasantly surprised by work capacity in the transition, there’s always room for additional tweaks.

A reduction in efficiency could cause a lapse in communication with your donors, consequently impacting your organization’s mission. Make sure you have adequate software in place for project management, communication, and any other needs specific to your nonprofit. Consider implementing a time tracking system so you can see exactly where time is being spent and how processes could be streamlined.

Use Data to Drive Effective Communication

Using donor data to inform your marketing efforts will help your nonprofit engage with supporters in an effective way. Remember, your supporters are dealing with remote work too! Right now, they are being barraged with news, childcare, and other work-from-home stimuli on top of the normal distractions.

To stand out above the noise, you must integrate data-driven strategies into your communications approach.

Applying a “smart” approach to donor communications involves leveraging the data you already have in your donor management system, as well as seeking new insights.

Here are three key ways your nonprofit’s marketing team can collect and use data:

Personalize communications

When crafting your email marketing campaigns, incorporate donor information for a personal touch. Of course, you can address the email to the donor’s first name, but try to go a step further. 

Incorporating more specific information that ties your donor to your mission can be a great way to establish a strong connection, even from a distance. The data points you use will depend on your cause—a pet’s name, recent volunteer data, or event attendance are a few ideas to get you started.

You can also incorporate historical giving data to create a more targeted ask and improve fundraising success. 

Especially right now, people are craving emotional connections. These strategies will help your nonprofit form those emotional bonds in a virtual world and cultivate stronger relationships with supporters.

Optimize outreach

Use the qualitative and quantitative data you have stored about your supporters to inform your future communications plans. 

Donor segmentation is a great way to use data points like age, donor type, gift type, and other information to optimize your approach. For example, segment by engagement level to try and move first-time donors through the donor journey without bombarding your longtime supporters.

If you’re looking to optimize outreach further, gather additional information through A/B testing to see what performs well, or survey your supporters to solicit direct feedback about their preferred communication platforms and engagement methods.

Experiment with new trends

If you want to expand your current marketing strategy, now is a great time to experiment with new communication trends. You could try sending a plain text email, using text messaging, or incorporating more video content into your outreach. As a bonus, these new approaches will feel like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise routine work-from-home environment.

Of course, there’s a huge variety of options available. To determine what innovative strategy makes the most sense for your nonprofit, consider factors including:

  • Supporter demographics. Conduct research to align your efforts with the platforms your supporters are using. For example, if your audience includes a young Gen Z crowd, you could experiment with Tik Tok, but if you have a lot of older supporters, a plain text email may be more appropriate.
  • Team capacity. Before adopting a new platform, think about the effort it will take to run it. If your team doesn’t have the capacity to maintain a regular presence on a new social media platform, it may make more sense to try a less intensive, limited-time technique.
  • Content creation. With any new approach, you’ll want to tweak your messaging to fit the platform’s constraints and have the appropriate tone. But some platforms will involve more legwork than others. Consider whether you can repurpose existing content or if you’ll need to produce new material.
  • Technical capabilities. Does your team have the technical know-how to adjust to a new system effectively? Determine whether you’ll need any training or additional resources to get up and running.
  • Cost. Think about whether you will need to invest in new software to execute your chosen method. If new communication technology isn’t in the budget right now, you’ll want to choose a free platform.

Whatever you choose, be sure you’re keeping an eye on engagement metrics to see how your supporters respond.

Maintaining strong donor communications when working from home is possible when you have the right tools and strategies on your side. These tips will help your nonprofit optimize and enhance your outreach efforts.

How has your nonprofit been keeping up with donor communications from home? Have any other tips to share? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.