New Data Enhances Content + Messaging

A few weeks ago, we talked about tracking the right data from your digital donors. But this new data won't help if you don't simultaneously adjust what you do with it. What adjustments should you be making? Great question. 


Remember that postcard from my vet? Using four data points, the postcard arranged them in a neat package that I was able to consume and process within five seconds. 



Today’s donors want visual stories, not written ones. A 2017 Mighteor video viewership study found 81% of women and 50% of men reported watching a video on their smartphone in just the past week alone. Facebook prioritizes video in its newsfeed, conditioning your constituents to engage more and more with this storytelling channel. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to be overproduced! These can be short videos shot with a smartphone, creating a personal and immediate feel. One of my favorite recent examples is UT Austin’s 40 for 40 giving day campaign this year, putting out short videos from staff to departments and students who won different challenges. Short, sweet, and to the point - with a little fun added in - all in about 10 seconds!

The 2016 Abila Donor Loyalty Study noted that brevity conquers all, with short e-mails with no links and short YouTube videos (under 2 minutes) as 2 of the top 3 preferred content types of donors. But that short content has to be relevant to them, with 72% of respondents saying poor/irrelevant content would affect whether or not they donated. Personalized content is key to our organization's future success.


As fundraisers, we're also inherently storytellers, used to focusing a lot of time and energy on how to best get that message across. The digital age has changed how we tell that story, and thankfully, provided great online tools that can relieve pressure on your internal resources and still create content that resonates with our online communities. We already talked about using a smartphone for video, but if you’re building out graphics and aren’t a master designer, check out Canva or Venngage as tools for creating compelling visual content!


According to the most recent M + R Benchmarks Study, email open rates are down 7% from the past year, hovering at about 15% for nonprofit organizations (M+R), so we can’t rely on that alone. Today, we have to come at it from all angles. For online campaigns, this approach should be three-fold.

  1. With the growth of crowdfunding and giving days used for acquisition, digital stewardship from the unique campaign is critical. Donors want to know the impact of their gift to a specific campaign, particularly if it was their first gift. This part has to come first to build the trust to the institution. Did a group of donors give to a group of students going to do service work over spring break? Take pictures to send to donors of the trip, shoot videos that have participants share their experience and how it helped mold them. Donors need to see the personal impact their gift has made.

  2. No matter what online channel the donor came from, this person is now a donor to your institution - woo hoo! But personalization is a part of every online transaction these days, so whether the gift came through an ambassador or your regular online giving form, the donor needs to feel heard. Adding more personal data points to a donor profile creates more effective segmentation opportunities for e-mail touchpoints, but also helps with enhanced social media engagement. You can use that same data for targeted Facebook advertising, so your donors see you both in their inbox and Newsfeed.

  3. Peer-to-peer is no longer just for acquisition. To make sure donors are seeing the great work you’re doing, it also needs to come from their friends. By building an online ambassador program and having the ambassadors share content throughout the year, your donors are introduced to a variety of unique, transformative things your institution does through word of mouth. This authentic approach to donor engagement and stewardship (via their friends) is a big step toward retaining those supposedly hard to retain online-acquired donors.

Want help updating your online content strategy and execution? 

Groundwork Digital