Nonprofits need leads in the funnel to attract new donors and volunteers. One easy, inexpensive way is through value-based content. Find out how to apply this strategy and start attracting new supporters!

Is there a way to create a drip campaign to attract new donors and volunteers through Firespring marketing? It would be so time efficient to set it up and let it go.

Yes, absolutely, you just made me so excited because now I get to brag about Firespring for a split second. We absolutely can run a drip campaign for your organization. Whether you’re on the Firespring website or not, one of the things that we actively work to do is to make sure that we’re creating a drip and nurture campaign for our clients.

What we typically do is something as simple as a lead-generating PDF on your website, and then set up a drip campaign featuring nurture emails with calls-to-action and make sure that we’re ushering these individuals through your experience funnel. The goal with this drip is to take individuals from the awareness stage to the advocacy state. These emails make sure that your audience is aware of your organization, what your organization solves and how they can get involved.

You can even go a step further, and this is where Firespring really stands out, by adding in a physical direct mail touch point. So, if you do a drip campaign, and you do it really well, you can set it and forget it.

But one of the pieces you can add in is direct mail touch. You have the lead-generating PDF on your website or you set up a drip that goes into effect after someone donates.

We really want to encourage new donors to become advocates. We would call this an advocate drip campaign.

And so they donate, or they download a lead-generating PDF, and then they enter into your funnel, which means they get an email a week later. Then they get a second email two weeks later, and they’ve read both of those, so they’re ready for step three, which is a direct mailer that has a swag item.

This could be a pen, or maybe a sticker or a cup or a coffee mug or whatever swag you have. But there’s ways that we can do that, where it’s all automated and triggered by your audience’s response to touch points. So, your audience is always aware of where they are with you, and you’re always bringing them back. Because each of those touch points has another call to action.

Even if it’s a simple transitional CTA, such as, “Hey, invite your friends to like us on Facebook.” That is a call to action, that we call a micro close or a micro next step, and so by doing that, they’re not going to think of your organization as someone who picks up the phone and asks for the bill all the time. There is no worse way to be described than to be called a nonprofit who only reaches out to ask for money. That is what we are trying to completely avoid, and a drip campaign can make it really beneficial for you and make it really obvious that you’re a value provider and not just someone who is looking for a transaction.

So, for everyone else reading this, if you are interested in Firespring setting up a drip campaign for you or any type of marketing to generate new leads and to engage with your audience, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. We’ll talk about all the opportunities, because that’s really exciting.

We want to reach many different audiences in many different ways. Do we need one solid strategy, or should we consider all audiences and tailor strategies to each?

The answer is both. At the end of the day, you want to have both an overall strategy and tailored strategies for each of your audiences, but if you’re starting from scratch, it’s more important to start with the overall approach to your organization.

You do that by looking at a few questions. Why does your organization exist? Who is it going to help? What problem does it solve? What solution do you bring to the table? What’s the result?

That’s the overall strategy that you should build in order to talk to the entire community or all of your target audience. So for example, for Firespring, I always start with the fact that most nonprofits and businesses struggle to increase revenue and eliminate brand confusion.

That’s my blanket statement. That is for everything that I do. That’s my problem that I solve. It’s how I introduce myself and how I explain what I do at Firespring.

I work to increase your revenue and eliminate brand confusion, but as I go further into the tailored audience member, if I start to learn more about the person, organization or industry, I can tailor that problem statement or my solutions to them.

The simplest way is to create one overall strategy, that when anyone comes to your website or interacts with you at an event, at a conference or on social media, they can instantly identify what you do, why you do it, who it helps and what the result is. If they can’t do that, then that’s where you lose these individuals.

When you look at your website visitors, you might find that 70 percent of your users are first-time visitors. Why? It’s because they came to your website, and they did not get the information they needed to act, to take the next step in their journey.

And then you’re not bringing them back. They’re coming to the website, and then they’re leaving. And so, the more that we can do to entice them to take the next step in the journey, the better off we’re going to be.

Now, as you develop that strategy, the next piece of this would be tailoring to each audience. So, you have pages on your website, for example, that maybe are for volunteers, for donors, maybe you’ve got a membership.

Those are three different individuals. And all of those individuals are going to act in different ways, and so you can have lead-generating assets tailored to each of them.

For instance, you could have a video of the last time you volunteered and you built a home on your volunteer page. Maybe it’s a story of an individual that you helped or a case study of a success story. And then maybe for memberships, it’s the impact that you’ve had on the community over the last decade, and that’s why it’s so important that our members continue to grow.

So, you can tailor those once you start to learn more. But do not put this off because you feel like you have to get specific. You have to start, even if it’s broad. You have to start today in order to see this grow. Start with the foundation, and then increase it, or evolve it over time.

Because the other thing is you’re going to continue to learn what type of messaging works best for each audience. As you segment out your types of donors, your recurring donor, your one-time donor, or your recurring student or whoever it is, you’re going to learn from them. And you’re gonna learn what works and what doesn’t work. And you’ll continue to evolve over time.

How can we figure out places to find attract new donors and volunteers?

There are three different directions that I would go with that, and you can do in a really organic way.

Number one is the referral program or your advocacy program starting with your top supporters. You can begin by asking them if they know anyone else who would be passionate about your cause? Do you know anyone else who would have the same type of passion that you do? Can you please send them our way?

That is the simplest way to find new individuals, and it’s one that I recommend you do all the time. Incorporating micro-asks into your marketing and fundraising is a great way to build your relationship with your audience.

The worst-case scenario is someone says no. But, they’re not going to get upset at you because you’re trying to grow your organization and they already donate to you. So they also value your organization enough that they want it to grow. And they want the mission and the impact to spread as well.

So, it’s really simple to have that conversation. Donors and volunteers are usually really excited to do this. They really are. The problem is that we’re not giving them the right information or not calling them to action.

And so one of the things that I always recommend is when someone donates, add in a touch point in the follow up that says thank you so much but also includes a micro-ask.

Something like “Hey, in the meantime, we’re really looking to reach a new audience. Do you have any individuals that you think would be willing to have a conversation, or be willing to check out this video that explains our impact?”

There are multiple ways that you can do that within referrals and within the advocacy program.

Number two is on your website. This is organic. It’s cost effective, and it just takes a little time to set up. It’s not something that you need to spend a massive campaign on. I’m not going to recommend that you’re out here spending thousands of dollars. The advocacy campaign, maybe you just put together a couple of assets to send out. You already have people that are, and could be qualified, new leads from your website that are passionate about your cause. They just don’t know it yet.

And these individuals are coming to your website one time. Maybe a friend, or a colleague, or a family member told them about your organization. They came to your website one time. But they were distracted and left before taking the next step in their journey.

By instituting more transitional calls to action on your website, you’re actually going to increase the likelihood that you get new leads. And so again, the simplest way to do this, if you’ve got your strong call to action, such as to donate, you need a transitional CTA to keep people interested and bring them back to your website. This is for the people who aren’t ready to donate yet but are interested in your organization.

Every direct CTA should also have a transitional CTA for the individuals who are not yet ready to act.

If that person leaves the website and we expect them to come back on their own accord, it’s not going to happen.

By adding transitional calls to action that bring value and show the impact of what you do, and the impact of what a donor’s dollar can do, you will increase your pipeline. You can capture that person’s contact information and flag that they downloaded this PDF, and now we’ve got them in a nurture campaign. And then you start to send them emails, reminding them of what it is you do and the impact that you create.

The third option is more aggressive, either using social media or potentially direct mail. The reason I have them as one, even though they are separate, is that these are more outbound, paid efforts. Social media and direct mail campaigns represent two great ways to reach a completely new audience. So, whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat or if you decide to run a Direct Mail campaign, you have the chance to connect with new individuals.

The hesitancy, I think, for a lot of nonprofits is that their social media is stagnant too often. It has not grown, the engagement is low, and maybe you’re just tired of spending so much time just to reach the same audience, and it’s not converting anything.

And this is where I would say, the biggest opportunity for you on social media is to become a thought leader and a value generator. Becoming a thought leader on content is a really quality way to reach a new audience that does not have an interest in you yet, but they have an interest in your topic. I am a firm believer in the fact that people donate more often than not because of the cause or the topic, not always the organization.

Yes, they’ll fall in love with your organization. They’ll fall in love with your team as they go to events year over years. But what sparks their interest first is not that your nonprofit started in 1992. It’s because of the problem and the topic that you exist to make better. And so by creating more content about that topic, that’s how you reach a new audience, because there are people that are interested in that topic.

If you’re going to create a little bit of buzz utilizing a direct mail campaign, and you’re going to send a postcard or maybe it’s a box or some swag items, make it something that has value.

Too often, organizations and businesses alike miss on direct mailers because it’s only about them. It’s about them and then it says to get in contact with us now.

There are ways that you can do a direct mailer where it calls out the problem they have.

Use this tactic as something that is going to catch your audience’s attention versus saying, well, “We’ve been around for 28 years and here’s what’s possible. If you enact or you engage with us…”

Instead, start with that problem and really identify how you can help them as well.

Is there an average amount of time it typically takes for a lead to convert in the nonprofit space?

It is going to differ. You’re really looking anywhere from 6 to 15 touchpoints. This number is wider than it is in a B2B space, or a consumer packaged goods industry, because we can really identify when they instantly become a sale. When it’s a volunteer or when it’s a donor, it can be a little bit more tricky, but you’re not getting many individuals that are going to hear about your organization on a Tuesday and donate on a Tuesday.

That is a rare instance. More often than not, they hear about you from work through a referral and then they follow you on Facebook, then they go to your website and maybe then they see that you have an event down the line.

The more touch points that you can organically create through your content, whether that’s through your website, nurture emails, social media, or even SEO, the more likely that they convert faster.

What are your thoughts on the “if I…would you” approach? If I could provide you with… would you be interested in hearing more information about?

I think this is too indirect of an approach to your audience. Humans are the ones that are donating to you, and humans right now, with how busy they are, need to be called to action. I like to call everything H to H. There is no more B2B or B2C. It’s not a nonprofit to consumers. It’s human to human.

Humans act when they’re called upon to act and be there when there is a problem that they want to solve.

And so if you take an indirect approach to this pivotal moment, you risk losing your audience. It’s why my least favorite call to action is “learn more.” Because we are then hoping that this individual is going to go out of their way to learn more right then. We’re expecting that they’re going to learn more on that webpage, that they’re clicking another link, and they’re gonna spend time reading maybe 3 to 5 minutes worth of information.

That does not happen as often as we would like it to because a “learn more” is a soft call to action, and it means you’re asking your audience to have to work for it. It’s the same reason why, if you show up as a buyer online and your shopping cart form is automatically auto filling your information with your credit card, you’re much more likely to complete that purchase because it’s already in there.

If it’s not in there, and you have to go downstairs to get your wallet to make the purchase. It’s adding extra barriers to conversion. I would flip this on its head and I would just be much more assertive.

If they’re on your website, or if they’re engaging with you on social media or at an event, I would be more aggressive about the problem that you solve and how you can solve it.

That is a much more appealing statement to those individuals, because I’ve heard the problem they have, I have called out the problem that they’re having. So, that’s the focus that I would have. Maybe you can even test it because A/B testing is a great way to learn which messaging works for your audience. And that’s something else that I would definitely recommend if you’re looking at two different approaches.

We are struggling with expanding our network—we now have 150 donors, and we are talking about lead generation with our board in a targeted meeting with our board next month. But we are pretty weak on individual giving.

If you’re only talking to the 150 individuals who already donate to you, you’re not going to be able to grow, which is why lead generation is so important. You’re not going to be able to scale month over month, or year over year without it.

That being said, when you’re in this situation, and you’ve got the 150, there are so many more than 150 individuals who are passionate about what you’re talking about. And so, as you discuss these issues, there are individuals all over the globe who are passionate about the issues you exist to solve.

I think what you need to do is actually start with a really quality story, right?

I would start with succinctly and simply explaining what your organization does and explain how someone can get involved.

Tell a quality story that explains the problem, the solution and the result. The better that you can do that, the more likely you are going to be able to describe what it is you do, and more people will become interested in joining your cause.

Individuals are seeing over 6,000 ads per day, from social to subconsciously driving. There’s so much noise that your audience is seeing, so it’s really hard to stand out if you’re just talking about your organization.

Remember, the best marketing is an act of repetition.

Sometimes that’s the best way to go is just by really having that succinct and simple story. One of my favorite aspects of marketing is being able to be portable and memorable. So, if one of your 150 donors donates to you, but they can’t take your brand out of the pocket and say, “Here’s why I donate. Here’s what they do and here’s how to get involved,” then they’re not going to say the right thing about your mission, which is a negative result.

More likely than not, they’re not even going to tell people that they donate. I think it’s really important to start with that story.

The next thing that I would do is turn these 150 individuals into true advocates and having them spread the word about your organization.

If the average person has 256 people in their network, and you take advantage of that and you have all 150 donors unleashed, you can reach a lot of individuals who don’t know about you yet.

The third route you can take would be creating content. By creating content about the problem that you solve, specifically, time and time again, when people are looking for it, you’ll show up as a leader in the space. That’s how simple and cost effective it can be to create content that will really spread awareness about your organization.

We are getting very active on social media with multiple posts per day—how can we convert followers to donors?

I like to look at everything within the lens again of value generating, and the methodology of problem, solution and result. What happens on social media is that brands get carried away with posting quantity over quality. I think the important thing here is that when you’re posting, focus on either creating pure value for your audience, or focus on the lens of problem, solution and result.

If you can do that time and time again, when these individuals that are on your Facebook feed, or they’re on Instagram, when they’re seeing you, they’re being reminded of the problem, the solution and the result.

If they scroll, and they see your post and it’s a templated graphic or it’s a stock image and it has an inspirational quote. They’re not going to register that with your organization and the problem you solve.

Am I saying never do that? Maybe. At the very least, don’t do it as often as you have been. If you’re doing that every week, work to create more value with each post.

I would rather post three times per week and they’re all quality, than post 10 times per week and they suffer on the quality. Because again, this is the act of repetition.

When someone sees your name, they need to see the value that you bring.

When someone sees your name, they need to see the problem that you solve.

Then see how you solve it, and then see the better life that occurs once they interact with you.

What about using DonorSearch as a way to find new donors or qualify them?

Whether it’s something like a DonorSearch, or like an eMarketer for user behavior trends, or if you’re using social scraping tools, your tech stack can be really valuable. I don’t want that to be lost in translation. I think that there is a great use for them. I also know that if you’re just starting, that might not be the place you’re ready to go.

Or maybe if there’s no budget or you have time constraints or just a lack of bandwidth, it might not be the time to go this route. If you’re gonna use a tool like that, like DonorSearch, what I would do is make a list of your top donors and segment them into 4-6 different audience groups.

Let’s say you have 150 donors. You could put all 150 donors into probably 4-6 different segments. Maybe there are those who donate $150 plus, they’re over the age of 55 and live in a certain region.

Segmenting them will allow you to use a tool like that at a more efficient pace. Because what you’re looking for are people who fit in that persona segment, whether you have 3 personas segments, or 6 segments,

And so I do encourage you to, at least, look into tools like that. I know DonorTrends is another big opportunity that you can utilize to segment out what you currently have in your database. That’s also something that you can do manually. And so there’s kind of both routes to go there.